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Hillcrest residents urge new school site

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The region is already packed with education institutions, with two parochial schools, three high schools and St. John's University nearby, said Bob Trebold of Hillcrest Citizens for Neighborhood Preservation. "For a small neighborhood we're already super-congested. Parking's impossible and the buses are jammed," Trebold said. "We have 29,000 students coming into our neighborhood every day. We're not against education, but we feel we're doing our share.""Where are you going to find parking for faculty and support staff for an 800-seat school?" asked Robert McConnin, pastor of St. Nicholas of Jolentine. The city wants to relocate the Gateway School on the site of a former morgue at 160th Street and Goethals Avenue on the Queens Hospital Center property. The seventh-through 12th-grade school, which trains students for careers in health care, is currently located at 150th Street and 87th Road.The city Department of Education has said the relocation would allow the application-only school to boost enrollment from 500 to 800 students and improve on-site learning at the Queens Hospital Center. Area residents have protested the plan since it was introduced last year. More than 100 homeowners protested it last July and Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged at a civic meeting in April that the proposal might be too large in scale.In another complication, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and a School Construction Authority have said the property was polluted with petroleum and other elements. State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said the DEC told him last Thursday it would draft an environmental study and mitigation plan by October. Before moving forward, he said the new school would need approval from the City Council, the mayor, and the Department of Environmental Conservation.Reach reporter Matthew Monks at news@timesledger.com or 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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