Members of the board, which covers Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City, said they are working now to assemble concrete enrollment numbers for each of the current and future schools in their area. They hope to get a better idea of where and how student populations are being distributed.Of particular concern are plans to put another 800-student high school on the upper floors of a building next door to the IDC Building along Thompson Avenue near Queens Boulevard, said Lisa Deller, chairwoman of the board's land-use committee. The building at 30-30 Thompson Ave. already is home to the city's Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School as well as the private Devry University, Deller said. And LaGuardia Community College - with 13,000 students - is located along the busy stretch of Thompson Avenue as well, she said."Thompson Avenue has really become one big student campus," said Deller, who pointed out that Briarcliff College recently opened a branch at 30-30 Thompson Ave. and the city plans to expand the nearby Queens Vocational High School.Board members also cited city plans to construct an early childhood educational center on top of the school yard at PS 199 at 39th Street and Greenpoint Avenue, said Dolores Rizzotto, district manager of Community Board 2. "That's also going to mean the loss of the basketball space for the kids in the neighborhood," Rizzotto said.Deller and others acknowledged the need for new student seats in Queens, where Borough President Helen Marshall said more than 23,000 are necessary, and supported their construction. But they were concerned that the city's Department of Education might not be adequately taking into account pedestrian safety, school security and the need for recreational space. "I think it's a question of having (the schools) all in one very small area without accommodating the needs particularly for pedestrian safety," Deller said. "It seems like just a problem waiting to happen and that is our concern."Rizzotto said that by leasing space rather than buying it and then building, the Department of Education can obviate the need for public comment on some projects.Alicia Maxey, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said city rules are respected in selecting new sites for schools."For each potential site, we always follow all rules with regard to community engagement in addition to the (Community Education Council) hearings we have each year on the capital plan and its amendments." Deller said the board is working now to compile a comprehensive list of the schools and number of students throughout the area. "At this point we just want to get our hands around it," she said.Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2005 Community News Group
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