Despite a great need in the area for its youngest residents, Community Board 4 rejected a proposal last week for a 1,100-seat primary school at 96-18 43rd Ave. in Corona, saying the potential site’s proximity to Engine 289/Ladder 138, at 97-28 43rd Ave., would create a safety hazard.
“We’re just looking out for the safety of the students and the parents and the firemen,” said Richard Italiano, district manager for CB 4.
The board heard the proposal for the elementary school May 10 at its monthly meeting. Italiano said it decided to nix the plan because firefighters from the Corona FDNY spot had recommended against it, citing the safety of the students. Italiano said CB 4 had previously rejected a school site for being next to a firehouse, and this was consistent with that stand.
“It’s not that we don’t want the schools,” Italiano said. “We desperately need the schools, but not where you’re going to jeopardize the safety of the students.”
Steve Ritea, spokesman for the FDNY, said the department was opposed to the school in that location because the firehouses in that area are among the busiest in the city. He said there would be a high concentration of equipment traveling at high speeds from the firehouse, which could be dangerous during pick-up and drop-off times.
“With any school, you have a lot of traffic around that area when kids are arriving at or coming home from school,” Ritea said.
He said a lot of the runs the firehouse makes are also to the west. The school would be located about a block in that direction.
Corona is within Community Education Council District 24, which its president, Nick Comaianni, says is the most overcrowded district in the city by percentage. The district covers areas in Corona, Elmhurst, Sunnyside, Maspeth, Glendale and Middle Village and includes 23 primary schools. He said the district and neighborhood contain PS 19 at 98-02 Roosevelt Ave., the biggest elementary school in the country.
“This is something we really, really need in that area,” he said.
While he was not able to attend the CB 4 meeting due to a scheduling conflict, Comaianni said he hoped the board would reconsider the decision, as Corona is an old, built-up neighborhood with not a lot of space to find alternatives.
“This is New York City,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s not a luxury we have.”
Italiano said the board has recommended a site at 98th Street and Christie Avenue in Corona as an alternative.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2011 Community News Group
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