Community rallies against possibility of new school at Whitestone lot

A crowd of concerned residents rally in Whitestone against the city's attempts to build a school on a vacant lot near their homes. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Tensions are high in Whitestone as community leaders and residents are condemning rumors of the city eyeing a 6-acre lot in the northern Queens community as a site for a new school.

Neighbors noted over the past few weeks that representatives with the city School Construction Authority were surveying a site at 150-33 6th Ave., where Whitestone Jewels once operated, elected state officials said. News of the proposal spread throughout neighborhood quickly and met widespread opposition as community leaders took a stand against any plans being pushed through without their consent.

Democratic City Council candidate Paul Vallone staged a largely attended protest at the site last week and called on the city not to act unilaterally in mulling the site for a potential school. Vallone, who is running for the 19th District seat soon to be left vacated by outgoing Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), said the issue of unwanted school construction was one of several to fall by the wayside in the wake of Halloran’s arrest on federal corruption charges in early April.

“Quality of life issues are paramount in northeast Queens — they are what separates us from much of the rest of the city,” Vallone said. “The construction of a school in this neighborhood would tarnish the precious quality of life we enjoy here. The local homeowners know it and the SCA knows it. We must find another site.”

City Education Department spokesman David Pena said the city was just beginning to take steps in considering the location, and no official decision had been made.

“As we do throughout the city, we always take preliminary surveys of areas where we have identified a need for new school construction. This is just one area we are surveying,” Pena said. “We go through a public process before there is any approval on a particular site.”

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said his office tried reaching out to the School Construction Authority, but was shot down when all inquiries were instead referred to the DOE.

“The School Construction Authority’s interest in this site makes no sense. This is a quiet, residential neighborhood that has no public transportation options. Any new school would have a very negative effect on the quality of life for residents, including increased traffic congestion and parking problems,” Avella said. “Just because this site has remained vacant for years, does not mean that the community will allow anything to be built there. Even more troubling is the SCA’s refusal to share any information regarding their interest in this site with an elected official.”

Members of the community have long yearned for another high school in northeast Queens’ 26th School District to alleviate overcrowding, but the Whitestone lot was not ideal, community leaders said. Hundreds of residents gathered on 5th Avenue Saturday to circulate a petition, opposing the plan.

“While there is certainly a need for more schools in Queens, the Whitestone Jewels property is an inappropriate location,” said Debra Markell, president of the Waterside Estates Homeowners Association in Whitestone. “It simply does not offer the infrastructure and transportation options necessary for the development of a new school.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 12:00 am, October 11, 2013
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Reader feedback

Carmine says:
Al Centola is the only true civic leader that has been pushing from the beginning to have this property developed for the comminutes best interest. Thanks Al.
Oct. 11, 2013, 7:44 am
Paul Tower says:
I agree with you Carmine, Al is the only leader that gets things done.
Oct. 11, 2013, 7:47 am
Common Sense from Whitestone says:
What is wrong with all these people? It is a school not a prison. This is the problem with this country.
Oct. 11, 2013, Noon
Lou from Bayside says:
Sorry Borgetto gang , it's the perfect spot for a school. It's needed . Has access to al transportation and will relieve overcrowding at the other local high schools! Can't go up quick enough!
Oct. 11, 2013, 12:02 pm
Bud from Bayside says:
Lou, you probably wouldn't feel that way if you lived on 5th. Avenue in Whitestone, like that multi-name nut over there.
Oct. 11, 2013, 2:48 pm
Pat from Whitestone says:
Ite been over two years.

Oct. 11, 2013, 8:23 pm
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Here's a real petition.

Oct. 11, 2013, 8:25 pm
Marie says:
Al, if you really need to post your dippy op-ed, with info you have stolen from other creditable people, I must add, then use your real name. Why use the names Pat and Arthur? You come off as a knucklehead.
Oct. 12, 2013, 8:21 am
Pat says:
Maria. Can't speak for Arthur but no Al here.
Oct. 12, 2013, 10:24 am
Marie says:
Oct. 12, 2013, 10:53 am
Marie says:
Oct. 12, 2013, 10:53 am
Carmine says:
Oct. 12, 2013, 4:16 pm
Carmine says:
Oct. 12, 2013, 4:16 pm
Carmine says:
Sorry that was immature. Haha hehe
Oct. 12, 2013, 4:17 pm
Marie says:
Al, describing yourself as immature is a start. Next time try ineffective, inconsequential or inept, you can work this within your autobiography
Oct. 13, 2013, 7:36 am
Marie says:
Alfredo your so predictable.
Oct. 13, 2013, 11:44 am
Arthur says:
Marie I don't get it?
Oct. 13, 2013, 2:45 pm
Marie says:
Alfredo, I don't either. Do you do this to make a point or you just like using different names all the time for fun? I didn't think you were crazy but now I wonder.
Oct. 14, 2013, 10:40 am
Paul Tower says:
What point is he trying to make? Maybe your th crazy one? Al is a good man doing good things for us and he is trying to bring Whitestone back to the way it once was. What's wrong with that? What your real name, Maria?
Oct. 14, 2013, 11:14 am
Marie says:
Wow! Oh yeah, your nuts.
Oct. 14, 2013, 11:49 am
Whitestone sucks! says:
Whitestone is full of Greek trash!!!!!!! Holy cross is full of flabby,hairy full faced makeup twats!! YEa I said it!!
Oct. 14, 2013, 3:36 pm
Anthony from Whitestone says:
Alfredo, I have been reading all of your most recent negative comments directed at the Greek community of Whitestone but this last one takes the cake. Your a sick dude.
Oct. 15, 2013, 10:31 am
Red the garbage man from Whitestone says:
Smart people who live close to this lot have already put their houses on the market. I would hate to live by a school. Too much noise and arrogant parents double parking! You can't fight city hall. If they want this lot they will build it.
Oct. 15, 2013, 10:39 am
from says:
Another school =
More taxes needed to build,
more taxes for school staff,
more taxes to bus in kids in other towns,
more car traffic,
more car pollution,
more noise,
more school busses pollution and traffic, ETC.
Also you have less parking space which can take up at least 2 block radius.
Oct. 15, 2013, 4:53 pm
Marie says:
Hey from, I mean Al, now you can work closer to home. Need a personal neighborhood reference?
Oct. 15, 2013, 5:06 pm
Obvious says:
This concentrated attack is disgusting. Every comment made is twisted and used to attack the same person.

Wow the politicians must really be scared of this guy. Wonder why?

Marie or whatever your name really is. So everyone on this page is Al according to you. Except for Anthony of course because he is also you or one of your brothers posting.

Do tell. Do you hear the wire taps?
Oct. 15, 2013, 6:53 pm
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Centola, obviously REAL people do not like you. Maybe it's because you need to inject your name in every Whitestone story with your multi-name self praising comments.

Or, maybe it's because you like to take credit for community projects and events you have had nothing to do with.

Or, maybe it is your relentless negative anonymous crapping attacks on local people and organizations that work hard for the betterment of their neighborhoods.

Alfredo, your, your own problem. Wonder why?
Oct. 16, 2013, 9:48 am
Arthur from Whitestone says:
And ... Drumroll please..... The name Arthur in the mix.

What an amazing thing!!!

Oct. 16, 2013, 10:15 am
Paul says:
" The best idea for that old CYO prop. came from Al Centola, simply because it will save the prop. serve the youth of the community and deny it from the Vallones, Markels, Shulman, Mattones, et. al. It may also go a long way toward saving Whitestone itself."
Oct. 16, 2013, 5:06 pm
Tony says:

Paul, the best idea, are you kidding me? Al had a great idea.

Al, that was a great idea. Really, that's a great idea, really great. You saved Whitestone. Whitestone needs you now, never deny us of this greatness. Really great idea.

Oct. 17, 2013, 12:22 pm
Carmine says:
Thank you?
Oct. 17, 2013, 2:44 pm
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
The comments section here resembles the scribblings that'll be found on the bathroom wall of the high school if its ever built.

Stay classy Whitestone.
Oct. 18, 2013, 6:32 am
Paul Tower says:
I agree, this must stop.
Oct. 18, 2013, 6:50 am
Red the garbage man says:
I also believe the politicians are very scared of this man. Nice job.
Oct. 18, 2013, 6:53 am
Carmine says:
Keep pushing Al.
Oct. 18, 2013, 6:54 am
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
The 6-acre site in Whitestone is an inappropriate place for school as matter of practicality and “on-the-ground logistics”. The site’s location is tightly tucked among residential homes in a nook in the northernmost part of Queens. Locating a school in such site would not only jeopardize the health, safety, and well-being of the surrounding residents, but would also pose serious safety issues to the prospective students attending such a school. The site’s geographical location, coupled with the surrounding municipal infrastructure, poses significant challenges that are simply not worth the risk of pursuing. An increase in vehicular traffic mixed with an increase in pedestrian traffic precipitated by a school pose disastrous consequences. There few ways in an out of the area, and the roads that do exist are not large enough to support buses, cars, and the complimentary traffic pattern to accommodate such vehicles on a given school day.
The implications are two-fold: the standard of quality of life for the surrounding residents will be significantly downgraded by idling vehicles, loitering students, and the waste that goes along with it. For the prospective students and staff of such a school, traffic delays and safety concerns of a tight area of operation. In a tight traffic scenario the risk of pedestrian accidents is extremely elevated and the current situation at the site at issue is no different. The safety and health concerns grow even higher during after-school activities like sporting events, dances, graduations, or other events garnering high attendance at an auditorium.
Finally, the impact on the nearby village/commercial area of Whitestone stand to also become even more-so congested than it already is. The effect taking the form of increase thru-traffic to reach the location of the school and droves of students walking to and from the area. Clearly any thoughtful survey of the area will readily identify these concerns and issues as well as others. These concerns are simply the more obvious ones. Recognizing that the City is only surveying the sight, the City should “no-go” this site and not force a school and create a that will only implicate the health, safety, and well-being of all involved. The residents deserve to live in an area that they bargained to live in when the moved there, and the students deserve to attend a school at a site that can support their ease of attendance, studies, and extracurricular activities . The Whitestone site is not the place for a school.
Oct. 18, 2013, 9:37 am
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Centola, see, when you write your thoughts, less the attacks and insults, you lean on the side of creditable.

Only next time use your real name, not Jeremy. Very nicely done.
Oct. 18, 2013, 10:41 am
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
For the record, I am not "Centola." I am just another Whitestoner (born and raised) commenting on the issues concerning our neighborhood. I've attempted to make this clarification on several occasions on this forum.

But thank you Arthur
Oct. 18, 2013, 11:48 am
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Again, stop with the attacks and use your real name.
Oct. 19, 2013, 7:45 am
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Again, stop with the attacks and use your real name.
Oct. 19, 2013, 7:45 am
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Again, I'm off my meds
Oct. 19, 2013, 8:25 am
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Centola, you have the opportunity now of being a strong civic force in this community or just continue with your multi-name ranting and always be the neighborhood joke. Your choice. Your not fooling anyone.
Oct. 19, 2013, 10:46 am
Johnathon from Douglas manor says:
Just found out an interesting fact. Dennis Saffran's father was Jewish.
Oct. 22, 2013, 3:50 pm
Carl from Whitestone says:
That's the end of Whitestone if this school is built all
the ghetto —— will be bused here these kids are perverted
like their parents if they even have parents outside of a
fork and spoon and a welfare check and food stamps
their's nothing else to live for.
Oct. 24, 2013, 7:03 pm
Austin says:
Oct. 26, 2013, 9:51 am

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