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Queens Chronicle

CB 5 hears plans for new Ridgewood PS

City would replace old St. Aloysius building with modern school for 444

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Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:56 pm, Thu Apr 19, 2012.

A public hearing on a new school in Ridgewood brought more than 100 people to the cafeteria at PS 305 on Tuesday night.

The School Construction Authority recently entered into contract with St. Aloysius Parish in Glendale for the possible purchase of the school building at 360 Seneca Ave., which closed more than a year ago.

The aim would be to tear down the school, built in the 1960s, and replace it with a modern building that would seat 444 children.

The hearing with members of Community Board 5’s Education Committee was conducted in English and Spanish. The new school which would be separated from PS 305 only by Stockholm Street.

Chris Persheff, the site selection manager for the SCA, and Monica Gutierrez, its spokeswoman, addressed dozens of questions about the construction angle. Parents and residents were primarily concerned with safety.

Topics included trucks that would be coming along Seneca Avenue, noise and the effect of construction going on during the school year while children are at 305.

Pat Grayson, the education chairwoman at CB 5, also asked about containing pollutants and hazardous materials that inevitably will turn up on a building as old as St. Aloysius.

“You’re probably going to have asbestos, lead paint and PCBs,” Gutierrez said. “We abate first before we knock anything down. And the area is contained.”

Persheff said they will need to work closely with the city’s departments of Transportation, Buildings and others both in the planning stages and during construction for maximum safety and minimal impact on the neighborhood and the children’s studies.

“We have to decide when we do the noisy stuff,” he said. “We will work closely with the Department of Transportation on traffic ... we have experience with that.”

He said with an aggressive construction schedule, the new building could be open in 2015.

He said the land — some 29,000 square feet — was something the city could not pass up, adding that some recent projects have been on land as little as 22,000 square feet.

Grayson and Gary Giordano, district manager for CB 5, said the whole board was to have voted Wednesday night on the SCA proposal, though the vote took place after the Chronicle’s deadline. Giordano said the next-day vote was required in order to meet the statutory 45-day deadline from first notification by the city.

Grayson said she does not foresee a large opposition until the Department of Education’s Office of Portfolio Planning and Community Education Council 24 begin to shape the new school.

“The church wants to get rid of the building,” she said “And other than the safety issues the parents have no problems with construction. They want another school here.”

PS 305 serves grades pre-k through 3, and children then go to PS 81. Grayson said there is no guarantee that the new school will serve children leaving 305 directly. But many parents said they will press the DOE and DEC 24 when the time comes with petitions and lots of public input.

“I’m optimistic,” said Patricio Gonzalez of Ridgewood, with a child at PS 81, two at 305 and two more starting at 305 next year.

“We’ve wanted to expand this school to fifth grade since it opened,” he said. “I’d like to see all my children in school together.”

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