The City Council pulled discussion of a proposed elementary school in Bayside off its agenda this week, possibly killing the controversial plan entirely.
The Department of Education wants to site the new elementary school at the location of Keil Brothers Garden Center at 210-11 48 Ave.
Xavier San Miguel, a spokesman for state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), a staunch opponent of building a school on the site, said the senator was due to testify in front of the Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses on Tuesday.
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) said she was prepared to submit testimony before her office found out about the item being pulled from the agenda, but cautioned that it does not mean the proposed school is dead.
“I wouldn’t read too much into it,” she said. “Remember, this has happened before.”
Rozic announced the subcommittee had pulled the item from the agenda on Twitter on Monday afternoon as soon as her office heard about it.
The subcommittee canceled another hearing on the same site in August after a rally lead by Avella and Rozic that featured civic leaders and residents expressing their opposition to the plan, which was originally brought to the community’s attention during a meeting of Community Board 11 in May.
The proposed site is close to two other schools — MS 158 and PS 31 — and in the middle of an area primarily made up of homes. Residents and civic leaders were concerned that a new school would bring more traffic to mostly residential blocks.
Toby Pagano, a homeowner who lives near the site, said the traffic problem on school days is already bad enough.
“I know what it’s like to try to get my car off of that street at a quarter to eight in the morning when drivers taking students to school are barreling down the residential streets to get their kids to [MS 158 and PS 31],” she said. “We’re not against an additional school. We have a thriving, growing community, but this is not an appropriate place for it.”
Pagano said she and other homeowners at the May CB 11 meeting were told that if a school wasn’t built on the Keil Brothers site, a homeless shelter or halfway house may be, which she took as a threat.
According to the DOE’s five-year capital plan overview released in January, District 26 — which includes Bayside, Auburndale, Little Neck, Douglaston, Bellerose, Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows and Oakland Gardens — has funding for 416 new seats. The SCA says the seats would be located in a brand new school in the Bayside-Auburndale area.
At a January meeting of the Queens Parent Advisory Board in Borough Hall, Mary Laes, the SCA’s director of external affairs, said finding sites has been an issue in District 26. A decade ago, residents killed a plan to build a high school nearby at the current site of the controversial Star Nissan dealership and plans to build a high school in Whitestone were met with stiff opposition this month.