Although delayed a year, an Islamic elementary school is expected to open this fall on Parsons Boulevard in Flushing.
Aftab Mannan, joint secretary of the Jamaica Muslim Center, confirmed to the Queens Chronicle on Monday that he hopes the school will open by September. “It all depends on the Department of Buildings,” Mannan said, citing permits and upcoming inspections.
The Chronicle broke the story a year ago that the Muslim center bought the long-abandoned properties at 78-31 and 78-39 Parsons Blvd. for a pre-kindergarten through seventh grade school. It was to open last fall.
“Things were delayed because everything was being paid for by donations that we had to raise and the large number of city permits needed for the project,” Mannan said.
He said about 65 percent of the interior work on 78-31 Parsons has been completed. The school will house up to 160 students, most of whom will be bused from the JMC, where their classes are now held.
It will use the same name as the current facility, Al’Mamoor School, and when more money is raised, the adjacent building will be renovated for school use.
Ken Cohen, president of the nearby Flushing Suburban Civic Association, said the property has not been maintained well. “It’s a concern to us,” Cohen said.
The shrubs are overgrown and tall weeds fill the area, which is also choked with paper refuse and even a book bag.
Mannan said once the school opens the site will be well maintained. “It will add beauty to the community,” he added.
Cohen also noted that his group was never able to sit down with Muslim center officials to discuss the plans. “We have heard nothing about the school,” he said.
City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) has been keeping abreast of the situation, according to his spokesman Paul Leonard who said the councilman had met with the rabbi of Yeshiva Ketana, which is a block away from the planned school.
Rabbi Yonason Karman, executive director of the yeshiva, was concerned about the facility adding congestion to the area. Aside from the yeshiva, there are two other schools nearby on Parsons Boulevard.
Mannan does not consider it an issue since most of the Al’Mamoor children will be bused and won’t be dropped off separately. “It won’t be a problem with the other school [yeshiva],” he said.
The two Parsons Boulevard properties bought by the Muslim center and a third at 160-40 78 Road were originally owned by Aurora Concept, a detox center. It opened in 1972 and offered 107 beds for long-term care and a large outpatient service.
Due to alleged mismanagement of funds, the program sought help in 2006 from the state and it eventually was closed in 2007. The two Parsons properties then remained vacant until they were purchased last year.
Cohen said the former Aurora Concept residential building on 78th Road is being converted into a medical complex by a developer, but that work hasn’t moved forward recently. “It’s off and on,” he said. “Maybe they ran out of money.”