The City Council on Nov. 30 unanimously approved the placement of a 697-seat middle school at the historic Sunnyside Community Garage, which area leaders hope will alleviate some of the community’s chronic overcrowding.
“The Sunnyside community has been calling for an Intermediate School in their community for years, to ensure that parents are able to educate their children in the neighborhood they live in,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said in an emailed statement. “The announcement of the new Intermediate School on Barnett Ave. is a great achievement for the Sunnyside community — it will lower class sizes, increase school places, and protect our students from having to cross dangerous intersections like Queens Boulevard on their way to school.”
Michael Mirisola, director of external affairs for the School Construction Authority, told the Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses Nov. 20 that the design of the school will “harken back” to the original structure, built in 1927.
The building — which has not been used as a garage for decades and most recently housed a billiards hall — has undergone some renovations throughout the years.
The garage, located at 38-04 48 St., once served as the parking spot for people who lived in what is now the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District, according to historian Barry Lewis. The garage is not in the district, but is right over the border.
Lewis, who rejected the original plan to tear down the structure and replace it with something new, was happy to hear there will be “a nod” to the design of Clarence Stein, who planned the community decades ago.
“It’s absolutely beautiful brickwork,” he said of the building. “And let’s face it, our schools are not known for their architecture ... if they were to tear it down it would just look like something built in 2019.”
Classes could start at the site in September 2021, according to the SCA. Van Bramer first announced the SCA’s intention to utilize the site last September and since then heavily lobbied for its approval.
“The most important work I do in the City Council is fighting for our schools and our students,” the councilman said.
School District 30 is one of the most overcrowded in the borough and city. According to advocacy group Class Size Matters, 51 percent of the area’s schools are at or above 100 percent utilization.
Deborah Alexander, co-president of Community Education Council 30, said in a Monday interview, “We are beyond happy.
“It’s been a long time coming and it’s a necessity for the people of Sunnyside and Woodside,” she continued. “We definitely want to thank the SCA, the DOE and Jimmy Van Bramer for this. It was definitely a group effort.”
The school has not yet been zoned by the CEC — Alexander said that process will take place over the next year. She hopes it will be zoned for Sunnyside and Woodside residents.
“They currently don’t have a zoned middle school,” Alexander said.