New York – Councilman David Greenfield is declaring victory on behalf of the Midwood community after being informed today by the New York City School Construction Authority that it has agreed to his request to withdraw plans to construct a new public school on Ocean Avenue over the objections of neighbors and the local community board. The SCA had proposed constructing the five-story primary school on three adjacent lots along the west side of Ocean Avenue between Avenue L and Avenue M next door to Young Israel of Midwood. There are currently three vacant homes at the site, which totals 16,800 square feet, and the school would have included 456 seats for students in Community District 22, which stretches from Flatbush all the way to the Jamaica Bay.
This proposal was the subject of a Community Board 14 public hearing last Wednesday, when more than a dozen community members spoke out against the plan due to the impact it would have on the safety and quality of life throughout the surrounding neighborhood. Councilman Greenfield was the only elected official to testify in opposition to the plan, citing concerns he has heard from residents since this plan was first proposed. Following the testimony, the Community Board committee unanimously voted against the plan to build the school at that location.
During this hearing, the owner of the three lots testified that he does not want to sell his land to the city, leading some community board members to express concern that New York City would use its powers of eminent domain to acquire the sites. While SCA representatives at the meeting stated that this had not yet been discussed for this project, they would not rule out the possibility of this occurring, as it has in other instances.
Also, representatives from Young Israel of Midwood expressed concern about the impact a school would have on the senior center that uses its building adjacent to the proposed school site. There were also concerns from community members about overcrowding, parking, school bus access and the impact on the area during construction. Finally, board members argued that other neighborhoods included in Community District 22 to the east and south of Midwood have much more severe overcrowding issues, meaning it makes more sense to build new schools in those neighborhoods.
“This is an enormous victory for the residents and families of Midwood, who had valid concerns about the major impact a large school that would not be utilized by the local community would have on their neighborhood. As a longtime supporter of education I am committed to working with the School Construction Authority to find an appropriate location for a new school that meets the needs of the students and the surrounding community. It was clear from the beginning that this site is not appropriate for this type of development, so I am very relieved that the community was heard and this proposal is not moving forward,” said Councilman Greenfield.
Greenfield also specifically thanked Community Board 14 including its chairman, Alvin Berk, and District Manager Shawn Campbell for their leadership in opposing this project, as well as longtime community board member and activist Kalman Yeger. “This was truly a team effort. I am very grateful to Community Board 14 members for their steadfast leadership on this important issue,” concluded Councilman Greenfield.