Oct. 16, 2015 By Michael Florio
The Department of Education is attempting to combat school overcrowding by building a 600-seat middle school in East Elmhurst.
The proposed site is located at 111-10 Astoria Blvd, between 111th and 112th Street, in School District 24.
Kenrick Ou, Senior Director of Real Estate with the School Construction Authority, presented the proposal to Community Board 3 at its monthly meeting last night.
Under the proposal, the School Construction Authority (SCA) would acquire the privately-owned lot, which is approximately 33,000 square feet. The SCA would demolish the existing building and construct a new school over the sprawling lot.
“District 24 is one of our most over crowded school districts,” Ou said, adding that there is a big need for the school
The new school would helped alleviate overcrowding at IS 61 (located 98-50 50th Avenue), which operated at 118 percent capacity during the 2013-2014 school year, he added.
The SCA is currently in discussion with the property owner to purchase the site.
Ou said the SCA will be accepting public comments on the proposal until Nov. 23. The agency will then review the comments and assess whether it wants to continue to move forward with this proposal.
If so, it will then seek the approval of the mayor and the city council.
If approved, the SCA would move into the design phase, which typically takes a year. Construction would then take roughly three years to be built, according to Ou.
“To ball park it, I would say four years from site approval [until the school opens],” he said.
However, since the property has not been purchased yet there is no official timetable.
During last night’s presentation board members expressed some concerns.
One board member worried about air quality given the proposed school’s proximity to LaGuardia Airport. However, Ou said all school buildings have proper ventilation and air conditioning, so that the windows can be closed.
Another board member said the main entrance should not be on Astoria Blvd, as it is a heavily utilized street. Ou said that while the school has not yet been designed, that has already been taking into consideration.
He added that the SCA will work with the Department of Transportation regarding traffic safety measures around the school.
The board unanimously approved the proposal.