Locals oppose new school

Schoolyard: The Department of Education is trying to buy these three Ocean Avenue homes and build an elementary school, but it’s running into opposition from Councilman Michael Nelson’s office.
Courtesy of Councilman Michael Nelson

If school’s in, parking’s out, according to Councilman Michael Nelson and Midwood residents.

Nelson is blasting the Department of Education’s plans to build a new elementary school on Ocean Avenue in Midwood, citing a laundry list of unsavory consequences for the highly residential neighborhood and its nearby institutions.

“While there are still many ‘ifs’ to be sorted out, the proposal, if made a reality, would negatively impact an already over-saturated neighborhood,” said Nelson (D–Midwood).

The proposed elementary school, which would be built between avenues L and M and would service 450 pre-school to fifth grade tots, would be located in the vicinity of several large retail businesses, not least of which is the Pomegranate Super Market on Coney Island Avenue, which draws customers from across the five boroughs, according to Councilman Michael Nelson’s chief of staff Chaim Deutsch.

In addition to the traffic generated by the super-sized supermarket, precious parking spots in the area are frequently gobbled up by film crews from E. 14th Street’s JC Studio, according to Deutsch.

“Between the frequent film shootings, the amount of schools nearby, and the many commercial properties including the massive Pomegranate supermarket, traffic in the vicinity can get Manhattan-like during rush hour and adding a school would create even more havoc,” he said.

Furthermore, Nelson alleges that many parents in the neighborhood choose to send their kids to private school and that this new school would likely service children from other parts of the borough.

“A public school in the proposed location would not serve the residents in the area,” said Councilman Nelson, “Many in the community opt to send their children to one of the numerous private schools nearby.”

Residents living on the Ocean Avenue block where the city is proposing to build the new school certainly echoed the Councilman’s grievances, especially regarding the issue of parking in an area stuffed with high-density apartment complexes, making empty space a precious commodity.

“Everybody wants to move, because there’s no parking anywhere and, if they build this thing, there’s going to be a hundred teachers looking for spots,” said Brenda Kaufman, who lives in an Ocean Avenue building next door to where the proposed school would be built.

Members of the Young Israel of Midwood synagogue are also fretting about the school’s arrival, especially when it comes to the health of the many senior citizens who travel there for functions, saying the old and wise don’t mix well with the young and active, according to president David Shern.

“The synagogue has a senior citizens program and we have up to a hundred seniors coming there any given day,” said Shern. “If you have seniors who are coming everyday, and you have little kids running around, we’re afraid someone might get hurt. The kids might run around and bump into these older people — they’re fragile as it is.”

The Department of Education refused to respond to the flurry of allegations flying out of the councilman’s office, saying that it was too early in the project’s public review process for the city to comment..

“We first would need to go through our public review process,” said spokeswoman Marge Feinberg.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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