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Department of Education backs down on new Midwood school site

City drops controversial plan for new school in Midwood

Brooklyn Daily
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School’s out — much to the relief of Midwood seniors.

Patrons of Midwood’s ironically named Young Israel Senior Services Inc. are breathing a sigh of relief now that the city has nixed its plans to build an elementary school on a tiny lot adjacent to the dining and event center for the neighborhood’s seniors.

“We’re very happy,” said Young Israel director Sarah Klein. “We have a lot of seniors with walkers. It’s not safe to have kids running around.”

The Department of Education had proposed building PS 438 on Ocean Avenue between avenues L and M — a $53.6 million, five-story elementary school that would provide 450 pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade seats.

But when the city agency, along with the School Construction Authority, began their public review process with a hearing before Community Board 14, they started to get the idea that locals weren’t gung ho for the spot the city had chosen for their latest, multi-million-dollar project.

“It was unanimous, everybody felt this was not the right plan,” said Young Israel of Midwood Synagogue president David Shern, who attended the March 11 community board meeting. “Nobody’s against schools, there were just other, better suited properties than this one.”

The laundry list of complaints which led to the board’s vote against endorsing the site included the fact that the school would have one side of street access on the very busy Ocean Avenue.

“There are two bus stops [B9, B49] almost right in front where they wanted to put the school, so you can imagine that a bus going by would have to pull over as the school busses dropped kids off,” said Shern.

Before learning that the city had ditched their plans to build the new school, residents living nearby were considering looking for somewhere else to live, rather than sacrifice their parking spots to a whole school-full of commuting teachers.

“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 school would have been built.

Congestion issues aside, locals were sceptical that the tiny lot where the city wanted to build would allow kids enough space to get some sunshine in between classes.

“They had a very small yard, sort of in the front, where they would have, I guess, congregated outside,” said Shern. “It didn’t seem big enough to fit 450 students.”

It wasn’t all negative, however. This paper managed to find one gentleman who only thought of the kids.

“This area needs a school, because a lot of kids around here are 30 to 40 kids in a class,” said nearby resident Mosad Zokari. “This area’s good. It’s safe for all kids.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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