GPOA: FIND THE $ FOR SCHOOL
Civic Wants Playground Program Saved
The future of the Dry Harbor Playschool at Forest Park and The Shops at Atlas Park were the focus of last Thursday’s meeting of the Glendale Property Owners Association (GPOA) at St. Pancras Pfeiffer Hall.
City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley dropped by the May 6 to discuss the announced closure of the playschool at Dry Harbor Playground in Glendale at the end of the school year in June. The legislator told attendees that she was in talks with the Parks Department and other organi- zations regarding the possibility of keeping the program going under the direction of a non-profit group.
As reported in last week’s issue of the Times Newsweekly, the Parks Department is closing the playschool as well as a number of others in Queens playgrounds as a result of budget cuts. Crowley noted that the eliminaterms of the agency’s playschool program would result in a savings of $800,000 for the agency (about $75,000 per school), more than 10 percent of its budget.
Nevertheless, “I don’t want to see this school close,” the Council member said. She told residents that she contacted the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council about taking over operations of the facility and also made an inquiry to the Administration for Children’s Services about possible funding to keep the school going.
Even so, Crowley noted that the preschool faces several challenges in an effort to stay alive. Other schools around the Glendale community have either added or are on the verge of starting universal pre-kindergarten programs, which are free to families. Additionally, it was also determined that the building housing the playschool does not meet current early childhood education standards for New York City.
Still, numerous civic members in attendance strongly opposed closing Dry Harbor Playschool and called for action to keep the facility alive.
“It would be a real shame to lose it,” said Brian Dooley, GPOA president, who told residents that he attended the school while growing up in the area. He lamented the city’s decision to come up with millions of dollars in funding for other projects— such as the renovations to the Ridgewood Reservoir—while also cutting other programs such as the preschool, which do not require such a large investment.
“To me, $75,000 doesn’t seem like a lot of money,” Dooley said. “It boggles my mind that they can’t find $75,000 for this [preschool].”
The civic group’s first vice president, Chris Kurre, asked Crowley what the organization can do to help keep the preschool going. The legislator suggested that GPOA contact the GRYC and launch a petition or a letter-writing campaign urging that the city restore funding for the program.
Crowley on education, Atlas Park
On other educational matters, Crowley also spoke about the opening of the Metropolitan Avenue schools complex in Forest Hills this September. The campus includes a new high school that will welcome, at the start, 350 students from around Glendale, Middle Village and Rego Park.
“We will have a state-of-the-art, beautiful campus,” she said regarding the $150 million project. “We’re going o make sure that it’s a successful community school.”
Most of the students at the high school are graduates of I.S. 119, which Crowley noted is experiencing a decline in enrollment since other elementary schools have expanded and graduate students in the eighth grade. As a result, the Council member noted that she is advocating for I.S. 119 and P.S. 91 to become K-to-8 elementary schools.
The Shops at Atlas Park facility on Cooper Avenue and 80th Street will be put up for auction in the next few weeks, Crowley advised. A number of bidders have come forward and expressed interest in the shopping center, including one group that has floated the prospect of opening outlet stores.
The legislator noted that she has approached the City University of New York (CUNY) regarding the possibility of bringing an educational facility to the site.
With Atlas Park’s future still a mystery, some in attendance expressed concern over the potential impact any changes would have on the community. Local resident Dori Capace charged that local streets would not be able to handle the heavy traffic that outlets might bring to the area.
Dooley stated that the civic group must take the initiative and reach out to the winning bidder to find out about their plans for Atlas Park and speak out for or against them.
“When we find out, we’ll have to be all over them,” he said.
The GPOA president along with the co-chair of Civics United for Railroad and Environmental Solutions (CURES), Mary Parisen, thanked all who participated in the coalition’s Apr. 24 Earth Day march and community cleanup.
Since the event, Parisen noted, CURES received word that the New York and Atlantic Railway will be provided with grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to install anti-idling equipment on their locomotives in an effort to reduce diesel emissions. Citing remarks from an EPA spokesperson, she observed that the development was “a small step in the right direction,” but added that the locomotives used by NYA should be replaced with hybrid engines.
Parisen also called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Long Island Rail Road—which leases the Fresh Pond Railyard and the LIRR Montauk and Bay Ridge branches to the NYA—to be held accountable for railroad improvements and contribute toward the replacement of the diesel locomotives.
Additionally, the CURES co-chair also informed residents of an agreement reached between CSX and Canadian Pacific rail—which runs two trains a week along the CSX line from Albany to the Fresh Pond Railyard— that would end the prolonged idling of these train cars near homes in Middle Village. Parisen stated that the cars would instead be shipped further south into the Fresh Pond Yard and away from adjacent residences.
The next Glendale Property Owners Association is scheduled to take place on Thursday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall, located at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and 68th Place.
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