The Juniper Park Civic Association and COMET (Citizens Of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together) will file an Order to Show Cause (OSC) in State Court against the New York City School Construction Authority concerning several issues with the proposed constriction of an 1100 seat high school. The two civic associations are charging that toxic data and information was not available to elected representatives in the New York City Council, since none of it was discussed or debated before a vote was taken on April 2, 2009, approving and authorizing the construction of the school.
The civics, together represent over 2,000 member families in Maspeth and Middle Village are concerned that their children and grandchildren, many of whom will be students at the new high school, will be deleteriously affected by the toxic site, causing serious and irreparable health problems.
The OSC states that these concerns were brought to the attention of local representatives in the City Council however such views were not shared with the rest of the Council, as indicated, and the measure, authorizing the construction of the school, was passed by a vote of 34-10.
The Plaintiff's case is largely based upon the investigation and analysis of an environmental expert, Dr. James M. Cervino.
The JPCA and COMET claim that the defendant, School Construction Authority, has not complied with nor has displayed any intention of complying with health and safety precautions so as to satisfy Federal and State standards.
"The SCA has failed to implement any scientifically effective efforts to abate the public health nuisance which will result at the toxic site where the school is to be constructed," said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
"It is critical that the requested temporary restraining order be issued prior to the hearing on the preliminary injunction in order to ensure that students, children and grandchildren of members of the Plaintiff's organization, do not suffer serious and life-threatening illnesses due to the toxic site," said Holden.
Both civic associations are also claiming that the 74th Street & 57th Avenue property is an inappropriate location for a 1,100 seat public high school because of traffic, transit and parking concerns as well as over-saturation due to the presence of two other schools within three blocks; Public School 58 and Intermediate School 73. "The school would have a major deleterious impact on public transportation and the communities served by the plaintiffs, cites the complaint.
The JPCA and COMET request that a temporary restraining order be issued immediately.
"The high school will draw students from throughout the five boroughs. With hundreds of students adding to our already overcrowded bus lines and with two other large schools within blocks of this site, it makes absolutely no sense to place a school here," said Robert Holden, president of the JPCA. In testimony to Deputy Mayor Walcott at a May 21st hearing at Our Lady of Hope Auditorium, Holden blasted the School Construction Authority, the Department of Education and the Mayor's office for not considering the impact this school would have on our community.
"We have sound scientific evidence and years of understanding what fits and doesn't fit in our neighborhood," said Holden. The mayor needs to understand that we as a community will not just roll over without a fight.
Attorney and former City Councilman Tom Ognibene has agreed to represent the JPCA and COMET. He said, "It is the duty of our government to protect its citizens from all forms or harm including the exposure of its most vulnerable citizens, our sons and daughters, to a potentially cancer causing toxic condition. It is clear from other school construction sites and from the School Construction Authority's own admissions, that the City has not been diligent in investigating, discovering and remediating dangerous toxic conditions. We do not want a repeat of this lack of due diligence here in our "hometown" of Maspeth and we will use every legal means available to protect our community and its residents."