The Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) is calling on NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn to investigate the April 2nd City Council vote on the construction of a High School on the corner of 57th Avenue and 74th Street in Maspeth. Robert Holden, president of the JPCA , said that council members were not given vital information that could have affected their vote on the 1,100 seat high school. The Council voted 38-10 to approve the site for a high school despite opposition from Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, Community Board 5, the Community Education Council (CEC), COMET, and JPCA. The Juniper Park Civic Association learned last week that the proposed site is contaminated with potentially cancer-causing toxins however city council members were not told of the levels or severity of the toxins.

Recently the JPCA asked Council Member Crowley to demand that the School Construction Authority (SCA) reveal to the public and the city council the environmental data that it withheld prior to the April 2nd vote. Crowley received the full report on April 29th and sent a copy to Dr. James Cervino, a Scientist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Visiting Scientist at Pace University whom the JPCA contacted to review the data.

Dr. Cervino found a number of major health concerns. “I have concluded that the chemical compounds that are proposed to be left in the soil with the current environmental controls will cause a serious health concern, including risk of cancer. Chemicals such as 1, 2-Benzo-anthracene, and Benzo[a]pyrene are known chemical carcinogens that bind with DNA, thereby causing mutations by disrupting the double-helical DNA structure. This can then disrupt the normal process of copying DNA that have been linked to cancer after exposure,” said Dr. Cervino.

Dr. Cervino also said that under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations, many of the chemical toxins found at this site are a characteristic hazardous waste. He also went on to comment that the SCA’s plan to remediate the hazardous waste is woefully inadequate.

The Juniper Park Civic Association is demanding that Council Speaker Quinn investigate why the detailed environmental report was withheld from the city council and the public and why the SCA never mentioned the severity of the environmental issues in their report to the city council.

The Juniper Park Civic Association is currently meeting with attorneys to review possible legal action against the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education