2016-10-26 / Features

Officials Call On City: Downsize South Corona


Congressman Joseph Crowley, state Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblyman Francisco P. Moya, and members of Community Board 4 gathered outside of P.S. 16’s classroom trailers to urge the City to downgrade South Corona’s existing zoning code. Congressman Joseph Crowley, state Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblyman Francisco P. Moya, and members of Community Board 4 gathered outside of P.S. 16’s classroom trailers to urge the City to downgrade South Corona’s existing zoning code. Congressman Joseph Crowley, state Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblyman Francisco P. Moya, and members of Community Board 4 gathered outside of P.S. 16’s classroom trailers on October 17th to call for an immediate response to the district’s overcrowded schools, urging the City to downgrade South Corona’s existing zoning code.

South Corona’s public schools demonstrate the consequences of development outpacing a neighborhood’s ability to absorb the relevant population surge. PS. 16, P.S. 19, and P.S. 28, for example, are currently at 144%, 140% and 178% capacity, respectively. Each time a one- or two-family home is demolished to make way for a multiple family dwelling, as zoning currently allows, an influx of students are assigned to schools that haven’t the space to accommodate them.

The legislators pointed towards P.S. 16’s school trailers, known as transportable classroom units (TCU), as an example of how the unsustainable population growth in the area was affecting students’ quality of education. Separated from the street by only a wire fence, prone to heating and A/C failures and poorly insulated, the trailers create unsafe and unsuitable conditions for students and are often used in perpetuity.

According to the U.S. Census, after the Rockaways, Corona had the steepest climb in population within Queens – a 3.3% increase. Down-zoning South Corona from R5(A)(B) or R6(B) to a lower designation would limit density and the trend of replacing homes with high-rise buildings. Not only are schools over-capacity, but even the 7 line which services the area, as per the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s own numbers, is at capacity and subject to dangerous overcrowding.

“Smart development requires building in a way that is consistent with the neighborhood that’s being developed. The neighborhood can’t absorb the burgeoning population and students end up suffering for it. The 7 train servicing the area is also dangerously crowded. We are calling on the City to immediately reassess the neighborhood’s zoning so that, before we add any more students to our schools, we can find seats for students that already don’t have one,” said Moya.

“It is irresponsible and unfair to the families that live in our communities, to allow the overdevelopment of our neighborhoods without first investing in our infrastructure and ensuring we’re able to provide the services they need and deserve. That lack of fairness is all the more evident by the conditions under which many of the children in South Corona are forced to learn in. Making sure they’re put in a position to succeed has to be our number one priority, and that means guaranteeing an adequate learning environment for every child. As we continue to work to alleviate our overcrowded schools, I join Assemblyman Moya, Senator Peralta and local residents in this effort to ensure the responsible growth of our community,” said Rep. Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx).

“The City needs to balance development in the Borough of Queens with an equal focus on using zoning as a tool to preserve the bedroom communities which make up an important part of our borough’s housing stock.” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

“There is a clear need to look at all possible ways to alleviate the chronic school overcrowding that has been affecting our district for years and decades. Not far from here, for example, P.S. 143, built for 900 students, had an enrollment of 1,284 schoolchildren for the year 2008-09, jumping to 1,782 for the academic year 2012- 13.” said Peralta (D-East Elmhurst).

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