Community members joined State Senator Tony Avella and the Flushing Heights Civic Association in front of Great Sunshine Daycare’s construction site on Friday to protest the center.
Located two blocks from P.S. 173, the daycare center would be among single-family homes and adjacent to a narrow one-way street. Approximately 282 children will attend the center, causing a consistent traffic nightmare, residents worry.
Residents said they found out about the daycare center a little over year ago, when two or three homeowner received a notice about construction.
A petition with 250 signatures opposing the daycare halted its progress, and the property owner listed it for sale for a few months. But earlier this year, the owner decided to push ahead with the daycare center.
Thus far, the city has given its approval to Great Sunshine Daycare, but Avella wants the Department of Buildings to request a traffic study to be included in the permit process.
“Nobody’s against the daycare center in principle, but the City of New York should be making sure that these types of facilities go in appropriate locations,” Avella said. “What should be important is quality of life, preservation of the neighborhood and safety.
“Overall, this project is not safe for either the people in the neighborhood or the parents bringing their children here,” he added.
Parking in the area is already lacking, residents said, adding that the problem will only get worse once the new teachers and parents arrive. There are also concerns regarding parents double-parking and blocking driveways.
Though the owner of the property is considering the possibility of adding a “drive-thru”-like space around the facility for child drop offs, Avella pointed out that this method won’t work either because people won’t wait.
Resident Robert Stavisky complained about a “complete traffic gridlock” when he takes his daughter to school each morning.
“It’s taking me ten minutes to get off the block, and when I make the left turn I’ve almost been in several accidents with cars coming down the wrong side of the street to cut across traffic,” he said.
A few years ago, his son was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in front of their home, and Stavisky is worried the addition of the daycare center will only make a dangerous situation worse.
Avella met with the property owner a few months ago. He advised the owner to build two single-family homes, which Avella said would still yield a profit.
“I told him the opposition wouldn’t go away,” Avella said. “Even if he built it, there are going to be complaints every single day about illegal parking.”
Civic president Bill Anello added that Great Sunshine Daycare is planning to have heating and ventilation units on top of the building with a play area surrounded by a 10-foot steel fence.
For neighbors living next door to the daycare the noise will be unbearable, he said.
Anello also pointed to sanitation problems. Since the daycare isn’t a public building, he figures there will be private garbage trucks coming through the neighborhood several times a week, as well as four or five dumpsters near the property.
“What do the dumpsters bring?” Anello asked. “Rats.”
Residents are also concerned property values will go down.
“Their ‘Great Sunshine’ is our solar eclipse,” said resident Tomi Anello. “The owner doesn’t care about anything but the money going into his pockets.
“We’re planning on fighting this,” she added. “They can slap cuffs on me and drag me away but I will fight.”