Albany – Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Education Committee Chair, announced today she will sponsor a community forum to increase awareness about reported contamination at Information Technology High School. The New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and New York State Healthy Schools Network will co-sponsor the event with Assemblywoman Nolan, which will be held at The Citibank Building, located at 1 Court Square (4th Floor Atrium) in Long Island City, Monday, October 15, 2007 at 6:30pm.
Technology High School in Long Island City, Queens, is housed in a former metal plating factory leased by the New York City Department of Education and the School Construction Authority in 2003. Recent reports have revealed an increase in levels of contamination found in the soil beneath the school. Assemblywoman Nolan wants the community to have the opportunity to ask questions and share their concerns. She has invited Lenny Siegel, an environmental expert from the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest to give presentations on the effects of contamination at Info Tech. Assemblywoman Nolan represents the district the school is located within.
Assemblywoman Nolan is the sponsor of a bill (A.8838) that would avoid housing schools at potentially toxic sites by improving oversight standards and require the Department of Education accountable to the public from the beginning of the process. The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 150 to 0 during the legislative session. “The State Senate must act to pass a strong bill like the one Nolan has championed, and the City needs to wake up, smell the toxins, and stop opposing efforts to provide more oversight,” said Dave Palmer, staff Attorney for the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
“Most people know their own neighborhoods and would have knowledge about how vacant buildings were used in the past. Public disclosure, the opportunity for the City Council to vote, and the use of the state’s standard environmental review process would provide a necessary safeguard. Parents deserve to know if Info Tech is a safe school for their children and communication is the key,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.
“If I had been asked, I probably would have recommended against putting a school on this site,” said Lenny Siegel, a community environmental consultant and Executive Director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight. “Given that the school is already there, they seem to have a robust remedial strategy. However, the way they communicate with the community needs significant improvement, and this site will need careful watching for a long time.”