It wasn’t built on an old native burial ground, but two councilmen are up in arms over a Queens high school's location. The Department of Education failed to disclose that Information Technology High School in Long Island City, which opened in 2003, was built on the former location of the Gould Mercereau metal-plating warehouse – one apparently chock full of lead and petrochemicals.
City Councilmen James Gennaro and Eric Gioia claim that the city exploited a loophole which shielded the school from public review – something that would have been mandatory had the school been built on city-owned land. Instead, by constructing the building on a leased piece of private land, the city was able to avoid telling the public that the property had undergone extensive cleanup as well as the installation of a vapor extraction system which removes harmful products from the possibly toxic ground lying underneath.
This is all compounded by the fact that the environmental consultant on the project recommended that the extraction system be shut off until further tests were run to make sure that it wasn’t drawing in dangerous vapors from nearby sites. The system is currently still in place.
The Education Department has countered by claiming that there is no serious threat and that an air quality test performed earlier this month demonstrated that the school is safe (where have we heard that before?). However, parents are finding little solace in any level of reassurance they are given by officials, given what they feel has been something of a cover-up, with some threatening to pull their kids from the school. For now, we would recommend not picking up any tiki dolls seen lying about.