Not in my backyard.
That’s the sentiment of residents, business owners, politicians and civic leaders about a proposed homeless shelter in an empty, rundown Glendale factory.
The community is planning to prevent nonprofit Samaritan Village from buying the property at 78-16 Cooper Avenue and transforming it into transitional housing if the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) gives its approval.
“They [Samaritan Village] need to be reasonable about it and do what is in the best interest of the community and the people that would reside there,” said Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association. “It wouldn’t make sense to put them in area where there is no transportation.”
Last week, Samaritan Village told Community Board 5 in a letter that the nonprofit has submitted a proposal to DHS requesting to convert the site in question. There are no shelters in CB 5, according to DHS, so it would be the first in the area if the plan comes to fruition.
The nonprofit wants to house 125 families on the property, but opponents of the homeless shelter believe that would overwhelm the schools in Glendale, which many say are already overcrowded.
The site, which was a factory devoted to making airplane parts more than a decade ago, rests on toxic and contaminated land, according to Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who has toured the area a number of times.
Crowley, who also plans to fight the proposal, said the building is in dire need of repairs that would cost taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars.”
“It looks like the plan is not economically feasible and would be a waste,” she said.
Last year, when rumors surfaced that Samaritan Village wanted to buy the property from owner Michael Wilner of Wilner Realty Management LLC., the Glendale Civic Association quickly voiced its opposition.
Masi conceded the shelter is a good cause, but said it would be better for Samaritan Village to pick a different location. She suggested the shuttered Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica or St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst.
Samaritan Village declined to comment on the pressure from the community against its proposal and why it choose that site.
“Our proposal is under review,” a spokesperson for the organization said.
For the moment, no meetings have been scheduled with CB 5. The board is waiting to see the full proposal and the Department of Homeless Services’ assessment, which will be “carefully reviewed,” according to a DHS official.
“What we need to do right now is to communicate that this is an inappropriate site to the applicant and to the Department of Homeless Services,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5.
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