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City cleans Glen Oaks site where homeless had lived

By Howard Koplowitz

The city Department of Transportation kicked the two homeless people off the desolate property near the Glen Oaks Campus about a year ago and began clearing off brush and removing debris from the site Monday, according to local civic leaders.”This is a disgrace,” said Bob Friedrich, president of the nearby Glen Oaks Village and a City Council candidate. “We don't want people living on property that is adjacent to three schools. This is not a hotel. We don't know who these people are.”A man sitting in a DOT truck parked at the site said he could not comment because he was unauthorized to speak to the media.Scott Gastel, a DOT spokesman, said a crew at the site Monday was performing “routine brush clearing” and “routine road maintenance.”He could not confirm people living at the site or that electricity was being used.”We did not have reports of any pole tapping,” Gastel said.But Greg Hansen of the North Bellerose Civic Association said the agency found two homeless people living there about a year ago.Friedrich said the homeless hooked up to electricity from a lamppost on the Grand Central, although it was unclear what they were connecting to.A bunch of televisions, computers, a microwave, an adding machine and an address book dating back to the 1960's was found at the site by Hansen when he was jogging in the area about two months ago.Bruno DeFranceschi, the president of the North Bellerose Civic Association, said he was shocked that the site was inhabited. He said he thought the items were being dumped from cars riding on the Grand Central.”We never knew this,” DeFranceschi said. “It was a lot of stuff. I couldn't believe it.”On the other side of Commonwealth Boulevard is a bunker-type structure on state property known to civic leaders as “The Cave,” which is covered with graffiti and littered with beer bottles.State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said the property where The Cave is situated belongs to the Queens Psychiatric Center.He said the facility received funding from the state Office of Mental Health to seal off the bunker.Padavan said the hospital needs additional money to eventually demolish The Cave.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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