By Rich Bockmann
Since its attempt to acquire more land on the Creedmoor Psychiatric Campus in Bellerose fell through last year, the Indian Cultural and Community Center is hoping to provide alternative access to its proposed developments, but the community is reluctant to approve anything before investigations into the center’s controversial dealings are concluded.
The ICCC purchased two parcels on the campus nestled between the Grand Central and Cross Island parkways from the state Dormitory Authority for $1.8 million back in 2008, with the intention of building a community center.
The center is closely aligned with the Floral Park-based St. Gregorios Malankara Orthodox Church, which has about 100 members and is one of 60 parishes operated by the American Diocese of the Indian Orthodox Church.
The land was later assessed at $7.8 million, raising questions about why the deal was approved when the sales price was so low.
The ICCC later changed its plans to include two nine-story apartment buildings for seniors, and last year the center unsuccessfully lobbied state legislators to approve the purchase of a third plot that would have provided access along Union Turnpike to the proposed developments.
“That other parcel … is not available now for other reasons — I’ll just say for political reasons right now,” Jordan Most, a lawyer for the ICCC, told Community Board 13 Monday night.
“Among the problems with property right now is that there is no access to a mapped street,” he said. “It’s landlocked, so to speak.”
After state legislators redrew a bill to approve the land sale, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ordered the center to hand over information to the state inspector general about the investors who helped purchase the land in 2008.
The center is now looking for approval from the city Board of Standards and Appeals to provide access through a vehicular easement on the eastern side of the property by 82nd Avenue.
Due to a scheduling conflict, the community board’s Land Use Committee report was not available Monday, so members could not vote on the application, although the surrounding controversies seemed to be enough to put them off on from taking any position on the center’s dealings.
“Given the fact that we have never had any closure on any investigations that are taking place within the state, I feel that we are not in a position to vote either way on anything regarding this,” said CB 13 member Charlie Farruggia.
When the state’s legislative lines were redrawn earlier this year, the Creedmoor Campus was removed from state Sen. Tony Avella’s (D-Bayside) district and placed in Sen. Malcolm Smith’s (D-St. Albans).
Avella has been a vocal critic of the original land deal, and Smith introduced the bill on the second one, though he later pulled his support.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.