Further Details Of Proposal Learned
A homeless shelter proposed for an industrial site in Glendale dominated discussion during the Middle Village Property Owners/Residents Association meeting held at St. Margaret Parish Hall Monday, Jan. 13.
The shelter, proposed by nonprofit Samaritan Village, would house up to 125 homeless families with children at a former manufacturing site at 78- 16 Cooper Ave.
Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano and Neil Giannelli, a representative for State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, were on hand to answer questions about the proposal. Both stated their offices are against the shelter.
Giannelli started by explaining the shelter would be for homeless families. A typical family using such Addabbo dated last Thursday, Jan. 9, called on the mayor to stop the plan over environmental concerns about the location.
As previously reported, Samaritan Village-a nonprofit organization-submitted a proposal in August to the DHS to create the transitional shelter for up to 125 families on the Cooper Avenue site. Despite opposition voiced by local elected officials and residents, the DHS recommended approval of the plan last month.
In the Jan. 6 letter, Hevesi, Miller, Meng and Crowley expressed their “strong reservations” to de Blasio and Taylor about the suitability of the location,” charging that the DHS-in favoring the Glendale proposal- went against its own criteria for siting a homeless shelter.
“While there are multiple concerns about this particular proposal, the vast majority of our reservations are focused on the site’s relative proximity to the necessary public resources that would be needed to help residents successfully transition into permanent housing,” they wrote.
The lawmakers stated the site is “nearly 1.3 miles away from the nearest subway station,” which is the Metropolitan Avenue M train station in Middle Village. Several bus lines-including the Q29, Q47 and Q54-are located several blocks away 80th Street.
The DHS previously claimed the site was suitable given its “proximity to public transportation” and that “it is not expected that the proposed shelter will negatively affect neighborhood traffic”-an argument which the lawmakers claimed made no sense.
“First and foremost, a distance of over a mile to the subway cannot be considered convenient or accessible to residents of the facility, who will need public transportation to commute to off-site linkage services, educational institutions, stores and workplaces,” they wrote. “In addition, our offices regularly receive calls regarding overcrowding on the limited bus service that runs in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site.”
The lack of transportation in the area and the site’s location itself also calls into question the DHS’ consideration of the “cost-effective delivery of services,” according to Hevesi, Miller, Meng and Crowley. Though the DHS estimated it would cost $27 million to operate the shelter over the first five years, the analysis conducted which led to that figure did “not address any specific costefficiencies that demonstrate the benefits of the development of this particular facility or proposal.”
As a result, “such an excessive commitment of taxpayer funds to this project appears hasty and illconceived,” the lawmakers added.
They also took issue with the DHS’ revelation that average shelter stay lengths have increased by 16 percent in the last year.
“If that is the case, then it does not stand to reason as a basic policy matter that the solution to that particular failure on the part of DHS is to continue to build facilities, including ones that don’t meet its own basic criteria for success like this one,” the legislators told de Blasio and Taylor. “We hope that, as a new administration, you will look to address that particular problem by undertaking a comprehensive analysis of how all DHS operations have combined to create that very unfortunate increase in turnaround time for families in need.”
Regarding the Jan. 9 letter, Addabbo and Miller advised Mayor de Blasio that the Cooper Avenue location “was a manufacturing site for many years” and “has stood vacant for quite some time and is in poor condition.” They claimed the building would need “substantial work” in order to bring it “up to code.”
“The proposed shelter is surrounded by other manufacturing properties and is adjacent to a hazardous chemical storage facility and the LIRR Montauk freight rail line,” Addabbo and Miller wrote to de Blasio. “The building is surrounded by designated Brownfields and a declared Superfund site. We believe that given the size of the proposed facility and the environmental concerns of the property, to utilize the site as living space is irrational.”
The lawmakers referred in their letter to the site’s neighbors, which include the Independent Chemical Corporation on 79th Place and the former Kliegman Brothers dry cleaning warehouse on 77th Avenue, where a cleanup of an underground plume of chemicals-overseen by the state Department of Environmental Conservation-is ongoing.
Copies of the Jan. 6 letter were forwarded to Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Director of the City Office of Management and Budget Dan Fuleihan. Stringer and Fuleihan, as well as DHS Commissioner Taylor, also received copies of the Jan. 9 letter.
A DHS spokesperson told the Times Newsweekly on Tuesday, Jan. 14, the agency is “closely reviewing the concerns of the elected officials and community members in Glendale.”
“Should the agency proceed, the proposed site will undergo a complete environmental review as required by New York City procurement rules,” the spokesperson added.