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Study on opening shelter in Glendale afoot: Pols

By Sarina Trangle

Glendale may be one study closer to hosting a homeless shelter.

Several politicians said they learned the city Department of Homeless Services has begun the City Environmental Quality Review Process for a proposed 125-family shelter, at 78-16 Cooper Ave., during a meeting with the department’s Commissioner Gilbert Taylor two weeks ago.

Although DHS did not give elected officials many details about the timeline, state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi’s (D-Forest Hill) chief of staff Alexander Schnell said the city indicated it would hire a private firm to conduct the study to ensure it was unbiased. The quickest the agency could recall such a review being completed was nine months, according to Schnell.

“To me, it is a valid question as to whether it’s environmentally sound,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach). “We were assured our concerns were being considered while they move ahead in the environmental study.”

DHS declined to comment.

The review process examines potential adverse impacts of proposals and proposes measures to mitigate or prevent them.

The process includes the publication of a draft environmental impact statement, which contains technical analysis of the existing property conditions and the future conditions with or without the proposal being adopted. It concludes with a public hearing on the document and the release of a finalized environmental impact statement that incorporates public feedback.

Any related contract could not be sent to the city comptroller’s office for approval until the review is complete, elected officials said.

Glendale has spoken out against the idea of turning 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a temporary shelter since Samaritan Village, a Briarwood-based nonprofit, sent the city a proposal in August to turn the former sewing mill and airplane part manufacturing plant into a shelter for 125 families.

Neighbors and elected officials have said they thought it would be more cost-effective to open a shelter in a residential building closer to subway lines, service providers and jobs. The Cooper Avenue building is roughly 1.3 miles from the subway.

Others have raised safety concerns, voiced fears about plummeting property values and worried about shelter residents further crowding school classrooms.

DHS and Samaritan Village have said the neighborhood does not have a shelter and more facilities are needed in Queens as families struggle to find affordable housing and battle foreclosures.

In response to the backlash, DHS agreed to meet with a handful of elected officials last month.

Following the meeting, the lawmakers said the department had not yet come to a budget agreement with Samaritan Village in contract negotiations, but had begun the review process.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside), Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblymen Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven), City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), Hevesi and Addabbo sent a letter to Community Board 5 urging it to discuss the environmental study with DHS and Samaritan Village.

CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said the board received the letter Tuesday.

“We are reviewing how we are going to proceed,” he said. “It looks as if we are likely going to invite them to attend some sort of a community board meeting.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

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