CB 5 Told Glendale’s Getting It
Tensions flared over the proposed Glendale homeless shelter during the Community Board 5 meeting Wednesday, July 10, inMiddle Village-especially after one elected official stated “this game is over.”
Though he believes the shelter coming to the neighborhood is inevitable, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said during last Wednesday’s session at Christ the King Regional High School he would continue to fight the project, to be located at a defunct factory, at 78-16 CooperAve.
“I’m going to tell you something that you’re not going to like to hear …. I believe we’re not in the game, this game is over, okay,” He told the packed room.
Hevesi said he began to suspect that “this is a steamroll, this was not going to be stopped,” while attending a previous public hearing, and is … now absolutely convinced of it,” the assemblyman said.
In the face of community opposition and on the heels of angry protests, an environmental assessment study (EAS) has cleared the site for such a facility. This hurdle cleared, Hevesi wants residents to brace for its coming.
“We are going to have do our best to prepare for this horrifically bad circumstance that none of us want, he said. “I believe this is a done deal.”
The site is located next to a chemical storage facility, a compelling reason to not locate families there, Board 5 members have said. Hevesi agrees, going further to argue that the EAS is flawed.
“That EAS is a disgrace. And the company that put it out, AECOM, which is an internationally renowned company with 45,000 workers they do this all over the place, their work product is horrific. There are so many holes in that, it’s ridiculous,” he said.
Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano also addressed the EAS and advised that the decision now lies in the mayors’ hands.
“There are all sorts of, if anybody has seen this environmental assessment statement, there are all sorts of holes in the statement, and they basically disregard the fact that the environmental issues, which I think are the paramount issues. That it is next a chemical storage and distribution facility, that’s totally lost on their environmental assessment,” Giordano said.
“And I said it before, that this whole process seems to me to be at least very questionable, its the worst that I’ve seen in government in the 25 years that I have been here,” he added. “I know that they are desperate to house people, but this is an insane place for a whole host of reasons. And I think the main reasons are environmental. So I think we’re looking at taking legal action, and even if they start construction I think we need to do that, because this is one of the craziest things I have ever seen the City of New York do.”
Giordano then advised those angry over the issue to “in as diplomatic a fashion as possible … [to] get after the mayor. That’s my suggestion in the short-term. But so far we’ve all been ignored, even our elected officials have been ignored,” he added.
Hevesi said he also feels the community’s concerns have not been considered.
“You’ll notice at the front of the EAS, … the community board has some time to respond, you have until what is it, (last) Friday to respond, and it specifically says we’re doing this as a courtesy, a courtesy, it says it twice, translation: there’s no mandate for us to stop this. [The DHS is] doing this as a courtesy,” he said.
Hevesi told the meeting that when the letter responding to the EAS, authoredby Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri, is received, no response will be forthcoming regarding the boards’ concerns.
“They’re not going to respond. The comptroller (Scott Stringer) can’t stop it. The only legal way the comptroller can stop this project from happening is if the numbers do not add up,” Hevesi said.
“He’s not allowed to say I dont think it’s a good idea, he’s not allowed to say this community doesn’t want it. Legally, he cannot do that. Guys this has been a steamroll from the start,” he added.
Finding someone to blame
Several residents took the dais, and based on the belief that crime will increase while property values drop as a result of the shelter, angrily declared their opposition to housing up to 125 homeless families in the neighborhood during the public hearing.
Resident Nunzio Russo blamed the board and the local politicians for the shelter coming to Glendale.
“I would like you all to look around at this table and all our representatives. You can thank them for this thing they are going to build,” he said to applause from the crowd.
“The board approved it, the representatives approved it. And they keep on approving things like this all the time. There’s only one way you can stop things like this, that’s in November,” he added.
Neither the community board, City Council members or state elected officials actually voted to approve the project, State Sen. Addabbo noted.
He addressed the meeting and took exception to Russo’s statements; Russo continuously interrupted him throughout Addabbo’s statement.
“Every elected official is against the shelter,” Addabbo said. “Let’s be clear about the process. Cause all of the elected officials are against this shelter … we as elected officials, collectively, since we’ve been writing letters to every one of them, including Scott Stringer, we have been against this shelter.”
“And we won’t stop,” Addabbo added. Personally I won’t stop until the ground is broken and there is a ribbon cutting, which I wont attend. The bottom line is we don’t stop writing on this. The problem is … I don’t trust Samaritan Village. Somebody like that we can’t trust.”
“I will continue to fight until this thing is done,” he concluded.
“Don’t talk and say what are you when you and all the appointed officials did, there’s no baloney with this, and we hear you saying the board had nothing to do with it, that’s a lie,” Russo retorted. “The board has a lot to do with it. They take care of the area, that’s what they were put here for.”
When Russo exited the meeting a short time later, he shouted “November,” several times.
Pent up during public forum
During the public forum, there was another heated exchange between Arcuri and residents that wanted to ask questions and why they were not acknowledged to speak.
Arcuri told fuming residents upset the board would not take questions from the public, “this is not the meeting for it. Please … there is no back and forth conversation, not now, not now,” he said.
As per community board procedure, only a person who signed up to speak during the public forum may do so; questions from others in the audience are not entertained.
“We have the right to our opinions,” one resident stated. “You have your right to constantly keep telling us quiet, quiet, quiet. We listen to you, you listen to us. This community consists of all of us.”
Many that spoke during the public forum echoed concerns over crime and property values, while one, Angelica Harris, a Glendale resident that tutors college-bound students said she is concerned for young people in the community and said, “we need to keep the element away from our children.”
“What I’m worried about is the kids that I work with … if, God forbid, the shelter comes to us,” she said.
“They shouldn’t be walking over there, late at night, with that kind of an element, that’s what I am worried about. Our children need to be safe … We need safety. We need to keep our kids safe, we need to keep our teenagers safe.”
Michelle Smith has lived in Glendale for 20 years, and also believes the shelter will have a negative impact on the community.
“The fact that they are going to put a homeless shelter is so disturbing … my kids and kids in the area hang out and walk around, and I have 85 percent comfort in that,” she said.
Smith then said she is now considering moving as a result.
“My husband wants to move tomorrow. Put my house up for sale that I worked so hard to have. People have to really think about this. This is damaging to many kids out there, and it’s near a school,” she added.
A failure ‘on every level’
Leslie Stefano spread blame around for the project not being stopped.
“I want to talk to the board as well as the members of our community. I know you guys all dedicate a lot of time and energy to what we do here, but what we’re seeing here is a failure of government on every level,” she said to applause.
“And this board and this community needs to be our voice in the community. We are shrinking we are dying, thats why we’re not getting schools. We’re not being rallied, we’re not coming together … there are people that can’t even find this board meting when they are looking for it,” she added.
“If we don’t start screaming, no one is going to hear us,” Stefano state.
Dawn Scala also laid some of the blame on the board and local politicians.
“I’m actually appalled that we are here to still talk about this homeless shelter now at the 11th hour. This should have been stopped months ago. People have been dragging their feet, not taking action. Taking weeks to send out letters,” she said.
“I understand, yes, the community board, they do a lot of work and volunteering .. the city is not dragging their feet, they are moving forward. Why is it taking so long us so long to get information?”
“We need the people in this room, we need the local officials, we need the people on the community board to reach out to their contacts immediately and get the information that we need. We need to reach out to other community boards who have fought shelters, find out what worked, what didn’t work, what they would do differently.”
Time to leave town?
Local real estate agency owner Deborah Kueber has lived in Glendale for over 30 years. She claimed to have already received phone calls from potential buyers that are no longer considering Glendale because of the shelter, she claimed.
“I came here to say that putting a shelter of 125 families in that location is beyond the wrong thing to do. Besides all the negative reasons we all know about, our property values will absolutely plummet. I am already seeing it.
“I am already getting phone calls from potential buyers they want to move to Glendale, but they say, and they are saying it, ‘I am not interested if it’s near the homeless shelter.’ Just last week a homeowner called, put their home on the market … he finally admitted to me, his mother lives in the home and he doesn’t want her living there once the shelter opens.”
Steve Zincek said, “while people are talking about that they’re having no schools built, but they’re worried about the quality of life issues around the homeless shelter. That it’s going to create more crime, well it will. That I just heard a lady saying that she is worried about this homeless shelter, that her husband is willing to sell his house tomorrow over this.”
“I’ll be retiring in about six years. Do I want to stay here? Absolutely not,” he stated.
Liquor license notifications
Arcuri notified the community of a new liquor license application for Trans-Pecos Inc., located at 9-15 Wyckoff Ave in Ridgewood; liquor license renewals for The Celi House Inc., located at 69-56 Grand Ave in Maspeth; Oceans Lounge Inc., d/b/a Oceans Lounge, located at 65-17 Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood; Wakamatsu Japanese Restaurant Inc., located at 70-18 Grand Ave. in Maspeth; and new wine or beer licenses for Rico’s Chicken Corp., d/b/a Rico’s Chicken, located at 74- 27 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village.
Arcuri noted demolition notices for 57-12 58th Pl. in Maspeth; 64-46 82nd Pl. in Middle Village; 20-41 Palmetto St., 19-29 Putnam Ave., 16- 26 Madison St. and 16-14 Madison St. in Ridgewood; and 67-12 51st Rd. in Woodside.
Anyone wishing to comment on any of the applications can call Board 5 at its Glendale office at 1-718-366- 1834.
The next Community Board 5 meeting will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at Christ the King High School, 68-02 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village. All meetings begin at 7:30 p.m.