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a Willing Coalition

Glendale, M.V. Groups Unite In Shelter Fight

Civic groups and business leaders in Glendale and Middle Village are banding together to fight a city-approved plan for a transitional housing shelter on the neighborhood’s Cooper Avenue border.

The Glendale-Middle Village Coalition, as it is called, has already raised more than $10,000 to cover legal expenses as it gears up for a showdown with the city Department of Homeless Services (DHS) regarding the fate of 78-16 Cooper Ave.

That is the address of a longunused factory which the nonprofit group Samaritan Village, with the DHS’ approval, intends to transform into a homeless shelter housing up to 125 families with children. The controversial plan, first reported inAugust 2013, drew critics from both Glendale and Middle Village, who claim the location is inappropriate for myriad reasons, such as the expense of converting the site for residential use, and fears of its population further straining infrastructure and overcrowded schools.

The coalition came together weeks after the DHS announced an environmental study of the site concluded it was suitable for development of a shelter. Among the groups involved include the Glendale Civic Association, led by Kathy Masi; the Glendale Property Owners Association, led by Brian Dooley; the Juniper Park Civic Association, led by Robert Holden; and the Middle Village Chamber of Commerce and the Middle Village Property Owners/Residents Association, both of which are led by Sal Crifasi.

In a post on the Times Newsweekly’s Facebook page last Friday, Sept. 5, Crifasi stated the coalition believes the site “should best be used to relieve the overcrowded schools in our community.”

Crifasi told the Times Newsweekly the coalition members are “brainstorming” to determine alternate uses for the shelter site, including school development, along with preparing for a legal battle with the city.

Holden told this paper the coalition, in private meetings, received good involvement from various community activists and businesses in both neighborhoods. He told the Times Newsweekly onWednesday, Sept. 10, the coalition will hold a public meeting on Wednesday night, Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King Regional High School, located at 68-02 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village.

“We’re off to a very good start. Everybody seems committed and pulling together,” Holden said. “It’s giving people hope, at least, at this point.”

The coalition is accepting donations from residents supportive of their cause. Donations may be made online at www.gofundme.com/CooperAve nueShelter or by mail to the Glendale-Middle Village Coalition, c/o Crifasi Real Estate, 79-47 Metropolitan Ave., Middle Village, NY 11379.

As previously reported, the DHS granted Samaritan Village a five-year contract worth $27 million to operate the Glendale shelter. The contract does not include costs related to its conversion, which are reportedly the responsibility of the property’s owner, Michael Wilner, who is leasing the site to Samaritan Village.

Questions arose over the location’s safety since it is located in the heart of an industrial area and adjacent to the Independent Chemical Corporation, which is known to store various hazardous chemicals on site.

But after the DHS declared in July the shelter site safe, local elected officials and civic advocates called on the School Construction Authority (SCA) to step in and acquire it for new school development. City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, at that time, pointed out the SCA previously rejected her request to consider building a school there.

Meanwhile, Independent Chemical’s days at its present location may be numbered, according to anAug. 5 letter from Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that the Times Newsweekly obtained.

Venetia Lannon, the DEC’s Region 2 Director, told Holden that Independent Chemical’s owner, Jonathan Spielman, “indicated that the company is fully committed to moving its regulated activity out of this location by the beginning of next year.” The DEC issued violations to the company following a July inspection for assorted, unidentified violations found on site that were subsequently corrected.

Another neighbor to the shelter site, the Hansel& Gretel deli meat company, permanently closed in June for unspecified reasons; the site is now listed for sale.

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