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Costly Shelter Fight

Glendale-M.V. Group Seeks More Donations For Litigation

Halfway toward its fundraising goal, the Glendale Middle Village Coalition repeated its call for continued community support to fight the proposed Glendale homeless shelter during a joint meeting with the Glendale Property Owners Association (GPOA) last Thursday night, Nov. 6, at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall.

GPOA President Brian Dooley, whose group is part of the coalition of civic and business organizations against the shelter for up to 125 families at 78-16 Cooper Ave., stated that $62,700 in donations were received as of Nov. 4. This was enough to begin the first stage in the coalition’s legal fight, but additional funds are needed to take other measures, noted attorney Fred Haller, a member of the coalition’s legal team.

The first funds were used for the filing of an Article 78 petition challenging the environmental assessment report that the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) had completed for the shelter site, a long-defunct factory. Though the report concluded the location was safe for development, as previously reported, community activists believe otherwise, citing its past industrial history and close proximity to locations known or suspected to be contaminated.

If the coalition wins this legal challenge, Haller said, the DHS would be required to complete an environmental impact study for the site-a process that includes public review and could take between two to three years to complete.

“It’s a lot more detailed, more costly and time consuming than what was done,” he noted.

Presently, the coalition is waiting for a formal response to the petition from the city, a precursor to a formal hearing.

But the filing didn’t come cheap, Dooley stated, as the coalition used donated funds to pay a $10,000 retainer for the attorney that filed it, with additional payments to the counsel forthcoming in the weeks ahead. The entire Article 78 proceeding was estimated to cost about $30,000.

Haller, however, noted the organization would use other funds raised, and future donations, to pursue other legal actions against the shelter, including a potential filing in federal court, as well as retaining attorneys specializing in certain legal areas such as environmental law. Such actions could cost the coalition more than $100,000.

“There are many different ways to attack this legally,” he said. “Those actions will be concurrent with the [Article 78] action.”

Raising more than $60,000 in just four months since the coalition was formed was an impressive feat, but Dooley and Haller cautioned the money needs to keep coming in to give the communities the best chance at defeating the shelter plan.

One way the coalition hopes to reach their fundraising goal of over $130,000 is through its block captain network. Coalition member Deborah Kueber stated captains would go door-to-door on their block to inform neighbors about the shelter and solicit donations. The captains would be provided regular information through email blasts from coalition leaders, she added.

Dooley believes this technique would be the most fruitful, as neighbors would be more willing to listen and donate to people they know. So far, families and individual residents provided donations ranging from as little as $4 to as much as $1,000.

Businesses provided donations ranging between $50 and $2,000, while civic groups contributed between $1,000 and $5,000, Dooley stated.

Coming off a successful October fundraiser at Yerman’s Pub in Glendale-in which the coalition received more than $8,000 in donations-the group will soon hold another fundraising event, according to Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association. Working with Frank Tranchina of the Kiwanis Club of Glendale, the coalition is planning a pasta dinner to be scheduled in the coming weeks.

While encouraging further participation and donation from the public, Dooley summarized the general opposition to the shelter, which the nonprofit group Samaritan Village plans to operate under a four-year, $27 million contract with the DHS.

“We’re trying to institutionalize welfare instead of providing jobs and institutionalizing 125 families in one location,” Dooley said, referring to the city’s plan. “That’s like putting a whole city block in one area. hellip; It makes you wonder who’s looking out for the tax-paying citizens of this community-and I hate to say it, but sometimes, it looks like no one.”

Dig they must

Moving on with its regular agenda, Dooley and Community Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri informed residents of a water main replacement project underway in eastern Glendale.

The GPOA president explained the work is taking place in an area generally bounded by 77th Avenue, Union Turnpike and 85th through 88th streets, though it includes a portion of Myrtle Avenue. Many gas and utility lines were relocated under the streets in recent weeks to prepare for the work.

A 20″-wide water main will be installed along Myrtle Avenue, while a 12″-wide main will go under 77th Avenue. Mains of 8″ in diameter will be placed under other local streets.

“Expect more pain and heartache when it comes to parking” in the area, Dooley warned, adding that periodic water service disruptions would also occur while the work takes place. The project is expected to be completed in four months.

Arcuri added that emergency sewer repairs are also occurring on 74th Street between Myrtle and 78th avenues. He anticipates the work will wrap up in about two weeks.

Legal aid for the elderly

Professor Angelo DiGangi of York College informed residents about Grandparent Resource Centers launched across the city focusing on providing “preventative law” practices for the elderly.

The program, which engages local attorneys and young interns, aims to educate seniors on their legal rights and helps them in filing essential documents such as wills, health care proxies and power of attorney forms. DiGangi said each client undergoes a “legal x-ray,” in which attorneys examine various financial and personal aspects of a person’s life and looks to legally secure any problems that may arise.

The resource centers also provide other services to seniors including foreclosure counseling and trips to places such as the U.S. Military Academy at West Point through the “Links to Freedom” program.

First launched at Gottscheer Hall in Ridgewood, DiGangi noted, the program has spread throughout the country over the last few decades, with similar centers opening up in Florida and Colorado.

Other news

With Thanksgiving on the way, various local groups have launched food drives to assist families in need. Dorie Figliola, a representative of Assemblyman Mike Miller, announced the lawmaker is continuing to accept donated food items for the Sacred Heart Church pantry in Glendale and other pantries set up in Woodhaven and Richmond Hill.

Additionally, she noted, three local churches-Trinity Lutheran in Middle Village, Covenant Lutheran in Ridgewood and the United Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood-are teaming up to operate a food pantry at Ascension Lutheran Church in Glendale scheduled to open today, Nov. 13. The pantry will provide food to needy residents every Thursday and Friday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m.

The GPOA also held nominations for its executive posts and board of directors, with elections scheduled for December. Financial Secretary Freida Koenig resigned after 24 years in the post; board member Michelle Cook-Lopez was nominated as her successor.

All other current executive and board members were renominated. They are President Dooley; First Vice President Robert Kozlowski; Second Vice President Howard Jaeger; Executive Secretary Chris Kurre; Corresponding Secretary Susan Petschauer; Recording Secretary Margaret Kotnik; Treasurer Clara Sarocco; Sergeant-at-arms Norbert Giesse and board members Dori Capace, Donald Desmond and Anthony Hund.

Elections will be held at the GPOA’s December meeting.

The next Glendale Property Owners Association meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday night, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall, located at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and 68th Street.

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