The possibility of a former convent at a Ridgewood parish being turned into a shelter for homeless women was the big topic during the Community Board 5 meeting last Wednesday, Nov. 12, at Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village.
Amid reports that the convent at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal will be made into a shelter, Ridgewood resident Henry Kielmanowicz began the discussion by asking the board during the public hearing portion of the meeting to relate the latest information.
He told Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri and District Manager Gary Giordano he lives across the street and is concerned.
“I think the proposal is serious,” Giordano stated. “My understanding is that it would be for 24 women. That’s my understanding at this point.”
Arcuri and Giordano told attendees Wednesday night each have looked into it, but are unsure it will happen.
“Providence House is the group,” Giordano said. “We’ve received nothing definitive from them.”
Rumors of the conversion– first reported in the Times Newsweekly–are swirling while Astoria Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas has brought a suit against the city claiming the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) “manipulated” emergency procurement procedures to convert the Westway Motel into a permanent facility.
Arcuri said he called the pastor of the church to find out more about the rumors. He described the rooms as like “cells.”
“Mr. Arcuri looked into the matter when he first heard of the rumors,” Giordano said. “I think there’s 24 rooms there, right?
“Yeah, they are cells, basically,” Arcuri responded.
“Whether the building has been sold I think is a big if, but anything is possible,” he added.
Giordano explained to the group that he recently attended a meeting on shelters with the borough president, some providers, the DHS and other district managers at Queens Borough Hall.
“Someone was there from Samaritan Village and other organizations, and somebody was there from Providence House. Providence House is the group, that from what I know, is interested in the convent,” Giordano said.
“I got a call from Sr. Janet [Kinney]… who’s the president of Providence House essentially telling me what I just said,” Giordano added.
“They, I believe, have proposed–we’ve received nothing definitive from them–whatever they’ve proposed, and they won’t even tell us specifically what they’ve proposed,” he said. “I don’t know if they’ve gone to the Department of Homeless Services yet, but they’ve certainly gone to the Diocese of Brooklyn, the Catholic diocese.”
“I know nothing more definitive than that,” he added.
“When the rumor first came out, I called the pastor of Miraculous Medal,” Arcuri said, referring to Fr. Anthony Sansone. “And his answer to me was the diocese was reviewing a proposal from Providence House and he had nothing more to report on it.”
“So that’s where we are. Nothing formal, nothing presented by Homeless Services or the City of New York, nothing presented by the diocese, nothing presented by the parish,” he added. “As to whether the building has been sold, if its has been, we don’t know that.”
This summer the conversion of the former PanAmerican Hotel on Queens Boulevard sparked outrage because the community was notified at the last minute. Published reports have the DHS slated to make it permanent.
City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley reiterated her belief that the shelter coming to Glendale on Cooper Avenue is “not a done deal.”
“I want you to know I have not given up any hope,” she said. “I will keep fighting for a school at that location.”
“I’ve never swayed from my stance that this is a bad idea,” Crowley added. “And I’m hoping the department is starting to realize this.”
She again advanced her position that the site should be used for a school instead of the proposed homeless shelter. Board 5 previously passed resolutions backing a school there.
Another attendee, Dawn Scala, said she has called and emailed the diocese regarding the convent at Miraculous Medal, but has not received any response.
Scala said the city right to shelter law should be changed to prevent out of state residents from staying in city shelters, and that non-city residents should not be allowed in shelters.
She called on area elected officials support, and to make a similar push to that of Simotas’ suit.
Committee Chairperson John Schell presented three resolutions that were recommended by the full board.
The first will bring safety measures to P.S. 239 in Ridgewood, including curb extensions and wider traffic islands near the school.
The second measure seeks to rename the dead-end block of Suydam Street off Cypress Avenue in Ridgewood after Ann Maggio, the late Board 5 member and long-time civic leader.
The third resolution, if adopted by the city, would rename 67th Drive between 78th and 79th streets inMiddle Village after Steven Frosch, a Sanitation Department worker by a street sweeper at the department’s Maspeth garage in June.
Gym and spa proposals
Two presentations, one for a Lucille Roberts gym and another for aMassage Envy location were presented to Board 5 last Wednesday.
The health club will be located at 55-05 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood. The spa and massage will be at 89-44 Metropolitan Ave. in Glendale.
The health club will be located on the second and third floors and will use 11,000 sq. ft. There will be no off-street parking.
The spa is a national chain. The space they will take over is 3,100 sq ft, with 15 spaces provided.
Arcuri announced the board received a new liquor license application for Coyote Bohemio, Inc. at 55-19 19 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood for a change in class from restaurant wine to onpremises liquor, wine and beer; and for Core Food & Catering d.b.a. Maurya, at 63-08 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park.
It also received liquor license application renewals for Fajitas Sunrise Corp., 59-24 MyrtleAve. in Ridgewood.
The board also received new wine or beer licenses for Baez MiniMarket Corp, 61-22 Cooper Ave. in Glendale; Drunken Fish CT, Inc., 52-35 MetropolitanAve, in Ridgewood; and wine and or beer license renewals for La Cocina de Mama Inc., MetropolitanAve. in Ridgewood; Sabor y Rumba Inc., 666 Seneca Ave. in Ridgewood; and an alteration notification for additional space with a bar and seating in an outdoor area for Phillies Pizzeria, 74-02 Eliot Ave., in Middle Village.
Those wishing to comment on any of the applicants may do so by calling Board 5 at 1-718-366- 1834.
Arcuri also announced building demolition notices at 335 St Nicholas Ave.; 337 St Nicholas Ave.; 1815 Linden St.; and 1738A Harman St.
Community Board 5 generally meets on the second Wednesday of each month at Christ The King High School, 68-02 Metropolitan Ave. Meetings begin at 7:30 p.m.