Taking Shelter Fight to Court

JPCA Seeks Biz Involvement In Glendale Case

The Glendale homeless shelter fight and pedestrian safety dominated the discussion at the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) meeting at Our Lady of Hope School in Middle Village last Thursday night, Oct. 30.

Police Officers Kenneth Frevola and David Lewis (second and third from left, respectively) received community service awards from the Juniper Park Civic Association last Thursday in Middle Village. They are flanked by Robert Holden (at left), JPCA president, and Capt. Christopher Manson, the 104th Precicnt’s commanding officer.

JPCA President Robert Holden announced that a lawsuit was officially filed in Manhattan against the City of New York by the Glendale Middle Village Coalition in the hopes of forcing an Environmental Impact Study of the proposed shelter site.

“We have a great case here,” Holden explained. “We just need the money to keep fighting.”

Holden stated that the coalition raised about $8,000 at the group’s fundraising benefit held at Yerman’s Irish Pub in Glendale on Oct. 24. The $8,000 includes money raised from raffle ticket sales, as well as a 10 percent donation of all bar proceeds from the pub.

According to Holden, the coalition has raised nearly $60,000 toward their $130,000 goal.

One of the biggest arguments against the proposed shelter is the fact that the site sits upon what Holden referred to as a “brown field” of land contaminated by commercial toxins.

“The whole area is dangerous because of these chemicals,” Holden explained. “The state declared it a brown field due to years of dry cleaning chemicals which seeped into ground water and migrated south under Glendale homes.”

Holden also expressed concern over a chemical storage plant, which sits a mere 40 feet away from the shelter site. According to Holden, the plant was summonsed in July 2014 for multiple violations.

“We’re not against housing the homeless,” he added, “but it is not in our best interest to have 300 to 400 people housed in one spot. This will only compound problems within the neighborhood.”

Holden cited quality-of-life conditions in the neighborhoods surrounding the existing Department of Homeless Services (DHS) emergency shelter at the former Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst as a reason to be alarmed. He called the DHS practice of housing nearly 600 residents at the Pan Am a “recipe for disaster.”

“The Pan Am shelter is effecting our community in negative ways, especially businesses,” he stated. “Business owners are frightened and upset.”

Seeking business’ help

Residents asked about The Shops at Atlas Park management’s stance on the shelter; the outdoor shopping center, owned and operated by the Macerich Group, is less than a mile away from the proposed shelter site on Cooper Avenue in Glendale.

Holden told residents, “They didn’t want to get involved,” but charged “they’re (shelter residents) going to be hanging out at Atlas Park.”

He claimed that, with Atlas Park’s support and financial backing, the coalition would be able to surpass their $130,000 goal and could keep the case in appeals if necessary. Some residents questioned whether a boycott of Atlas Park shops would be effective, while others proposed meeting with individual store owners at the mall to seek coalition support.

According to Holden, another nearby business-Artistic Stitch-will not get involved in the shelter fight because their landlord is Michael Wilner, owner of the proposed shelter site.

“Think about property values and quality of life … think about what will change,” Holden added. “We have great neighborhoods here, some of the best in the city. It’s worth fighting for. We need to band together.”

Residents were asked to help get the word out about the importance of the shelter fight, especially in Middle Village, which, according to Holden, has been slow to respond to the issue.

“We are not heartless,” Holden stated. “We’re just realists in understanding that this is a threat.”

The JPCA board urged residents to attend the next coalition meeting, which takes place tonight, Thursday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall in Glendale.

Awards for officers

Capt. Christopher Manson, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, joined Holden in presenting community service awards to Police Officers Kenneth Frevola and David Lewis for a car theft arrest last month in Middle Village.

The suspect, a Rockville Centre resident, was attempting to rob cars of belongings and parts, including airbags. The perpetrator had burglary tools in his possession, as well a stolen police scanner he discarded while being pursued by Lewis and Frevola.

Manson also introduced his new executive officer and second-in-command, Capt. Greg Mackie, as well as his new graffiti task force leader, P.O. Gonzalez.

According to Manson, the precinct saw a 38 percent reduction in robberies in the past two years. However, he urged residents to use extra caution in protecting their belongings during the upcoming holiday season. He advised females to keep purses close and cautioned against leaving purses and valuables in shopping carts.

Manson also warned against leaving packages in cars at shopping malls.

Traffic woes

The captain also announced a series of successful big truck operations conducted on Grand Avenue in Maspeth. According to Manson, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and officers from the 104th Precinct issued summonses to illegal tractor-trailer trucks using local streets such as Grand Avenue instead of the Long Island Expressway.

During the operation, five large trucks were deemed unsafe to operate and were towed away.

Manson also announced the creation of commercial parking operations targeting commercial vehicles illegally parked on residential streets overnight. A total of 25 vehicles have been summonsed so far under this initiative, two of which were towed away.

Residents expressed concerns over safety at several local intersections and roadways. Manson explained that he would provide the DOT with a traffic intelligence report in the wake of the fatal accident that claimed the life of 46-year-old Martin Srodin at the intersection of Cooper Avenue and 80th Street in Glendale.

Manson stated that he would ask the DOT to expedite a traffic survey at the site. “This is one intersection we spend a lot of time at,” he explained. “It has been historically high in accidents.”

Many residents also voiced concerns over traffic tie-ups at Atlas Park shopping center following the opening of T.J. Maxx, as well as the anticipated holiday rush. Manson stated that he would place additional auxiliary officers near the mall to help with traffic tie-ups and pedestrian safety during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

The next Juniper Park Civic Association meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Dec. 11, at 7:45 p.m. at Our Lady of Hope School, located at the corner of Eliot Avenue and 71st Street in Middle Village. For information, call 1-718-651- 5865 or visit www.junipercivic.com.

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