Need More to Stop Shelter

Coalition Appeals For Aid In Midville

With one legal maneuver underway, the Glendale Middle Village Coalition needs further financial help to continue fighting a proposed homeless shelter, the Middle Village Property Owners/Residents Association (MVPORA) learned during the group’s meeting last Wednesday, Dec. 3, at St. Margaret Parish Center.

The Middle Village Property Owners/Residents Association, led by President Sal Crifasi (at far right), honored local police, principals and pastors during the organization’s meeting last Wednesday, Dec. 3, at St. Margaret Parish Center.

The coalition’s Dawn Scala, Fred Haller and Brian Dooley, along with MVPORA President Sal Crifasi, updated attendees on efforts to stop the Department of Homeless Services’ (DHS) approved plan for a transitional shelter housing up to 125 families at a former factory located at 78- 16 Cooper Ave.

“We are not against homeless families,” Scala said of the coalition, an alliance of local civic and business groups formed in August to wage a legal battle with the city. “We are against housing them in large-scale facilities where the city and our tax dollars are paying so-called nonprofits and landlords large sums of money.”

Samaritan Village, a nonprofit group renting the factory from owner Michael Wilner, received conditional approval from the DHS last December to operate the Glendale shelter, with the city paying $27.5 million over five years. The contract has yet to reach City Comptroller Scott Stringer for final approval or denial.

The city pays an average of $3,600 per month per family housed in a homeless shelter, Scala noted; the average shelter stay is about 14 months.

“That money could be better spent on rental subsidies, eviction prevention, affordable housing and other programs,” she added.

Haller, a member of the coalition’s legal team, noted the group recently filed an Article 78 petition with the State Supreme Court seeking to invalidate an environmental assessment statement the DHS had an independent firm complete for the site. Released in July, the statement indicated that- contrary to the factory’s industrial history and public belief-the site was safe for shelter development.

The Article 78 motion, as previously reported, asks the court to compel the DHS to complete a full environmental impact study for the shelter site. Haller noted this would take up to two years to complete and may convince the city to look elsewhere for a shelter or change its plans altogether.

But launching the motion, he said, required retaining specialized attorneys that cost the coalition $15,000 from the outset. Dooley stated it will take another $15,000 to complete the procedure.

So far, the coalition raised more than $70,000-well above the total cost of the Article 78 motion, but Haller and Dooley stated the group needs more support to file other “a la carte legal actions” in the hope of stopping the shelter.

As of last Wednesday’s meeting, Dooley noted, 445 individuals from Glendale and Middle Village donated to the cause either by mail (sent to Crifasi Real Estate in Middle Village), through the coalition’s online GoFundMe account or at fundraising events. The group also launched a block captain network in which local residents reach out to their neighbors for financial and moral support.

Soon after the coalition was formed, Crifasi noted, his office received 10 to 15 mail donations for the coalition a day, but as the holiday season started, that number dropped to two or three.

“We’re not asking for much,” he said, “just whatever you can give.”

Dooley stated the coalition plans to raise additional cash at fundraisers being planned for January 2015. The coalition has a goal of raising $130,000 total for its legal fees.

While appreciative of the public’s support, Haller lamented that community residents have to put up their own money to fight the proposal after other avenues of recourse-including direct appeals to the de Blasio administration and elected officials-proved incapable of slowing the project down.

“We could be sending people to college,” he said. “We could be doing great things with the money we’re raising here. Instead, we’re spending it solely on legal fees to stop this project.”

Community honors

At the start of the meeting, the MVPORA took time to honor local principals, religious and civic leaders for their ongoing efforts and commitment to the community.

Crifasi presented certificates of appreciation to Principals Thomas Carty of P.S./I.S. 49; Caryn Michaeli of P.S./I.S. 87; Dr. Philip A. Franco of St. Margaret School; Peter Mannarino of Christ the King Regional High School; and Michele Krebs of Our Lady of Hope School.

Also awarded were Msgr. Steven Aguggia, pastor of St. Margaret Church; Rabbi Richard Levy of the Middle Village Adult Center; and Capt. Christopher Manson, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct.

Several individuals scheduled to receive awards were not in attendance, including Camillo Turriciano, principal of P.S./I.S. 128; Fr. Michael Carrano, pastor of Our Lady of Hope Church; Pastor Leo Longan of Trinity Lutheran Church; Rabbi Jacob Malki of the Jewish Center of Forest Hills West; Det. Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct; Millie Cruz, Juniper Valley Park manager; John Butkiewicz, superintendent of the Sanitation Department’s Q5 District; and a representative of FDNY Engine Co. 319.

The next Middle Village Property Owners/Residents Association is tentatively scheduled for February 2015 at a date and time to be announced in a future issue of this paper.

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