City officials will formally present plans to open a homeless shelter at the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth during a public hearing that Community Board 5 (CB 5) scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 31.
The session will take place at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 at the Knockdown Center, located at 52-19 Flushing Ave., at the corner of 54th Street.
For weeks, Maspeth residents have been fuming over the news of the proposed shelter at the Holiday Inn Express located at 59-40 55th Rd., which could open on or about Oct. 1. Hundreds of residents voiced opposition to the plan at a meeting that one local civic organization held on Aug. 11 at Maspeth’s Martin Luther School.
Initially, the board had scheduled the public hearing to take place at Maspeth High School, but days later decided to change the venue after speaking with the 104th Precinct regarding logistics and security. Because hundreds were turned away from the Aug. 11 meeting — over 1,700 were in the building, CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano noted — the board had to find a place to safely accommodate an audience numbering in the thousands.
The Knockdown Center has such a capacity and CB 5 was able to secure it for the Aug. 31 hearing. It was an ironic twist of fate given that the board had previously opposed the Knockdown Center’s attempts at securing a liquor license over concerns about large gatherings at the location.
At the hearing, representatives of the city’s Department of Homeless Services and the Human Resources Administration will present the details of the shelter plan. Giordano said members of the public, including local residents and business owners, will get the opportunity to hear the full details of the shelter proposal, ask questions and express their views on the matter.
While the subject of opening a homeless shelter in a community is always contentious, Giordano cautioned that “every effort will be made to have this hearing conducted respectfully and thoughtfully.”
Following the presentation, members of the public who sign up will be able to provide testimony. Anyone wishing to speak at the hearing is urged to register in advance by calling the CB 5 office in Glendale at 718-366-1834. All speakers should provide the board with a written copy of their testimony at the hearing.
Depending on the number of speakers who sign up, each speaker will be limited to 3 minutes or less, the board cautioned.