Op-Ed: Any Creedmoor plan must serve the needs of eastern Queens

QNS file photo

For several years, the communities of eastern Queens have engaged in discussions with our community leaders, our local and state elected officials and Empire State Development (ESD) about possible reuse of 55 acres of land on the state’s Creedmoor Psychiatric Center campus. We long recognized the campus as a resource for eastern Queens and took steps to ensure any reuses served the needs of our communities.

That remains the case today with the plan we developed, Queens Community Board 13 adopted and we shared with ESD and our elected city and state officials. It would create housing that enables our seniors and our young adults to choose to remain in eastern Queens. At the same time, it allows for more practical use of our existing housing stock for families who seek the variety of housing (one- and two-family homes, co-operatives and rentals) that already exists throughout eastern Queens.

While Creedmoor has a Queens Village address, the parcels deemed surplus lie within Bellerose and Queens Community Board 13, which hugs the Queens-Nassau border from the Grand Central Parkway south to the JFK Airport (which is considered to sit within the community district bounds). Community District 13 includes Bellaire, Bellerose, Brookville, Cambria Heights, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Laurelton, Meadowmere, New Hyde Park, North Shore Towers, Queens Village, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Warnerville and Wayanda.

That process led to neighborhood leaders including Community Board 13 Chair Bryan Block convening to discuss options for developing the surplus Creedmoor parcels as 2023 began. We presented the plan to Community Board 13’s Land Use Committee, which submitted a resolution to the full board and was adopted based on our plan.

Our community-conceived plans focused on three considerations: (1) “Community Priorities;” (2) “Community Needs;” and (3) “Objections.”

We identified six priorities:

1. Serve needs of community first
2. Low to medium density scale of development
3. Utilize wherever possible existing building exteriors and possible interiors
4. Adequate parking consistent with uses
5.  Adequate public transit
6. Environmental remediation of entire south campus

We identified five needs:

1. Senior housing
2. Veteran’s housing and services
3. Use housing forms compatible and consistent in character with the community including co-ops, single family and two family homes
4. Starter housing including studios for our young adults and families
5. Recreation center serving intergenerational needs including a pool

No one should be surprised by what we found objectionable (prisons; juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters, buildings above four stories and big box retail stores) at that location which abuts P.S. 18Q, P.O. Officer Joseph Gunn Playground, the Hollis – Bellaire – Queens Village – Bellerose Little League field complex, various nonprofit human services programs and lies within a few blocks of Martin Van Buren High School, the Glen Oaks School Campus (High School for the Teaching Profession, P.S./I.S. 208, P.S./I.S. 266) and Alley Pond Park.

The Glen Oaks Campus schools directly resulted from our community work on a 1997 Civic Master Plan for Creedmoor under the aegis of the Queens Civic Congress, when the Pataki administration sought to commercially develop the then part of the Creedmoor campus. That development met and to this day serves a compelling community need. Housing schemes pressed by those outside this community board make no sense in eastern Queens. That model got developed in concert with those communities and fails to address the needs and priorities Queens Community Board 13 approved and presented to ESD and our elected officials.

Some 25 years later, our communities seek to serve today’s needs using our community’s resource and the entire City will benefit as a result.

Corey Bearak, a co-founder of the Queens Civic Congress, is a Community Board 13 member over 30 years, member of its Land Use Committee, acting President of North Bellerose Civic Association and chair the Board of Services Now for Adult Persons, Inc

Bryan Block serves as Chair of Queens Community Board 13 and is President of the Cambria Heights Civic Association