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File photo/QNS
The old factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave. that is being considered as a school or a homeless shelter site.

As tension builds while Glendale residents wait for a final decision about the potential homeless shelter on Cooper Avenue, one local lawmaker is hoping to convince the city that there are much better uses for the building.

Assemblyman Mike Miller has sent a letter to three different city agencies requesting that the old factory be converted into a new police precinct, a high school or a veteran services center, according to a press release. There is currently a proposal being considered by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to house 200 single homeless men there, and the community is staunchly opposed to the idea.

Miller suggested that the city could accomplish any of his three suggestions by using eminent domain, or the practice of forcing the sale of a property for the benefit of the public.

In suggesting that the building become a police precinct, Miller sent a letter to Police Commissioner James O’Neill to explain that it would be a huge improvement for the 104th Precinct. The command is currently located on Catalpa Avenue in Ridgewood, a residential street two blocks east of Fresh Pond Road.

“The amount of space located at 78-16 Cooper Avenue would be better served as an upgraded 104th Police Precinct for the community,” Miller said. “The potential precinct could even hold civic meetings, in addition to better onsite parking and have a secured and contained location.”

Miller also sent a letter to Department of Education Chancellor Richard A. Carranza asking him to review the possibility of making the building into a new school for District 24, the most overcrowded school district in Queens. In fact, Councilman Robert Holden issued a call for suggestions in May for new school locations due to the severity of the overcrowding.

“We are in desperate need of a high school,” Miller said. “This site has been looked at by the Department of Education numerous times and it was denied each time. I urge the new chancellor to visit this site and see for himself that putting a homeless shelter at this location is depriving our children of a quality education. What makes more sense, a homeless shelter in a residential community, or a school for an overcrowded district?”

Lastly, the assemblyman sent a letter to Loree Sutton, commissioner of veterans’ services, requesting that the building be used as a center for veterans in need. Whether it provided affordable housing for veterans or simply resources for them, Miller said, it “should be considered for a facility to help those who fought for our freedoms.”

“All three of these suggestions would be an improvement to our community than to shelter the homeless in a warehouse facility,” Miller said.

Miller has joined Holden and Senator Joseph Addabbo in speaking out against the logistics of placing a homeless shelter in the Cooper Avenue building.

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