BY LUIS GRONDA
Glendale residents continue to voice their disapproval for the proposed homeless shelter on Cooper Avenue.
Community members had another chance to showcase their displeasure last week, at a special public meeting on the proposal at Christ The King High School in Middle Village.
For the past year, residents and local elected officials have expressed their dismay for a plan by Samaritan Village to build a 125-family shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave., which is currently abandoned.
In the past, several concerns were raised about the project, including its close proximity to several elementary and middle schools in the area, the amount of foot traffic in an area they say is underserved by public transportation and a fear of decreased property values.
Many of those same points, and more, were mentioned during the meeting. Dept. of Homeless Services Assistant Commissioner of Government and Human Relations Lisa Black and Samaritan Village Executive Vice President Doug Apple were on hand to discuss the proposal and listen to residents’ complaints.
Kathy Masi, a Glendale resident and head of the Glendale Civic Association, questioned the plan, saying that the community does not stand to gain from the shelter, only the property owner, and questioned why, if the site was deemed unsuitable for other proposals, like a high school, Samaritan Village would want to bring homeless families to that same building.
“Show me one single community in New York City that says please build us a huge homeless shelter and I will show you thousands of homeless people whose biggest fear is the type of homeless warehousing being proposed here,” Masi said, drawing a round of applause from the nearly-full auditorium.
Timon Kalpaxis, also a Glendale resident, said the area is mainly industrial and it would not make sense to build a shelter that would bring a different footprint to Glendale.
“It’s clear that there’s a big difference between an industrial footprint and a residential footprint,” he said “Residential footprints have people coming and going on a constant basis. That roadway system over there is extremely dangerous. You’re creating a safety hazard, not only for the community, but for the individuals who will be at that facility.”
Angelica Harris, who has lived in Glendale for 21 years, said she fears the local children will be put in danger if the shelter is built there. Harris runs the Excalibur Reading Program/The Unicorn Project tutoring program in the neighborhood.
“What I’m saying here is that we have to find a new place for it. A contaminated area is not a place to raise children,” she said.
Three elected officials representing the area, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), State Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Middle Village) and Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven) all echoed their constituents’ concerns about the shelter at the meeting.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.