BY LUIS GRONDA
With the project inching closer to becoming a reality, opponents of the proposed Glendale homeless shelter are considering taking legal action to stop the City from creating the shelter.
A group of residents, led by civic leaders Kathy Masi and Bob Holden, have been speaking with lawyers about pursuing litigation for what they say is an inaccurate environmental report of the abandonded building at 78-16 Cooper Ave., where the proposed facility would be built. Masi heads the Glendale Civic Association and Holden is the president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
Both Holden and Masi, along with several other residents, said the report released last week contained a lot of misinformation about the surrounding neighborhood itself, including the amount of open space available in the Glendale/Middle Village area.
Among the inaccuracies in the report, according to Holden, is that it includes cemeteries as public open space. The report identifies public open space as “space that is accessible on a constant and regular basis” and “may be under government or private jurisdiction.” Holden called the inclusion of cemeteries in that category “ridiculous.”
Other points of contention from Holden include not mentioning a chemical company, called Independent Chemical Co, that operates nearby and carries barrels of hydrochloric acid. Holden also said the report does not mention that the site is located near a brownfield site in Glendale. When asked to respond to criticism of the report, Dept. of Homeless Services Spokesperson Chris Miller said the agency stands by the report. “Our process, as documented by the environmental study, has been thoughtful and thorough. We stand behind the report and its findings,” he said in an email.
Holden and Masi said there is high interest from lawyers looking to take on the case and they believe they do have standing to pursue the case. “We are definitely looking at our legal options,” Masi said. Both Holden and Masi declined to elaborate on the specifics of what they are pursuing, saying they cannot yet discuss those details.
Three elected officials who represent the area, Council member Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale), State Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Middle Village) and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (DForest Hills), all had differing view points as to the potential shelter coming to the neighborhood.
Crowley said the site should be turned into a school instead of a shelter because District 24, which includes schools in the Glendale/Middle Village area, is the most overcrowded school district in New York City.
“They estimate 300 students will further burden this already burdened, overcrowded school system,” she said during last week’s Community Board 5 meeting, referring to the environmental report. “It’s simply not acceptable.”
Addabbo said he wants to continue fighting to prevent the City from building the shelter at the site and then move on to the next step after that.
“Personally, I won’t stop until the ground is broken and there’s a ribbon cutting, which I won’t attend,” he said. “The bottom line is that we don’t stop fighting on this.”
Hevesi called the situation a “done deal” and there is no doubt in his mind that the shelter is coming to Glendale.
“If this process was about the ideas
and that this is not a good place… we’d be in the game, if this process was about the people in this room and the community, who doesn’t want this, we’d be in the game. It’s not about that and for that reason, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, we’re not in the game. This game is over,” he said. Hevesi said the City will most likely ignore community and elected official concerns and build the shelter.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.