Community leaders planned to set aside time for a special hearing in the coming weeks on a homeless shelter proposal in Glendale as opposition grows for the controversial facility.
Gary Giordano, district manager for Community Board 5, said the board would announce the date of the meeting later this week after members agreed it would be a more appropriate means of organizing both sides of the issue instead of within the time frame of a monthly board meeting.
The decision came after elected officials penned a letter to the city Department of Homeless Services suggesting it and Samaritan Village, the nonprofit company behind the 125-family shelter proposal at a vacant airplane factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave., deliver a presentation at a scheduled CB 5 monthly meeting. Elected officials sat down with DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor and Assistant Commissioner Lisa Black on March 17 and discovered the agency was moving forward amid contract budget negotiations.
The officials, including Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), state Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, were responding to the DHS environmental impact study of the site in unified opposition.
“While this movement is not indicative of the feasibility of this proposal, we believe that it is both appropriate and necessary to engage the community on this topic to obtain their input,” the letter read. “It is our belief that the Department of Homeless Services and Samaritan Village have a responsibility to remain accountable to the communities in which they propose to operate facilities.”
There was still no timeframe as to when the EIS results would be made available, CB 5 said. The DHS did not respond to requests for comment.
Arcuri said he was unsure as to why he, or any other CB 5 official, was not invited to the meeting between the DHS and various elected officials who represent the mid-Queens community. Community Board 5 had been working for months to schedule a sit-down with the same parties and was not made aware of the March meeting, he said.
Nonetheless, CB 5 officials said the special meeting would be scheduled to offer residents on either side of the issue a public forum to voice their concerns with all parties included.
Samaritan Village’s plans were never widely popular among residents living within CB 5’s mid-Queens boundaries, with many arguing it would draw more people and more congestion to the community in Glendale. Residents have since consistently used the community board’s public participation portion of each meeting to question the overall proposal, raising potential concerns like health hazards and public transportation woes.
The DHS said it was considering awarding a five-year, $27 million contract to Samaritan in a letter it sent to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in December. City Comptroller Scott Stringer ultimately has the final say on the project, as his signature would make the Samaritan Village contract into reality, officials said.
By Phil Corso