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Queens Chronicle

Glendale reacts to shelter rumblings

Group discussed Cooper Ave. site with owner; city has no proposal

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Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:58 am, Thu Aug 23, 2012.

The city’s Department of Homeless Services said Tuesday that it has not received a proposal for a multiple-dwelling homeless shelter for 76-18 Cooper Ave. in Glendale.

But many residents and some elected officials believe that the rumored shelter is much more than a rumor.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) addressed the matter in a letter to her Glendale constituents last week.

Crowley wrote that she had recently spoken to the owner, Michael Wilner of Wilner Realty Management of Jericho, LI. She stated Wilner confirmed that he has had contact with a nonprofit organization with interest in bringing a shelter to the property, once a factory, which has been vacant for about 20 years.

Crowley’s letter said the property’s zoning designation does not allow for residential buildings but does permit hotels — and that the city has recently interpreted that to allow shelters on similar sites.

The councilwoman stated her blanket opposition to any such designation in her letter, saying she would like to see it used for some form of community center or recreational use. Her chief of staff, Lydon Sleeper, reiterated her position in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“The council member does not support any attempt to put a multiple-dwelling shelter on Cooper Avenue and will do everything in her power to prevent it,” Sleeper said.

Wilner’s group also owns an adjacent property on Cooper that is undergoing work for a soon-to-open sports apparel/recreation business and a bistro.

Wilner could not be reached for comment, though he told Crowley that the site is on the open market.

Kathy Masi, a member of the executive board of Community Board 5 and president of the Glendale Civic Association, said Tuesday that she and her neighbors are taking nothing said by city agencies or developers on faith.

“If people are talking about it like this, there has to be some validity to it,” Masi said. “Clearly the owner of the property has been in discussion with a city agency. We can’t get a straight answer.”

She also said the property is located near several schools.

“It’s a factor,” she said. “PS 87, PS 49 and PS 128 are all within a short distance of this facility.”

She confirmed that CB 5 has not received any contacts on the subject from the city, Wilner or a potential operating entity.

But opposition is growing and getting organized. Petition drives are underway.

“New York City has recently been dropping shelters in the middle of residential neighborhoods with little or no notice,” she said. “We’re going to have to be ahead of them.”

And it appears that Glendale will be able to count on its neighbors should a shelter move beyond rumors to the proposal stage.

“We’re girding to join them to fight this if that is what’s necessary,” said Lorraine Sciulli, first vice president of the Juniper Park Civic Association in Middle Village. “We may not have a formal meeting about it until we know something further, but we’re going to stay on this.”

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