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Queens Chronicle

NYC Department of Homeless Services 'will proceed' with Glendale shelter

Environmental study deems former Queens factory site suitable for homeless housing

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Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014 1:38 pm | Updated: 11:17 am, Thu Jul 10, 2014.

The results of the long-awaited environmental study of 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, the site of a proposed 125-family homeless shelter, have been released by the Department of Homeless Services.

To the chagrin of many shelter opponents, the project is moving forward as planned.

The land the former factory sits on has been deemed suitable for the planned shelter by AECOM USA Inc., the independent assessment company hired by DHS, and the city informed Community Board 5 and area elected officials in a letter dated July 1 that it "will proceed" with the controversial plan.

"We ask that you review the report and respond with any concerns on or before Friday, July 11," the letter, signed by DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor, reads. "After this date, we will proceed with the next stage of contract negotiations for 125 families with children at this facility."

DHS also forwarded AECOM's 47 page report to CB 5 and elected officials such as Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) for review.

The shelter, if constructed, will be operated by Samaritan Village, the same Briarwood-based human services agency running the also-controversial homeless facility at the old Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst.

Community Board 5 and numerous elected officials have spoken strongly in opposition to the shelter over the last year.

In May, over two dozen residents spoke of their concerns over the shelter at a public meeting, attended by hundreds more, as well as Samaritan Village Executive Vice President Doug Apple and DHS Assistant Commissioner of Government and Human Relations Lisa Black.

The subject has come up at every community board meeting since the middle of last year, and CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano and Crowley (D-Glendale) have often questioned the toxicity of the building, where airplane parts used to be made.

CB 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri said Thursday he expects the board will take a few days to analyze the report before making a judgement.

"We will have to analyze further," Arcuri said. "It will take a while, it's quite a report. Some of it is highly technical."

 Crowley expressed her displeasure regarding the findings in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.

"Several years ago – before talks of any DHS proposal – the School Construction Authority denied my request to convert 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a high school," Crowley said. ""[Community Education Council] District 24 is the most overcrowded district in the entire city, and our community continues to suffer from the lack of additional classrooms. My question now is simple: If the City did not find this site suitable for a school, how can it be suitable for a shelter that will house families year round?"

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