Community disputes EAS for proposed Glendale homeless shelter
by Andrew Shilling
Jul 16, 2014 | 10272 views | 0 0 comments | 87 87 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi
Glendale business owner and CB5 member Richard Huber tells the board that he is not surprised with the way the city has pushed through this proposal.
Glendale business owner and CB5 member Richard Huber tells the board that he is not surprised with the way the city has pushed through this proposal.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley says she plans to fight until the end.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley says she plans to fight until the end.
Concerned residents flooded the Community Board 5 meeting last week in a panic to voice their disapproval of Samaritan Village’s proposed 125-family transitional housing facility on Cooper Avenue in Glendale.

The city recently released its Environmental Assessment Study (EAS) for the proposal, paving the way for Samaritan Village to begin renovating the old factory and converting it into a homeless shelter.

Community Board 5, which normally is out of session in the month of July, held the meeting in wake of protests, town halls and more than a year of opposition from nearly every resident and politician in Glendale.

Following the testimony of nearly 20 residents, community leaders and elected officials, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi stood before the crowd and delivered some dire news.

“I’m going to tell you something that is going to make you very angry, but the only way I can put my head on the pillow, knowing that I’m doing a decent job, is because this is what I would want to hear from my elected official,” Hevesi said. “If this process was about the ideas we’d still be in the game, but it’s not about you guys.

“And for that reason, I believe we’re not in the game,” he added. “This game is over.”

In response to the recently adopted EAS for the site at 78-16 Cooper Avenue, Hevesi acknowledged that it was likely botched to steamroll the project.

“That EAS is a disgrace, and that company who put it out – AECOM Inc. – is a nationally renowned company and they do this all over the place,” he said. “Their work product is horrific. There are so many holes in that and it’s ridiculous.”

AECOM referred all press inquiries for comment on the study to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS).

“Unfortunately, we are not able to offer any additional AECOM comments on this EAS,” said a representative from the company. “Even general commentary on the approach to our work would not provide any meaningful insights for readers into this or any specific project.”

The School Construction Authority once found the site to be unsuitable for a school, previously proposed by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley several years ago. She recently sent a letter to DHS calling for the consideration of an alternative location.

“I question whether making the large capital investment to convert the building to a shelter, which will take more than one year, is a prudent investment,” Crowley wrote in the letter to DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor. “Mayor de Blasio's plans to vastly increase the number of affordable housing units, to set aside units in NYCHA buildings for the homeless, and to provide more vouchers through the HRA are less costly and provide more immediate housing availability than can be achieved by developing the proposed site.”

In response to a recent audit by the Comptroller’s office on school overcrowding, Crowley suggested the city revisit the plans for a school to meet the needs of the overpopulated community.

“District 24 is by far the most overcrowded school district in this city, hands down,” she said, adding that the EAS estimated the shelter would add 300 additional students to the district. “It’s simply not acceptable.”

DHS spokesperson Christopher Miller assured that the EAS was in fact accurate and the plans to move ahead will continue.

“The company we hired is independent,” Miller said. “They did a thorough job reviewing the site, and we stand behind the document.”

Meanwhile, the fight to refute the EAS is still underway, as Crowley called on the residents to thoroughly review the study to seek out additional flaws to add to the several-page list developed by CB5.

CB5 district manager Gary Giordano said his residents and board members will not give up the fight.

“As far as I’m concerned and CB5 is concerned, we believe that this very poor choice of a site to house anyone, so we don’t intend to stop arguing against this,” Giordano said. “I would hope the DHS and city administration would yield to common sense and stop trying to push homeless residents in a warehouse in this type of condition.”

Samaritan Village nor its board members have returned weeks of requests for comment.

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