Tag Archives: Glendale homeless shelter

Buildings Department nixes Glendale homeless shelter floor plans

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

Those fighting against the proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale received a bit of good news last week, when the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) revoked the floor plans for the shelter after a full audit of the plans.

The notice to revoke — which according to the DOB is pending until the plan review is completed — stalls the progress of the property owner, Michael Wilner, in renovating the former factory, which the nonprofit group Samaritan Village plans to use as a homeless shelter. The full audit found that the plans are not up to full code compliance, according to a DOB representative.

“The project at this site remains under department review, and at this time there has not been a determination of the plan’s compliance with all applicable codes or the zoning resolution,” said a DOB spokesperson in an email.

According to Robert Holden — a member of the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition, a group consisting of residents, businesspeople and community leaders dedicated to opposing the shelter — the DOB originally disapproved the building plans for the site, then later gave the plans the green light.

Once hearing of the plans’ approval, the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition raised enough money to legally challenge the Buildings Department. As a result, the DOB found “a laundry list of problems,” Holden said.

“I don’t know why the Department of Buildings approved their application when there were so many flaws,” Holden added. “It was mind-boggling that they approved it.”

The coalition previously filed legal action against the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), which previously approved a contract to open and operate the Glendale shelter, over what the coalition considered to be a flawed environmental assessment of the location. The building is located in an industrially zoned area, was used for manufacturing for decades and is adjacent to a chemical storage facility.

Holden hopes the coalition can build off the momentum of this latest snag in the shelter plans.

“It is certainly another win for the neighborhood,” Holden said. “I think this demonstrates the resolve of the community that we came together. Most other communities wouldn’t do this. We raised enough money to fight, but the fight isn’t over yet.”


State Senate bill gives communities input on homeless shelters

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Communities will now have the chance to hear plans for proposed social service facility sites before they appear in their neighborhoods.

The Senate recently approved legislation co-sponsored by Senator Joseph Addabbo requiring a more transparent process when it comes to locating homeless shelters or other social service facilities in communities throughout the city.

“This legislation, while not avoiding or ignoring the crisis of homelessness, substance abuse or other serious social ills in our society, does provide a necessary means for community members to be fully involved from the get-go when homeless shelters or other social service facilities are planned for their neighborhoods,” Addabbo said.

“All too often, communities are finding that facilities are being virtually rammed down their throats, with no real thought given to whether the buildings are appropriate for the programs, whether the neighborhoods have adequate transit or other services, or whether the proposed operators have questionable track records that should be challenged,” he added.

Under the new legislation, social service providers would be required to notify community boards and the City Planning Commission (CPC) within 45 to 90 days of selecting a location for their facility. The CPC would then have to hold public hearings to gather local input on the proposed facilities.

Within 60 to 90 days of the public hearings, the CPC would have the final authority to approve, deny or modify the community-based programs.

Community boards may also request hearings be held within the same time frame if a provider is planning on renewing its lease. This allows for local input in cases where questions have been raised about the operation of the facility.

“The fact of the matter is that we need transparency, honesty and in-depth community conversations about these programs—before they happen, not after the fact,” Addaboo said.

The Senator pointed out the proposed homeless shelter planned for Cooper Avenue in Glendale as a prime example.

“This project appeared virtually out of thin air, with no opportunity for the community to raise legitimate concerns about the facility, the track record of the operators, or other very pertinent issues—which then fell on deaf ears when brought to the attention of city officials,” he added. “We can’t let this continue to happen. It’s not about trying to keep people in need out of our neighborhoods—it’s about bringing neighborhoods together, with all the information they require, to help determine the best outcomes for these same people in need.”

The bill is currently under consideration by the Assembly Committee on Cities.


Addabbo talks homeless shelter at Middle Village meeting

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

After reports surfaced of the emergency homeless shelter located at the former Pan American Hotel being infested with rats, members of the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) continue to voice their concerns over the planned opening of a homeless shelter in Glendale.

During the April 30 JPCA meeting in Middle Village, president Robert Holden asked state Senator Joseph Addabbo to write a letter to NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, asking him not to sign any contracts with Samaritan Village. The nonprofit group operates the Pan American emergency shelter and has a pending contract to operate a shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale.

“Can you write us a letter and say, with all the problems with Samaritan Village, we need them to back off and don’t expand into other facilities?” Holden asked Addabbo, adding that there would be “rats and other things” at the proposed Cooper Avenue shelter — just like in the Pan Am shelter. “Certainly they don’t deserve to run any facility.”

Addabbo responded that he will have a personal conversation with Stringer about the proposed Glendale shelter.

“This is what my community needs, I don’t think you should sign it,” Addabbo said he would tell Stringer. “I think it’s a wrong road going down with Samaritan Village.”

Addabbo also mentioned a town hall meeting last May in which the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) said no families would be put into the Pan Am Hotel location due to the fact that there were no kitchens in the rooms where they wanted families to live.

“And about four weeks later, what do you know, families are in there,” Addabbo said. “It just confirmed for me that you cannot trust Samaritan Village, you cannot trust Department of Homeless Services.”

Holden assured those in attendance that their fighting, largely conducted in partnership with the Glendale Middle Village Coalition, has not gone unheard. The opening of the shelter has been delayed due to their continuing fight.

“We’ve been winning rounds, by the way,” Holden said. “The reason this thing hasn’t gone forward is because the coalition has been battling; every time they put something in with the Department of Buildings, we challenge it.”


Middle Village residents continue fight against Glendale shelter

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

As proponents for turning an abandoned Glendale warehouse into a homeless shelter try to move that plan forward, the Middle Village Property Owners and Residents Association (MVPORA) vows to continue to fight against it.

Samaritan Village, the company proposing to build the shelter, still has not conducted an environmental impact study for the former factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave., according to Sal Crifasi, president of both the MVPORA and the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition. The coalition consists of residents, businesspersons and community leaders dedicated to opposing the shelter primarily through legal action.

At the MVPORA meeting on Tuesday, Crifasi said an impact study would require Samaritan Village to research how putting a homeless shelter in the area would affect the schools, the sewage system, the traffic and the environment of the neighborhood.

“Because of our input, we stalled it almost a year already,” Crifasi said. “They were supposed go in there last year already, I mean, open and operating, but because of us making a little noise about this, they are having problems.”

There have also been some changes made to the shelter’s plans due to the location of the site.

Crifasi explained that the site is located in an “M zone,” which only allows for the construction of manufacturing buildings.

“For an M zone, you’re only allowed to put manufacturing, but you could put a hotel,” Crifasi said. “So what they did is, instead of 125 [units] they changed the plans and made it now a 70-room hotel. They’re allowed to put a hotel by code.”

The controversy over whether it will be an actual hotel or a place to warehouse the homeless is not deterring MVPORA from continuing their fight.

“We’re fighting it and I feel comfortable and confident that we are going to win,” Crifasi said. “We’re going to win one way or another.”

Due to the overcrowded schools in the district, Crifasi suggested that Queens is in need of three high schools. The shelter site, he and others claim, would be more suitable for redevelopment as a public school.

“Now we’re trying to see if we can get a high school there, because if they’re saying that [the site is] good enough for people to live there, then maybe it’s good enough for kids to go there.”

“We’re fighting,” Crifasi assured those in attendance. “We’re not putting up the white flag yet.”


Addabbo suggests using proposed Glendale homeless shelter for veteran housing

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The controversial plan to turn the abandoned warehouse located at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale into a homeless shelter appears to be moving forward, but state Senator Joseph Addabbo wants to make that proposal a little more specific.

If the city is going to make the site into a homeless shelter, Addabbo said, it should extend the facility to the homeless who have fought for this nation’s freedom.

“I will never agree that housing any individual at the Cooper Avenue site is a good idea,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “But if the city is insistent on housing people, why not focus our attention on an overlooked issue? We can help the veterans who helped us maintain the quality of life we have come to know instead of warehousing possibly over 100 families into this building.”

“The bottom line is that nobody deserves to be without a home, especially those who initially left their homes to defend our rights,” he added.

Nationwide, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that one-third of the homeless population has served in the military at one point. Reportedly, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) estimated that anywhere between 2,000 and 3,500 veterans in New York City are homeless.

Bringing families to the site could run the risk of further crowding school district 24, one of the most overcrowded school districts in the city, Addabbo charged. Changing the site to veterans housing would have minimal effect on the surrounding communities and also address the citywide issue of overcrowded schools.

Even so, Addabbo still believes that there are better uses for the long-defunct warehouse.

“With this Glendale facility, we can repurpose it in a way that helps people but also doesn’t negatively impact the community,” he added. “This site could alternatively also be used as senior housing, school or an animal shelter, as was suggested by a constituent, all of which are lacking in the borough and the city.”

While the DHS intends to address the current homeless crisis, the Cooper Avenue site would not be ready for residents for over a year, the senator noted.

“Keeping the proposal for 78-16 Cooper Ave. as a homeless shelter does not immediately serve anyone,” Addabbo said.

The Glendale and Middle Village communities have been combating the proposed homeless shelter since its inception. Civic and business leaders in both neighborhoods formed the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition for the specific purpose of filing legal action to stop the shelter’s development.

Since its formation, the coalition has raised thousands of dollars to fight the placement of the shelter and have filed an Article 78, an appeal to the city’s Environmental Assessment that it did on the site. The coalition charged the assessment was not complete and wants the city to do a full Environmental Impact study before moving forward with any plans.


Buildings Department OKs construction of Glendale homeless shelter

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Updated 5:28 p.m.


Building plans to construct a controversial homeless shelter in Glendale are moving ahead.

The Department of Buildings approved permits on Tuesday for the conversion of a vacant factory building into transitional housing, which the community has repeatedly opposed for years.

The dilapidated factory will have 103 units, smaller than the 125-room shelter originally proposed, encompassing 74,542 square feet of residential space, according to the filings with the Buildings Department. The four-story building will also be built with parking spaces for 33 vehicles, per plans.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has a pending five-year, $27 million contract with Samaritan Village to operate the homeless shelter at the site. Residents and neighborhood representatives are upset that the permits were granted.

“Trying to sneak this in, it’s all political,” said Sal Crifasi, president of the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition, a group of residents and community leaders devoted to fighting against the shelter. “Somebody is getting something. They are rubber stamping everything. I think someone is getting paid.”

The Glendale/Middle Village Coalition has raised about $80,000 from hundreds of residents to legally combat the shelter.

They are appealing against the Environmental Assessment the city did on the land. The coalition’s members feel that the city did not take a “hard look” at the area in order to determine the impact of a homeless shelter at the site. They want a full Environmental Impact Study done.

The coalition has a hearing on April 9 regarding its Article 78 proceeding.

Politicians were also disappointed by the news of the approved plans and pledged to continue to fight the construction of the shelter.

State Senator Joe Addabbo is trying to set up a meeting with DHS and the mayor’s office for next week to talk about the plans.

“We are going to continue to fight this and remain vigilant,” he said.

“To date, we haven’t seen the Department of Homeless Services live up to its commitment of transparency and engagement with local communities in the siting of these facilities,” City Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a statement. “I urge DHS to engage and update all stakeholders about the development of the Glendale site, including these Department of Building permits.”


Coalition funds growing to combat ‘warehousing’ of homeless in Glendale

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

Though donations have slowed down in recent weeks, the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition is continuing to raise money to pay for its legal battle to block a proposed homeless shelter.

The group has raised $70,000 for a fund to pay for legal fees in its lawsuit against the city on the proposed Glendale homeless shelter.

“We want to make it clear that we are not against helping homeless people,” said Dawn Scala, a member of the coalition. “We are against the warehousing of them in large facilities.”

Over 445 different people and groups have made donations to the community coalition. It was something that Brian Dooley, treasurer of the coalition, was proud of because of his concern with how the city handles the homeless.

“We should all be very proud of this number,” said Dooley.

Sal Crifasi, president of the coalition, said that donations have been coming in less and less over the past few weeks, but he remains optimistic that they will reach their goal of $130,000 as he believes the slow-down in donations of late is because of the holiday season.

“We used to get about 15 checks a day coming into the office, now we are getting two or three,” Crifasi said. “But every donation counts.”

Crifasi said most of the donations are coming from Glendale residents. But he wants to branch out into Middle Village as he believes the homeless shelter will affect that neighborhood just as much as, if not more than, Glendale.

At this point, the coalition has spent $15,000 on the Article 78 filed against the city, which was an appeal against the Environmental Assessment the city did on the land. They will have to spend another $15,000 on this first action, which will leave them with about $40,000 to work with, Dooley said.

The coalition’s members feel that the city did not take a “hard look” at the area in order to determine the impact of a homeless shelter at the site. They want a full Environmental Impact Study done.

“This is a bad spot and a bad idea,” said Fred Haller, a member of the coalition who is also a lawyer. “This has been a great effort by all the groups in the neighborhood. Legal fees are expensive and we are raising a lot of money.”

The city has until Dec. 12 to answer the Article 78 filed against them. Haller said that the coalition, along with their attorney, are discussing further lawsuits they could bring on city, state and federal levels.

“[The proposed shelter] is not the right answer for helping these people,” Dooley said. “We have a lot more fighting to do.”


$63K raised in fight against proposed Glendale homeless shelter

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

The Glendale/Middle Village Coalition is making strides in their effort to combat the city on the proposed Cooper Avenue homeless shelter.

The coalition announced that they have now raised just $300 shy of $63,000 as of Nov. 4 for a legal fund. This money will go toward a lawsuit against the city as the coalition believes the agencies did not go through the proper steps to check how adding a homeless shelter to the neighborhood would affect it.

“People are giving what they can, which is great,” said Brain Dooley, a member of the coalition. “I think in another three or four months we can get to our goal.”

Out of the nearly $63,000 raised, about $15,000 has been allocated toward the coalition’s first legal step, filing an Article 78, which is an appeal to the Environmental Assessment the city did of the land. The coalition instead wants the city to do a full Environmental Impact study.

As the coalition moves on, they are looking to raise at least another $65,000, which they believe will get them through the full legal process against the city.

Dooley reiterated multiple times that the group was not against helping homeless people in the city.

“We are not against giving homeless people housing,” Dooley said. “We are against the warehousing of 125 families in homeless shelters.”


Group against proposed Glendale homeless shelter hosts first meeting

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Hundreds of residents came out Wednesday evening to the first meeting of the Glendale/ Middle Village Coalition, a group formed to combat a proposed homeless shelter in a former warehouse on Cooper Avenue.

The meeting at Christ the King High School was held to inform locals of the group’s plans for action against the shelter and to show them the ways they can help the cause, organizers said.

“We want to prevent the warehousing of the homeless,” Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, said.  “We are asking residents for help.”

The Glendale/ Middle Village Coalition has raised more than $30,000, which it intends to use to challenge a declaration by the city that said a homeless shelter would have no adverse effect on the community.

“[The city] just went through the motions,” Chris Murray, the coalition’s lawyer, said. “If we win, the city will have to go back and do an Environmental Impact Statement. This could then take them up to three years to complete and will prolong the process.”

But to continue the legal action the coalition asked locals to kick in money and for at least one resident on each block to become a “block captain,” who would keep neighbors informed and collect donation pledges.

By the end of the night, more than 70 people signed up to become block captains and more than 50 checks were collected, organizers said.

The coalition estimated that it will need about $100,000 more to fight the proposed shelter effectively.

Sal Cafasi, one of the originators of the coalition, said the group will continue to hold meetings and update residents.

The coalition has asked for the community’s continuing support throughout the process.

“This is a battle and we will win it,” Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said. “The neighborhood is united against this. We need [residents] to spread the word.”

The Department of Homeless Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


New group formed to fight proposed Glendale homeless shelter

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

The fight goes on.

A new group named the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition has formed to combat the proposed homeless shelter site on Cooper Avenue.

“Instead of everyone doing little things on their own [to combat the site] we will form one group to make a stronger argument,” said Salvatore Crifasi, co-founder of the coalition.

The group was formed just a couple of weeks ago. Its main argument is that the site will serve better as a school campus than a homeless shelter for the most overcrowded school district in the city, Crifasi said.

They also believe the city did not properly assess the site as a homeless shelter for its impact on the environment and have hired a lawyer to help them in their argument.

Whenever a government agency proposes a project they must go through State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), which requires an environmental impact assessment.  A “negative declaration” is given to a site, such as the one on Cooper Avenue, when it is determined that whatever is proposed for it would not have a significant impact on the environment.

“The negative declaration that was issued for the site does not accurately depict what the homeless shelter would do,” said Chris Murray, the attorney hired by the coalition. “The city was just trying to rush this thing through.”

The coalition is still trying to raise enough funds for the legal fees in order to bring this case to the state Supreme Court. The negative impact statement was issued on June 12 and by law there is a four-month window to file a legal challenge, Murray said. This gives the coalition about a month to raise money for their lawyer to bring a case.

“There are other alternatives that we feel will have a better impact [on the community],” Crifasi said. “We are trying to raise enough money [for legal fees] and find a better solution for the site.”




Petition: turn proposed Glendale homeless shelter site into a school

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

A petition has been started to turn the proposed homeless shelter site on Cooper Avenue into an educational facility to better accommodate the overcrowded School District 24.

“We are not happy about the shelter,” Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, said at a Community Education Council meeting on Tuesday. “We are asking the DOE to take a look at the location of Cooper Avenue and the two adjoining properties [for a possible school].”

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

All residents at the meeting were urged to sign the petition, which was started by residents of Glendale and Middle Village, with the help of the Glendale Civic Association, asking for a school in the already over-saturated district. Residents believe that turning the site into a specialized school that runs from pre-K to high school would be the optimal usage for the site, whereas if it were turned into a homeless shelter, the child-to-school ratio in the district would grow even more.

“I just cannot comprehend the logistics,” said Nick Comaianni, president of the Community Education Council for District 24. “Doesn’t the city take a look at this?”

A “green light” was given for human habitation of the land after concerns were voiced about a former chemical complex on the site, according to the petition.

The petition urges the the city instead to acquire the site and build an educational complex there, citing a “dire need of school seats for children of District 24, the most overcrowded school district in NYC.”

“The location would serve as a good site to alleviate problems already present in District 24,” Masi said. “Building a school would be a great alternative for that site.”


Councilwoman Crowley proposes alternative to controversial Glendale homeless shelter

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone


The proposed homeless shelter in Glendale is too close to chemicals, too far from public transportation and would pack an already overcrowded school district, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said in a letter to city officials on Thursday.

“I do not believe that the proposed site is a suitable location for a family shelter,” Crowley said in a statement to Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Gilbert Taylor. “Community Board 5, countless residents and I urge you to select an alternative location.”

She mentioned less costly alternatives suggested by Mayor Bill de Blasio, such as setting aside affordable housing units for the homeless.

The DHS released an independent environmental analysis of the area on July 1, deeming it suitable for the 125-family shelter. It plans to move forward with the site, which was originally proposed by the nonprofit Samaritan Village.

Christopher Miller, a DHS spokesperson, said they are currently reviewing the councilwoman’s letter. “We feel that the environmental review was extremely thorough as it looked at everything from schools, to transportation, to soil quality,” Miller said in an email.

Crowley said that District 24 is already the most overcrowded school district in the city. The shelter would bring up to 160 school children into the area, according to the DHS-commissioned study.

She also listed specific questions concerning the environmental risks. She asked how impending renovations would impact soil near the facility and potential contamination from a nearby chemical manufacturer.

Crowley asked that answers be provided before entering the next stage of contract negotiations for the shelter.




Environmental assessment to be done on proposed Glendale homeless shelter

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The fight over the unpopular Glendale homeless shelter is heading to round two.

An environmental assessment study will be done on the site for the second phase of review to decide whether to transform the vacant factory on 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a homeless shelter, after it recently received support from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS).

Some elected officials are confident they’ll have a chance for a knockout punch in this round.

“That’s another shot we have,” Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi said at a recent Community Board 5 meeting. “I believe from anecdotal evidence that the site may be contaminated. They are not allowed to build on a contaminated site.”

DHS penned a letter to the mayor’s office last week in support for nonprofit Samaritan Village’s proposal to transform the defunct factory into a shelter for 125 families, with a contract valued at $27 million.

Elected officials and Glendale residents attended a public hearing on Thursday in Manhattan to reiterate their opposition to the possible shelter, because of the contamination on the site and congestion to local schools, among other reasons.

“The building was never intended for residential use. Changing this site to a residential use would require intensive remediation and expansive renovations,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said at the hearing. “Think of how much further we could use $27 million. This money could be spent repairing buildings that already have the infrastructure in place, and money would likely still be left over for improvements in current shelters and providing job placement and permanent housing services.”

The homeless shelter was first suggested to the city by Samaritan Village in 2011. A formal proposal was sent to the DHS earlier this year.

If the proposal passes the environmental assessment round, then it will go to the Office of the City Comptroller for financial review for the third and final phase.



Residents once again protest proposed Glendale homeless shelter

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

No means no.

More than a hundred residents once again protested a proposed homeless shelter at an abandoned Glendale factory on Saturday.

Area residents have rejected the shelter, but since nonprofit Samaritan Village is not backing away from its proposal to the Department of Homeless Service (DHS) to transform the site at 78-16 Cooper Avenue into housing for 125 struggling families, the residents returned with posters and petitions.

“I would say that we are definitely determined,” said Middle Village resident Heather Truberg, who organized the rally. “Because if it is approved, and they start building it, it’ll be out of our hands.”

Residents feel the factory would not be a good location for the shelter because it is contaminated and therefore not suitable as a residence, and will require millions of dollars to clean up. They also believe it will force many new children into crowded surrounding public schools, and because the area is built without much transportation, commuting would be troublesome for the homeless families.

Samaritian Village recently answered a joint letter by elected officials to address community concerns. The organization confirmed that the facility wouldn’t deny housing to sex offenders and convicted criminals. This further outraged community members and elected officials.

Many residents feel that officials haven’t been doing enough to stop the proposal.

“It seems like it could happen. They said we’re not for it, but they are not doing anything,” Middle Village resident John Hegener said.

While the opposition against the shelter is strong, not everyone is up in arms.

“I know that they [the protesters] are thinking, ‘if it’s a guy from jail he might rob again,’” said Fran Malave, a Glendale resident walking past the rally. “But what about women that need help, or children?”




Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.