Tag Archives: kathy masi

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Bill could make community boards go digital


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Follow me @liamlaguerre


It’s possible that the city’s community boards could be coming into the digital age.

Councilmember James Vacca, chair of the Committee on Technology, held a hearing for his bill recently that would require community boards to webcast their full board meetings.

At the hearing, members of the community boards and civic organizations raised questions about the complexity of implementing the law, because each board will have to learn to use the broadcast equipment. Also, funding for the equipment and the ability to webcast from various locations could be problematic for the community boards.

But Queens leaders of local civic organizations that already use the Internet to connect with residents support the bill.

“People don’t come to a meeting because they need to pay a baby sitter to watch their kids,” said Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, which doesn’t hold meetings in person, but is “cyber-civic” by utilizing Facebook. “James Vacca is on the right track. If you can’t get people, because their lives are busy, to bring that meeting on their computer is really great.”

The bill is still being reviewed in the technology committee.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Controversial Glendale homeless shelter one step closer to reality


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Once it was a rumor. Now it’s almost reality.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) sent a 22-page letter to the mayor’s office in favor of a proposal by non-profit Samaritan Village to transform the abandoned factory on 78-16 Cooper Avenue in Glendale into a homeless shelter for 125 families, with a 27-million contract, despite strong objections from community residents, The Courier first learned  on Monday after noon.

Members of the community and all elected officials have been protesting against the homeless shelter saying that the site doesn’t make sense for the incoming struggling residents, because of the lack of transportation in the neighborhood and also because the abandoned factory, which used to make plane parts, sits on very contaminated ground.

“It’s surrounded by brownfields. Would you want your mother to be housed there?” said Community Board 5 (CB 5) chair Vincent Arcuri Jr. “I can’t understand why they are pursuing this site.”

After a formal proposal was submitted by Samaritan Village in May, 2011, the DHS began investigating the site. They have analyzed 70 locations, 16 in Queens, and 54 in other boroughs since then.

DHS provided a list of reasons why they believed the site was appropriate. Among them was the compatibility of the site, since it similar to buildings in the neighborhood and because they feel there will be no negative effects on the community as a result of inserting the shelter. Also, DHS noted it will add a commodity that the area is lacking since there are no homeless shelters in the community.

“In proposing the building as a site for temporary, emergency housing for homeless families with children, the DHS has carefully considered and balanced such factors as effects of the facility on neighborhood character, the concentration of similar facilities in the community district, the efficient and cost-effective delivery of services, alternative sites elsewhere in Brooklyn and the other boroughs, and the need for the proposed shelter,” the letter said.

Members of the community have already begun to express their disappointment with the DHS’s decision.

“I am utterly disgusted by the initial reaction one year ago that it was a rumor, and I say to those people now that their negligence has caused this to occur,” said Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, which collected more than 4,000 signatures against the shelter.  “If they were vigilant this would have never come to this point. Now let’s see what they can do to stop if pass this stage. Obviously they were wrong about it not getting out of stage one. Shame on all of them for not listening to the community.”

Elected officials have sounded off against DHS favoring the possible shelter as well.

“I have said from the beginning that this location is not a suitable site for a homeless shelter, and nothing in the Department of Homeless Services’ initial review has changed my mind,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “It would be irresponsible for the city to spend more than $27 million to rehabilitate a site that was never meant for residential use.”

A public hearing on the proposed homeless shelter is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the headquarters of the Department of City Planning on Thursday, December 12.

 

 

Fair Share Analysis_Cooper Family Residence_12 6 13 by The Queens Courier


RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Proposed Glendale homeless shelter could house sex offenders


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Glendale residents are outraged to learn that a proposed homeless shelter could house criminals and sex offenders.

The revelation came after the would-be shelter’s operators, Samaritan Village, penned a letter in response to local elected officials’ concerns. The nonprofit group is proposing the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) turn an abandoned factory at 78-16 Cooper Avenue into transitional housing for 125 families.

“DHS has both a mandate and an obligation to provide shelter to any eligible homeless person or family, regardless of criminal background,” the letter said. “The Sex Offender Registration Act does not restrict where a registered sex offender may live.”

There has already been a collective opposition from business owners, civic and political leaders and residents since last year when the shelter was just a rumor, and this latest response didn’t sit well with the community.

“The fact that they are mixing families with sex offenders should be a red flag to this community and an eye-opener to all those officials who want to tread gently,” said Kathy Masi, chair of the Glendale Civic Association. “Samaritan Village could never be a good neighbor. Their response to us is flawed with hidden innuendoes and unreasonable projections.”

Samaritan Village is seeking a five-year contract with a four year renewal if the DHS approves their proposal, according to the letter.

“I am against this proposal because I believe the site, on a number of levels, is not suited to accommodate and serve the intended purpose,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi.

There will be on-site security 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 75 cameras will be installed inside and around the site and there will be a 9 p.m. curfew, according to the letter.

The organization wants to establish a community advisory board with neighborhood representatives, civic leaders and NYPD community affairs. They will also provide job training, GED instruction, homework assistance and other services.

To address the lack of subways in the area, two vans will be provided to transport residents to appointments and public transportation.

DHS is currently reviewing Samaritan Village’s proposal.

Samaritan Village Response

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

CB5 chair: Glendale homeless shelter could be environmental nightmare


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Community concern caused by a rumored homeless shelter in Glendale may have been premature.

The site in question, 78-16 Cooper Avenue, “does not meet Building Code requirements for residential occupancy and, due to the age and condition and previous occupancies, could be an environmental nightmare,” Community Board 5 said in a release.

Rumors began circulating last week that the owner of the property, Michael Wilner, was in talks with a nonprofit that could potentially use the site for a homeless shelter.

No application for a shelter has been submitted, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) said.

“The building, which currently has several active Department of Building violations, may contain lead paint, asbestos and various PCB contaminants. The cost and time to convert this structure to a residential facility would be extensive and possibly twice as much as new construction,” Vincent Arcuri, chair of CB5 said.

The vacant factory currently has nine open Department of Building violations.

Prior occupants included an aircraft parts manufacturer, knitting mills, machine shops and Eastern Cabinet Company, Arcuri said, while adding there are rumors the facility was also used as part of the Manhattan Project.

“The site is located adjacent to a known Brownfield site and, due to its low elevation and location, may contain underground pockets of PERC (dry cleaning fluid) from the many defunct knitting mills in the area,” Arcuri said.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley came out against the site being used for a homeless shelter, saying the nearly 3 acre space should serve the community.

Wilner would not return requests for comment.

If Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced an emergency condition, the site may be able to be used, however.

Nine new shelters have opened in the city recently, prompted by the homeless population’s record numbers. There are 43,774 people currently in homeless shelters, according to the DHS.

 

Forever 21 may be coming to Atlas Park


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

DSC_0929s

The Shops at Atlas Park is still suffering a year-and-a-half after it was bought at a foreclosure auction. But a new tenant, Forever 21, could help the Glendale open-air shopping center turn a financial corner.

Though its owner, Macerich, could not “confirm details of any retailers at this time,” a Forever 21 spokesperson confirmed to the Daily News that a 15,000-square-foot store will open there in early 2013.

Forever 21 is a modestly priced chain that sells trendy clothes and accessories for women, men and kids, but is particularly popular among females in their teens and early 20s. It has several stores in Manhattan and Long Island, but only one store in the borough, at the nearby Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst, which Macerich also owns.

Unlike the booming Queens Center, Atlas Park has had difficulty attracting shoppers, who complain about its paid parking and store offerings.

“There’s nothing there to buy. You’re paying parking for no place to shop,” said Glendale Civic Association president Kathy Masi. She is happy about any store that can pay the rent, especially one that is geared towards the young people who frequent the mall on the weekend.

In addition to retail shops, the 377,924-square-foot shopping center has restaurants, offices and a movie theater, and hosts concerts.

“We do a lot better during nights and weekends because people come here for movies and the restaurants,” said Peggy Zhu, an employee at clothing and accessory store Momo.

One restaurant, California Pizza Kitchen, says that business for them has been fine.

But since Atlas Park opened in 2006, business hasn’t been fine. Three years after purchasing it, its original owners defaulted on a $128 million loan. In January 2011, Macerich bought the center for $54 million at a foreclosure auction.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company seems to recognize that Atlas Park is still struggling, and is considering renaming the shopping center and making other changes.

“Whenever we redevelop, there is a whole list of possibilities, and a name change is one of them,” Tim Steffan, senior vice president of property management at Macerich told The Queens Courier earlier this year. He also said that any mall needs an anchor or destination to attract customers—and local residents agree.

“The stores are too expensive here. They need more stores like the ones in Queens Center that are cheaper,” said Glendale mother Jackie Jenna, 51.

“There’s a bunch of shoe stores but not a lot of cheap places for young people to shop,” said 18-year-old Michelle Ricciardi of Middle Village. “I think Forever 21 will bring a lot of people to the mall.”

Additional reporting by Phil Hertling

Possible Glendale homeless shelter met with opposition


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

A potential plan to house a homeless shelter in Glendale may be evicted before it even moves in.

Michael Wilner, the owner of the proposed site at 78-17 Cooper Avenue, has been in contact with a nonprofit agency, said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, with the idea of turning the former factory into a homeless shelter.

“The councilmember does not support any attempt to put a multiple dwelling shelter on Cooper Avenue and will do everything in her power to prevent it from opening,” said Lydon Sleeper, Crowley’s chief of staff. “Elizabeth has been pushing for that space to be a recreation and community center that serves the public and we will keep pursuing that with the city and the community.”

A Facebook page has also been created in opposition to the proposal.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has yet to receive an application for the site and Community Board 5 said they have not been contacted regarding the shelter.

Wilner refused to answer questions at the site or when reached by phone.

Any plans to transform the factory into a shelter are still in its infancy, said a source with knowledge of the situation. The long-vacant factory would need significant work before it would be ready for occupants.

The factory, zoned M1-1 for manufacturing, sits on a nearly three acre plot of land south of Cooper Avenue. The zoning also allows for hotels, an exemption the city has used before for homeless shelters, Crowley said.

Nine new shelters have opened in the city recently, prompted by the homeless population’s record numbers. There are 43,774 people currently in homeless shelters, according to the DHS.

The city has maintained an open-ended Request for Proposal (RFP) since 2006 to meet capacity needs, a DHS spokesperson said. The proposals move forward based on the number of individuals seeking temporary shelter.

According to Department of Finance records, the estimated market value of the land is $1,160,000.

Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, said she is still waiting on concrete information on the plans, which she believes may be further along than anyone is letting on.

“We really have no idea what’s in store for us,” Masi said. “Our direction right now is to find out exactly what’s going on.”

Masi said the best use for the land would be a park, noting its proximity to schools and the Atlas Park shopping complex.