Tag Archives: Queens Village Civic Association

Residents oppose plan to create a Queens Village jail for juveniles

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

Residents and community leaders in Queens Village are strongly opposed to a plan to convert a former school into a facility for delinquent children who have committed crimes as part of the state’s “Close to Home” law.

The law, enacted in 2012 by the Cuomo administration, seeks to bring young offenders from facilities upstate closer to their families and lawyers in the city.

The city’s Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) has targeted the building at 207-01 Jamaica Ave., the former home of the Merrick Academy charter school, to be the facility for troubled city youngsters,  who have been arrested before they turned 16 years old and are considered “at-risk.” The city agency is hoping to house 18 youth offenders at the site in a “group home” setting, and The Children’s Village will operate the site under a contract with ACS.

However, Queens Village residents said they have not been adequately informed about the plan and don’t want teens with criminal backgrounds in their residential neighborhood, fearing they could escape and harm the community.

“I understand they want to bring them closer because now they are 200 to 300 miles away, but it doesn’t have to be a residential area,” said Mohamood Ishmael, president of the Queens Village Civic Association.

The facility will be a “limited secure” building to feel less like a jail, but will have a secured driveway for vehicles transporting youngsters, locked doors and windows, and a control room with security cameras and television monitoring by employees 24 hours, seven days a week.

An ACS representative said a public hearing was held in Queens two years ago about the facility. Also, agency officials met with Community Board 13 on May 11.

Besides bringing delinquents closer to their support circles, the program will also provide education and counseling services.

“While plans for this proposed facility are still being formulated, ACS’ goal for this, as well as all other limited secure placement facilities, is to provide a safe, stable and close-knit residential environment for young people to receive residential rehabilitation services while in our care, while also ensuring the safety of residents and the surrounding community,” according to prepared remarks by an ACS spokesman.

The Queens Village facility wouldn’t be the only one Queens residents are against. In South Ozone Park, residents are fighting against a facility from opening there, and filed a class action lawsuit against the operator of the planned juvenile jail and the building owner, according to reports.

Residents and leaders said the Queens Village building should be used as a school again since it once housed the Merrick Academy.

“All the schools in this area are overcrowded,” said Celia Dosamantes, a concerned resident and budding politician who has interest in running for Councilman Mark Weprin’s seat when he leaves office this year. “It was a school. Why can’t they use it as a school again?”

Residents will protest at the site Wednesday to stop ACS from further considering it.



Star of Queens: Mohamood Ishmael, president, Queens Village Civic Association

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


COMMUNITY SERVICE: Mohamood Ishmael has been a member of the Queens Village Civic Association for over 20 years. He had served as treasurer before becoming president in 2011.

In April, he became a member of Community Board 13, where he is committed to providing community service.

“As a civic leader I see myself as an advocate to preserve and improve the quality of life for all of our residents,” said Ishmael. “It gives me great satisfaction in seeing positive results on many of the projects and issues that we have worked on. Sometime, a great accomplishment might simply be getting a stop signed installed that could prevent a serious accident.”

BACKGROUND: Ishmael has been living with his family in Queens Village for over 27 years. Along with his community and civic services, he is a Certified Public Accountant who is currently the vice president of finance for a healthcare organization.

Ishmael is also an adjunct professor of accounting at York College of the City University of New York.

“As an immigrant from Guyana I consider myself successful and feel obligated to give back to the University and community that made it possible for me to succeed.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: I recalled a few years ago, as a result of our civic leaders’ effort, we prevented a developer from getting a variance to proceed with his project. The project was out of character with the area and it would have created congestion.”

He continued, “on a personal note, my favorite memory was having my five-year-old granddaughter lead us in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the last civic association installation dinner.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: It is a challenge to motivate people to get them to participate and to accept positions. I think most residents feel that it is much easier to call someone to complain and have them take care of their issues.”

INSPIRATION: “I realized many years ago that if a community does not have advocates, it will be shortly changed in the allocation of resources and services. In other words, if the residents of a community do not participate, quality of life in that community will decline.”