Did Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration bypass required reviews in cherry picking the location of a new homeless shelter in Queens?
By Pat Savage
Some local residents say he did, and filed a lawsuit last Tuesday.
Those who want no part of a 200-bed men’s shelter inside a one-time warehouse located at 78-16 Cooper Avenue in Glendale are claiming in a suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court that city fathers turned a blind eye to legal requirements, and as a result failed to conduct the proper reviews before giving the thumbs up to the plan, according to the.
“The failure to undertake the required reviews … has resulted in the ill-advised decision to place a homeless shelter at this location even though it is near schools,” according to court documents excerpted in a New York Post article.
“The plaintiffs claim that without an environmental review of the project, impacts, like a strain on police and fire protection, weren’t considered before the shelter location was picked,” wrote Priscilla DeGregory and Tamar Lapin of the Post. “And instead of doing their due diligence to find a location for the shelter, the city handed off the duties to not-for-profits, the suit claims.”
“Then, without undertaking any site specific reviews required by law, the Respondents-defendants ‘approve’ locations… and only then begin the reviews,” the filing, which mistakenly refers to mayor “DiBlasio,” states,” the piece continued. “The process is a “flippant way of doing things with a lot of arrogance, and ignoring what the legal responsibility is,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher Murray. “You would think the city would look for locations and try to understand the impact of how the neighbors might feel and instead they’ve delegated.”
It was several months ago that Councilman Robert Holden said he had been assured by Steven Banks, commissioner for the city’s Human Resources Administration and Department of Social Services, that there is no current city contract associated with the property.
“I’m working with the city on an alternative — smaller shelters run by faith-based organizations in Community Board 5,” Holden told amny.com. “We have churches here with the space willing to work with families and smaller groups.”
Early this month, several hundred protesters, “equipped with signs that depicted the mayor as an evil emperor and “shelter industrialist,” filled both sides of Cooper Avenue at the underpass between 74th and 79th Streets… to the near-constant sound of cars honking their horns,” according to qns.com. “The rally’s ringleaders, Councilman Robert Holden and GMVC advocate Mike Papa, began by continuing to push for a special needs school at the site rather than the proposed shelter for 200 homeless men. But as the event wore on, the two speakers, along with conservative gadfly Curtis Sliwa, escalated their criticism of the mayor’s handling of the project into a government conspiracy.”