Addabbo meets with DHS and city to discuss alternative to Glendale homeless shelter

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 1.36.37 PMState Senator Joseph Addabbo announced today that he met with Department of Homeless Services (DHS) commissioner Gilbert Taylor and NYC Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios to discuss the proposed 125-family homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave.

“It is my hope we can still find an alternative use for the warehouse on Cooper Avenue and avoid packing in such a large number of homeless families at that inappropriate site,” Addabbo said in a statement following the meeting. “As the new year approaches, I appreciate the efforts of DHS and city officials to hear our community’s concerns, and those of my fellow colleagues in government, as well as possibly considering discussions focusing on other future options for the property.”

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New Glendale deli gets some much-needed parking

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 4.08.47 PMWhen the owners of the new L&A Gourmet Deli cut the ribbon on their new family-run corner store at 79-51 Myrtle Ave. back in April, they immediately noticed that parking in the neighborhood was scarce, especially the strip of spaces in front the of store marked with a “No Parking Anytime” sign.

After local State Senator Joseph Addabbo and State Assemblyman Mike Miller combined forces to send a request to Delila Hall, the Queens Borough Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), the Glendale business now has 2-hour, metered parking on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekends in front of their store.

“With this parking allowance, customers don’t have to park blocks away from the stores there on Myrtle Avenue. This created a convenient option for patrons and hopefully encourages them to visit the local stores more often,” Addabbo said. “I’m appreciative that Assemblymember Miller and I were able to get this done for the store owners and for the community.”

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Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley proposes housing subsidies at a State Senate hearing

Earlier this afternoon, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley stood before a joint hearing of the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Social Service and the Assembly Standing Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation to call on the state to invest in housing subsidies and break away from the current shelter system.

Crowley’s full testimony is below:

My name is Elizabeth Crowley, and I am the New York City Council Member for the 30th District, representing the Queens neighborhoods of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, and parts of Woodside and Woodhaven.

New York City is currently facing what can only be called a “crisis.” As of today, there are over 58,000 individuals living just in New York City shelters alone, and that number is climbing each and every day. With thousands more homeless New Yorkers not even in shelters, but living on the streets, our City is currently experiencing levels of homelessness not seen in a generation.

I commend our state legislature for holding today’s hearing, for committing $30 million in this year’s budget to support homeless services, and for allowing New York City to access Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program funding to keep struggling families in their homes and out of shelters.

If we are serious about addressing this crisis, we need to be providing immediate help to families in the form of rental subsidies and permanent affordable housing.

The sharp increase in New York City’s homeless population is no accident. It began happening precisely after the state cut funding to the rental subsidy Advantage program, prompting the City to follow suit and close the program all together.

Programs like Advantage represented exactly the right approach to tackling homelessness. Through Advantage, families were provided with up to two years of rent subsidies to help participants get back on their feet, as long as they worked at least 20 hours a week and covered 30% to 40% of their rent.

At the time of the program’s elimination in spring 2011, over 18,700 New Yorkers people made up the 6,482 households that were receiving rent subsidies – with the City shelter population just under 40,000. The City DHS Commissioner even attested that over 90% of those who completed the subsidy period remained in the community and out of shelters.

In just a few short years since the end of this subsidy, the homeless population has increased nearly 50% and, just as City administration officials warned when the state funding was cut, the City has moved to open dozens of new homeless shelter to accommodate the population.

One of the proposed sites for a new shelter is right in the heart of a very residential portion of my district, on land that myself and other community advocates have been working to transform into a school to relieve the record overcrowding in our school district.

Shelters like the $27 million Samaritan Village project proposed in my district, in a building that would take years to rehabilitate, does not meet the immediate need for our City’s homeless population and places an undue burden on our community.

Mayor de Blasio has committed to preserve and create 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years. He has also introduced an $80 million proposal to reintroduce rental subsidies for hundreds of families facing homelessness.

Sadly, this is still not enough money to significantly reduce homelessness in New York. That is why New York State must reinstate a strong commitment to housing subsidies in New York City. By working with the City, we need to revive a robust voucher program that will responsibly fulfill our legal and moral obligation to house all New Yorkers.

As the legislature today weighs the depth of our homelessness crisis, I urge all my colleagues in state government to understand the sustainable solutions. Building more shelters anywhere in New York City is not one of them. Unless we do more to address the exploding homeless population at its root, I fear for the well-being of thousands of needy New Yorkers, and for communities already struggling to serve it existing residents.

Thank you for your time.

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Community Board 5 Monthly Meeting at Christ the King

The next Community Board 5 monthly meeting and public forum is scheduled for Wed., Dec. 10 in the cafeteria at Christ the King High School, located at 68-02 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village.

Following a review of the Nov. 12 minutes, applications for sale of alcoholic beverages and building and demolition, this month the board is scheduled to cover committee reports from Zoning and Land Use Review, Transportation Services, Library Services and others.

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Atlas Terminals owner sells to Broadway Stages for $19.5 million

ATLAS-PARK-SALE-624x3391Broadway Stages may be on its way to Glendale.

It was reported this morning that ATCO Properties, owner of Atlas Terminals industrial park adjacent to the Shops at Atlas Park (8000 Cooper Ave.), sold the 500,000-square-foot site to the Brooklyn-based television production studio.

According to paperwork filed this morning, the 21-building property, which makes up 82-10, 82-04 and 82-80 Cooper Avenue, was sold by Damon Hemmerdinger of ATCO for $19.5 million.

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State Senator Joe Addabbo asks, “Where Would We Be Without Our Local Small Businesses?”

It has been said the small businesses are the backbone of our communities here in Queens, and I am certainly one to reiterate that sentiment. The small businesses, many of which I frequent myself – convenient stores, delis, restaurants and more – are what keep so many of our borough’s commercial corridors going.

Small Business Saturday, starting this year on Saturday, November 29, is a time to acknowledge the services our local stores have to offer. The every-day items we may not always take the time to note, the comfort you have in being a “regular” somewhere or simply just having a convenient place to shop – are certainly reasons to appreciate our local stores. Cross Bay Boulevard, Myrtle Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, Jamaica Avenue, Grand Avenue, Beach 116th Street and Beach 129th Street are just some of the corridors that see thousands of people every day. Where would we be without them?

Small Business Saturday falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the busiest shopping days of the year, and two days not necessarily reserved for local shops. We should take this day as a reminder to give back to the smaller stores that really allow us to live our day-to-day lives locally. While the holiday chaos can bring us towards larger department stores or big-name brands, we mustn’t forget the mom-and-pop stores that help us all year round.

Statistics show 23 million small businesses account for 54 percent of all sales nationwide, over 50 percent of jobs and nearly 70 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s. In New York City, those numbers shouldn’t surprise us. Thanks to our corner stores, local supermarkets and more, we know the impact our small businesses have on our communities.

In Albany, we continue to fight for the rights of small storeowners, and this upcoming 2015 session should be no different. I have sponsored a variety of bills and supported budget items relating to local businesses, including some that establish a small business tax credit for the employment of seniors, of unemployed college graduates and of unemployed veterans. Another would provide grants to small business owners to rebuild storefronts severely damaged by Sandy.

In last year’s budget discussions, we were able to adopt several measures to help our local stores financially. The budget provided new, pro-business tax cuts, hiring tax credits, reduction of costs and red tape for businesses, workforce training for job openings, a Start-Up New York Tax Free program and more.

In reducing the red tape for storeowners, the budget modernized and simplified both unemployment insurance and workers compensation, and ultimately provides employers with $1.2 billion in savings without affecting workers’ benefits.

Whether at home in the district or in Albany, I will continue to keep the needs of the small business owners in mind. Something can always be done to promote their services and remind them they are vital to our community. This Small Business Saturday, I urge you to do the same. I hope you will join me in shopping at your favorite local store and show the owners the gratitude they deserve.

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City denies CB5 traffic study request at shelter site

Community Board 5 submitted a request on Sep. 25 for a traffic study at 78-16 Cooper Ave., the site for a proposed 125-family transitional housing facility.

With concerns for heavy traffic volume along a local truck at the planned development site, the board asked the New York City Department of Buildings Queens Borough Commissioner Derek Lee consider the “narrow” sidewalk in front of the property and what could potentially be “dangerous conditions for residents.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings responded to the traffic study proposal;

The Commissioner understands your concerns but since the proposed project (Alt 1 #420987613) is “As Of Right” the New York City Department of Buildings cannot arbitrarily request that a traffic study be performed before reviewing the plans or add it as a required item before approval.

 

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Amidst legal action, Glendale civic continues push for school at shelter site

Last week, the Glendale-Middle Village Coalition initiated their first legal action against the city, filing a lawsuit claiming that the full impact of placing 125 families in a proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Avenue was not properly taken into consideration.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that the city did not take into account how the sewer system, schools and local traffic would be affected by addition of the shelter to the neighborhood. The suit also claims that the environmental assessment performed on the site was improperly performed.

Lawyer Chris Murray, who filed the suit on behalf of the coalition, said the initial facility report was so sloppy, it even counted nearby grave sites as open space.

Despite the Department of Education and School Construction Authority’s continued disinterest in the establishment of a school campus at the site of the shelter, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Glendale Civic Association President Kathy Masi are not giving up on the idea just yet.

Last month, Crowley submitted 3,000 signatures gathered by the Glendale Civic Association to Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina calling on her to consider the dire need of the district for more classrooms to accommodate the ever-increasing number of local students.

“School District 24 – which stretches from Ridgewood, to Woodside, to Corona – is by far the most overcrowded school district in the entire City of New York,” Crowley wrote in her October 6th letter to the chancellor. “Despite this persistent overcrowding, families continue to move into our district for its excellent public schools. But the dire lack of additional seats is taking a serious toll on our community.”

While Masi said she is hopeful that the idea of a school is not completely off the table, she is realistic about the proposal’s “long shot” prospects, given the multiple issues unique to the shelter site and its nearby neighbors.

“If each of those properties was presently available, I believe SCA would take advantage,” Masi said. “Since each one of those proprieties has an issue, whether it’s environmental, or in contract with DHS, the prospect of getting any information regarding a school within the next days is not even feasible.” [GR]

 

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Retro Fitness opens new, safer accessibility ramp

The owners of a local Retro Fitness franchise in Glendale last week completed construction on a ramp they hope will make their gym more accessible to injured veterans.

After realizing that some of their members were having difficulty navigating the gym’s existing ramp, co-owner Warren DeStefano said he and his three partners together made the choice to withhold their own pay for a year in order to save up for a safer and more accessible ramp.

“It was a tough hit, but we saw the demand,” DeStefano said. “It was unsafe with the existing ramp because of the cars coming in and out, and it was something we felt we needed to do.”

In total, DeStefano reported that the new concrete ramp that connects the gym’s parking lot to a quiet section of the sidewalk on Otto Street cost them about $180,000 to complete.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo visited the gym on the day the ramp was opened to the public last week.

“I really think Retro Fitness becomes a model on what we should do to acknowledge our veterans,” Addabbo said. “They’re showing that Veterans Day is every day.”

As a further extension of their gratitude, DeStefano said the gym offers free lifetime memberships complete with complimentary personal training sessions to all their injured veteran members.

“We are giving something back to the people who fight for our freedom,” DeStefano said “If it wasn’t for their sacrifice, we wouldn’t even have this gym.”

[GR]

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