The Maspeth-Middle Village Task Force, which includes the Juniper Park Civic Association, has been working hard since August to stop the de Blasio Administration from opening a homeless shelter at the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express near Maurice Avenue. Thanks to their efforts, the owner of the property turned down the City’s request to convert the hotel into a full homeless shelter. However the Department of Homeless Services continues to rent rooms for homeless men in the hotel.

Here’s an update of the Task Force’s activities since the last Juniper Berry:

December 3rd: Members of the NYC United Civics coalition, including people from Sunset Park, Elmhurst, Richmond Hill and South Jamaica, as well as members of 2 homeless families and Guardian Angels Founder Curtis Sliwa, joined us to protest outside the home of DSS Commissioner Steven Banks. The homeless denounced the lack of services provided by DHS and the civic organizations criticized the lack of transparency and the wasteful spending of the de Blasio administration.

December 6th: Members of Elmhurst United joined Christina Wilkinson and Kim Caruana in South Jamaica in an effort to help them stop a hotel in a strange location from being built and eventually turned into a homeless shelter.

December 7th: Juniper Civic was contacted by the Sea Beach Homeowners Association requesting help with a homeless shelter that former council speaker Christine Quinn and her organization, Women in Need want to open in that neighborhood. The Association asked to join the NYC United Civics coalition after reading about our trip to Banks’ house in a local Brooklyn paper.

December 11th: After attending a community meeting about a proposed drop-in center in Richmond Hill, Robert Holden, Kim Caruana and Christina Wilkinson joined protesters in Jamaica who were opposed to the construction of a new hotel in an out-of-the way location, which they suspect will be used as a hot sheets motel and eventually a homeless shelter. Curtis Sliwa also joined the protest there.

December 29th: Robert Holden picked up the Holiday Inn Express plans for the attorneys from the Department of Buildings. The city had withheld the documents for several months. It was discovered that critical portions of the documentation were missing.

January 10th: Word came that the Grand Motor Inn was in contract for $8.5M to an unknown party.It was marketed as ideal for an assisted living facility or a homeless shelter. We’re keeping an eye on it. See story on page 5.

January 12th: Aja Worthy-Davis, the race-baiting former press secretary for the Department of Social Services, was moved into the position of Director of Communication for the Administration for Children's Services.

February 3rd: A conference call was conducted between our attorneys, Assembly Member Brian Barnwell and us. All agreed that filing an Article 78 proceeding against the City of New York for withholding critical records necessary for further legal action was the best choice. A board vote of Citizens for a Better Maspeth took place that evening and was unanimously in favor of doing so. No motions in the landlord’s case against New Ram Realty had been filed, precluding an amicus curiae intervention at this stage.

March 1st: Robert Holden attended a pre-trial hearing at the Comptroller's office with regard to the lack of response to the cease and desist letter that was sent to the city after Aja Worthy-Davis' false attack on JPCA. The civic is considering moving forward with a lawsuit against the city for libel.