A meeting regarding the proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Avenue was held May 22 at Christ the King High School. Our local elected officials attended along with Dept. of Homeless Services Assistant Commissioner of Government and Human Relations Lisa Black and Samaritan Village Executive VP Doug Apple. Out of approximately 200 attendees, twenty-five members of the public were allowed to speak their opinions and ask questions regarding the proposal. Issues raised included the belief that the site is contaminated and who would pay for cleanup, whether the local sewers would be able to handle additional waste and water, lack of public transportation and concerns over public safety. As with most of these governmental meetings, more questions were raised by the responses than answered. One of the answers that angered many in the crowd was that a defunct hotel which could have more easily been converted into residential use was rejected for shelter use by the Department of Homeless Services prior to the submittal of a formal application because it lacked kitchens in the rooms, while this likely-to-be contaminated industrial site requiring a major overhaul appears to be under serious consideration.
Shortly after this hearing was held, a realtor contacted JPCA to let us know that his firm had bid on the property 18 months ago, but was outbid by Samaritan Village. Upon learning the news, he had contacted Council Member Crowley, but she told him not to worry, because the City was not interested in putting a shelter there. So much for that.