Juniper Park Civic Association will oppose any attempt by the City of New York to site a shelter at PS9 The Walter Reed School, a special education school in western Maspeth located at 58-74 57th Street between Grand and Flushing Avenues.
The proposal first came to light via a press release from Assembly Member Catherine Nolan on October 10th, 2018. In it, she stated:
“It is my hope that our communities will come together to oppose the potential placement of a shelter at 57th street. An old school building in this section of Maspeth is not an appropriate location to place homeless individuals. I would urge all, including my colleagues in government and our local civic organizations to challenge this questionable arrangement.
We must stand together against the de Blasio administration's campaign of disregard for western Queens, and stand against any ’deals’ which place our hard working communities at risk. I demand answers to the ongoing rumors.
I stand ready, as I always do, to work in coalition to resolve legitimate concerns. We will continue this fight on behalf of our neighborhood!”
That night, the JPCA executive board met and unanimously voted to stand in opposition to this proposal and any elected official that supports it. The multibillion dollar homeless shelter system promoted by Mayor de Blasio and Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks is a complete failure, serving only to enrich well connected service providers. The people who need help do not get it and taxpayers are footing the bill.
The fact that Council Members Holden and Moya were recently asking the public to suggest locations for school sites is reason enough to oppose this plan. The Department of Education is desperate to find school space within District 24, one of the most crowded districts in the city. It therefore makes no sense that they would be asked to relinquish a property they already own.
State Senator Michael Gianaris, who represents western Maspeth, released the following statement:
“The news of a proposed shelter at a school building in Maspeth is disturbing. New York needs a comprehensive solution to its homelessness crisis, not a disorganized patchwork of shelters throughout Queens. This latest proposal adds another burden to a neighborhood whose infrastructure is already stressed to the breaking point. I urge the city to reconsider its decision and develop a more comprehensive and rational approach to this issue.”
If the plan is to construct a school at 78-16 Cooper Ave in Glendale, the site of a proposed single men's shelter, for the District 75/special education population of PS9, then another school should open at the building on 57th Street. The 57th Street location is currently in the midst of a $12M+ renovation funded by the School Construction Authority. To waste capital on this only to convert the building into a shelter would be beyond ridiculous.
JPCA stands in opposition to any effort to protect one neighborhood while dumping on another. We thank Cathy Nolan for her leadership on this issue and we are ready to fight anyone and everyone who threatens the quality of life of any area of Maspeth or Middle Village.