DHS addresses inconsistencies with Glendale homeless shelter study
by Andrew Shilling
Jul 09, 2014 | 11839 views | 1 1 comments | 210 210 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Conflicts in a recent Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) unveiled last week by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) on a proposed 125-family transitional housing facility in Glendale not only misrepresent the number of students in the surrounding schools, but also overlook the initial intention of the study, according to one community board member.

Following his own research into AECOM USA, Inc., the selected contractor for the study, CB5 member Michael O’Kane said he suspects the company is nothing more than a “hired gun” to supply their employers with the answers they were paid to provide.

“On the first page, there’s a disclaimer that says they’re not responsible for any mistakes or errors,” O’Kane said after looking through the document. “It’s a ridiculous study and as far as I’m concerned, they didn’t do a toxic study.”

In addition, the report also illustrates that nearby I.S. 119 has a current enrollment of 945 students from 6th through 8th grade. However, the school in fact serves 1,039 students as well as grades kindergarten, 1st and 2nd.

Christopher Miller, a spokesperson with DHS, assured that while the study misrepresented the number of students currently enrolled in the surrounding district, it does not change the validity of the study.

“While technical, the additional students wouldn’t not raise the percent change of the utilization rate by more than 5 percent, so the results would be the same,” Miller said. “It does not change the outcome.”

In response to a recent letter from the Glendale Civic Association to the Samaritan Foundation Board of Directors questioning the intentions and possible impact of the shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave., Miller assured that the study fully approached issues of regarding the economic and environmental footprint in the community.

“I think the study speaks for itself, as it addresses many of the immediate concerns that the community and civic associations had, including location, traffic, and schools,” Miller said.

He also assured that the remediation of the property would not be taken out of taxpayer pockets.

“As for this site, it was brought to us as a proposal by Samaritan Village and, as stated many times, city dollars will not be used to rehab this facility,” he said.

Looking back at previous studies taken at the property, O’Kane recalled when the building’s last owner once attempted to sell to a mall developer.

“They told him it would be a great place for a mall,” O’Kane said. “But we all know what happened with that.”

AECOM Inc. did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.

Although the Queens Ledger obtained a list and contact information for the members of the Samaritan Foundation Board of Directors, none responded to a request for comment on the release of the EAS.

When asked to speak about the proposed transitional housing facility, Ronnie Wax, a Metropolitan Avenue attorney and Samaritan Foundation board member, said, “I am unfortunately leaving on vacation tomorrow and cannot talk.”

Furthermore, the Samaritan Village press office was also unable to respond to statement requests as of press time.

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Dawn Scala
July 10, 2014
• The proposed site is a former manufacturing facility and is adjacent to a chemical manufacturer, Independent Chemical Corp., classified as a Toxic Release Inventory Facility, as well as being in close proximity to Kliegman Brothers, a Hazardous Waste Remediation Site as per the Department of Environmental Conservation. Contaminants from the Kliegman site have been reported in numerous surrounding locations, requiring ongoing remediation, including two groundwater monitoring wells on the proposed shelter site. Has the environmental study on the subject property performed a full scale detailed in depth analysis of the site, considering the fact that contamination is highly likely based on the prior use of the building and the proximity of other "toxic" sites? It appears the answer is NO, as the EAS states "…a limited Phase II Subsurface Investigations was performed at the Project Site in October 2013…" It is unthinkable that a more detailed full scope analysis was not performed. Can you say with certainty and clear conscious that this is a suitable location to house a large concentration of families with children, who have no voice in where they are being placed?

• The EAS also states that asbestos-containing materials are present in the building (in the sheetrock, plaster wall and ceilings, vinyl floor tiles and roofing materials, pipe and fitting insulations) and is in good to poor condition, however no remediation is recommended. It further states "…only limited interior renovations" would occur. As a former manufacturing building which has been vacant and allowed to deteriorate for over a decade, I find this statement hard to believe. To convert the site to a residence for 125 families, it would stand to reason that substantial interior renovation would be required, which has the high potential to disturb the asbestos containing materials to the point that asbestos particles/dust would be released at unacceptable levels.

• Has AECOM USA, Inc. the provider of the Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) and Supplemental Studies to the EAS dated June 2014, ever concluded a site is not suitable for placement of a homeless shelter?