The Yeshiva has applied for a variance with the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for the expansion, on which a public hearing was held at Wednesday’s Community Board 5 meeting after this issue went to press.
The manager of YGS, Abraham Markowitz, said that the new dorms would serve as a relief for students currently taking buses from Williamsburg or farther to the yeshiva every morning at 6 a.m. and leaving at 9 p.m. at night.
“They have long days, and it’s very hard on them to travel,” he said. “They’re not going to live in the building, they’re going to sleep there during the week.”
However, some in the community have voiced concern about the impact of an expansion on local infrastructure and traffic in the neighborhood.
Glendale Civic Association president and CB5 member Kathy Masi said the addition of 177 dormitories on what she said was an already over-burdened neighborhood could be an issue.
“This has nothing to do with the students there,” she said. “They are quiet and respectful, and not a problem at all. But we have to think ahead, not only for the kids at the yeshiva but the community as a whole. We really do want to cooperate with everyone, but for a mutual benefit, and I don’t see the mutual benefit.”
She also voiced concern about additional buses clogging traffic along 88th Street, which is already prone to congestion. However, Markowitz said that adding new dorms would cut down on the number of daily buses from 15 currently to four to six a day, with more weekly buses
“We’re trying to eliminate buses,” he said.
Of additional concern is the impact the expansion could have on future projects, including the controversial, years-long attempt by agency Samaritan Villages and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to convert a former factory on Cooper Avenue into a homeless shelter.
A coalition of residents opposed to the project, the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition, has filed a lawsuit against the city over the project, and some fear the Yeshiva’s variance application could impact the future litigation, especially the assertion that there are no current large-scale sleeping facilities in the Community Board 5 area.
“They’ve been good neighbors, but they really have to understand our position going forward and how it impacts future development,” Masi said. “To me, it really is about land use regulations, which is essential.”
Markowitz said he shared other community members’ concerns about future development and the shelter specifically, and that the Yeshiva remained vigilant as to how their expansion might affect future development.
“We were part of the fight against the Glendale shelter, so we’re very concerned about that,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest issues we’re looking at. We don’t want to be the ones to open the doors [to constructing the shelter]”
He said he had made this situation clear to his lawyer, who explained to him precautions would be made to ensure an approval of their variance would not open the doors to the shelter’s construction.
“This is something that’s on the forefront of our minds,” he said. “We’re trying to do as much as we can against the homeless shelter. We understand the concerns of the community because we are the community.”