The saga began in 2014, when the proposal first surfaced. Residents who opposed the conversion, citing environmental risks and a host of other reasons, sued, and got the proposal off the table.
Fast forward to 2018, and the Department of Homeless Services confirmed again that a Request for Proposal (RFP) was submitted for a “large facility” to house 200 homeless adults.
Councilman Bob Holden, who had led nightly protests against the proposed Maspeth shelter before he was elected to office, instead tried to convince the city to turn the site into a new school for students with special needs.
He met with School Construction Authority (SCA) officials and other city agencies, all of whom appeared to agree with the idea. For the better part of the year, we all believed the Cooper Avenue site would become a school.
The Glendale Middle Village Coalition, believing the main obstacle was property owner Michael Wilner, even went to Wilner’s Long Island home to rally for a District 75 school.
But in recent weeks, Holden fought with the Department of Education over the status of PS 9, a school for special needs students in Maspeth. Holden wanted to close the dilapidated school and move the students to a new facility in Glendale.
The DOE, however, invested $16 million in additional renovations, putting the idea of a Cooper Avenue school in jeopardy.
Then last week, the city confirmed reports that two shelters will open in Glendale and Ridgewood, reigniting the debate over housing the homeless in central Queens.
If history is any indication, Glendale residents, along with the area’s elected officials, will protest these shelter proposals tooth and nail.
The city should prepare for another protected fight and legal battle over the future of the site.