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.