Don’t Dump Shelter Here
Last Sunday, August 12, at 10:30 p.m. I took the bull by the horns and had the brass ones to call Gurbhej S. Sandu at his home. Sandu is listed as the developer of the transient hotel to be built at Beach 44 Street in a newly built residential community.
Sandu told me that he expects to spend $12 million on the building. He said that he owns a Quality Inn and a Days Inn in Ozone Park off Pitkin Avenue and Crossbay Boulevard. He said that he also owns a hotel managed by La Quinta on the Van Wyck Expressway near JFK. He said that the new hotel would be a La Quinta hotel. I asked him to set up a meeting with me and other elected officials and community leaders. He promised to call me back on Tuesday, August 14, but he never did.
When I asked him how he expected to rent rooms in the hotel which is not near shopping, restaurants or a protected beach, he told me that customers could take the A train and get to midtown Manhattan in 45 minutes. I told him that it would take them 35 minutes just to get to Rockaway Boulevard station in Ozone Park. We suggested to him that if he really wants to build a quality hotel to obtain a piece of property right on the beach near stores, not the site he chose. We asked if he would respond if the mayor’s homeless services called with an offer to make the building a homeless shelter. He told us that he would bring foreigners from JFK to stay at the hotel.
At no time have we been against helping homeless people. We are against the shelter system that we, the taxpayers, pay for. The city pays $3000 to $6000 a month to put singles and families in hotel rooms instead of helping them to get proper apartments at one quarter of the price. It is time that we in the community come together as we did before.
In 1994 we organized daily rallies in front of the Lawrence Hotel on Beach 116 Street with Ann Barbaro, Mary Leahy and others. The city dumped homeless mothers and babies in small rooms that had been taken over by roaches. We personally assisted people in finding permanent housing. At that time Councilman Al Stabile, Mary Leahy and Ann Barbaro went to court and closed the Lawrence Hotel. Others marching with us and helping were the fine Republican Leader Tom Swift, community activist Kevin Callaghan and Phil McManus. I took time from my campaign for District Leader against Sy Sheldon to be there.
We need to come together and stand united to stop this transient hotel immediately. United we stand, divided we fall. Thank you to Stephen Cooper, president of the Frank Avenue Civic Association for showing his great leadership at this time.
Please join us on SUNDAY, August 26 at 4:30 p.m. in front of St. Gertrude’s Church on Beach 38 Street. I want to thank State Senator Shirley Huntley for giving me a check to get a bus to take us to protest at the home of the developer in Cedarhurst. You may also arrange to follow in your private car.
LEW M. SIMON