It is amazing the twists and turns that the St John's University, Henley Road dormitory has taken. I am certain the damage control firm St. John's University hired to protect their tarnished reputation has urged the developer to assume the blame for all that ails said project and cast aspersions on the community for not embracing it.
But let's not forget the real culprit, Father Donald J. Harrington, and remind readers that the point is not whether the building is legal or not. It's the ethics of using the "community facilities loophole" in the zoning code, to build a private dormitory, for a private university in the heart of a residential community, and doing so after providing assurances to the community that no off campus dorms would be built. Father Harrington went so far as to create a dialog group to appease the neighbors, all while secretly planning this massive dormitory.
The important message to take away from this unfortunate situation is that this can happen to any community at any time. The character of a neighborhood can be altered and the quality of life of its residents diminished by corporations and special interest groups especially when said communities are saddled with politicians like Jim Gennaro who claim to have the resident's best interest at heart all while accepting hefty donations from the developers, this time the Kamali Organization. Mark our words; Jamaica Estates residents will be fighting similar wars in the not too distant future when St. John's or a developer on behalf of St. John's decides to raze additional homes, perhaps this time in Surrey Place or Midland Parkway, to build another monstrous dormitory.
Don't allow Senator Padavan to become a scapegoat for the St. John's dorm fiasco. He is working on behalf of his constituents, protecting the little guy, the coop or homeowner who has invested their life savings in their home, the average tax payer whose quality of life and property values are being threatened while the laws of this great city fail to protect them. It is naive to think that 485 students can reside where perhaps 30 or 40 lived before and not affect the infrastructure of this mature community.
Maria & Louis
Photo from St John's