Monday, January 7, 2008

People vs. St. John's & Councilman Jim

Dear Governor Spitzer;

We write to you, hoping that your office can assist us, the residents of Jamaica Estates, during this difficult period. Our lovely neighborhood is being threatened by Saint Johns University's construction of a 485 dormitory facility in the midst of our community without going through any of the legal procedures customarily required for a project of this nature.

St. Johns University, with the aid of Kamali Developers and others, surreptitiously planned the construction of a six story dormitory, circumventing the Community Board, the Planning Board, Elected Officials, The Jamaica Estates Association and the community at large. These entities used a loophole commonly referred to as the Community Facility loophole that will permit a private university to build a private dormitory facility, five times the size of its former structures and doing so with impunity. There has been a total disregard for the impact this large number of students would have on the neighborhood, or the city's infrastructure, transportation, parking etc. Ultimately, this says very little about the protections the law provides to the average taxpayer.

As if this panorama were not bleak enough, we recently found out that our Councilman Jim Gennaro, a former Jamaica Estates Association president, who is supposedly fighting on our community's behalf, is accepting generous campaign donations from Kamali Developers, the company commissioned to build this facility the St. John's dorm will occupy.

Mr. Gennaro, who claims to be working to close the Community Facility loophole, we fear will instead benefit from the special interest group's big bucks and do little to address the issue at hand. It is disingenuous at best, for him to claim that he feels our pain while fattening his coffers with money from the individuals he alleges to be fighting against.

The Jamaica Estates community urges you to investigate this matter, or refer the same to the appropriate agency or government sub division that can do so. We must know who stands with us or against us particularly next time we elect those who will represent us.


Maria & Louis
Jamaica Estates residents


faster340 said...

Nice letter and sorry for your aggravation but good luck getting Spitzer to do anything for anyone but himself!

Anonymous said...

Why does St. John's need such a big dorm when this is a commuters school and there is no shortage of people in the area to attend it?

Anonymous said...

A 485-room dorm in an area zoned for 1 family homes. Why do we even have zoning rules if developers can get around them so easily?

Anonymous said...

H-m-m-m....Jimmy"the gent" Gennaro......
he couldn't care a Canolli
about Jamaica Estates residents' concerns.

He's the developers' lap dog !

It's the same old story of a politician
using a builder's money AND YOUR VOTES
to give him the "good life".....
while the quality of your's goes down the toilet !

Anonymous said...

Homeowners in the area better invest in burglar alarm systems, pronto! And guns, too.

These SJU students are a bunch of lowlife, lawless hoodlums, as was pointed out in an newspaper article Crappy recently posted.

The community would probably fair better if a prison were built in the area instead of this damned dorm.

Anonymous said...

Gennaro already has a reputation for going along with any plan, legal or not, in order to curry favor with those who have power and money, and who can keep him in office. He has never done anything about fighting the illegal building going on in Jamaica Estates, where most of the McMansions which have replaced the lovely homes which once graced the area, are totally oversized and do not conform to building code or zoning laws. But then again, are any of our politicians any different?

Anonymous said...

It seems unfair that one community should have to deal with both St.John's University and Jim Gennaro.What an unscrupulous pair! Neither gives a hoot about the residents or their quality of life.They will sell their soul to the devil for a buck! The worst part is that Gennaro will find a way to blame the community for the the situation.People should not forget vote the SOB out of office Good luck!

Anonymous said...

People should not forget vote the SOB out of office Good luck!

The above statement should be amended to read that people should remember not to vote for him for any future office he seeks when his term is up, because that's what this is all about - granting favors to get votes, and climb higher and higher on the political ladder- and he does have political aspirations . This guy wants POWER.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said...
Why does St. John's need such a big dorm when this is a commuters school and there is no shortage of people in the area to attend it?

Monday, January 07, 2008

St. John's has had dorms on its campus for many years. It is not a commuter school.

Anonymous said...

You can have dorms and be a commuter school. Hunter College is an example. Of course, they don't have off-campus housing, which is what this is. Build on your campus and I have no problem with it. Build it in a quiet neighborhood and there are repercussions.

Anonymous said...

You are all so dumb !!!
The residents in the area REJECTED a Downzoning that was offered 4 years ago - Accepting and signing it would have prevented St. John's from doing this in the first place !! Don't Blame Gennaro - blame the Idiot Homeowners !!!!

Anonymous said...

Actually, across the street was rezoned R1-2.

getoverit said...

Funny that these SJU students that "are a bunch of lowlife, lawless hoodlums" have moved on to become influential businessmen/women, very succesful lawyers, police commissioners, judges, and governors. The University must continue to grow and the residents need to stop profiling its students. This building was going to be built regardless, whether St. John's was leasing it or not. The two sisters who are heading this campaign are St. John's ph.d. students themselves! This area needs to be revitalized, and here it comes!

Jen said...

Actually, this building couldn't have been "built regardless". They are using the community facilities loophole, and it's not on a commercial strip where a clinic or another category falling under this provision would likely have been built.

Anonymous said...

"The two sisters who are heading this campaign are St. John's ph.d. students themselves!"

nice values taught at SJU. I'm sending my kid to CUNY and saving myself the money.

Anonymous said...

SJU is sending their minions to this blog to try to counter the voice of the community. It's soooo obvious!

Anonymous said...

"This area needs to be revitalized, and here it comes!"

Define "revitalized".

Fred said...

"There has been a total disregard for the impact this large number of students would have on the neighborhood, or the city's infrastructure, transportation, parking etc."

No defenders of the plan who can come up with answers for this.

Anonymous said...

I am a community resident for 16 years. i am ashamed of the way my neighbors are acting. I am old enough to have been around during the world war 2. This type of hate rhetoric, racism, and discrimination against priests and students is a shameful outrage. The building appears to be legal, I believe in the law. Although I would prefer that the building not be placed near my house, I also believe that students deserve a safe place to live, and that we should dialog with the developers and the school to make sure that safety is taken into account. The horrible things that people are saying remind me of religious extremists or klansmen. Is it because of the racial diversity of st johns students that we don't want them here? I have been coerced to put a sign in my yard, I am fearful of retribution by my neighbors unless i remain anonymous. This type of cult mentality never amounts to any good. we have all seen it before.

Queens Crapper said...

Ladies and gentlemen, the previous poster is the classic example of a tweeder. There has been absolutely no mention of race in this debate about the dorm, yet this poster simply must try to inject race into the discussion. This reminds me of the Nazli-noose controversy from last summer. The fact of the matter is that the dorm is bigger than what is normally allowed, the school lied about it being built, and the area does not have adequate infrastructure to handle the current population, much less more than a hundred students who will occupy what were previously lots filled with one-family homes. College kids drink, make noise and create problems no matter what their race. The language being bandied about with the words "revitalization", "discrimination", etc, just reveals desperation on the part of the university that, despite its strong Catholic "ethic", was caught LYING to the community. Fr. Harrington should go to confession and beg God for forgiveness for his abominable actions. Amen. I will now post a press release by a PR firm they apparently hired:

H2H Residences, LLC
161 Avenue of the Americas, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10013

Media Contact:

Debra J. Caruso
DJC Communications (WBE)

H2H Residences LLC issued the following statement with regard to construction of a building to be leased to St. John’s University at 172-14 Henley Road in Jamaica Estates Queens.

“Both the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have leveled the highest degree of scrutiny on this project.

The DOB conducted a full review and audit of the development’s zoning requirements, and issued a few objections that were subsequently satisfied. Following the audit the agency granted full approval of the project. The agency has looked at every aspect of the building and has determined that we are in full compliance.

As Senator Padavan has correctly pointed out in many news articles and public statements, all aspects of this project conform to all existing New York City zoning laws and regulations.

Our engineers are working closely with those from DEP and DOB to address any outstanding technical engineering items.

Although Senator Padavan appears to have a personal vendetta against this development, we are confident that neither city agency will bow to his political pressure and that both DEP and DOB will do the right thing and concentrate on technical issues as opposed to political aspirations.

It should also be noted that this building, which is in keeping with the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s plans to enhance higher education in New York City, will have 24-hour security, seven days per week, and a full-time maintenance staff.”

Parents of potential SJU students take note: this is where your hard earned money will go - to damage control. My reply to Ms. Caruso: "I doubt that you care, but the point is not whether or not the building is legal. It's the ethics of using a loophole in the zoning code to build something out-of-character after claiming that nothing will be built, as the supposedly Catholic college did." No reply as of yet, and I doubt there will be one.

Anonymous said...

Why would this lovely community need to be revitalized? We have lovely homes and tree lined streets and for the most part people get along very well. No one ever imagined that a religious institution would act in this matter.
I fail to understand why the average hard working, tax paying citizen has no protection. I resent that my home, my life long investment, will loose value but more importantly it is loosing the peaceful enjoyment of my home thatI fear most. This dorm is not a community facility none of us could live there if we wanted. So don't blame the victims.

attn Benedict Arnold said...

"we should dialog with the developers and the school..."

Yes, let's have them over for tea and kindly voice our complaints to them, between sips. To emphasize our points we might even wag a finger, at them, after the dinner mints are served.

Come on fellow, be real. Your community is under attack. Stand up and fight alongside your neighbors, cause I'll tell you this. Maybe you can stomach this dorm, but you and everybody else knows full well that SJU won't stop here. After building one dorm they'll most likely build another, and God knows what else, till your community is no more than a pockmarked pile of crap.

Tweeder Jim said...

Hi. I get away with doing this kind of stuff because Queens voters are a bunch of morons who care little that there is no choice but the anointed party animal when they enter the voting booth. Nothing will change here until the idea that a one-party non-competitive election is unacceptable. See you in 2009 with the big "D" next to my name.

Typical Queens Voter said...

Is he a Democrat? Well then I will happily vote for Gennaro even if he is destroying my neighborhood.

Jamaica Estates resident said...

You know, this makes me angry, but I won't say anything because Jimmy might take the ice cream money away from my non-profit civic organization if I do. Better print him up a "councilman of the year award" so he won't know I am posting this anonynously.

Brainless in Fresh Meadows said...

I too am disgusted with Mr. Gennaro. But next time he runs for something, I will attend his fundraisers and attack any kind of populist candidate that may try to run against him.

Anonymous said...

I was baptized and am still a Catholic.....
a trifle "lapsed" I admit.....
but I still follow the basic principles of

A lot of people (h-m-m-m.... "dialog
with the developer"..... indeed)
may bend their knees a lot in worship
but condone a Catholic priest (and his institution)
"bending" the rules way out of shape.

has not been scratched off Moses' granite tablets
containing the ten commandments!

Remembering my youthful days
in the confessional.....
it went something like this:

"Bless me Father for I have sinned".

"And what was your sin my son"?

"I lied to my parents".

"Your penance shall be..... 8 Hail Mary's,
5 Lord's Prayers, 4 Apostle's Creeds
(that was the killer.....a very long prayer).
Now go apologize to the offended,
ask the Lord's forgiveness and sin no more".

I wonder what my penance might have been
for LYING to an entire community!

Doesn't SJU graduate
a lot of ambulance chasing lawyers
(who couldn't make the grade
to attend Harvard, Georgetown, Fordham, NYU) ?

What a "sterling"!

Anonymous said...

The important message to take away from the Jamaica Estates/St. John's/Gennaro fiasco is that this can happen in any community at any time.The character of cneighborhoods can be altered and the quality of life of residents diminished buy corporations and special interest groups especially when you are saddled by politician on the take. St John's would not be hiring DJC Communications for damage control purposes if they had done the right thing. Jamaica Estates residents unite or you will have to fight St John's on Midland Parkway, on Surrey Place, on Avon Street. Your lovely Jamaica Estates web site will look vey different in just a few years. To other Queens communities learn from this experience.

Anonymous said...

It is the first time that I am reading Queens Crap. I must say QC is the topic of conversation among so many Jamaica Estates residents. Thank you for providing a forum that educates and allows us to share and vent.
I was puzzled by the "16 year old JE resident" who is ashamed of how his neighbors are acting, Discrimination against priests???? St. John's acted in secrecy, has broken every promise ever made to the community, and is slowly destroying our neighborhood and you are ashamed of your neighbors! It is your cult mentality that worries me. I have taught elemetary school for many years and I always tell young children you don't demand respect of others you earn it by your actions. St. John's conduct is reprehensible and you should not justify their actions. As far as your sign is concerned I can't seem to get my hands on them. I will proudly display several and include one in my car. They are in great demand so if you don't want it dozens of others do.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of the officers and Board of Trustees of the JEA and install those people who actually care about the community, rather than about themselves. Then, maybe, something will be done about preserving the integrity of the neighborhood. Has anyone yet to determine how much money for the "security patrol" the Jamaica Estates Association is milking St. John's for in exchange for trying to keep a lid on the residents who oppose this fiasco? Has it occurred to the so-called "officers" of this once great neighborhood, that not only will their coveted patrol be chasing the usual bad guys who come into the area (who are usually young), but they will also have to sift through the hundreds of teenagers who live in the dorms, as they walk on the streets, to try to determine who actually belongs in the neighborhood, and who has come into the neighborhood to mug, rob, and burglarize the residents and homes? I think the safety of the neighborhood will now be a lost cause.

marialuisacontreras said...

It is difficult to believe that an institution that states in its mission statement that it (St. Johns') is bound to be a good neighbor, would lie to the community about its intentions to build an enormous dorm and do so, circumventing the law. Shame!

Anonymous said...

It is with my granddaughters help that I have reached QueensCrap and I am thrilled to know that this venue exists. I am a long time resident of Jamaica Estates and a St.John's Alumni.Boy, I am I angry to find out that my donations to my alma mater are going to destroy the community I love and to pay for a damage control company. St.Johns Alumni week is this month at and this would be an excellent time for this information to be made public. I am certain many of their benefactors would equally upset at the misappropriation of funds. I'll do my part in sharing this very disturbing news and I urge other alumnus to do the same. They can kiss goodbye, my future donations.