Saturday, February 2, 2008

Regarding St. John’s Dorm

Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):

I am writing in response to the recent letter that appeared in the Jan. 24th edition of the Queens Chronicle from Lawrence King, Student Government President at St. John’s University, regarding the Henley Road dorm.

Mr. King’s assertions about the character and high standing of the St. John’s University students have not gone unnoticed. I agree with Mr. King that most of the St. John’s students are outstanding individuals who are focused on their studies. I commend students who are committed to giving back to the Queens community in various endeavors that help those in need.

As a community concerned about our quality of life we have every right to question all aspects of St. John’s on-going plans to build a six-story, 485 bed dormitory in our neighborhood. The simple fact of the matter is this, no matter how you spin the facts or the numbers, the Henley Road dorm will have a negative impact on the Jamaica Estates community.

As far as I am concerned, and I am certain the community will agree with me, the fact that 503 liquor and drug violations out of 800 reported cases have been referred for disciplinary action is still too high. There is no hiding the fact that these are incidences reported by St. John’s security. It also represents a high percentage of students that reside on campus. Given the lack of details furnished to the community, I am still left to question St. John’s ability to provide security at the Henley Road dorm and prevent these incidences from spilling over into our residential community.

From the very outset the actions of the St. John’s administration have violated their own self-proclaimed declaration of being a good neighbor. No public meetings took place to inform the community of their plans to build this dorm. The St. John’s administration engaged in no discussions with local civic leaders and elected officials prior to entering into the lease with the developer.

When confronted with these facts St. John’s University President Father Donald Harrington admitted in a Sept. 19 letter to my office, that “any early dialogue with the community would have been premature, speculative and fiscally irresponsible.”

Even when given the opportunity to attend a community meeting, where hundreds of local residents showed up, and engage in a meaningful dialogue on this issue back in December, Father Harrington failed to attend. In fact, St. John’s failed to send a representative to listen to the community’s concerns at this meeting.

The safety, security and well being of the Jamaica Estates community and St. John’s students is my chief concern. This dorm will also have additional adverse consequences for the entire community. It will overwhelmingly burden our infrastructure and utilities along with increased traffic congestion and noise pollution.

At the end of the day, my opposition to the building of an off-campus dorm in the heart of the Jamaica Estates community lies with the actions of the St. John’s administration and building developers.

It was my hope that the new year would have brought about a new found spirit of openness and cooperation from the St. John’s administration in regards to the Jamaica Estates community’s concerns. Sadly, as we end January it seems St. John’s is intent to move forward with its plans without working or listening to the concerns of the Jamaica Estates community.

Senator Frank Padavan


georgetheatheist said...

Hey Frank, ditch the fotog Mathew "McDermon(?)"..His lighting is reflected in your lenses over your pupils...a "no-no" in Portraiture 101.

Anonymous said...

I commend Senator Padavan for his unwavering support of the Concerned Residents of Jamaica Estates who live in close proximity to SJU dormitory. This facility will house 485 students were perhaps 30 individuals lived before, adversely affecting our quality of life as well as negatively impacting the city's infrastructure and services. The coop/ homeowner, the average tax payer is victimized not only by institutions like St.John's and their deep pockets who appear to buy special favors from all city agencies,but by Kamali Developers who purchases full page ads in local newspapers to condemn the community they are destroying for not being embracing of the project and elected officials like Jim Gennaro who proclaim to be working on behalf of the community all while accepting $$$$$$$ from the from the entities they are suppose to be fighting against. It is disheartening! Thank God for Senator Padavan!!
A Democrat for Padavan

Anonymous said...

Just tonight, I spoke to a friend who lives slightly West of the campus, across the street from a private residence which has become home to several St. John's students ( one of MANY in the surrounding areas), and she told me there were at least 100 teens running in and out of the house, making noise, using vile language, and wreaking havoc with parking spots usually taken by the neighbors. It was already after 11 P.M. This from a house with only a handful of students in residence. Imagine what is going to happen with a dorm which houses almost 500 students. Not likely that St. John's isn't aware of these situations - they hear about them all the time - they just don't address them.

Anonymous said...

Father Harrington's comment, “any early dialogue with the community would have been premature, speculative and fiscally irresponsible” demonstrates where his priorities lie. Its all whether a project is fiscally profitable. Other things like the community or the environment are of little, if any importance. SJU may claim to want to be a good neighbor, but that is only if it doesn't affect its bottom line.

Anonymous said...

maybe the "good Father"
prefers his students drunk, incoherent
with weakened libidos
and highly susceptible to (?) whatever.