Sunday, February 10, 2008

SJU dorm concerns

I write in response to the letter written by the President of the SJU Student Government, Lawrence King, to the local newspapers stating that the students of St. John's deserve respect. There is no need to challenge the community "to learn what St. John University's students are really like". I agree that the vast majority of St. John's students are talented and gifted individuals and I commend the 700 students who participated in SJU Community Service Day community service day. So please accept my apologies if you felt otherwise.

That said, I also feel very strongly that the residents of Jamaica Estates also deserve respect, something SJU has not shown us. The anger and animosity that permeates our community is a product of the underhanded and secretive manner in which Father Harrington and St. John's University secured the deal to construct the Henley Hall dormitory. Regardless of how they spin it, the point remains, it 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.

Aside from violating the university's lofty mission statement of being a good neighbor, SJU failed to include local elected officials, the community board, the planning commission, the Jamaica Estates Association, the community at large, or for that matter, SJU community dialogue group (a group created by Father Harrington to improve community relations) in the planning phase of this project. Not one of these entities was privy to this project until the after the construction started.

So please, Mr. King do not feel slighted if student groups were not engaged in constructive dialogue, Father Harrington does not believe in constructive dialogue he prefers a more dictatorial approach. This unbending behavior has forced the SJU to hire a costly damage control firm to protect the school's tarnished reputation, utilizing the alumni and benefactors' donations that could have been better employed enhancing financial aid to needy students or boosting professors' salaries.

Before you condemn the community, you should take a few minutes to look at the situation through my eyes and the eyes of many of the residents on Henley Road;

Our home, our lifetime investment, is not only our residence of many years, but our retirement nest egg and our children's inheritance. I am angered that St. John's University is able to infringe on our life plans and negatively impact our property values and do so with impunity.

I am a mother/aunt of college age students and every August I travel to upstate NY as well as to Stony brook and Boston to help them move in and do so in reverse in mid May. This is a chaotic period regardless of how much planning takes place and I can't help but cringe at the thought of double parked cars in narrow Henley Road and people trampling over each other as they maneuver carts full of furniture and boxes for 485 students.

Our daughter was an RA for three of her undergraduate years and what a learning experience this was. Most students, not only freshmen, have a difficult time mastering their new found freedom regardless of how gifted and talented they are, and while many of the quality of life infractions they commit may not be violent or criminal in nature, they will interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of your home.

Teenagers and young adults have their internal clock a bit askew, most of you start partying way past midnight about the time most of us have retired. We gave a lot of thought, as did many of our neighbors, in selecting a community with the attributes and amenities to raise children as well as grow old in. I do not believe that SJU has the right to alter the character of our community for self serving reasons and have the audacity to exclude the residents from the planning process, ignore their invitations to participate in community forums, and then spin the situation so that SJU can portray themselves as victims!

In addition to the above reasons, this project is moving forward without an environmental impact study to determine if the community can withstand a construction of this magnitude. At a time in history when developers are building "green buildings", Kamali Developers is desperately seeking creative ways to dispose the proposed buildings human waste in our aging sewer system.

At some point in the not too distant future, Mr. King, you will purchase your first home and I assure you that you will passionately defend your investment and the peaceful enjoyment of your home with the same vigor and determination that we defend ours.


Maria Collier
Member of the Concerned Residents of Jamaica Estates


crawford said...

LOL, whenever Queens Crap posts some NIMBY letter re. St. Johns, the author of the letter is always "Marcia Collier".

Methinks she is a self-appointed head of her one-person "Concerned Citizens"! Maybe Marcia should rename her organization "Single NIMBY Busybody Activist of Jamaica Estates."

Anonymous said...

Whenever Crappy posts an SJU letter, Crawford crawls out of his hole and comments.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons my family converted FROM Catholicism so many years ago. Who the hell does the Catholic Church think they are! 100's and 1000's of years of telling people what to do all in the name of Christ. The only reason for confession is so the church can gain more power by the knowledge it receives from its flock of suckers.

What they are doing is typical of the government. This shows you the mentality of Catholicism and what they are really all about. This is why there should be separation of Church and government...

Knowledge is Power right?

Anonymous said...

This letter articulates the true sentiments of the residents of the Jamaica Estates Community. The proposed off-campus dorm is not appropriate for this neighborhood comprised mostly of single family homes. We do not have the infra structure to support a project of this magnitude. It belongs on a commercial area or on campus. How many of the students will agree with the parking solution for the 485 cars suggested by SJU Park your car on Union Tpke. and take a shuttle bus to the dorm! The dorm should have been built on Union Tpke.

Anonymous said...

Did St. Johns really propose that students in the dorm park on union turnpike and take a shuttle bus to their dorm???

You must be making that up.

If they really did suggest that they are truly showing contempt for the community, that anyone would think for one second students would do that.

Anonymous said...

I do not think that the concept of NIMBY should be pegged to the SJU construction. This is a private dormitory facility built for a private university in the middle of a residential community.Crawford see if you can move into this community facility!
The Concerned Residents held a protest rally on Saturday and considering that the weather was less than stellar close to 100 came. Grassroots groups determined to save NYC communities should be applauded because God only knows they encounter tons of obstacles and negative, ill informed individuals such as you.

Santa's Helper said...

I was at the protest on Saturday and was very impressed with the dedication of the Committee - yes Crawford!! this is a Maria Collier and she has a heart of gold and has long stood up for others - the least we can is stand up with her and her neighbors. PERHAPS CRAWFORD IS A PSUEDONYM FOR HARRINGTON

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not they did suggest parking on Union Turnpike and taking the shuttle bus as way of addressing the parking issue. The Grey Hound type tour buses that will be shuttling the students too and from the University is something else the community will have to contend with.
An ugly building, the loss of dozens of trees, 485 people where 30 used to live and having them move twice a year, clogged sewers, flooding, loss of water pressure, noise, all night parties, additional garbage, buses, fumes, loss of parking to name a few. The JE residents have this to look forward to because a private university wants to build a private dormitory for profit. Crawford how can you give this a positive spin unless you work for SJU or the damage control firm they hired with their alumni donations. Shame on both of you!

Anonymous said...

If St. John's had its way, it would take over all of Jamaica Estates and the other surrounding areas so that it could develop more and more off campus. SJU has lied to the neighboring communities for years, while doing exactly as it wished.

Unfortunately, those in "charge" of Jamaica Estates put more value on money from St. John's for its security patrol, than they do on the neighborhood itself, and the quality of life for its residents. Rumor has it that when landmarking was "voted" on, that the results were not represented honestly.

The saying "As ye sow, so shall ye reap" will become abundantly clear very soon, and when the morons who make the decisions for the rest of the community are impacted themselves, which they unquestionably will be, it is going to be a little too late. Some people never learn.

Anonymous said...

St. Johns has one of the lowest retention rates for a university of this size and types. This behavior within the community is just one symptom of the rot within. They have begun a "cosmetics" program to teach their employees that students are important and they should pay attention to the customer. Yet, students have been complaining about the quality of the dorms for years and it continues to fall on deaf ears. I hear the basement of the Henly dorms has already flooded. All SJ building suffer from floods--maintenance rot from an institution that is simply not able to run their own business. And people within SJ are embarrassed that their employer has behaved how they have with Henley. But I don't think many are surprised.