Saturday, June 14, 2008

Open Letter to St. John's Trustees

An Open Letter to the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors of Saint John’s University;

The Concerned Residents of Jamaica Estates is a group, comprised of Jamaica Estates residents, who organized with the sole mission of preserving our lovely community. I am writing to the members of the Saint John’s University Board of Trustees and Board of Governors to share our perspective on how the Saint John’s Henley Road Dormitory is, and will continue to, adversely impact our community.

St. John's University secured the deal to construct the Henley Road off campus dormitory by utilizing a technicality in the zoning code, known as community facilities, to build a 485 student private dormitory, in the heart of our residential community. Aside from violating the University’s own lofty mission statement of being a good neighbor and reneging on Father Harrington’s promise “that no off campus dormitories would be built”, 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, the SJU community dialogue group (a group created by Father Harrington to enhance dialogue and community relations), in the planning phase of this project. Not one of these entities was privy to this project until after the construction started.

If you would for a minute separate yourself from your role as a Trustee and see this situation from our viewpoint. We are teachers, social workers, sales persons, students, administrative assistants, school administrators, computer technicians, retirees; and our homes are our lifetime investments. They are not only our residences of many years, but our retirement nest egg and our children's inheritance. We are 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.

Many of us are parents of college students and know first hand what moving in and out of dorms is like. This is a chaotic period regardless of how much planning takes place and we can't help but cringe at the thought of double parked cars on narrow Henley Road and people trampling over each other as they maneuver carts full of furniture and boxes for 485 students and do so twice a year.

From an adults’ perception, teenagers and young adults have their internal clocks a bit askew, they 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. We do not believe that SJU has the right to alter the character of our community for self-serving reasons, excluding the residents from the planning process, ignoring our invitations to participate in community forums, and then spin the situation so they can portray themselves as victims.

If a similar situation were to happen in your own neighborhood, I am certain that you would passionately defend your investment and the peaceful enjoyment of your home with the same vigor and determination that we defend ours. We ask the Saint John’s community to reconsider their decision to continue with this ill-conceived project and take the correct, ethical alternative and stop this construction.

The Concerned Residents of Jamaica Estates


Anonymous said...

That is a great letter but it will do nothing to change anything.

Anonymous said...

Comment1. The articles and letters I have read in this website and in the local media might not stop the construction of the dorm but it has made me aware to a side of my alma mater that I am not to proud off. I graduated from SJU in 1972 and I am planning to retire soon, I recently re wrote my will and decided to exclud SJU. I am a Queens’s resident and I feel for you and your neighbors as I would hate to have a dorm built across the street from my Douglaston home. Although, my gift would not have entitled me to have a building named after me, it was substantial gift. I intent to share my decision with a group alumni I stay in touch with and urge them to do the same. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I am also a St. John's grad class of '93 and I am so ashamed of their total disregard for the Jamaica Estates community.

There is absolutely NO WAY I will send my kids to this college when it's time.

I feel really bad for the people who will have to live with this dorm. But they should take comfort in the fact that overdevelopment is hitting us all around Queens in different ways.

We need to really get these lazy politicians and civics off their asses and actually DO something rather than pay us all lip service.

Anonymous said...

I do not think the Trustees and Board of Governors are fully aware of what has transpired but none the less the community's outrage should be addressed and SJU should admit that the university's actions leave a lot to be desired. If Father Harrington fails to be SJU moral compass we should step in.

Anonymous said...

It is very frustrating when taxpayers/citizens are unable to get their voices heard. I feel for the residents of Jamaica Estates and understand that a similar fate can befall any number of other communities.

Anonymous said...

How could the Board of Trustees let Father Harrington behave in this fashion? The fact that SJU did not go by the rules with this project is a SIN! They did not notify the elected officials or commnunity but planned in secret to do this. SJU is the poster child of large institutions thinking they can do what ever makes money for them with out regards to community residents.

Anonymous said...

Such begging for mercy from a community raping bunch like SJU only demeans one's G-d given life force.

Honker down low and bite their balls off as soon as an opportunity presents itself!

Do you really think that the school which has graduated so many connected politicos and mob lawyers really gives a flying f--k about your mission statement to preserve your beautiful neighborhood?

You're going to get what you deserve for not showing your teeth earlier in a winnable game.

Any animal who's natural range is threatened, immediately flashes his claws before any intruder dares to approach his nest!

Anonymous said...

This wealthy Vincentian college has vast financial resources of its own (maybe even "mob"$$$$) and unfortunately won't be adversely affected by the withdrawal of your
generous bequest.

But I have great respect for you
cutting them out of your will.

Did you inform SJU in writing?

Better yet, submit a letter to the editor informing them of your intent.

Let them read all about it in the press!

Anonymous said...

Get a list of SJU alumni and urge them all to pull their financial support.


Silent action has no effect.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the last anon.

What a great idea!

$$$ definitely talks.

Anonymous said...

I am not a Jamaica Estates resident, nor a St. John's Alumni, but I am a Catholic and I am disgusted to know that a Catholic institution of higher learning entrusted in educating and moldng the future leaders of our city and country would embrace such under handed business practices and set such poor examples. Getting what you want regardless of the cost and damage it creates is not a very christian approach.
The fish rots at the head Trustees, SJU students deserve a new leader, as Father Harrington seems to have lost his moral compass.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Catholic (lapsed) also.

The reason that I'm "lapsed" is that I prefer FAITH not religion.

The Catholic church has been noted for selling indulgences in the past as well as the more recent boy-buggering episodes.

So why should it surprise anyone that a Catholic college worships
the almighty dollar rather than heed the Almighty? !!!