After the city was looking to place 110 homeless families, taking up the entire hotel at the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth, neighborhood residents took to the streets in one part of their multi-faceted approach to defeating the plan. The protests at the Maspeth Holiday Inn have morphed into a march along Grand Avenue, a message sent to the home of the owner of the hotel and more recently a protest in front of the Windsor Terrace home of NYC Homeless Commissioner Banks last last week.
The mayor says that the protests are threatening and intimidating, while the protesters say they have First Amendment rights to protest just as the mayor did when he protested and was arrested for a march against the closing of Long Island College Hospital in 2013.
Note that he was not arrested protesting in front of the hospital itself, in Brooklyn, but at the offices of the State University of New York’s midtown offices.
Bringing a protest to the source is not a threat it’s just a way to make sure your message is received.
After serving in the Assembly since 1998, Assemblywoman Marge Markey was ousted last night in the Democratic primary by challenger Brian Barnwell.
Barnwell, a 30-year-old lawyer from Woodside, received 63 percent of the vote from the 30th Assembly District, which includes Woodside, Maspeth and parts of Sunnyside, Astoria and Middle Village.
The political newcomer started his campaign more than a year ago and vowed to push for ethics reform and an economic platform for the middle class if elected. In the November 8th general election, he will face Republican candidate Tony Nunziato for the Assembly seat.
His campaign picked up traction when the homeless hotel issue shook Maspeth, beginning in August. Barnwell was seen at nearly every public meeting and protest and rally with the shelter opponents.
After his victory, Barnwell posted this message for his supporters on Facebook:
“I honestly don’t know where to begin to thank everybody who has put in the time to help make our victory a reality. It is very humbling that people went the extra mile to help assure victory. I did work very hard, but hundreds of people also worked just as hard. It is also very humbling that people put their confidence in me and granted me the honor of their vote. I have made many new friends during this endeavor and it has been an absolute honor and privilege.”
Whether it was the nightly protests or the highly-attended public meetings, something is working for the opponents of the city’s proposed homeless shelter in Maspeth.
In a statement this afternoon from Assemblywoman Marge Markey, city officials are not moving forward with the original October 1st opening date for the shelter. Markey said they have agreed to “continue to evaluate the plan and the program for location” after phone calls with both Mayor de Blasio and DHS Commissioner Steven Banks.
“This postponement gives us the opportunity to continue to bring pressure on the City to change its plan for Maspeth,” Markey said. “With Community Board Five review still underway, we still have not seen answers to our continuing concerns about the location of the facility, the track record of the proposed provider and details about the financial arrangements between the City, Acacia Network and the hotel owner.”
Assemblywoman Marge Markey was booed by activists at the Maspeth shelter public hearing last night at the Knockdown Center. She immediately left the venue with these parting words: “Goodbye and take care.”
She stopped by the Queens Ledger office this morning to discuss what happened at the meeting where she told activists to stop bullying her.
“I think my opposition stirred them up,” she said. She was referring to her Assembly seat challengers and others who held up signs calling for her defeat.
Though she didn’t get a chance to deliver her statement at the hearing, she delivered a copy to the Queens Ledger. In the statement, Markey blames Mayor de Blasio for ignoring elected officials’ requests for a face-t0-face meeting and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for not giving more details about the proposed shelter, including the financial arrangements between the city, the shelter operator Acacia and the hotel owner.
To read more about Markey’s comments and her statement, read the Queens Ledger story here.
The Homeless Shelter protest crowd seems to be growing in Maspeth as last night looked like a scene from the movie ‘Young Frankenstein,’ when the angry townspeople were searching in mob-like fashion for Peter Boyle.
Last night at about 7:15PM the crowd at the Holiday Inn heard about a meeting at O’Neills and made their way past Principe Park up the Plateau to O’Neills, grumbling and chanting all the way. While marching and yelling, “let’s get em,” as homeowners cheered while they walked by. But when they arrived at O’Neills the meeting had already broken up.
There was an impressive group marching along Grand Avenue Saturday. All is in preparation for tonight’s Community Board 5 public hearing about the city’s plan to convert a Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road into a homeless shelter for adults The meeting is at the Knockdown Center on Flushing Avenue at 7PM. The hearing is open to the public and 2,000 people are expected.
A protest march on Grand Avenue is planned for Saturday, August 27th. Hundreds of Maspeth Homeless Shelter protesters are expected to participate as the horns and whistles in front of the Holiday Inn Express Hotel on 55th Road off Maurice Avenue continue every night. The group of protesters will meet at 1:30 pm Saturday and make their way to Grand Avenue.
Meanwhile, at 1PM Thursday, a group of activists and legislators including Assemblywoman Marge Markey, State Senator Joe Addabbo and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley met will the city comptroller Scott Stringer about how to stop the shelter.
The discussion most important to the proposed Maspeth shelter at the Holiday Inn was that there could be room for negotiation with Acacia or DHS since the comptroller has not yet received a contract to use this facility as a shelter. The comptroller would do no more than verify that there was a meeting, but sources at the meeting said that the comptroller was likely to send a staffer to the August 31st CB5 public hearing. Word is that DHS will likely only send a staffer as well. The community board expects 2,000 people at the hearing at the Knockdown Center Thursday evening.
A source at the meeting also stated that the comptroller said his hands are tied. There is not much he can do if the paperwork is filled out correctly.
DHS specifically said that if the community wanted to have DHS ‘not use’ this location they would have to come up with alternate sites which could have 35 or more rooms. They gave the community 30 days to do this. As of now the community board refuses to look into offering alternative sites to DHS. The problem with that, according to one source who attended the meeting, “… if our community does not give them alternate sites then the mayor’s office and DHS could say that they gave us the opportunity not to use this hotel as a shelter, and we did not do anything about it.”