Pelham Grand hopefuls meet with Board 10 committee

Ken Wales, standing, representing New Era Veterans speaks at the Tuesday, May 13 Community Board 10 municipal services committee meeting. New Era was one of four groups that shared their ideas for Pelham Grand building.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Four contenders for the vacant hospital building in Pelham Bay have the community and local elected officials responding to possible uses.

At the Community Board 10 municipal services meeting on Tuesday, May 13, the board heard from four social services providers pitching ideas, as landlord Moujan Vadhat appears to be getting ready to lease the building.

After a plan for senior housing called Pelham Grand stalled, and then a veterans housing idea fell by the wayside in March, it appears that Vadhat has been approaching other service providers.

All of the ideas presented on May 13 would depend on government funding from a variety of social and human service agencies, and according to Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns, no action could be taken because there were no formal Requests for Proposals.

“It was an information meeting only; there wasn’t any action to take,” said Kearns. “I don’t think anyone was really happy with the alternatives.”

The ideas presented before the board covered a broad spectrum of possible uses:

•Neighborhood Association for Intercultural Affairs would like to establish a residence for single mothers with children, with a host of social services. They offered to have a Community Advisory Board for the program.

•Inner City Youth, made a pitch for a veterans program offering counseling and drop-in shelter services.

•ASCNYC would provide housing for people living with HIV.

•New Era Veterans and the Never Forget Foundation would establish veterans-only housing for both men and women, with support services.

Controversy abounds

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, chairman of the Assembly Veterans Affairs committee, has been searching for an alternative acceptable to the community involving a good veterans housing program.

His chief of staff Ben Randazzo said at the meeting the assemblyman would not support anything that the community opposes.

“I would still prefer to see something like a school or a hospital like Montefiore go there,” said Randazzo. “The sentiment of the community is that they would like to see something non-controversial go there.”

Pelham Bay Taxpayer Association treasurer Joseph Oddo, who has spoken with Vadhat in the past, has said the landlord doesn’t want anything in the building that would damage his reputation. But Randazzo added, “he is not going to wait forever.”

Local leader John Doyle said that some kind of veterans housing would be ideal, because there is already a great deal of “veterans infrastructure,” including five American Legion posts that own land. The community would likely embrace some kind of use that would help veterans, he said.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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