Padavan sees ouster attempt by St. John’s
Padavan is willing to take the risk, saying that he met last Thursday with civic leaders from around the dormitory site on Henley Road in Jamaica Estates to retain a civil engineer to review the site as well as the plans and determine whether there are problems, he said in a telephone interview Friday.His tactic thus far has been to point out enough issues in the plans and construction to force the university to give up on the dormitory project. To that end, he has drawn attention to the additional burden on the water and sewer system that the 478-bed building would pose and also to what he says is an inadequate drainage plan to tackle standing water in the excavation.Padavan's stance on the dorm has not endeared him to Rev. Donald Harrington, the university president, the senator said."On Wednesday I received a call from the archdiocese expressing their discomfort with the situation and saying Father Harrington had expressed his unhappiness with my activity" and was weighing retaliation, Padavan said."The archbishop explained to him that he didn't think that was the right thing to do, Padavan said.Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Brooklyn Archdiocese said in a statement that before a Jan. 31 ceremony in which he received an honorary doctorate in theology from St. John's, Harrington told him that Padavan had repeatedly disparaged the student body in an attempt to galvanize opposition to proposed off-campus development."I was told that the student body was so offended that the student groups intended to hold voter registration drives and get out the vote efforts," the bishop said. "I instructed my staff to speak with both Father Harrington and Sen. Padavan in order to find an amicable solution to a problem that vexed members of both communities." The bishop said he was troubled by the resulting confusion."I want to be clear that Father Harrington at no time in any conversation with me stated that he wanted to 'get Padavan because Padavan's been critical.' Nor did he ever express any similar sentiment," he said.A St. John's University spokesman denied a link between Padavan's position on the dorm and the school's voter-registration drive, and said that there are organizations on campus for both Democrats and Republicans."The university denies launching a voter registration drive to target any one candidate nor have we ever done that," said Dominic Scianna, director of media relations at St. John's. "We don't receive federal funding specifically for the voter-registration drive. It's just a part of the federal student aid program. We would normally do this and we have in the past."In the meantime, Padavan said he would continue to help his constituents fight the Henley Road dormitory."We found the sewer problem" where the lines in the neighborhood were already at capacity and could not handle the additional stress of 478 students moving into a new building, he said. "We also ID'd the drainage issue on the property that [the Department of Buildings] forced them to fix. If there are enough problems that would impede the construction of a building that size at that location, maybe St. John's would reconsider building a dorm there."Padavan met last Thursday with representatives of the civic organizations Concerned Citizens of Jamaica Estates, the Jamaica Estates Association and Hillcrest Estates Civic Association as well as state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck) and retained the services of engineers Miele Associates."We spent time sharing the information we've collected - charts, sewer plans. We've explained what our goal is to determine where else there are salient problems with the building of the dorm, and Miele is in the process of prepping a proposal," Padavan said.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.
Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
©2008 Community News Group