NEW YORK (Feb. 17)
The Queens Jewish Community Council, one of the Jewish groups fighting the controversial Forest Hills low income housing project, today rejected as “phony” a compromise offered by the Lindsay Administration to scale it down in size. Dr. Alvin Lashinsky, a past president of the QJCC, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the proposal was “turned down flatly” when it was first offered by Eleanor Holmes Norton, chairman of the City Human Rights Commission on Jan. 3 and again when it came up at a meeting of Queens Jewish leaders with City officials at Gracie Mansion Feb. 2.
The plan called for shifting part of the 840 units from Forest Hills to another projected low income housing project in the Lindenwood section of Queens. The latter project was recently killed by the Board of Estimate. Dr. Lashinsky claimed that the compromise was a “Joke,” indicating that the offer was not a serious one.
As the Forest Hills dispute boiled over again, Dr. Lashinsky would not say what alternative, if any, to the proposed project or the compromise plan would be acceptable to the Jewish community. He told the JTA that at this point there was “no need to talk of a compromise” because of yesterday’s decision by State Supreme Court Justice Irving H. Saypol ordering a halt in construction of the Forest Hills project. Pressed by the JTA as to what the Jewish Community Council did want, Lashinsky replied that it “preferred nothing at all.”
NO SERIOUS REPLY BY CITY
Seymour Samuels, president of the QJCC, expressed a similar view. He told the JTA that “we at no point ever made any suggestion as to what should be on the site.” He added that the QJCC favored having a high school there as was originally proposed. The site of the high school was subsequently moved to the adjacent community of Corona and the project, originally-scheduled for Corona but shelved because of opposition by residents there, was shifted to Forest Hills.
Samuels also rejected the contention by Deputy Mayor Richard R. Aurelio and City Housing Authority Chairman Simeon Golar, that a compromise plan to end tensions over the Forest Hills project had been under discussion with anti-project leaders of the Forest Hills community. “We have pressed the city administration to come up with suggestions on how to ease the tension, but have never received any serious reply.” Like Dr. Lashinsky, Samuels said that the plan to scale down the project and to institute a different mix of residents, was not offered as a serious proposal.
WASHINGTON LISTENING; NY MEETING OFF
Meanwhile, Dr. Lashinsky and six other anti-project activists went to Washington today to try to get the Nixon administration to intervene directly in the Forest Hills controversy. Among those accompanying Dr. Lashinsky were Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt, vice-president of the Queens Rabbinic Association, and Prof. Seymour Siegal who represented the National Jewish Security Rights Committee.
The group first met with Senator James L. Buckley (Cons.-Rep., NY) who had arranged a meeting for them in the White House. Buckley told the group that he was delighted with Judge Saypol’s decision. The group then met with Neal Ball, White House spokesman, who told them that this was a “strictly listening session.”
A meeting that was to have taken place tomorrow at Gracie Mansion in N.Y. between representatives of the Queens Jewish community and Roy Wilkins, executive director of the NAACP, and Vernon E. Jordan, director of the National Urban League, was called off today. According to Lashinsky, the meeting was cancelled because Wilkins refused to attend. Wilkins told the JTA that he had cancelled his participation because of events that transpired subsequent to his agreement to attend but did not agree that this was the reason the meeting was cancelled. He did not elaborate.