A judge issued a vacate order to halt the use of the former St. John Villa Academy as a migrant shelter -- less than 24 hours after Borough President Vito Fossella and his fellow elected officials filed a lawsuit.
“Normally, people would just roll over, but not here on Staten Island and not here in Arrochar,” said Borough President Fossella at a press conference outside of Villa. “People came out, the people who live here and people from across Staten Island -- and I am sure if they had more time and perhaps no conflicts, you would have had tens of thousands of people here.”
Borough President Fossella said there were no alternatives left aside from filing a lawsuit.
“We tried to talk to the city into moving into a different direction and we were denied,” he said. “But the elected officials who stand behind me grouped together and said we will not let this stand, we will fight and we will not lay down.”
The vacate order cites four causes of action:
Earlier in the day, Borough President Fossella and the same group of elected officials stood outside of Villa to announce that they had filed the lawsuit. As soon as it was over, their lawyers Mark J. Fonte and Lou Gelormino rushed to the courthouse where they received the vacate order.
“Nobody thought we would prevail,” said Borough President Fossella, holding the vacate order. “This document is a victory for the people of Arrochar, for the people of Staten Island, for the people of St. Joseph Hill and for the people of PS 39. This is common sense, this is decency and this is what this country should be about.”
Borough President Vito Fossella joined Rep. Nicole Malliotakis as she announced plans to introduce legislation to ban migrant housing on the historic grounds of Fort Wadsworth at a press conference on Wednesday.
He recalled recently standing in the same spot last year to call on Staten Islanders to donate goods to a pantry operated by the Blue Star Families at Fort Wadsworth “so that active military personnel could take care of their own children.”
“And, yet the federal government has no problem saying we’re thinking about putting these folks up here for free, feeding them for free, giving them a free education, free accommodations, free healthcare, free phones and free debit cards,” Borough President Fossella said. “How is that logical, how is that right and how is that consistent with the American way?”
Borough President Fossella said the idea of housing migrants at Fort Wadsworth was like a scenario proposed three decades ago.
“Thirty years ago, when this facility was transferred from the Department of Defense to the National Park Service, the city tried to carve out about a third of it for homeless facilities and they were overruled," he said. "So, this is not the first attempt to house asylum seekers or the homeless here at Fort Wadsworth. If you want to put folks who may have come here illegally and may be sent back, put them on Ellis Island. I don’t hear anyone talking about opening Ellis Island for tents. How about Governor’s Island? No, instead we're going to put them right here on Staten Island, near the people who built this community. I grew up right outside of Fort Wadsworth. My family has been here since 1947. We were taught to respect what was behind this fence. Now, how can we with this proposal?"
Borough President Vito Fossella will sponsor the inaugural Staten Island Borough President’s Bocce Cup Tournament at Monsignor Farrell High School.
“We have high expectations, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be competitive, it’s going to be a nice time for all of us to get together,” said Borough President Fossella.
The tournament will feature 20 teams of four players with a four-team waiting list. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis by way of scanning the QR code on the Bocce Cup flyer or on the Borough Hall Facebook Page.
On the day of the tournament, teams can check in at 9 a.m. with play beginning shortly after 10 a.m.
The tournament will be commissioned by Guy De Santis and chaired by Lou Tobacco. It is sponsored by Community Media of Staten Island, Bario's Restaurant and Catering, Vino Divino and Joyce's Tavern.
We’re excited to support the growing bocce ball community on Staten Island.
Borough President Vito Fossella Congratulates Staten Island University Hospital For High Ranking In U.S. News & World Report
Borough President Vito Fossella congratulated the staff at Staten Island University for being ranked as one of the top hospitals in New York State by U.S. News & World Report.
Staten Island University Hospital came in at number 13 in the state rankings. Additionally, the hospital ranked as High Performing in six adult specialties and 11 procedures, ranging from colon and lung cancer surgery to heart bypass surgery and cardiac and stroke care.
“I think it is so vitally important to say, as we all know, if you’re living on Staten Island, you’re going to end up at Staten Island University Hospital here in the Emergency Department or here in one of the in-patient beds if you fall ill,” said Borough President Fossella at a press conference. “The 7,000 professionals who cater to the Staten Island population and beyond come to this building -- and the one on the South Shore -- every day to try to deliver the best care possible, and you do that through a culture of collaboration and of compassion. At one point in the future, we believe that Staten Island University Hospital will be one of the best hospitals in the entire country and that’s the goal. We just wanted to come by and say thank you to all the healthcare professionals for what you do every day and to thank you for taking care of our neighbors.”
Dr. Brahim Ardolic, executive director of SIUH, said while moving up in the rankings is important, taking care of their patients is the top priority.
“This is not the work of one person or really the work of 100 people, it really does take the work of thousands of people -- it takes the work of 7,000 strong across Staten Island,” said Dr. Ardolic. “It doesn’t change the fact that at the end of the day, the most important thing that we do is to take care of the people of Staten Island, so while I want to be the highest rated orthopedic, neurological and every other snazzy specialty there is, at the end of the day, we still have the responsibility to be here every day to take care of the person who falls down, we still have the responsibility to take care of the person who comes in and just has their basic emergency -- to get people back to health whether its everything from the presentation of your illness to your private doctor or to finishing up your rehab until you go home. Our goal is to provide a place where you can have the highest quality care and where you don’t have to leave your own community.”
Borough President Vito Fossella said he plans to restore the Firefighters Memorial which was destroyed when it was hit by a car on Aug. 14.
The Firefighters Memorial has stood for 30 years at the intersection of Clove Road, Richmond Road, Targee Steet and Narrows Road North in Concord.
Borough President Fossella surveyed the damage when he visited the site on Tuesday.
A six-foot tall stone statue in the center of the memorial, which is etched with the names of fallen firefighters and the Firefighers Prayer, was knocked to the ground, along with a flag pole and a piece of steel from the World Trade Center.
Still standing were a monument in honor of 9/11 and a statue of a firefighter hugging Jesus.
A granite wall with the names of firefighters who died in the World Trade Center attacks was delivered on Tuesday as part of move from the Church of St. Peter-St. Paul before it is sold.
“The wall is now up, the stuff that was damaged was taken away,” said Borough President Fossella, expressing relief that the wall was moved after the accident.
He promised to replace anything that can be salvaged back at the site, particularly the flagpole and the steel from the World Trade Center site.
Borough President Vito Fossella, Council Member Kamillah Hanks Allocate Funds To Improve Walker Park
Borough President Vito Fossella and Council Member Kamillah Hanks were surrounded by excited campers as they announced allocations to improve Walker Park in Randall Manor, which is well-known for its history of hosting the oldest cricket club in the United States.
The allocations include $1.9 million in capital grant funding from Borough President Fossella to improve safety service, paving and play units and $2.9 million from Council Member Hanks to refurbish the park’s six basketball courts. Also joining them was Staten Island Parks Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone.
“Walker Park has a very rich tradition,” Borough President Fossella said during a press conference.. “Clearly, Walker Park serves a great area here on the North Shore, but as you see people come from across Staten Island to use the tennis courts. And, the good news today is that the Council Member and I decided that we wanted to reinvest in this park and allow more young people and future generations to enjoy it, so we will allocate funding to build a new playground off to my left and new basketball courts off to my right.”
Borough President Fossella and Council Member Hanks said the allocations are a result of answering the call from neighborhood residents to improve Walker Park.
“We respond, we do what we can and we try to our best, because all you can do in life is try your best, but we also try to establish priorities,” Borough President Fossella said. “There are some things you can do and some things you can’t do. When we have to make decisions, this is a reflection of what we think a priority is – to continue to reinvest in parks, to continue to allow younger people and the next generation and the generations thereafter to enjoy and it’s not just right here in Walker Park, we trying to do this across Staten Island.”
The campers stole the show, speaking like future elected officials.
“I would just like to say thank you for building a new basketball court,” said Anthony, who graduated from PS 35 in June. “I am a Boy Scout from Troop 37 and I really understand how parks are very well made, but I think this park can get a little reconstruction. I am very excited for the new improvements of Walker Park.”
Borough President Vito Fossella called on the New York State congressional delegation to introduce legislation to build a tent city on the National Mall in Washington, DC, in answer to a proposal to site a migrant shelter at historic Fort Wadsworth.
“We will be asking our congressional delegation from New York to introduce legislation to mandate and compel the federal government to put and build tents on the National Mall before any other federal property is used to accommodate migrants,” said Borough President Fossella during a press conference outside of Fort Wadsworth. “We think that crystalizes the issue as a federal one. The federal government should solve it before forcing the people of Staten Island and others to solve a problem that they didn't create."
He recalled a recent press conference at the same site to introduce the Blue Star Families, an organization which provides resources to military families and runs a pantry at Fort Wadsworth for the active service members who live there.
“The reason why they have to have that food pantry is because many of the military personnel, especially those with young families, can’t afford to feed their families or can’t afford to put diapers on their children,” Borough President Fossella said. “So, we came together as a community to let people know that if you wanted to donate, you could do so. And here we are months later and there’s a contemplation here to spend millions or billions on accommodating asylum-seekers. There’s something brutally bad about that. It’s a problem about establishing priorities -- we’re not willing to give military families a few bucks to clothe or feed their kids, but without hesitation, we are contemplating putting who knows how many asylum-seekers on the grounds of Fort Wadsworth.”
While Borough President Fossella said he was sympathetic to those who want to live a better life, he called it financially unsustainable with a cost that will continue to grow.
“The borders are wide open and people were coming in through Texas,” he said. “They ended up in Travis, they ended up in Tompkinsville, their ending up in Midland Beach -- and we’re fighting that, too. And now they might end up in this beautiful neighborhood."