Tempers flared on Tuesday as nearly fifty parents and local residents rallied against the opening of a proposed shelter for the mentally ill and drug-addicted on the Upper West Side.

The $500M facility slated for West 59th Street across from John Jay College, would sit next to the popular Gertrude Ederle Playground, which the protesting parents claimed would put their children in close proximity to at-risk homeless New Yorkers and potentially expose them to second-hand smoke from the shelter’s proposed smoking area.

“In a city where it’s illegal to sell wine next door to a playground, Project Renewal wants you to believe it’s safe to bring in drug-addicted people from all over the city and to building their smoking courtyard next to the playground,” said one of the activists, Rachel Azarian, who has three kids.

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