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New group home put on hold - CB18 tables vote on controversial Mill Basin facility

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A proposal for a group home in Mill Basin now resides in limbo, after the sponsor admitted last week that it had not bothered to notify neighbors about its planned arrival.

Because of this critical omission, Community Board 18 decided it had no choice but to wait until that information—and any potential objection—is presented to it at its October meeting.

The proposed home, located at 1641 East 53rd Street, is being sponsored by Mercy Home, a not-for-profit agency founded in 1862 by the Sisters of Mercy.

It would house six men with developmental disabilities, according to Sister Kay Crumlish, the executive director of Mercy Home.

There would be no change to the exterior of the two-family home, only changes to its interior, she said. The men would be supervised 24 hours a day; from 8-4 p.m. they would be busied with assorted programs offered by Mercy Home, and at night and the weekend, “they do things most people like to do,” Crumlish said.

The men, who have severe to moderate intellectual delay, already live in a Mercy Home facility. Some have spent their entire lives in the care of Mercy Home.

“We are good neighbors,” Crumlish said, adding that the hope is to establish a neighborhood advisory council. She said there was no similar facility in the immediate area.

“We will do nothing to change the nature and character of the community,” Crumlish vowed.

But when an audience member asked whether Mercy Home had reached out to the immediate neighbors of the home, Crumlish revealed it did not.

“We planned to go on Friday,” she said. [The community board met on Wednesday, Sept. 17.]

Part of the application process for these types of proposals is to notify the immediate neighbors, noted Dorothy Turano, the district manager of the board.

“This is not your first group home in the area,” Turano said, referring to a Mercy Home facility on East 59th Street. “You are familiar with the process.”

“This board can’t take a position until the community is notified,” she added.

At press time, Crumlish did not return a call for additional comment.

The board’s vote is simply advisory.

The oversight agency, the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, must approve of the location if the project is to proceed.

Legislation known as the Padavan Law, named after its sponsor Sen. Frank Padavan, established a procedure of notice, as well as input from the community where a residence is being proposed.

The purpose of the law, passed in 1978, was to discourage the institutio­nalization of the mentally ill, and promote and encourage the placement of the mentally disabled in community settings to provide the least restrictive environment.

At the end of the community board hearing, members can recommend alternate sites; approve the proposal; or argue that there is already an abundance of similar facilities located nearby.

“The first thing you should do is go to the community and ask for their acceptance,” Greg Borruso, president of the Marine Park Civic Association told Mercy Home officials. “By coming here without first coming to the community, that may have been a mistake.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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