(An open letter to Community Board 10)
Many residents of Lindenwood, especially those who live on the block of 80th Street where the new group home will be located, were surprised, if not shocked, that not only was a group home coming to their block, but that it was an accomplished fact without the Community Board 10 communicating this to the affected homeowners on the block, or to the greater Howard Beach community, before they voted unanimously to OK it! (“CB 10 OKs group home in Lindenwood,” May 9, South Queens edition.)
For Nigel Cole, the Birch Organization’s deputy director for community services to say that “the group home will not have a negative effect of any kind, only a positive impact” at a CB 10 meeting after the cat was let out of the bag, so to speak, sounds like typical political rhetoric.
Although group homes are a worthy endeavor as compared to institutionalizing developmentally disabled individuals, they are not openly or truly welcomed by nearby residents! Why? One reason might be that real estate values most likely will be negatively affected. Another reason is that the group home is not an “ordinary residence.” It is a service business conducted by a nonprofit entity that is definitely not reflective of the surrounding two-family community.
Next to last, but not least, the fact that this appears to have been done before the word got out to the Lindenwood community, especially the affected 80th Street taxpaying homeowners, hints of the fears of the Birch Organization and CB 10 as to what would have been universal objections to the establishment of the group home. (The feeling is, “This was done behind our backs without us having any say whatsoever!”)
Finally, many homeowners we have spoken to seem to have the feeling Lindenwood is the stepchild of the 11414 Howard Beach community in that we have been chosen to have more than our share of group residences, as opposed to Rockwood Park, Old Howard Beach and Spring Creek. Can the community board address all of the above?
The writer says he speaks on behalf of many of his neighbors.