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CB 10 to state: No more L&W group homes

Community Board 10 and Leake and Watts faced off at a recent state hearing about a proposed group home for six developmentally disabled women near Westchester Square.

CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns gave testimony at the commissioner’s hearing of the state agency regulating group homes for the developmentally disabled after CB 10 rejected approving the home at 1623 Glover Street.

Kearns urged the agency to reject plans by Leake and Watts, while the social service provider argued that Westchester Square was not saturated with social services specifically for the developmentally disabled.

“We are opposing the facility because of Leake and Watts’ track record in the Westchester Square and Zerega neighborhood, and we argued that this community is saturated with 22 social service providers,” Kearns said. “It was a contentious meeting, and the decision is now in the hands of the state board.”

Kearns believes that under the terms of Padavan’s Law, the community is saturated with social services. The state law was designed to prevent proliferation of social services in any one area. A representative of Senator Jeff Klein joined Kearns.

Leake and Watt’s executive director Alan Mucatel said that CB 10’s count of providers does not focus on services for the developmentally disabled, but on a wide array of services for different populations.

“I think from the perspective of Padavan’s Law, the idea of saturation deals with similar types of facilities that are like the ones being proposed,” Mucatel said. “I can’t really speak to the concerns of different agencies operating other programs. I think we want to focus on what Leake and Watts would accomplish with our program.”

The state Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disability convened the commissioners hearing on October 20 after CB 10 voted overwhelmingly against the proposal for the home at its May general meeting. CB 10 held a hearing on the Glover Street home on May 18 at Santa Maria Church.

Leake and Watts operated group homes providing family foster care in the neighborhood for years that many residents said were poorly run and often subject to police visits.

“It may be a new day for Leake and Watts, which has a new executive director, Mr. Mucatel,” Kearns said, “but that was not enough to convince the community near the proposed facility that is should be opened.”

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