Community Board 10 voted to disapprove plans for a new group home at 1623 Glover Street. Residents are concerned with the past performance of the group home’s sponsor, Leake and Watts, as well as oversaturation of social service providers in Westchester Square and Zerega.
Community Board 10 disapproved plans in a 14 to 9 advisory vote for a group home that would serve six developmentally disabled women aged 40 to 60. The vote took place at the board’s general monthly meeting held on Wednesday, May 27.
That vote comes on the heals of a CB 10 public hearing held at Santa Maria Church on Monday, May 18 where Leake and Watts executive director Alan Mucatel addressed concerns related to longstanding issues with another home for troubled adolescent girls at the same location, which Leake and Watts also ran.
“Naturally, we are disappointed with the outcome of the vote,” Mucatel said. “We already provide a wide range of services through our family foster care, special education schools and child care programs to residents of Community Board 10. Through these services and programs and any others that we will provide in the future, we look forward to building greater community trust in Leake and Watts and our work.”
Many residents in the community were upset with the 30-year track record of Leake and Watts in Zerega, which ran two group homes on Glover Street and St. Peter’s Avenue for emotionally troubled teenage girls and boys.
“The girls [at 1623 Glover Street] were much worse than the boys,” said Hanna Acompora, who lives near the proposed home and went door-to-door with her husband to drum up attendance for the hearing. “For us to trust Leake and Watts when they come to us in this new venture is a slap in our face, because they could not handle their previous ones.”
However, another Leake and Watts run facility nearby does not appear to have caused the disruption that the two former group homes in Zerega brought.
Westchester Square Zerega Improvement Organization’s Sandi Lusk visited a Leake and Watts school at 1535 Williamsbridge Road, near Westchester Square, and was impressed by the facility.
“I visited the Leake and Watts school for children with learning disabilities on Williamsbridge Road to see for myself how it was run,” Lusk said in a statement. “To my knowledge there had been no complaints about it, and it has been there for many years. I was very impressed with how well it was run and how beautiful and well-maintained the building was.”