Group home controversy in Spencer Estate

One of the proposed group home sites is 276 Graff Avenue.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

A plan to locate a controversial group home in Spencer Estate appears to be dead on arrival.

Daybreak Independent Services appeared before a Community Board 10 public hearing to discuss the proposed group home at 3206 Middletown Road, across from Pelham Bay Park’s Rice Stadium, on Tuesday, June 7.

Daybreak’s siting was met with strong resistance from several Spencer Estate residents.

After the hearing, on Tuesday, June 14, the real estate broker who was handling the transaction informed CB 10 that Daybreak’s purchase of the property was not happening, said Kenneth Kearns, CB 10 district manager.

Kearns said the item was being removed from the Thursday, June 16 monthly board meeting’s agenda.

“(The group home) does not look likely,” he said of the plan, adding he had yet to receive official notice from Daybreak.

Daybreak has not responded to requests for comment on the sudden sale of the corner property to another party.

Alan Carena, Spencer Estate Civic Association president, said that based on the community’s reaction on June 7, he believes the latest news to be a positive development.

“It looks like it is out, and they are going to try to place it at another location,” said Carena. “Just from listening to what happened (at the meeting), with so many individuals so adamantly against it, I guess it is a good thing that it is not going to happen.”

Carena also said that the property’s cost, at $665,000, could raise concerns about how tax money is spent.

The sale prince and costly renovations needed to convert the 3-family home into a group home also raised a red flag for local activist Mary Jane Musano.

One of the neighbors who spoke at the meeting, David Levine, said that he opposed the residential property becoming mixed use.

“There are a lot of areas that are right across the (Bruckner Expressway) in Pelham Bay that are zoned for mixed use,” he said

The group home seemed like something that was forced on the Spencer Estate community, and it was not fully thought out, he said.

Community boards have 40 days from the time they are notified to present comments, and the public hearing was designed to be informational.

As part of the effort to notify the public, Kearns said CB 10 mailed 102 letters, ran announcements in the Bronx Times and posted to Facebook about the June 7 hearing.

It was the second time Daybreak Independent Services has failed in its efforts to open a group home in CB10.

The proposed facility will be home to six adults with intellectual disabilities and autism.

According to officials from the organization at the hearing on June 7, a site proposed on Buttrick Avenue in Throggs Neck was withdrawn after the house was found to have structural issues.

This would be the first group home that Daybreak has operated, which also raised concerns at the hearing.

Daybreak has experience operating day programs, including one in Woodlawn.

“This would have been the first 24-hour group home for this group and I don’t believe they have the experience or ability to run this kind or operation,” said local activist Andrew Chirico, who was at the hearing.

“If they had opened this group home in our neighborhood, it would have been a test case for them and that could have been a disaster.”

Another group home, proposed for 276 Graff Avenue by Services for the Underserved, is still on the agenda for June 16.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
The group home proposal for Middletown Road is causing some controversy.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

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