The meeting, taking place on Friday, June 20, comes after a long exchange between CB 10 chairwoman Virginia Gallagher and state officials over disappointment in OHM’s approval of the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health building at Lyvere Street.
Residents lost their fight to stop the construction of the six-story 56-unit building at 2432-36 Lyvere Street, but now feel some sort of vindication, with the CB 10 executive board having the opportunity to voice their recommendations to OHM.
“The board members definitely felt that the meeting was progress,” said CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns. “We spoke with both OMH and the Post-Graduate Center and gave them some design ideas for their residence, which they will consider. We also are going to take a tour of another facility of this type that is already in operation.”
OMH also found that the meeting was useful.
“The Office of Mental Health found the June 20, 2008 meeting with Bronx Community Board 10, elected officials and the Post Graduate Center to be a very productive gathering,” stated Jill Daniels, spokeswoman for OMH. “Many questions were answered that day, and OMH continues to work with the groups involved to address the various concerns that were discussed.”
CB 10 had been asking for a meeting ever since it sent a letter to then-Governor Eliot Spitzer in hopes of overturning the decision to allow the Post-Graduate Center to construct the facility.
The reply was unsatisfactory, and it contained startling news, when Robert Meyer’s, Ph.D., senior deputy commissioner for the Division of Adult Services, stated the project would provide options for homeless and those at-risk of being homeless.
Never being told that formerly homeless residents would be coming into the community, Gallagher sent another letter to current Governor David Patterson to request a meeting.
After much back and forth correspondence, Senator Jeff Klein’s intervened.
“I’m pleased that I was able to facilitate a dialogue between OMH and representatives of the community board,” said Senator Klein.
“I have spoken with the Commissioner and am eager to work together to make sure that the Postgraduate Center is both aesthetically palatable and receptive to the needs of the community,” he said.
Kearns thanked Klein and all of the elected officials who attended the meeting or sent representatives.
“This is an evolving project,” Kearns noted. “Senator Klein, Assemblyman Peter Rivera, Councilwoman Annabel Palma, and Councilman Jimmy Vacca are working at making this facility as friendly as possible to the community while caring for our mentally challenged neighbors.”
Despite the goodwill brought about by the meeting, Sandi Lusk, of the Westchester Square Zerega Improvement Organization, was reserved in her optimism about the newly established dialogue.
“The community wants the site watched really carefully,” she said.