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New civic group forms on Square

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A new civic group in the Westchester Square neighborhood is hoping to join the fight to improve the area’s quality of life. 

Dr. Marianne LaCrosse, Dr. Carl Anderson and William Rivera are in the beginning stages of organizing the Westchester Square Residents Association.

Still in its infancy, the group will eventually have regular meetings and serve as a pathway to connect neighbors. 

“I want to promote a sense of community, safety and quality of life,” said LaCrosse, a local resident and owner of a small, private youth psychotherapy practice on Blondell Avenue. 

The psychologist approached Anderson, a psychiatrist who has a private practice at Williamsbridge Road and Pierce Avenue, as well as Rivera, a superintendent on Halperin Place, to form a steering committee.

The Postgraduate Center facility on Lyvere Street, as well as other social needs facilities, have drawn a great deal of concern to the neighborhood recently, leading to a community forum on May 24 at Doyle’s Pub, where LaCrosse first introduced her group.  

Speaking of the number of mental health facilities in the area, she said, “Its not the place to expand because it’s already congested.  It’s just not the place for it.”

As a local business owner, LaCrosse has a particular interest both for the community she calls home as well as for the children she works with in her practice. 

“I want to promote safety for the children who come to my office,” she explained. 

Anderson and LaCrosse both site the expansion of Daytop on Halperin Avenue, as an impetus for their proposed civic action.

Daytop, the oldest and largest drug-free, self-help program in the United States, wanted to expand their administrative offices, creating a treatment facility, along with getting a special permit for fewer parking spaces than zoning requires. 

“It’s an exceptional organization, it just isn’t appropriate to expand right there,” LaCrosse said.

The group will focus on organizing residents east of Williamsbridge and Eastchester roads; an area the organizers feel could be served by a civic organization.

“We don’t plan to duplicate efforts of other organizations, such as the Westchester Square Merchants Association and the Westchester Square-Zerega Improvement Organizati­on,” she added.  “They have tremendous amounts of experience, and we just want to complement them and bring more people into civic participat­ion.”

Anderson and LaCrosse hope to work together with the other local groups, as well as the community boards, elected officials and precinct councils, to strengthen area civic ties. 

In addition to over saturation of mental health facilities, Anderson is also concerned about loss of local business, hoping to work with John Bonizio, president of the merchants association, to encourage development. 

 “We can’t do everything,” Anderson said, “and that’s why we want to work with others.” 

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