As we seek independence for our loved ones, the rest of the nation might not be so welcoming. The wave of young adults with autism aging out into adult services is beginning. The current DDS plans for special needs adults will need changes to accommodate the differences of autism versus other diagnoses. Let the NIMBY'ing begin...
YourNabe.com Queens NY
By Howard Koplowitz
Bellerose residents are saying “not in my backyard” to an Astoria nonprofit’s plan to set up a group home for autistic children on 247th Street, arguing that a similar home is operating just nine houses away.
In a letter to Cory Polshansky, deputy executive director for the Astoria-based Quality Services for the Autism Community, Bellerose resident Virginia Salow said she was concerned about the proximity of the proposed home, at 88-01 247th St., to a similar home one block down and to the schoolyard at St. Gregory’s.
“You have my and my neighbors’ strongest objection to this action and we call upon you to reconsider this foolish and dangerous proposal,” Salow wrote.
Gary Maffei, executive director of QSAC, said the nonprofit was not aware of the other group home, but said it is up to the state to decide whether his agency’s home is approved.
Salow also accused Community Board 13 Chairman Bryan Block of “negligence” for failing to put the group home on the board’s May agenda.
“The community now only has a couple of weeks to digest this proposal and voice our objections to this plan [a thoughtless imposition on a neighborhood that already has another group home one block or a mere nine houses away.]
But Block wrote a letter to the Astoria organization June 20 saying the community is against the group home.
Block accused Salow’s letter of containing “inaccuracies” and asked for an apology or he would take the matter to the city’s corporation counsel.
Salow said she did not believe an apology was needed and said her letter ran with information she knew at the time.
Angela Augugliaro, president of the Queens Colony Civic Association, said she was “annoyed in the sense of [the proposed home’s] proximity to another group home.
ADVERTISEMENT“I don’t like so many group homes so close to each other in a community,” she said. “My major thrust is the location because it’s next to St. Gregory’s ballfield. I think it’s a poor location.”
Augugliaro, second vice chairwoman of CB 13, said the board sent a letter of objection to the group home but never had the opportunity to discuss the project.
“I’m annoyed at how it’s been handled,” she said. “I just don’t like the whole process.”
Augugliaro hinted that there is an inequity in placing group homes in Queens neighborhoods, pointing out that there are 65 such facilities within CB 13, which covers Glen Oaks along the Nassau County border to Rosedale in southeast Queens, while there are only 17 group homes in Forest Hills.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) agreed.
“There has to be a limit on oversaturation,” he said.
State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) said she would look into whether the area is too oversaturated to have another group home.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.