2002-04-27 / Editorial/Opinion

Arrogant State Agencies Prey On Rockaway

Arrogant State Agencies Prey On Rockaway

There is no doubt in anybody's mind that Rockaway houses more than its fair share of city housing projects, nursing homes, senior citizen's housing, group homes and the like. The City of New York considers Rockaway an "impacted area" in terms of new city-backed facilities such as adult homes, group homes, homeless shelters and the like. The city must, by law, go to the local community board for permission to build such facilities. There is no such law, however, for facilities backed by New York State. When the state decides that it wants to back a private facility on the peninsula, it does so without seeking permission from the community. The state often does not consider the impact of the facility on the community or whether or not the community wants the facility. It is often a done deal. So it is with a five-story apartment building that a private agency called PSCH wants to build in Bayswater that would house 44 men and women with psychiatric disabilities. The facility, directly across the street from Bayswater Park (where hundreds of kids play each spring and summer day) has raised the ire of both the Bayswater Civic Association and Community Board 14. "We are already overburdened with health-related facilities, and we do not need this one," CB 14 district manager Jonathon Gaska says. He has asked Governor Pataki to intervene. PSCH argues that it does want to work with the community, but it does not need its permission. "We are moving forward with the project," a spokesperson says. Neither the state nor PSCH should move forward until the community is satisfied that its needs and concerns have been met and answered. Perhaps it is time for Audrey Pheffer, a Bayswater resident, Malcolm Smith and our newest assemblywoman, Michele Titus to get involved. The state legislature funds the State's Department of Mental Health. That agency should be told that Rockaway is now "off limits" to its PSCH project, or to any other scheme it comes up with to unduly overburden Rockaway even more than it has in the past.


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