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The potential arrival of a day care center on East 38th Street in Marine Park isn’t child’s play — it’s an unwelcome intrusion on this otherwise quiet block, wary residents said this week.
Neighbor Flo Siringo, 82, is among the unenthusiastic. For over two decades, Siringo has lived in the house adjoining 1658 East 38th Street, where Room to Grow Learning Center is hoping to expand its operation.
“My basic complaint is the noise, the running around, and the traffic stopping right in front of my house,” Siringo said. Making matters potentially worse, she added, is that the walls of the home “are paper thin,” unbearably magnifying every sound.
The house is currently under contract, and the center has not received the requisite permits from the Fire Department, Department of Buildings, or Department of Health (DOH), an official at the center said.The arrival of such facilities does not typically trigger a public review.
Longtime resident Angela DeLessio wondered how a residential block could be seen as an appropriate location for such a facility. “This is not a block where you have stores or businesses,” she said, adding that her neighbors now worry the proposed facility might devalue their homes.
Room to Grow currently operates a facility nearby, on East 33rd Street, serving 10-12 children. An owner of the business said that facility will remain open. “The house isn’t ours yet,” the owner said. “I think we are going to move ahead, but we can’t do that until many things are done first,” the person said.
The owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said that numerous attempts have been made to speak to residents of East 38th Street. “I tried to alleviate any concerns,” the person said. “I have gone above and beyond.”
Because the center is a family-based service — a homes of not more than three to six children in the home of an unrelated family — it is regulated under the New York State Department of Social Services; the DOH has the contract to provide licensing and regulatory services for state regulated programs, and the agency says it regularly monitors such facilities.
If the project moves forward, the adjoining wall to Siringo’s home would be insulated to help reduce any noise, the owner vowed. As far as traffic, the owner said that most people who bring their kids to the existing facility do so by walking them, not driving.
Moreover, the owner said, the day care center shouldn’t be feared, it should be welcomed. “I think it brings community to a block — these are fellow Marine Park residents using the service.”
Block residents see the matter quite differently: So far, over 100 names have been gathered on a petition opposing its arrival.
In a letter to health Commissioner Thomas Farley, State Senator Martin Golden urged the agency to heed residents’ concerns before anything is approved. “A day care facility, while an asset in some communities, presents quality of life issues that a quiet residential block is not prepared to encounter,” Golden wrote.
City Councilmember Lew Fidler has also heard the hew and cry, and vowed to carefully monitor the facility.
“We are going to make sure that if they do come, they will abide by the strictest of rules,” the lawmaker said.
But residents like Miriam Boland don’t want to see it get that far. She wants the facility to locate some place else entirely. “I don’t see why we need a day care here,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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