The City just received word that the State has approved the proposed group home that was the subject of my essay in July and of widespread comment thereafter. The substance of this decision — from the NYS Office for People with Development Disabilities — was never in doubt; only the timing was in question. With the legal process now concluded, Cardinal McCLoskey Community Services will establish in New Rochelle a residence for four young men with Autism.
I have every confidence that the surrounding neighborhood, even those residents who most strongly objected to this proposal, will welcome their new neighbors with civility and warmth, and I will do whatever I can to encourage a positive spirit of new beginnings.
In that regard, and in a nice bit of poetic timing, the City Council last night voted to establish a municipal Advisory Committee on Issues Affecting People with Disabilities. In addition to assuming the functions of the now-disbanded Site Selection Committee (that is determining whether and how to exercise the City’s right to suggest alternative locations for proposed group homes) this body will also have a much broader mandate that encompasses public education, encouraging healthy relationships between groups homes and neighborhoods, ensuring that people with disabilities are full participants in the civic life of our community, and evaluating relevant trends in law or policy. I expect the Council to appoint the new Committee’s membership in the weeks ahead.
I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of people who commented on this subject in recent months, often in very moving and personal terms.