Coney Island residents say that a plan to expand a W. 33rd Street home for the mentally ill is just plain crazy!
Neighbors are concerned about plans for the Ocean View Manor Home for Adults to add 24 beds to its 76-person residence for sufferers of mental disorders, arguing that the facility doesn’t take care of the tenants it already has. But the owner promises that the income from the new residents would fix most of their complaints.
Ocean View attorney Eric Palatnik presented plans to Community Board 13 on Feb. 12 that would add a new five-story section to the rear of building, which sits between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk, as well as create a single-story lobby at the front of the structure. This would allow the home to take on more residents, Palatnik said, but also create new social spaces for instruction and entertainment.
“It’s not just about getting larger, it’s about making life happy and comfortable for the tenants,” said Palatnik, pointing out that Ocean View isn’t a hospital, but a home.
But Coney Islanders claim that Ocean View is a blight on the neighborhood, letting unkempt tenants roam the streets begging for money and defecating in public spaces. Local tenants association head Sheila Smalls — a former adult protective worker who regularly donates clothes to Ocean View and brings area children in to perform for the residents — complained that the interior of the building is dilapidated and that the mentally-incapacitated people living there show signs of neglect.
“I feel bad for those people. They’re not well-dressed, they’re not well-groomed, they’re not taken care of,” said Smalls. “I think there’s very poor management. If you don’t treat them right, don’t bring more people up in there.”
Sharon Harding, another Coney resident who came out for the CB13 meeting, claimed that she had worked at Ocean View several years before but left after witnessing the lack of attention to residents’ needs and their sometimes unruly behavior.
“It was a horror story. I couldn’t work there,” Harding said.
But Palatnik argued that the additions would alleviate the problems by making Ocean View a better-funded and more enjoyable place for tenants to hang out.
“Part of the goal is to make a more enticing space and encourage them to stay on the property,” said Palatnik, who also promised to hire a liaison to handle neighborhood concerns.
Ocean View residents we spoke to echoed some — though not all — of the Coney residents’ concerns. Sal Pepe, who we found feeding feral cats on the Boardwalk, said he has lived at the home for five years and complained of other residents constantly bumming cigarettes and money for coffee off of him. But Pepe said the staff washes his clothes, feeds him, and gives him his medication regularly.
“The people who live there suck, but the staff is alright,” said Pepe, who was wearing clean garments and appeared to have had a shave in the past 48 hours.
Two-year resident Chris Arrington, who was smoking outside the building when we visited, also reported getting fed and cleaned on a regular basis — but echoed Harding’s concerns about fights breaking out inside, saying that building personnel tend to stick to the ground floor even though residents get into brawls on the fifth floor about once a month. Arrington, who said he had avoided ever getting into an altercation personally, suggested that Ocean View hire more staff to manage the wild ones.
“Maybe they should get more people. Then it wouldn’t be as dangerous as it is now,” Arrington said.
Ocean View’s current plans are to hire just two more staffers to help with the additional 24 residents.Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderma
©2013 Community News Group
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