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december 11, 2015


It’s never too late

The Inquirer was heartened to see a group of Scarsdale residents stand up and distinguish themselves from the board of trustees’ decision to oppose an eating disorder treatment facility for adolescent girls currently slated for the house at 2 Morris Lane. These residents correctly pointed out the vast majority of resident complaints heard at the Nov. 24 meeting of the trustees Law and Land Use committees were irrelevant to the issue at hand that night: whether or not the village had legitimate grounds to object to the facility under the state’s Padavan law.

While the Inquirer would never advocate for less debate and discourse — the residents in opposition to the treatment center had every right to be heard — it was disappointing to see a board vote that appeared not to have separated the wheat from the chaff with respect to what was germane to the issue Nov. 24. No one can know what’s in another person’s heart, so, if the six trustees on the dais that night truly believe there are too many similar facilities in the village to the one for-profit, Malibu-based Monte Nido has planned for 2 Morris Lane, then the Inquirer would have to agree they voted correctly.

But if, as trustees Deborah Pekarek and Marc Samwick told the Inquirer after they voted “with a heavy heart” to oppose the treatment center, the tangential, nonessential and speculative concerns of residents against the facility — however genuinely felt — were at the core of the decision to oppose Monte Nido, the Inquirer believes those were the wrong votes cast for the wrong reasons.

As the Inquirer does not have a lawyer on staff, it cannot say with any degree of certitude how state Commissioner of Mental Health Ann Marie Sullivan will rule when this matter appears before her or her agent. But, as the vocal group of residents at the Dec. 8 trustees meeting — and former Scarsdale Forum president Robert Berg before them — pointed out, a layman’s reading of the Padavan law would seem to leave the village no standing to object to Monte Nido’s proposal on the oversaturation grounds it has.

But nothing is impossible.

And since that’s the case, perhaps it’s not too late for the village to withdraw its objection to the adolescent eating disorder treatment facility, either officially or unofficially, and put this matter behind everyone involved just in time for the holidays.

Scarsdale is a community unique among those on the other side of its borders in many respects. People work their whole lives to get here, others are to the village born and dedicate themselves to keeping it the village in a park they’ve always loved. The village’s schools are a magnet for those who want their children to have a great chance to do great things. There are currently seven people, succeeding dozens before them, who serve Scarsdale as its mayor and trustees for no compensation, be it monetary or in the form of thanks from a public opposed to its decisions or a newspaper critical of them.

Scarsdalians are by and large a volunteering people, whether it’s with the Forum, the fire department, the ambulance corps, the League of Women Voters or any of the other groups and foundations whose goal is to make Scarsdale the best it can be.

Perhaps, in between all that hard work and community pride, there is room to spare for eight young girls, taken three months at a time, who, when the maelstrom around the facility that would house them dissipates, need help. They need help and Monte Nido has come to Scarsdale in an attempt to give it to them. Yes, the company will make money from their treatment. And yes, the Inquirer doubts anyone moves anywhere with the dream of living next to a residential group home in mind.

But wouldn’t it be nice, wouldn’t it be kind, wouldn’t it be neighborly and, at the end of the day, wouldn’t it be in the best traditions of Scarsdale to not let a state law do for the village what it could still do for itself and welcome these girls after all?

It’s never too late to do the right thing for the right reason.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of The Scarsdale Inquirer. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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