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OpinionEditorial

Glen Cove should allow home for women with eating disorders

There’s a desperate need for residential facilities for eating disorders.

A house on St. Andrews Lane in Glen

A house on St. Andrews Lane in Glen Cove, Jan. 25, 2018. Some residents oppose a for-profit company's plan to house and treat women with eating disorders. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

There’s a Colonial house in Glen Cove that sits on more than an acre on a residential corner near a Long Island Rail Road station. It has six bedrooms, four full and two half bathrooms, a detached three-car garage with a guest suite above it, and plenty of grassy space on all sides. And it could become a haven for up to 14 adult women suffering from eating disorders. If only area residents and city officials wouldn’t stand in the way.

Monte Nido & Affiliates hopes to buy the house on St. Andrews Lane and create a place where residents could overcome the horrors of anorexia nervosa, bulimia and other disorders. These women would prepare and share meals, participate in group and individual therapy, do yoga, and take classes in nutrition and other topics. Monte Nido officials said the organization would continue to pay taxes on the property, which the house’s for-sale listings estimate at above $23,500.

In what is sadly not a surprise, and a near-caricature of the Long Island way of saying no, neighbors and city officials are objecting. They worry about cars in the driveway, traffic or the character of the neighborhood — a residential area where several other homes include businesses, from doctor’s offices to a funeral home, and where Glen Cove Hospital is less than a mile away.

They want the facility placed somewhere else — anywhere else.

But there’s a desperate need for residential facilities for eating disorders. Long Island has none for adults and just one, in East Quogue, for adolescents, according to Sondra Kronberg, who runs outpatient facilities in Hauppauge and Jericho and is a founding member of the National Eating Disorders Association. Experts estimate that as many as 97,000 Long Islanders suffer from eating disorders. When they need residential care, they often have to leave the area. The Glen Cove property offers an option near families. And while there will be more activity around the home, Monte Nido officials said they’ll minimize disruptions. Parking, for instance, would be out of view.

A city council hearing on the facility is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. It’s a terrific opportunity for new Mayor Timothy Tenke and the council to show leadership and compassion and support the proposal, even if some residents won’t ever be on board. Tenke so far has hedged, expressing concerns but saying he hopes to find a “happy resolution.” This is a moment to lead.

The operators are likely to be able to site the facility even if the city says no, thanks to a state law, called the Padavan law, which prevents communities from blocking such group homes except under very limited circumstances. This is not a fight worth making.

Across Long Island, including in Glen Cove, eating disorders touch the lives of tens of thousands of teens, adults and families. Yet treatment facilities of all types are turned down because neighborhood residents often assume that accommodating them is some other place’s job. Glen Cove certainly should thoroughly vet the operators and their plans. Negotiate details if necessary, but recognize that a strong community is a place that is strong enough to welcome people who need help. — The editorial board

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