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Letter: Sunshine Responds To Concerns Over New Castle Expansion

A rendering of the proposed expansion of Sunshine Children's Home And Rehab Center in New Castle.
A rendering of the proposed expansion of Sunshine Children's Home And Rehab Center in New Castle. Photo Credit: Contributed

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The Chappaqua Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send signed letters to chappaqua@dailyvoice.com.

The following is a letter to the editor from Sunshine Children's Home and Rehabilitation Center:

The Sunshine Children’s Home, which specializes in the care and treatment of medically complex children (all who require long-term residential care and many whose lives are terminal), stands on 33-acres of land for the past 55 years. The current building serves 54 children, but there are more than 70 additional children on the waitlist.

There’s been a great deal of misinformation, rumors and questions about this expansion circulating amongst the public to date. Here are some of the facts and answers to these questions.

Q: Does Sunshine has secret plans to expand to 500 beds?

A: Sunshine received a NY State Certificate of Need to expand to 122 beds. They will not and cannot expand beyond that number.

Q: Is Sunshine’s ownership is only interested in profits and makes money off of sick children?

A: Ari Friedman, dba Sunshine Children's Home and Rehab Center, purchased what was then called St. Mary's in 2009 to save the facility, which was run down from closing, so that his critically ill children would still have a place to live. His twin sons still live there full-time today. His sole purpose was to guarantee a future home for his children and other children alike. He has invested millions of dollars of his own money to fund the operations, as well to invest in improvements.

Q: Will this expansion deplete the water supply of all the homes in the area?

A: All studies prove that the expansion will not impact the existing aquifer or adjacent property owners. Additional measures have been added to the project to reduce well water usage for the expanded facility. In fact, studies show that there is more water available than actually needed. In addition, to reduce the need of irrigation water from the existing on site wells, a storage chamber will be provided to capture roof water for reuse as irrigation water. The chamber will provide 42,000 gallons of storage which is equivalent to 1 inch of rainfall from the proposed facility roof. The accumulated water will be pumped to the irrigation system.

Q: Will there be significant issues with wetlands?

A: VHB evaluated potential wetlands based on USACE Wetlands Delineation Manual (the method required by the Town Code), in which VHB determined that the area in question was not a wetland, based on the vegetation, soil and hydrology conditions that were observed. Further, the area of water indicated on the mapping was a seasonal accumulation of water resulting from a failed drainage system. Once the system was repaired, the seasonal accumulation stopped occurring.

Q: Will there will be a extreme increase in traffic?

A: The application’s traffic study shows that the proposed project will not result in any significant adverse impacts on traffic. No existing levels of service in the town or surrounding areas will change as a result of the project.

Q: Is the current Indian Point Evacuation Plan inadequate?

A: The Sunshine Children’s Home has worked with both the Department of Health and the Westchester Office of Emergency Management on the formulation of their Indian Point Evacuation Plan. A preliminary update of this plan to reflect a new projected census has been drafted and will follow the same approval process as the previous plan, which includes working with nearby hospitals and nursing homes to jointly handle evacuations, and covers both the shelter and the transportation of residents. It also includes a Shelter in Place response which details specific contingencies for incidents at Indian Point.

Q: Does Sunshine really need to expand as much as proposed?

A: Even with all of the unique requirements necessary to provide for the proper care of the special needs pediatric population, the overall size of the facility at 128,451 square feet, serving 122 children equates to only 1,052 square feet per child. This compares to new geriatric skilled nursing homes that are designed to current NYSDOH standards and code requirements that average 800 to 900 square feet per resident with no spatial requirement for added education centers, age appropriate households, parental and physician support areas, and enhanced maintenance/equipment needs.

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