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Abinanti Reads to Kids, Open Door Seeks Help

It was a Reach and Read event at Open Door and the moral of the story was: help us move into our new building so we can do more of this sort of work.

Open Door’s CEO Lindsay Farrell was once more optimistic () with her anticipated timeframe for Sleepy Hollow family medical center’s move down the road.

Now after many hired experts and lawyer fees, she said, “We’re realistic, we know it could take years.”

Still, her stance is unapologetically: help.

“Can you help us?” she asked guests at Wednesday’s reading on Beekman for village children, with special guest Assemblyman Tom Abinanti.

Abinanti, up for reelection this year and with his office based in Tarrytown, read Five Monkeys Jumping on the Bed to several children and their parents, while a worker at Open Door alternated with him in Spanish.

It was a special story time promoting the Reach and Read Program, whose goal is, according to their literature, to "partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together." The director of the Greater New York Chapter Traci Lester was on hand for the event which would include an introduction to the program by way of stories and free goody bag (with book) for the kids as well as a tour of the center.

This Open Door location predominantly serves the Spanish-speaking community and has outgrown this space. But as eager they are to move into the nice renovated building they own at the intersection of New and North Broadway, they’ve been careful not to outgrow their patience.

Having gone before the Sleepy Hollow Planning Board and the public several times, they have been sent over to the Zoning Board to seek the variance required on their parking situation. Meanwhile, happening on parallel tracks is the certificate of need they’ve filed with the state. In order to construct they need to get the certificate, and to get the certificate they need Village approval…thus the limbo they find themselves in.

Farrell said it’s that adjacent Webber Park neighborhood – and “a couple very vocal members” therein – whose objections are holding them back.

“But the Village can’t turn us down because a neighborhood doesn’t want us,” Farrell said. “The Board does their due diligence and they've noted that we’ve accommodated all they’ve asked for.”

Abinanti was eager to learn how he might help in the struggle, as he and Farrell chatted after the reading. The big posters with the picture of the new facility saying “Support” leaned against the front desk – one in English and one in Spanish – which had also made an appearance at the Sleepy Hollow Street Fair.

“It’s challenging,” said Farrell afterward, “because politicians want to be liked by everyone.”

Though she mentioned Mayor Ken Wray has also been supportive of their cause, he likely will "keep a low profile," said Farrell, since he too lives in that neighborhood.

Open Door had gathered hundreds of names to submit to the Planning Board and don’t anticipate that they’ll have to do this again, but Farrell said writing a letter on their behalf to the Village is always welcome. She was glad for the debate that her young intern's Jeffrey Guzman's letter on Patch stirred.

She also welcomed people to visit their other similar locations (namely Mt. Kisco and Portchester, which it took them years to open as well) and not just judge them by the “dingy exterior” of the space on Beekman which they don’t own. “We’re not proud of this facility; it’s not reflective of us. You’ll see that we’re good neighbors.”

Part of their neighborliness is their committment to programs such as Reach Out and Read, said Farrell.

Doctors prescribe books within their exam rooms, and there’s always a library of books available free to kids in the waiting room.

And wait they will. "The great news is, we got in elsewhere [speaking of the Mt. Kisco and Portchester locations that also had opposition]; we went through the process and it worked for us before," Farrell said. "We’ll see.”

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Krista Madsen September 21, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Of course not, but that's the population they predominantly serve here because they live here.
John Anderson September 21, 2012 at 04:00 PM
You mean the taxi service does not get ticketed for overnight parking??? That's Sleepy Hollow for you !! I guess the village has enough money, why increase revenue?
Wonderboy September 21, 2012 at 04:05 PM
While everyone else waits for "Obamacare", the immigrant population, legal or not, walks in a gets whatever they want even if they earn $120 a day off the books and claim "I make no money". Comparing the Open door near webber park to the location in Ossining and Mt. Kisco is like comparing apples to oranges. I hope a lot of people sold their houses and got out a couple of years ago.
Krista Madsen September 21, 2012 at 05:47 PM
@ Carol, I'm surprised you heard that about them not being to care for you if you had insurance. I actually choose to go to Open Door in Ossining (where they have prenatal care, they don't here) over other options WITH my Oxford insurance because they had midwives, which is the way I wanted to go about it. Had a great experience there.
LiteracyAdvocate September 24, 2012 at 12:58 PM
The people at Open Door do wonderful work through the Reach Out and Read program. Providing access to books to kids who might night otherwise have it, means that they can be better prepared to start kindergarten ready to learn to read.

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