State says group home purchase was fair price – QNS.com

State says group home purchase was fair price

The operators of this group home paid fair market value when they purchased this Royal Ranch home for $870,000, according to documents provided by state Sen. Frank Padavan's office. Photo by Howard Koplowitz
By Howard Koplowitz

The $870,000 sale of a Royal Ranch house bought by the operators of a group home from the parents of a staffer to state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) was of fair value, the state said in a letter written to Padavan two years ago and provided to TimesLedger Newspapers from the senator’s office last week.

Cindy Markopoulos, who lives near the group home for autistic teenagers at 70-25 267th St. and complained of incidents at the residence, claimed the house was worth around $500,000 and purchased in the high-$800,000 range. She cited two cases in which a client stabbed a group home employee and another in which a teen sneaked into a neighbor’s backyard to perform a sexual act.

Markopoulos said outside her home two weeks ago she believed Padavan was involved in the sale, calling it “an inside job.”

But the senator said he had no connection to the deal.

“These people sold their house” by themselves, Padavan said.

Royal Ranch resident Michael Goldstein wrote to state Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Diana Jones Ritter in January 2008, saying he was concerned that the house was “worth significally less in this market” than the $870,000 offer from the Association for the Help of Retarded Children, which is running the group home. Goldstein called for the agency to investigate.

Ritter wrote to Padavan in April 2008, saying there were 21 comparable sales between April 2006 and April 2007 within one mile of the 267th Street property and the prices ranged between $730,000 and $1.245 million with an average price of $936,365.

Outside appraisers examined nearby properties and Ritter said the Office of Mental Retardation reviewed the estimates “and concurred that the purchase price of $870,000 for this home was well supported as of the valuation date of April 10, 2007.”

Royal Ranch residents said they were frustrated by the group home, which opened in February, because of the numerous incidents.

But a community meeting was arranged last month and Padavan said he was the only elected official from the area to attend and that AHRC had taken steps to improve the situation, including firing three employees and moving three of the six teens elsewhere.

Padavan conceded AHRC “screwed up in terms of how they ran this particular home,” saying autistic teenagers “have a propensity to do inappropriate things and they need very close supervision.”

The senator said the clients were not getting that supervision.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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