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Massapequan Fights To Care For Kids

After enduring harsh barbs from some of her neighbors on N. Maple Street in North Massapequa, Annette Genco is still fighting to turn her childhood home into a day care center.

Currently living in Long Beach, Genco has poured thousands of dollars into an effort to repair and renovate the house, which she said was in major disrepair. And while most neighbors appreciate her efforts, she said a vocal few have turned her day care dream into a nightmare.

“From what I understand, the people who are complaing have nothing left to do with their lives. Who could be against babies?” said Genco. “I am doing everything 100 percent legal. I’m getting every single certification I need. I already got fire and safety approval and we are already registered with the state. We are 90 percent through the application process, but because of my lovely neighbors, my contractors had to stop working on the house.”

Neighbors against the day care center went to the Oyster Bay Town Board to halt construction on the house. In a statement, Town Supervisor John Venditto said the town is not against day care centers but to protect the public health, safety and welfare of children, as well as the surrounding community, there are rules and regulations that must be followed, including the town’s zoning regulations and building codes.

“At this time, there are a number of unanswered questions with the proposed day care center in North Massapequa,” said Venditto. “We are currently in the process of collecting information to determine whether or not the town’s zoning authority is applicable. With that being said, the town’s building code always applies to ensure that the structure is safe and sound. Ultimately, as is typical of the Town of Oyster Bay, the Town and its departments will do the right thing by the entire community.”

In establishing a day care center, Genco is trying to do the right thing by her mother, who she said inspired the idea for a day care center.

“My mother loved children and she would find any excuse to invite the neighborhood children over the house,” said Genco. “This is something that I knew my mother would love from up on high.”

Genco said the day care center is also a dream of her caregiver of three years.

“When my father passed, I said let me do this for my mom and my caregiver,” she said. “This is a private day care center for working professionals. This is not a low-income thing that is going to bring a bad element into the neighborhood.”

Genco said neighhors’ complaints about traffic have no basis. She said mothers would drop their child off at the center at 7 or 8 a.m. and then head to work. They would come back at 6 or 7 p.m. to pick them up. Plus, she said has a driveway that holds six cars, so there would be no cars parked on the street as the day care center would only care for eight infants at a time.

“Moreover, the parents wouldn’t be there for more than 10 minutes,” she said. “And these are people who would be able to afford private health care. This is not some slum.”

The next step in the process for Genco is to hire an arbitrator to fight those opposed to her day care center, which she dubbed “Connie’s Place” after her mother. This, of course, will cost Genco more money — but it is a price she is more than willing to pay.

“It is going to take years to make up what I’m spending, but I’m not in it for the money,” she said. “I’m in it for the love and respect I have for both my mother and my caregiver. I’m trying to help my caregiving, a mother with three kids, have her dream come true. I’m also trying to bring the laughter back into the house where I grew up and give mommies and daddies a safe place to keep their babies while they go off to work. So what’s wrong with that?”