WEST SENECA, NY - Town Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan is expressing outrage after convicted sex offenders, previously housed in a secured facility, were moved by New York State into a residential neighborhood in her town.
Worse, she says she and her constituents were never told in advance of plans to place them there.
"It's just disturbing, and it should be to everyone who hears this," Meegan told WGRZ-TV on Wednesday.
In early January, New York State placed seven developmentally disabled men into two houses on Leydecker Road, which the state recently acquired and turned into group homes.
The seven men, however, also happen to be registered sex offenders.
A police report indicates the state notified the West Seneca Police of the sex offenders moving in...and that police responded to the home on January 3 to register them at their new addresses for their files.
However, under current state law, the state was not obligated to inform the supervisor, or the neighbors.
"This is absolutely disappointing," Meegan remarked, in regard to the fact her office was not notified beforehand.
Especially because up until early last month, Meegan noted, the individuals had been considered dangerous enough to be housed in a secure facility, in suburban Rochester, until it was closed at the end of December as part of a statewide effort to save money and to de-institutionalize those with severe developmental disabilities.
The matter was first brought to Meegan's attention, when she was approached by reporter Brett Davidsen of WHEC-TV in Rochester, who had been following the whereabouts of those displaced by the closing of the Monroe Developmental Center.
"There's a difference between group homes for developmentally disabled adults, and dangerous sexual predators, said Meegan. "These are not secured facilities. Where they came from was not another residence, but rather a place with a domed fence and a sally port, where you had to get through a secured door and an officer to enter or exit. In these homes, you just pull into the driveway turn a door handle."
"I was horrified," said Phyillis Barker, who along with her husband and 2 teenage daughters, lives in a home directly across the street from one of the homes now housing sex offenders.
Barker says her daughter used to wait at the end of the driveway for her school bus, but no longer does because of the groups of men who sometimes assemble and smoke cigarettes just across the road.
"Now she waits in the house for her school bus, and now every morning I have her text me to make sure she got on the bus okay. My husband and I are just devastated.
"This is scary stuff," said Meegan. "We have many families in that neighborhood. In two months, (nearby) Sunshine Park opens up for softball…the girls who play are between the ages of ten and sixteen…I mean, come on! They're also within a mile of two catholic schools, a high school and a middle school…I find that disturbing."
Meegan also finds it frustrating that existing town laws regulating where registered sex offenders may live in proximity to such places seem not to apply in this case.
"I'm told state facilities are exempt from our laws," she said, and the group homes, while looking like any other in the residential neighborhood, are technically state facilities.
Meegan has contacted the office of NYS Senator Patrick Gallivan for assistance.
"Albany is making a decision that doesn't impact the, but certainly impacts us," said Meegan. "I have a responsibility to say something. I cannot be complacent… this is incumbent on me to raise and sound the alarm."