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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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#2: After 2-04-12 meeting

For immediate release

Community expresses concerns about NYS Closure of Middlesex Group Home

FLDDSO Director Bombarded with Questions

Building momentum, approximately 100 residents of the rural small community of Middlesex NY gathered the second consecutive Saturday at the Middlesex Fire Hall on Feb. 4th at 10am to hear how Director Michael Feeney and his Deputy Assistant and Director of Program Operations at the Finger Lakes DDSO, Sherilyn Coleman-Ferrer, would address the many concerns of residents about closing the state-owned Middlesex IRA Group Home and the disruption of the lives of the 9 disabled individuals residing within, and their families.

Angry residents grilled Mr. Feeney, Deputy Assistant Ms. Sherilyn Coleman-Ferrer, and Group Home and Team Leader Mr. John Garlock for over an hour with questions and statements relating their frustration over how the Group Home occupants and their families had been mistreated and unsupported in what seemed to be a trickle down impact from the proposed future closing of Monroe Developmental Center in Rochester and a restructuring of the entire 13 Districts within NYS DDSO network from a directive from Commissioner Burke’s office.  Feeney’s Deputy Asst. confirmed knowledge of the Group Home closing as far back as Nov. 25th, yet it took weeks for that knowledge of the closing to be relayed to occupants’ families and legal guardians, and about two months before town officials and area residents found out.

Dismay and more concern mounted as Mr. Feeney spoke of possibilities of integrating/rehabilitating the slated population stated to include (6-8) Level 3 patients from the MDC Campus, believed to be sex offenders, over time into the community.  It was stated that the exact completion date of the move was not known at this time.  Members of the community remained skeptical and especially expressed concern about community and area visitors’ safety.  They also wondered how long occupants had been living at a site deemed so unsafe they had to label it an emergency closing. if the site is so unsafe that occupants must be moved, how long those occupants have supposedly been in danger?

Residents applauded when Town Supervisor Robert Multer read a statement in opposition, arguing several relevant points.  He stated that he is committed to upholding the well-being of the Town of Middlesex and plans to pursue opposition.  He argued that any intent of the state to house sex offenders at this house was not in keeping with the original intended use when NYS purchased the property.  The proposed use will forever negatively impact the well-being and character of the surroundings. 

Family members of a current Middlesex Group Home occupant shared with local Town Officials, early in January, their frustration and anger over inappropriate notification and lack of support from within the FLDDSO system about the relocation of their family member to a far distant location at which their active involvement in her care would become extremely difficult.  Staff from within the home did not have a lot of information either, except to state that the impending closure of the home was due to a deficient fire suppression system and floor plan features which slowed the evacuation process with an elderly wheelchair dependent population.  The first community meeting, on January 28th, resulted from the concerns which rose when State Commissioner Burke’s office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the NYS DDSO network in Albany, offered little communication and no specific answers to questions.  One immediate benefit of the recent meeting was that Mr. Feeney was reported after the meeting to have assured one family their member’s move would be delayed several more weeks.

Community members have also appealed to Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and Senator Tom O’Mara for support in advocating for disabled occupants of the home, assistance in gathering much needed information from the state for family members and investigating possible legal breaches in procedural actions surrounding the closure of the facility.   Those in attendance at that meeting also requested support to stop the relocation of sex offenders from Monroe Developmental Center in Rochester to this Middlesex Group Home, when disabled adults are displaced and relocated in other Group Homes.   Assemblyman Phil Palmesano gave assurance that he and Senator Tom O’Mara would provide support.

Community residents have also appealed to the State’s Consumer Advisory Board and the Office of Mental Hygiene Legal Services. An Attorney from (MHLS) assured that the matter would be reviewed/investigated.

A website, is now available, reflecting the community’s concern for seasonal or vacationing residents who winter away from their summer homes, and know nothing of these developments.  Updates on this story, future community meetings, blank petitions to sign, and other resources are available on this website.


1 Comment

  1. Comments  Carol Williams   |  Wednesday, 08 February 2012 at 10:53 am

    It is with dismay, that I read of the proposed closing of the group home on South Vine Valley Road. I have always, as I passed this group home, thought that it was a lovely place for the people with disabilities to live. For those individuals, that have been burdened with challenges beyond our comprehension, to live in a beautiful place has given me some assurance in the goodness of man.

    With this current assault, and there are many, it is with deep dismay that I am once again witnessing the strong savaging the weak. So like government and uncaring individuals, and I use them in the same thought, to so disregard the community, and the inhabitants of our beloved special needs home. Disgust is not a strong enough word.

    And so, I lift my voice in unision with my neighbors and decry this unfair, but not unpresidented, miscarriage of justice. For if we cannot speak for those in need, who will speak for us?

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