Group home identified as a need in Orange County

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:46

    Monroe-Several citizens expressed deep concern about the addition of another group home in the Monroe area and the potential for security issues with its residents. During Monday's Town Board meeting, it was also stated that there appeared to be a deliberate effort to concentrate these homes in the Pine Tree Road and Harriman Heights Road area. Attorney Kevin Dowd explained there was little that could be done to prevent the home from opening. He said the state of New York adopted a public policy, after it began de-institutionalizing patients, preventing communities from zoning out group homes. There are two exceptions that may be considered. The first would be if there were too many group homes in the community and the second is if there is another building, comparable and affordable, that could be used. He stated that both conditions had already been reviewed and the criteria was not met, so the only real reason for this item being on the agenda at Monday's board meeting was to notify the public. Cathy Doyle, Chief Executive Officer for Greystone which will operate the home, was also present and addressed several concerns. She first clarified that the children were not being de-institutionalized. They currently live with their families in Orange County, one specifically from Monroe, and they attend local schools. Their families will take them home on weekends and holidays. She also clarified that the children do not have mental illnesses, but do have trouble communicating. "We do not service people with mental illness, only developmental disabilities." She said they have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder , which impairs their communication skills. This home is located at 46 Post Road and will house six boys ranging in age from seven to 12. They will be under the supervision of trained staff, 24 hours a day seven days a week. They may remain in the home until they are 21 years of age at which time they would be transitioned to an adult facility. The home would then have a vacancy. Greystone has scheduled a meeting to provide information, answer questions and address concerns of local residents. Although formal invitations were provided to residents within a 300 foot radius of the home, the meeting is open to the public. It will be held on Monday, July 14 at 7 p.m. in the John DeAngelis Meeting Room, located at 15 Lake Street. Also discussed during this meeting were issues regarding the newly added Friday Dial-A-Bus route. Originally a bus was available from Warwick for these routes, but they are no longer able to provide this bus due to funding issues. Monroe is now responsible for the bus, and has been providing this particular route since May 7. Monroe will receive all reimbursements and fare box revenue. According to the new agreement, Blooming Grove and Washingtonville will pay Monroe instead of Warwick. Additional drivers will be needed. Councilman Don Weeks felt that the board should progress cautiously with this program, suggesting that they only agree to service through the end of this year and at that time consider participation for 2005 and beyond. The board agreed. Town Supervisor Sandy Leonard added that if all went well she was hoping for a new route, five and a half days per week, from Harriman to the medical center.