As irked residents in Hampton Bays continue to find ways to fight a homeless shelter that the Suffolk County Health Department set up at the Hidden Cove Motel, a community across the bay finds itself in a similar situation.
Like Hampton Bays residents, community members in Wading River are seeing red over a county homeless shelter that popped up at a motel, known as the Wading River Motel.
On a summer night in 2011 — just months before the Hampton Bays shelter opened its doors — Riverhead officials raided the Wading River Motel, which at the time was housing some 30 homeless families, including 59 school-age children — close to 99 people.
During the raid, town officials asked residents to show identification and took photographs of the IDs. They also cited the motel with various code violations.
The Social Services Commissioner then, Gregory Blass, sharply criticized the action. However, Riverhead officials maintained that there were serious safety concerns and vowed to begin legal action.
A — some of which have been fixed — but he has been chastised by the county, forcing him to reneg on his plan to file legal action. He stated that the Town of Riverhead has limited resources to pursue further action and the responsiblity for the safety of homeless people living at the motel lies with the county.
"We've sounded the alarm. The rest is the responsiblity of Social Services and the county. If the place burns down, and if someone gets hurt, we will turn to Social Services and say, 'We told you.'"
In Southampton Town, it was a similar story. When news first broke of Hidden Cove opening as a shelter, Southampton Town Officials stepped up and said they were poised to file legal action — they took a vote at special meeting to authorize legal action.
Then, four months later, the town scrapped its plan to sue the county, saying that after careful research, it has been decided that legal action would not be prudent at this time.
"We are between a rock and a hard place," said Jennifer Garvey, spokeswoman for the town. "All of this is trumped by state law."
The town, will, however, she said, continue to ensure that the Hidden Cove Motel, as well as other motels and hotels are up to code and the town.
Those statements are not enough for one group of residents that joined together in Nov. 2012 to specifically fight the shelter, saying it is a burden on the school district.
Calling themselves, Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays, the group is working on researching the issue.
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