There is hope that the , which sits only feet away from Westhampton Pines, a 55 and over community where many grandchildren visit, could be shuttered within three months, according to Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.
Schneiderman said he has a resolution on the agenda for a meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature in Riverhead on April 24 to close the Westhampton trailer, which is packed nightly with at least 15 sex offenders. If the measure is approved, the trailer could be closed in 60 days.
However, Schniderman said, a second East End trailer, located in Riverside will not be closing anytime soon. The closing of that trailer, said Schniderman does not have enough support within the legislature because they believe it is in a secure location near the jail.
That does not sit well the community or with Schniderman.
“We’re trying to revitalize Riverhead, with the aquarium, libraries and other children’s events – and here’s the county bringing their sex offenders," he said.
The arrest of , a convicted sex offender who was living at the Budget Host Inn, not in a sex offender trailer, in Riverhead last week reignited concerns amongst parents and residents about the proximity of convicted pedophiles to their children. Bown also has a history of arrests in Hampton Bays.
“These people have suffered enough,” said Schneiderman. “The trailers were never supposed to be in these communities for more than two weeks and here we are, five years later. They shouldn’t be placed so close to any residence. People should be able to sleep at night.”
During the next few weeks, Schneiderman hopes to rally parents in both Riverhead and Westhampton.
“I want the community to play an active role to make sure we’re heard by the administration,” he said. "I want both those trailers closed."
The county is currently working on a plan to house sex offenders through a new mini shelter program under which a series of smaller shelters would house only six sex offenders each, rather than the 20 that currently fill the two trailers each night, with some overflow being sent to a hotel in western Suffolk County. Each shelter would have 24-hour supervision.
But, that plan has not gained traction because former County Executive Steve Levy, Schneiderman said, refused to indemnify the contractor chosen for the project, who asked that his legal fees be covered by the county, should lawsuits emerge over the construction of the new shelter sites.
Should the initiative go forward under new County Executive Steve Bellone, plans could include least four mini shelters, none of which are sited on the East End – for now, said Schneiderman.
“There will probably be a fifth and a sixth shelter, and one of those last two will probably be on the East End,” Schneiderman said, adding that he does not yet know where that shelter would be situated but that it would not be located in a residential area.
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