Speaking out against closure of Broome Developmental Center

By Jillian Marshall

November 12, 2013 Updated Nov 13, 2013 at 12:05 AM EST

Town of Fenton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Community members spoke up about how the closure of the Broome Developmental Center would affect their lives and the community.

Parents, employees, family members and possible future caretakers lined up in Chenango Valley High School's auditorium to talk to Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, R-Bainbridge, and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, about the closure.

Representatives from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities said they are downsizing and closing institutions like the developmental center to achieve full community integration.

The center has nearly 700 full-time jobs and serves more than 150 patients with developmental issues.

"The folks that I represent have dedicated their lives to this population and they have made careers out of being there for these folks," said president of SCEA Local 449 Dave Jenkins.

People who spoke Tuesday night said the state is pushing patients out of the center too soon, and they won't be ready for life in a group home or out in the community.

"If you ask some of the individuals that we serve, (they) don't want to go, and it's not because they're brain washed. It's because they're comfortable in this setting," said supervisor of the Broome Developmental Center Troy Carley.

The center is slated to close in March 2016, meaning jobs will have to be relocated and patients will either have to go to Syracuse or a group-home.

Uta Loeffler, mother of a 33-year-old autistic woman, said she wants the center to stay open.

"These people from Broome Developmental, I am terrified if they're let loose," Loeffler said.

Marie Dibble is the Executive Director of Southern Tier Independence Centers. Dibble has a disability and was is in favor of the closure.

"We've heard about jobs, and I'm concerned about people's jobs as well, but people with disabilities do not exist to provide jobs for non-disabled people," Dibble said.

This was the third and final public hearing or forum held for the Assembly members to gather information on the closure of the Broome Developmental Center and the Greater Binghamton Health Center.

Assembly members say they will take all of the information they've collected and present it to legislators and others in Albany, in hopes to change the future of the centers.