Libous: Closing the Broome Developmental Center is dangerous

By Matt Porter

August 6, 2013 Updated Aug 7, 2013 at 10:09 AM EDT

Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) In the end of July, New York state announced it would close several developmental disability facilities including one in Broome County.

The Broome Developmental Center is slated to close at the end of March 2016 as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's restructuring of the state's developmental health resources.

The center has served to help children and adults with Down Syndrome, autism, and other developmental disorders.

But the center also includes adults ordered by the court to live in the facility and others considered unable to return to the community.

Senator Thomas Libous (R-52nd) said that population shouldn't be let go.

"We have a dangerous population at the developmental center," Libous said. "There are a number of individuals we do not want in the community."

The senator said he was caught off guard by the announcement from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

"We've been given no information other than a statement by the commissioner's office that the jobs will be preserved," he said. "I've been around too long to accept that.

The center serves 166 people and has 692 full-time positions.

New York CSEA spokesperson Stephen Madarasz said the closure is part of a trend of moving state-run services to private organizations.

"Unfortunately, the Andrew Cuomo administration has made no commitment to a future for state-operated community services," Madarasz said.

The state office runs 80 percent of its services through private non-profits and the other 20 percent are provided by state-run services.

The state said workers will be offered similar jobs elsewhere, but union officials say those jobs are often in other counties.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-123rd) said when people move away for those jobs, cities and counties lose crucial tax sources for vital services.

She agreed with Libous there are also too many dangerous clients to close the facility entirely.

"It's not all clear to me what will happen to those people, where they will be going," Lupardo said, "Along with the employees who serve them."

The state said two facilities will remain open in New York.

The Sunmount Campus on Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks and the Valley Ridge campus in Norwich.

The office will reserve about 150 beds at those two facilities combined.

The state said by closing facilities like the Broome Developmental Center and moving people into more community integrated environments like homes, the cost of care is reduced by 50 percent.

The office said doing so is part of a federal mandate to provide services to people with developmental disabilities in the most integrated setting.