SAGAMORE SUPPORTERS: SAY NO TO PILGRIM STATE
Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center is called the dungeon and monstrous. They say, child molesters are housed in it. This adult mental hospital is located in Brentwood and based on Governor George Pataki's new budget proposal, could be receiving dozens of area children currently under treatment at the Dix Hills based Sagamore Children's Center. Sagamore's Board of Visitors, representatives of various state senators and assemblymen, concerned parents and children's rights advocates held an emotional meeting last week to discuss the issue. They are concerned the proposed move could be devastating to the Island's troubled youth. The Office of Mental Health estimates that by merging Sagamore's children into Pilgrim the state could save as much as $40 million over the next five years. Dr. William Barrett, president of Sagamore's Board of Visitors, scoffed at those figures. He said, The state spent $200 million to renovate three buildings at Pilgrim three years ago, now they want to give up one building for the Sagamore children. I want to know if they can just give up a building that they obviously didn't need, why spend $200 million to renovate if money is so tight...so you can save $7 million next year on operating costs? Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents For Megan's Law, was also at the meeting where she questioned the wisdom of placing young patients in such close proximity to a population of mental health patients whose number includes convicted sex offenders. She called the legislature hypocritical for on the one hand passing laws to notify parents when a sex offender lives in the neighborhood, but on the other, approving a measure that would intentionally move children into the same area with some convicted sex offenders. She said, I can't believe the Governor would sign something into law broadcasting where these predators are so people can protect their children, but then turns around and wants to move them together, it's perverse. Many parents and advocates at the meeting suggested that any resident upset with the proposed move write to their local state representative.