DDSO dominates public discussion

In the last month, the word CPIC has been spoken in the same breath as the Taconic Development Disabilities Services Offices (DDSO) which is located in the hamlet of Wassaic.

Residents have expressed concerns that the facility will change its format so hardened criminals, such as pedophiles, can be housed there.

Some have also speculated that CPIC wants the campus closed so the parcel can be turned into housing or retail space.

Alan Shope owns a 450-acre parcel in the hamlet which contains his Listening Rock Farm, as well as a portion of the DDSO campus that has fallen into disrepair in recent years.

Many have surmised that Shope wants the campus closed so he can buy the remainder of it and start developing.

Since the Feb. 15 Town Board meeting, Public Employee Federation Regional Coordinator Neila Cardus has said time and again that the facility is not closing, nor changing its format.

"My problem is that there are at least 12 references to closure in here," Euvrard said as the crowd responded with thunderous applause. "There needs to be a lot of changes in this."

"Obviously, it shouldn’t say ‘former,’" Reagon agreed. "Editing may need to be made."

Amenia resident and former Councilman Bill Carroll said the town should focus on reviving the hamlet centers in Amenia and Wassaic, not create a new one at the DDSO.

"I just hope that you take a good look at it," he stressed.

Shope took the podium to assure the audience that he isn’t calling for closure of the DDSO and he has no intention of developing his half of the campus.

However, he did say that if the DDSO closed, he would like to "put the two halves back together" by buying the remainder of the property and possibly developing it.

"But one half, no," he emphasized.

Toward the end of the meeting, which ran over three hours, Cardus took the podium to speak on behalf of the clients the DDSO serves.

The Town Board has long said that it’s been extremely difficult to gather information on the status of the facility, which was rumored to be closed last decade.

Not so, said Cardus.

At the bottom of the town of Amenia’s Web site, there is a link to the state of New York’s Web page.

On that site, there’s a wealth of information about the facility, said Cardus, who noted that none of the text hints to closure or a change in format.

"I didn’t even have to search for it," she said.

After the three-minute public comment threshold had passed, Cardus said this:

"I will talk to my last breath to defend these clients, no, citizens. We do not apologize for them," she said.

— Patrick Boisi

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