Rochester, N.Y. —It isn’t a question of when Monroe Developmental Center will close, but what will happen once it does.
Roughly 90 people with developmental disabilities, some of them with dangerous histories, are set to be moved into community settings December 31.
The Public Employees Federation which represents professionals working at MDC held a press conference Friday to protest the decision to close MDC.
“Some of them have psychiatric histories, criminal histories and they require a very specialized level of specialized care,” said Randi DiAntonio, Council Leader of PEF Division 259.
Republican Assemblyman Mark Johns, who attended the press conference, sided with PEF.
“We cannot allow these types of people to get out on the street into the community as much as we want to main line everybody," said Johns.
Democratic Assemblyman Harry Bronson supports closing MDC, but wants a careful transition.
"Put a plan forward so we can continue the closure but in a way that's going to meet the needs of the individuals, their families and the community," said Bronson.
Disability rights advocate Chris Hilderbrant clashed with PEF members during the press conference. He said PEF was interested in saving union jobs and that the safety issues PEF presented were not realistic.
“Some people do need continued support and service and that is very accomplishable in settings that are not institutions," said Hilderbrant, Chief Operating Officer of the Center For Disability Rights.
The governor’s office said its plan to close MDC is tied to a 1999 Supreme Court decision and its efforts to come into compliance with federal law.
Governor Cuomo’s offices released the following statement:
“For decades, New York State has been integrating individuals with developmental disabilities into appropriate community-based settings both to improve care and treatment as well as comply with federal law. Placement decisions are carefully made on a case by case basis and any individual deemed to be a sex offender or threat to the safety of a community would never be placed in a setting where they could harm themselves or others.”