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Katonah Group Home Assures Use, Site's Future

The site of the proposed Katonah group home.
The site of the proposed Katonah group home. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

(This is Daily Voice's second story on the Town Board's vote. For the first one, click here.)

BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y. -- The list of assurances given by the provider of a proposed Katonah group home, which were consented to by the Bedford Town Board, include an array of details on the property’s usage, governance and potential future.

In a Monday letter, William Ursillo, chief operating officer of Cardinal McCloskey Community Services, said that it is not his organization’s intention to allow sexual offenders or people with substance abuse disorders.

Several neighbors of the proposed group home’s location, which is at 4 Old Mill Lane, expressed concern at the Town Board’s meeting meeting about a repeat of an incident in the upstate town of West Seneca. The incident, according to multiple news reports from the area, involved the addition of seven sex offenders to two group homes. Some speakers feared that the state’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) would approve a change, in effect overruling CMCS.

Ursillo, in the letter, addresses the role of OPWDD in such a matter.

“It is our understanding that the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities does not have the authority to require CMCS to accept such populations and indeed CMCS would not do so at the proposed home.”

Last week, a lawsuit against OPWDD was filed by state Assemblyman Michael Kearns, who represents West Seneca. He is seeking a release of documents requested from OPWDD. Copies of his suit were brought to the meeting.

Ursillo’s letter also notes the intention of CMCS to operate the home for four people with developmental disabilities. Several neighbors have voiced concern that the population could be increased.

The Town Board gave consent to the assurances when it voted on Sept. 29 to allow Supervisor Chris Burdick to countersign Ursillo’s letter. Ursillo already signed the document. The vote came after Town Attorney Joel Sachs gave a legal opinion, explaining that a countersigning meant there was a binding agreement.

Prior to the vote, some residents questioned the credibility of the assurances.

“It should object until it gets a proper assurance,” said Marianne O'Toole, who worried about a population increase and dismissed Ursillo's letters.

The Monday letter came following a previous one from Ursillo, dated Sept. 24, and a Sept. 18 letter from CMCS attorney Joshua Grauer. Assurances from either of the letters include not having marked vehicles, operating the home as if it was a single-family residence, comply with state building and fire codes, comply with town laws and to have the a Residential Director act as a liaison to the town.

Ursillo, in the Monday letter, explained that the assurances supplement what was submitted previously, including the Sept. 18 and Sept. 24 letters.

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