By Carol Moran
Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman has invited community members to air their thoughts and grievances on the delay in closing two trailers housing homeless convicted sex offenders in Southampton Town at a public meeting tonight at the Riverhead County Center at 7 p.m.
Mr. Scheiderman also said he plans to share what details he knows about Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s plan to close the trailers and address the issue of homeless sex offenders in the county. Mr. Bellone, he said, will announce the details of that plan at a the Suffolk County Legislature Public Safety Committee meeting tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. at the William H. Rogers Building in Hauppauge.
The trailers, one in Riverside and one in Westhampton, house about 40 of the county’s homeless convicted sex offenders. They have been the source of much contention for the town officials and residents who feel they are unfairly shouldering the burden of the county.
In May, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that he would devise a plan to have the trailers removed by the start of 2013, although that did not come to fruition. Instead, he renewed his promise to reveal a more comprehensive plan that would not only address the trailers, but would also tackle the issue of the homeless in general in the county on a more widespread level.
Mr. Schneiderman said he expects that the plan will seek to distribute the homeless sex offenders evenly throughout the county, and will allow for greater monitoring of their locations. He said the Suffolk County Police Department and Parents for Megan’s Law, a not-for-profit dedicated to the prevention of child sex abuse, will work closely with the county administration to implement the plan and track the offenders.
Mr. Bellone will introduce the plan to the Suffolk County Legislature with a certificate of necessity, which will expedite the process and allow the Legislature to vote on a resolution at a meeting on February 5, Mr. Schneiderman said. However, he explained that the resolution will then need 12 votes, a super majority, rather than the 10 that are normally required to pass a resolution.
“The con basically is that you have all these legislators who really aren’t inclined to solve this problem because it’s convenient for them to have this problem isolated on the East End,” he said. “So any movement away from that is a movement toward another sex offender in their community. So that’s kind of an inherent problem.”
In 2011, the county announced that a new program had been devised that involved six permanent residences for homeless sex offenders, each housing up to six individuals. Mr. Scheiderman said he believed that plan had been put on the back burner as a second option if Mr. Bellone’s plan does not pass.