By Dave McKinley
Two Different Western New York Communities are taking two different approaches, toward one common goal
BUFFALO - Two separate Western New York communities, are taking two different approaches, toward one common goal; to rid their neighborhoods of sex offenders, placed in group homes by the state, after it closed a secure facility near Rochester late last year.
In Newstead, a group home for persons with developmental disabilities on Rapids Road operated by People Inc. has become the object of attention, after it was discovered that one of its newest residents is a registered sex offender.
At the same time, seven other sex offenders, from the shuttered Rochester area facility, were placed at two adjoining group homes on Leydecker Road in West Seneca.
"We're not a community that is open to places being shut down in far away communities and counties and having those people with criminal records, especially a sex offender, come to our neighborhood," said Newstead Town Councilman Justin Rooney.
Rooney has organized a public meeting set for Wednesday at 7 pm, at the Newstead Town Library, where he says representatives of People Inc. and The NY State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities have agreed to appear and address community concerns.
"They were very responsive (to town officials), we asked them some pointed questions, we're going to go over those questions with the public on Wednesday and hopefully they will continue to be responsive and open to us," Rooney said.
In West Seneca meanwhile, concerns have boiled over into plans for protest marches.
"Personally I'm not stopping until they're gone," said Tony Fischione, who has organized the first of what he promises will be demonstrations every weekend this coming Saturday.
It will begin at Sunshine Park and proceed to where the group homes are located some 600 yards away.
"We're trying to get as many people out here as possible with signs, flags, banners, …whatever we can think of ," said Fischione. "We're sick of it and we're not going to put up with it," he said.