On Wednesday, Aug. 6, concerned Lysander residents held an informational meeting at the Baldwinsville Public Library to oppose construction of a mental health facility in their area.
Toomey Residential and Community Services Corporation, a not-for-profit agency and an affiliate of Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, purchased land at 3493 Doyle Road from Nancy Abbott. The plan is to build an eight-bed community residence for boys ages 7 to 13, who have been diagnosed with mental health and/or behavioral issues.
About 40 people gathered in the library’s community room to watch Doyle Road resident William Penn present a slideshow, titled “A Chronological Presentation of the Toomey-Lysander Doyle Road Mental Health Facility Plan.”
Penn began with a visual timeline spanning the years 2011 through 2014, to highlight what he felt were the events leading up to the approval of the facility.
“We think the government was aware for a long time that this Toomey interest was active,” Penn said.
Penn’s presentation centered on the March 2013 letter sent to Lysander officials in which Toomey notified the town of the project. From that date, New York Mental Hygiene Law 41.34 gave the town 40 days to support, oppose or offer an alternate site for the project. The allotted time passed with no response by the town.
“This is the heart of the matter,” Penn said.
On April 23, 2014 the Lysander Town Board held a public informational meeting, where Toomey representatives reportedly had difficulty getting through their presentation due to heated interjections by residents.
Five days later, the board opened discussion during its regular meeting. With a proposal by Councilor Robert Geraci, the board tabled a motion to write a letter to the New York State representatives regarding community input into the building of group homes.
“Face-to-face research that we have done reveals that a heavy majority of residents living on or near Doyle Road were completely unaware of the Toomey proposal …” Penn said. “We believe … a law needs to be revised to give residents more say in what is allowed there by zoning.”