By Jake Palmateer
State officials are moving ahead with plans to open a home for mentally retarded and developmentally disabled adults in Laurens.
David Breese, an administrator for the Broome Developmental Disabilities Service Office, said Tuesday a home on West Street Extension will be ready for occupancy this spring. Breese’s office is the regional affiliate of the state Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.
Town of Laurens Supervisor Oscar Oberkircher said that despite initial concerns when the plans were announced a year ago, he has not heard of any opposition to the home from his constituents.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]"Usually, if someone has a problem, they come and tell us about it," Oberkircher said.
Breese said 10 adults living at 85 Chestnut St. in Oneonta will be relocated to the home, which is owned by the state.
The state has been leasing the Chestnut Street house, Breese said.
Oberkircher said state officials pledged to make an effort to have the home blend into the community.
"They said that when they were going to build it, they were going to maintain the character of the neighborhood," Oberkircher said.
Breese said the residence is a converted single-family home built three or four years ago. He said it is being reconfigured to meet the safety needs of the Chestnut Street residents.
State officials have previously said the Chestnut Street residents are high-functioning and have lived in Oneonta for some time.
"Most of them have lived there for years and years," Breese said. "This will be a much better setting for them."
The Chestnut Street house is old and drafty, Breese said, and the new residence will be more modern.
About the same time the state announced plans for the home in Laurens, concern also arose over the possibility of sex offenders living in another Broome DDSO facility in the town of Oneonta.
But Oneonta Town Supervisor Duncan Davie said last week that he has toured the Broome DDSO group home on the Homer Folks campus on West Street and considers it safe.
"It’s a very secure building," Davie said. He said he was not aware of any sex offenders living there, and he said he has also not heard from any constituents about concerns they may have with the residential facility.
Breese said he couldn’t discuss issues relating to sex offenders who may or may not be living at the Homer Folks facility and referred questions to the Broome DDSO executive office.
The Broome DDSO executive office referred the inquiry to Deborah Sturm Rausch, an official at the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities in Albany, who did not return four calls for comment.
The state sex-offender notification law pertains only to those convicted in court.
Someone who has sexually assaulted another person, but was found incompetent to stand trial, would not be on the sex-offender registry, Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl said last year.