Activists Make Final Push to Save WNY Children's Psychiatric Center
WEST SENECA, N.Y. -- It's considered the culmination of their years of work.
"Going back even a couple of years, we collected like 6,000 postcards and send them to the Office of Mental Health," said Dave Chudy, coordinator of Save Our WNY CPC. "We've had a number of rallies, we've been lobbying."
Nearly two dozen people hopped on the "warrior bus" heading to the state's capital just before 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. The group has around 19 meetings planned with legislators from across the state to keep the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center where it is.
Currently, the State Office of Mental Health has plans to move the children to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center campus.
"Local legislators are very familiar and have been huge advocates for us, some of the downstate ones have heard of us and we want to give them information to hopefully convince them to advocate for us as well," Chudy said.
Some are taking more drastic steps to make sure Gov. Andrew Cuomo hears their battle call.
"The war room is where people go to press their point a little bit more than usual,” said Stephanie McLean-Beathley, Division 167 of NY State Public Employees Federation council president. "They kind of sit and chant and make a lot of noise with the hope that someone will notice them."
The "War Room" is known for being a stop before jail.
"We are going there as our last resort," McLean-Beathley said.
It's their final battle to keep children in their own space. The office of mental health says the new facility will be state of the art and will make millions more in funding, therefore helping more kids.
However, parents who know the benefits of the current facility say less is more.
"The hope that we felt pulling into the grounds, it was secluded, it was quiet, it was peaceful and it made a world of a difference, " said Allison Scanlon, a mother of a former patient.
Allison Scanlon's son, Vernon, spent a total of four years at the child psychiatric center. Now grown, married and with a 5 year old, she says her son wouldn't have gotten the help he needed at BPC.
"You can put as many Mickey Mouse’s on the wall down there, but it's not going to replicate what they can get down here," Scanlon said.
She adds it's not just the kids who would suffer.
"We have talked about how they are pedophiles in the building, I mean that's a mental illness and they have treatment plans," Scanlon said. "What is doing for them?"