Supporters Eye Next Move in Fight to Save WNY Children's Psych Center

BUFFALO, N.Y.  — Lawmakers in Albany have done their part, but it might not be enough to keep the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center from closing.

That's why the Save Our WNY CPC Coalition has considered taking legal action.

"We've talked about a lawsuit," said Coalition Coordinator Dave Chudy. "That's really been put on hold right now, because we're hoping the governor really will reconsider, do the right thing and sign that bill."

The State Office of Mental Health plans to shut down the West Seneca facility and merge it with the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Taxpayer money has already been spent on renovations. Opponents argue kids shouldn't be treated on the same campus as adults. 

Western New York legislators Pat Gallivan and Mickey Kearns pushed a bill to keep the standalone facility in place, and it passed unanimously last month. Once on the governor's desk, he will have 10 days to sign or veto the plan.  

"That was like a shot in the arm for us and really invigorating and that's why we're saying, 'look at it, governor.' The legislature from Western New York to Long Island is not ready to let go of this," Chudy said.

"We want people to let the governor know how important this is, and that they, his constituents, care about the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center," Sen. Gallivan (R-Elma) said.

Legislators and supporters alike are asking the public to call and email Cuomo's office urging him to sign the bill. Those trying to save the Children's Psych Center are hopeful, yet have their doubts that will happen.

"Kids don't belong with those adults. It's beautiful here. Why would he want to put them there? So we remain just perplexed by the whole thing," said Chudy.

If the governor does indeed veto the bill, legislators could push for an override through the State Senate and Assembly, although such a measure is rarely used. So it could wind up in a showdown in the courts, but leaders of the coalition say that's still a last resort.

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