Despite ardent opposition to situating a community home for mentally ill adults in the Lovejoy District, city leaders and district residents plan to meet with the home's sponsor next week.
"We need a small group to sit down and start talking about alter natives," Council President George K. Arthur said at a Com mon Council Legislation Commit tee hearing on the proposed home Tuesday night.
DePaul Mental Health Services of Rochester is seeking a city building permit for the construc tion of a community residence at 1652-1656 William St. near Greene Street.
There is stiff oppo sition to the proposal from resi dents, Mayor Griffin and the Common Council.
"Here we have an agency com ing from Rochester trying to sneak in," said David Page, director of the Mayor's Office for People With Handicapping Conditions. "They have shown themselves not to be a fit agency in Buffalo."
Page accused DePaul represen tatives of being arrogant, mislead ing city officials and not returning telephone calls. "That facility is going to be a thorn in the community for the next 40 years. The people who live there will not be accepted," Love joy Council Member Norman M. Bakos said.
"They have arrogantly misused the law designed to help disabled people and don't deserve to be trusted," North Council Member David P. Rutecki said of the not- for-profit agency.
Gordon Chudy of 23 Greene said neighbors are not against the mentally ill but found it hard to believe DePaul "could come in without anybody knowing what they're doing." DePaul officials said the state Office of Mental Health asked them to set up community resi dences in Erie County. They maintained that they al ways have been willing to discuss new proposals but added that they already have closed the deal on the William Street property and are continuing to seek a building permit.
"We are willing to sit down and talk about anything, and we al ways have," said Joseph Wilson, associate executive director of De Paul. Wilson said the city has re fused to offer an alternative site for the $117,000 facility, but Page said he has another location to suggest. Bakos said an alternative site will be discussed at the meet ing early next week, which has yet to be scheduled.
Support for DePaul was slim at Tuesday's meeting. Judith Shanley, deputy com missioner of mental health in Erie County, said her department would have preferred a local agen cy but did support DePaul's com ing in when informed of it by the state. "We do not have very much in the line of residences for the men tally ill. Every neighborhood needs a lot more," said Mary Kirkland, who said one of her nine children suffers from mental illness. "I don't feel you have a lot to worry about," Mrs. Kirkland said. "Somebody has to speak up for the mentally ill."