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TOWN WILL ASK FOR CLARIFICATION ON AGENCY'S GROUP-HOME PLANS

Officials in the Town of Olean agreed Tuesday night to inquire if a formal proposal for a youth group home will come from New Directions Youth and Family Services of Randolph.

Town Supervisor James L. Coon said Wednesday that Town Board members received petitions signed by 114 residents in a statement of strong opposition to using a Route 16 residence as a boys home.

Last week, more than 100 residents met to exchange information about such facilities after learning that Dennis Wright might offer his property for sale to New Directions.

A similar facility, proposed last summer by New Directions for the former White House Bed and Breakfast on West Henley Street, was turned down by the City of Olean Planning Board. The organization filed a lawsuit against the Planning Board, the Olean Common Council and the mayor, but then briefly negotiated with the city to find a more suitable location.

New Directions' plans include supervision for six boys, whose treatment includes community involvement, school and job attendance. Officials stated last week that the Henley Street property, and the home on Route 16 about three miles south of the city, were the only two locations being considered.

"We took the official stance that we're going to contact New Directions about their plans in the Town of Olean, because we have not been officially contacted by New Directions at all," Coon said.

He said the Town Board's concerns are for the health, safety and welfare of the residents and are similar to those of the people who signed the petitions. Coon suggested the town may invite the organization to attend a public hearing on the topic.

"We've heard from the residents. The Town Board members don't believe that New Directions belongs in the town," Coon said.

New Directions Public Relations Officer Joe Gallagher said no purchase offer has been made on the Wright residence and a decision hasn't been made about the Henley Street property, but said many offers have been received from homeowners who wish to sell. He acknowledged the evaluation process of finding a site will become inflammatory.

"But we're not going to allow it to force our hand. We're not going to move any quicker than our protocols would dictate," he said.

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