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Coalition to save Children's Psychiatric Center wants governor investigated

Supporters of the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center want the state comptroller to investigate Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who vetoed legislation that would have kept the center in West Seneca.

The Save the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center Coalition, including former patients, family and community members, has been fighting for years to keep the center on the large campus with its sprawling lawns and wooded areas. They do not want the program moved to the building which also houses the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.

"No good reason has been articulated for the closure of this highly successful facility," said Steven M. Cohen, the attorney for the coalition.

Supporters of the West Seneca location maintain children should not be housed in the same building as adults, but the governor has said the populations will be separated by “a myriad of barriers to prevent any interaction.” And Dr. Ann M. Sullivan, commissioner of the state Office of Mental Health, said the move allows the state to save millions of dollars and redirect that money toward other local services geared toward treating children in their own communities rather than a hospital setting.

In a letter to Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Cohen said the governor's actions “violate New York Mental Hygiene Law, which provide that certain facilities may not, as a matter of law, be discontinued.” Cohen said he is asking the comptroller to investigate because the office of state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is defending the governor in Cohen's legal action filed against the governor to keep the West Seneca location open.

Cohen suggested by closing the West Seneca location, the 72-acre campus would be available for redevelopment, and he suggested that is what the governor wants to do with the property.

"The land is not only perfect for its current use, but it’s a developer's dream," he said.

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