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Public Raises Concerns on Possible Closure of Broome Developmental Center

(Source: Kate Thornton)

The Broome Developmental Center in the Town of Dickinson is one of four such facilities in the state slated for closure in an effort to cut costs.

Tuesday night, Assemblyman Clifford Crouch and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo hosted a community forum on the possible closure.

There was large outpouring support to keep it open.

"I'm sorry, but Governor Cuomo, you're wrong," said 30-year employee of the BDC Mark DeMaria.  "Closing Broome is a huge mistake.  Don't duck out on the people with mental disabilities.  They deserve better."

Both employees of the BDC and the families who's loved ones depend on their services shared emotional testimony at the forum.

One of the members of the audience at Chenango Valley High School to show her support of the BDC was Ute Loeffel.  Loeffel has an aggressive autistic 33-year old daughter in the day program at the BDC, and worries what would happen if it were to close.

"Where are these people supposed to go?  I find that this excuse that everybody should be in the community is ridiculous," said Loeffel.

Many other stories like Loeffel's were shared Tuesday night.

Crouch and Lupardo said the serious concerns people brought up need to be examined.

"Are they going to be appropriately cared for in a manner that they'll be able to achieve?" said Crouch.

"What level of services are needed? And, if they're going to close facilities like this, where are the supports to help people to be successful in the community?  It's not clear how that's all going to work out," said Lupardo.

Lupardo said Tuesday night's public forum won't be the last conversation with the public before the scheduled closure by March 2016.

Families and employees fear closing the facility would have dire consequences.

"There's so much love, and so much caring that goes on, that no one ever really hears about it," said DeMaria.

"No body seems to understand what the real issues area.  They're talking about saving money, but I'm terrified if it's closed," said Loeffel.

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