hamptons local events, express news group

Story - News

Apr 8, 2009 11:37 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town joins Riverhead in lawsuit over sex offender trailers

Apr 8, 2009 11:37 AM

Southampton Town officials this week joined their counterparts in Riverhead by agreeing to file a lawsuit seeking to compel Suffolk County to relocate a trailer that houses sex offenders from its current location at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside.

During a special meeting on Friday, the Southampton Town Board directed the town attorney’s office to file suit for what Town Supervisor Linda Kabot said was the county’s failure to relocate the Riverside trailer. A second trailer, located in Westhampton, serves as an overflow unit for the Riverside facility, according to county officials.

The Town of Riverhead filed suit in Suffolk County Supreme Court in mid-March seeking to compel the county to relocate the trailer, claiming that officials were violating county and state law by placing the trailer too close to a town-owned park and a library.

The trailer is located in the parking lot of the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside, which is in Southampton Town, on its border with Riverhead. The Westhampton trailer is located near the Suffolk County Police shooting range on Old Country Road.

Riverhead Town officials in their suit note that the location of the trailer violates county and state law regarding where sex offenders may live. It is less than one-quarter mile from the George Lindgren Schmelzer Riverfront Park and just over one-quarter mile from the Riverhead Free Library. County officials, however, rebuffed the charge, claiming that the town dedicated the park only as a means to challenge the location of the trailer.

“The town has been asked by Riverhead to join in sending a message to the county that we won’t accept broken promises,” Ms. Kabot said on Friday. She added that the trailer shoulders the community with an unfair burden and places local residents at risk. “We’re quite concerned about public safety,” she said.

The presence of the trailer has drawn outrage from community members living near the trailer since county officials first began placing homeless sex offenders there in 2007. In September, county officials replaced the original trailer with a much larger one, a move that further angered the community. Currently, there are more than 24 occupants in the trailer, according to Ms. Kabot.

The community voiced its anger in January during a forum at Riverhead High School, where some 300 people petitioned the county to move the trailer. However, county authorities maintained that the Riverside location was the best spot for the primary trailer.

Though the trailers are supposed to be temporary housing for sex offenders with no place else to go, there are 18 permanent residents in the Riverside unit, according to the New York State Sex Offender Registry.

While the county has tried to alleviate community concerns by insisting that the sex offenders are not free to roam the surrounding neighborhoods, Riverside and Flanders residents, as well as Riverhead Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale, have pointed to incidents involving some of the sex offenders outside of the trailer grounds.

In spite of the community protests and demands to relocate the Riverside trailer, Roland Hampson, a spokesman for the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, argued that the jail was the best location for the trailer. And although Mr. Hampson stated following the forum that the county was looking into state-owned land as possible options for the Riverside trailer, no specific locations have been offered.

“There is very strong community support for this legal action,” Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski said after Friday’s unanimous vote.

You've read 1 of 7 free articles this month.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Linda has more important things to do then worry about where these trailers are located.
By Lefty46 (56), Westhampton on Apr 5, 09 5:29 PM
You should never know the pain of consoling your child or a loved one after a sex offender attack, that is if the are still alive

You must be the dumbest person in Westhampton, or real close to it.
By fazool (22), Southampton on Apr 6, 09 12:30 AM
why are they providing housing for these people in the first place? what about all the innocent homeless people? they don't get a free place to live.
By haj80 (11), Chapel Hill on Apr 6, 09 12:34 PM
“The town has been asked by Riverhead to join in sending a message to the county that we won’t accept broken promises,” Ms. Kabot said......

Why did Riverhead have to ask? Does The Southampton Town board not care what happens in the western part of town. This action should have been filed jointly............

It is a shame that the parents had to kick and scream this much to get our elected officials to take action on this matter
By mrtog (7), wading river on Apr 6, 09 6:45 PM