Taconic DDSO in Wassaic will close by 2013
WASSAIC — On Tuesday, Oct. 25, the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) announced that it will be closing the Taconic Developmental Disabilities Services Office (DDSO) in Wassaic by December 2013.It was not specified whether the closure would happen in phases or all at once.Other developmental centers throughout New York state are also set for closure, including facilities in Binghamton, Brooklyn and Queens.“OPWDD has an obligation to provide the very best services for people with developmental disabilities and to reform our system, and that includes more community based care. This closure marks ongoing reforms to make our delivery system better, stronger and more efficient,” said Nicole Weinstein, a spokesperson for the OPWDD.She went on to say that the Wassaic facilities are being closed in part due to financial reasons.“The capital costs associated with maintaining these large older campuses is prohibitive, and money is better spent to meet direct support needs and invest in needed upgrades to community homes. ... OPWDD’s closure of aging institutions is a win for taxpayers, as funds can be redirected to programs and services that individuals rely on instead of costly upkeep of aging and inadequate buildings.”Weinstein said there are currently 125 people living in residential units in Wassaic out of roughly 126,000 people with developmental disabilities that are served by the OPWDD.After the closure of the Taconic DDSO in Wassaic, the patients “will go into homes in the community or into other appropriate settings,” Weinstein said. “We are in the process of developing a system of care that ultimately provides individuals and families with greater residential and programmatic choice, and provides opportunities for people to move out of institutions and into communities where they can receive services that make the most sense for each person.”Weinstein explained that the “Wassaic campus workforce is 518, with direct care at 220 and clinical at 103, as well as administration and support for the entire DDSO.” Some of the people who currently work at the Wassaic branch “will be offered other positions within the Taconic DDSO or at other DDSOs.” She did not specify how many will not be offered work at another location.It is still unsure what will happen to the 350-acre campus after the facility closes. Weinstein said that the closure of the Wassaic campus will open up the land for economic development in a growing region. “Future reuse plans will be determined by the Empire State Development Corporation,” she said.Amenia town Supervisor Wayne Euvrard was unavailable for comment.Town council member Victoria Perotti, who assumes the role of Deputy Town Supervisor when Euvrard is unavailable, said that the closure of the facility will have a large impact on the town and the surrounding area.“Economically, it’s going to be a big blow,” she said, explaining that many of the local businesses rely on the DDSO employees as a steady influx of customers.Perotti said that the town of Amenia is not currently in talks with the Wassaic DDSO about the future of the property, but noted that she hopes the facility will include them in discussions about any possible future plans.