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The distrust between Mount Pleasant officials and JCCA representatives continues to grow after Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi divulged that up to 25 migrant children with emotional and/or behavioral needs will soon be staying at the Cottage School campus.
Fulgenzi said the children are being sent to the facility on Broadway in Pleasantville by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, he was told at an Oct. 19 meeting at Town Hall among town officials, representatives from the state Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and the JCCA, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and Assemblywoman MaryJane Shimsky (D-Dobbs Ferry).
He said no exact timeline was provided by the JCCA or the state but the children are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks.
“I said you can’t handle what you have, and you’re going to bring in migrant children,” Fulgenzi recalled last Friday of his conversation at the Oct. 19 get-together. “They make it sound like they’re bringing in other people to assist them. I don’t believe any of it, I really don’t. It’s very discouraging.”
Fulgenzi declared a state of emergency in May after his office received information that migrants would be housed at the campus. The feud has been escalating since then despite meetings between the parties.
In July, town officials held a press conference calling for closure of the facility. There had been more than 450 police calls to the Cottage School in the first six months of the year, with multiple criminal offenses, according to statistics provided by the town at the time.
However, the supervisor said there has been little progress made to address safety concerns at the school despite the removal of about 15 minors who had been placed there with severe psychological and behavioral issues. The transfer came after the July 12 press conference, he said.
Town officials have said the facility had been unable to have staff on hand that were capable of dealing with the most seriously affected children.
Furthermore, the JCCA continues to do site work without permits after town inspectors found major renovation work being done on residential cottages at its campus. Multiple stop-work orders have been issued by the town that have seemingly been ignored.
“This brazen disregard for our community and the regulations that apply to all construction work is what we have come to expect from JCCA, and it will not be tolerated,” Fulgenzi said. “Our building inspector and town attorney were recently denied entry to the property when they went to inspect the construction, a further indication of the JCCA’s utter disregard for the community.”
The JCCA didn’t comment regarding the migrant children or if and when they’ll be arriving, but provided a prepared statement denying that any town official was ever denied a reasonable request for access.
“JCCA remains deeply committed to the safety and wellbeing of our clients, staff and community; as such, workplace safety and regulatory compliance are among our highest priorities,” the agency’s statement read. “We seek to maintain a productive and collaborative working relationship with the Town of Mount Pleasant, and have never refused any Town official requesting reasonable access to our campus.”
Fulgenzi said the JCCA has become an untrustworthy neighbor. The town is considering legal action to stop the illegal work.
“There’s a lot of lip service,” Fulgenzi said. “Unfortunately, I don’t believe anything that they’re telling me.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/