To the applause of dozens of residents who packed Mount Pleasant Town Hall Wednesday night, officials announced that the controversial Hawthorne Cedar Knolls will be closing in six to nine months.
The announcement was made by state Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) and David Rivel, the CEO of The Jewish Board, which oversees the residential treatment facility.
“It is the largest facility on the campus,” Rivel said. “It is the facility where frankly most of the issues that we’ve had over the years with kids leaving the campus without permission with police involvement.”
Hawthorne Cedar Knolls has a capacity of 78 youths; there are currently 54 youths living there. The residents typically stay for a period of six to nine months before they are reunited with their families or are moved into foster care, Rivel said.
A facility will be opened in New York City to replace the facility, he said.
Hawthorne Cedar Knolls, located on Linda Avenue, has been criticized for years by residents and government officials due to several incidents involving young residents leaving the campus.
Most recently, on Jan. 22, a youth who lived at the campus but not at Hawthorne Cedar Knolls, allegedly attempted to steal items from a neighboring house and confronted the homeowner, Murphy said. Rivel apologized for the incident.
“In retrospect, it was something we probably should have prevented,” he said.
Though Hawthorne Cedar Knolls will be closing, two other facilities at the campus will remain open. Those are the Mann Center and the Jerome M. Goldsmith Center, where youths with various forms of mental illness come for voluntary treatment, Rivel said.
The Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Union Free School District will stay open as well, he said. The school includes students from throughout the region.
Revel said a consultant, K2 Intelligence, has been hired by The Jewish Board to create a report along with a committee that will include neighboring residents to issue recommendations on how to strengthen security at the site.