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New facility on East Main will give mentally ill a chance to live independently

By Billie Owens

Thirty one adults with mental illness, all currently residents of group homes in Darien and Pembroke, will soon have a chance to begin new lives of independence and a degree of self care.

They will be moving into the attractive new housing facility being built at 559 E. Main St., Batavia.

The new living arrangements are a result of new thinking in the treatment of mental illness: People can be cured, and their best chance at recovery is through independent living.

Living Opportunities of DePaul, in Erie County, is in charge of the $6.6 million project. It's one of several branches of DePaul in Rochester, a 51-year-old community service nonprofit for Western New York.

The project is expected to be finished early next year and will accommodate people whose primary diagnosis is mental illness and they are working to recover from it. They are not MICA -- mentally ill with a chemical addiction(s), said Marcia Dlutek, DePaul's vice president of communications and development.

In addition to the 31 "licensed beds," 11 more units are designated as affordable housing for low-income individuals.

Two aspects of this project are particularly notable: it will provide individually tailored assistance to mentally ill people living in their own apartments, versus communally in a group home; and it operates under the relatively new premise that mental illness is sometimes curable.

The approach is worlds apart from 20 years ago, when groups homes began to flourish in response to the downsizing or closure of many large mental health institutions nationwide. Advances in psychopharmacology and findings in behavioral science research have modified approaches to treatment as well.

"Other modes of community housing are deemed more appropriate for recovery for  people living in the mental health system," Dlutek said. "Clients want to live alone rather than in communal living areas.

"This is a new approach. It is person-centered, recovery-oriented -- a housing option that will truly benefit them."

They will have access to 24-hour staffing, medication, life-skills assistance with such tasks as meal planning and budgeting. Plus, the location was chosen because of its easy and convenient access to transportation, stores, businesses and social services.

"It's really going to provide integrated housing for mental health consumers," she said. "We're very excited about this project. It took a lot of collaborative effort to accomplish, between our organization, the (NY) Department of Mental Health, the city, the county and the Economic Development Center.

Located next to East Town Plaza, the 43,000-square-foot, two-story complex covers 5.7 acres of prime city property. As it nears completion, it's shaping up to be an inviting design with curb appeal and solid structure -- certainly a far cry from the drab, institutional-looking warrens historically built for the mentally ill.

(However, it also seems a somewhat "boutique" alternative given the cost for housing just 31 mentally ill people, out of the many eligible.)

Since nonprofits are not required to pay property taxes, the GCEDC worked out an agreement wherein DePaul will pay $12,000 a year in lieu what the city could get from commercial or residential development..

Funding for the housing center came primarily from the state Office of Mental Health and the Department of Housing, Community Renewal Division. The design work was done by Parrone Engineering of Rochester and Lecesse Construction Corp. in West Henrietta is the builder.

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Bea McManis

I agree, by your figures, that is excessive. Are you counting additional rooms for services like therapy; dining area; kitchen space; offices; etc.?

Oct 14, 2009, 11:23am Permalink
Sean Valdes

Hi Bea,

Good point. I guess I should re-word to "per resident" from "each unit." I believe this is just the building/furnishing cost and not the actual operation of the facility. I don't know how much it costs taxpayers for the care of a mentally challenged person, but that annual cost is on top of the building. I just think that a more cost effective option could have been looked at that would have sufficed for the needs of the residents.

On a slightly different subject though - what's up the GCEDC's involvement? I know the article said that they (GCEDC) have arranged for PILOT payments for the city - is there another half of the equation that's missing from the GCEDC's involvement? It just seems a little out of the realm.

Oct 14, 2009, 11:43am Permalink
Kim Tiede

Mentally ill people get some of the highest amounts of disability from the government. Now they get to live in housing that is nicer than what I pay a mortgage on!! It really sickens me that MY (and others) tax paying money is going for all of these new housing developments for "low income" or mentally ill,, etc. Where was this help when I was low income, struggling single mother???!!! WORKING single mother, that is,,, I didn't qualify for ANYTHING unless my hours were cut (and that was few and far between)

Oct 14, 2009, 12:11pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Why not ask that question for the radio program on Thursday.

On a slightly different subject though - what's up the GCEDC's involvement? I know the article said that they (GCEDC) have arranged for PILOT payments for the city - is there another half of the equation that's missing from the GCEDC's involvement? It just seems a little out of the realm.

Oct 14, 2009, 12:31pm Permalink
Kim Tiede

LOL, Richard.. I would rather suffer with paying my own mortgage and going without some of the "nicer things" in life, than take a Government handout!! I was sick and off work for 5 months this year. Unfortunatly I was between jobs so I went without income that whole time. I could have gone and got a "handout" but I would rather go without than beg for money that they will only make me pay back (cause that is what they did in the past).. All of this new housing makes me sick!!

Oct 14, 2009, 12:43pm Permalink
tim raines

Although this development is good for the residents who will occupy it......the City Council just screwed the Taxpaying citizens of the city again.

The last thing residents need in the city limits is a NON-TAX PAYING non-profit, and on prime real estate to boot.

Can anyone answer how something like this got zone approval? Can anyone answer how design and construction work wasn't done by a Batavia or Genesee County company?

You got a comment on this Bob Cox??

Is it that..... ANY development is better than NO development?

GREAT commercial developments add to the tax base.

$12 grand a year doesn't.

Everyone bend over cuz your Batavia Government is right behind you.

And you wonder why your taxes are so high.

You have 14 days to pay your taxes. Get out the checkbook.

Oct 14, 2009, 1:18pm Permalink
John Roach

The City Council had nothing to do with this.

That does not mean we have to like it, but there was nothing that could be done about it either.

This project was not kept secret. There were hearings on this, but almost nobody attended.

One other point. That property had been up for sale for years and nobody that would have paid taxes wanted it.

Oct 14, 2009, 1:27pm Permalink
tim raines

The city council should have EVERYTHING to do with development of EVERY piece of property in the city. .

PRIME real estate on the main road passed by thousands of cars everyday, and no one wanted it.

Does anyone in Batavia try an attract tax paying development within the city limits?? What incentives does the city GIVE to attract a tax paying, people employing business?

Doesn't seem like they do much, if anything cuz the Town of Batavia is kicking their behind!

Oct 15, 2009, 2:26pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Well, the kind of development going on in the town is not the kind of development I want see going on in the city.

Also, all those big box stores that steal money from the local economy don't pay property taxes.

And the GCEDC continues to bring business into town by luring them with programs that help them escape taxes.

As I've said before, the only thing that's really going to move the ball for Batavia is local people deciding to start and grow businesses. We need to foster an environment that encourages entrepreneurship from within the community. I don't think that's a government program.

Oct 14, 2009, 1:52pm Permalink
John Roach

Try this again. It was for sale for years, nobody wanted it.

Do you remember what it was. It was a lot on top of a very steep hill. Two old houses that were beyond repair. No utility access and only one drivway in or out.

Why do you think nobody wanted it?

And, it was zoned for this type of project. Also, all the development is on the other end of the city, in the town.

Don't be too short sighted. The people here in this place just might spend money in the stores next door. If they do, maybe some of the empty stores will reopen. Then, maybe some more will come along.

Oct 14, 2009, 1:59pm Permalink
Thomas Mooney

The units are in walking distance to the proposed playing fields and track at North Street Ext. There is a path that can take them to East Ave and basically they are there .

Oct 14, 2009, 2:18pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Tim, City council has nothing to do with zoning issues. We have a zoning board and I believe the members are appointed by the City Manager directly.

I highly doubt a majority of council would have voted to go ahead with that project.

Oct 14, 2009, 3:21pm Permalink

Anyways- The building looks great,bound to create a least a few steady jobs along with snow plowers,lawn mowers. It's there-almost done and looks like It's not going anywhere.Hats off to the developer

Oct 14, 2009, 9:46pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

If these people are poor ,where will they get money to spend in the stores...John at least when there were houses on them the city was collecting tax on that property,now no taxes will ever be collected on that property..The city of Batavia has too many tax exempt properties now...Will this be another property that will have their trash picked up for free..look at GACSA,they have people stay there,i don't think it is a boon for any businesses on this side of town.Was by GACSA today and they have of huge pile of trash out by the curb,more then the six bags that are allowed..Just think how much trash this place will generate...Will they all be hanging outside smoking and blocking the sidewalk like at GACSA...

Oct 14, 2009, 4:10pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Posted by Mark Potwora on October 14, 2009 - 4:10pm
If these people are poor ,where will they get money to spend in the stores...John at least when there were houses on them the city was collecting tax on that property,now no taxes will ever be collected on that property..The city of Batavia has too many tax exempt properties now...Will this be another property that will have their trash picked up for free..look at GACSA,they have people stay there,i don't think it is a boon for any businesses on this side of town.Was by GACSA today and they have of huge pile of trash out by the curb,more then the six bags that are allowed..Just think how much trash this place will generate...Will they all be hanging outside smoking and blocking the sidewalk like at GACSA...

I understand your concern, but it sounds like they arrainged to be under PILOT, pay in lieu of taxes, just like 400 Towers pays for services, like trash pickup.
We have 147 residents and only generate about 30 bags of trash a week as a result of recycling and compacting.
It may look like a lot out on the curb, but
if each unit generated 5 bags it would amount to over 600 bags a week.
The newspaper chose to make 400 Towers the whipping boy for their article on trash pick up by placing a picture of the trash on the curb.
Greg Langen, the BHA Director, explained "The property in question is owned and operated by the City of Batavia Housing Authority (BHA). As a public benefit not-for-profit corporation, we cannot pay taxes. However, the implication that we do not pay our fair share toward the cost of trash pickup and other governmental services is simply not true. In fact, the BHA pays $45,848 per year in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to the City of Batavia, Genesee County and school district each year. We pay this significant amount in spite of serving very low income residents, for whom assessing an extra fee for trash removal would be a real hardship.

Because of our effective recycling and trash compacting program, we only generate about 30 bags of trash each week for the 147 residents we serve at 400 Towers – far less that the five bags per household which is currently allowed. Surely, the PILOT we pay each year for government services should include the cost of trash pickup in our case."

I can't speak for other not for profits, but I do believe that 400 Towers is not leaning on taxpayers to cover the cost of our trash pick up.

Oct 14, 2009, 4:27pm Permalink
John Roach

I don't where they get their money now, maybe from SSI or welfare, but it sounds like they will have some and budgeting is part of the program. Odds are , many will not have a car and will shop at Aldi's (I hope).

Since this is here now, I just hopes it brings some money to the local businesses.

Oct 14, 2009, 4:36pm Permalink
Sean Valdes

According to the article, the residents of the facility are currently living in Pembroke & Darien - so they are already spending in Genesee County. Chances are, the services that are being used at the current 2 locations (snowplow, lawn care, etc.) will be consolidated to the new Batavia location.

I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they come and get me for the new apartments.

Oct 14, 2009, 6:37pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

I hope they don't pay someone for lawn service ..You would think they would make those who live there take care of the lawn seeing as they will live there for free..

Oct 14, 2009, 6:46pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Posted by Mark Potwora on October 14, 2009 - 6:46pm
I hope they don't pay someone for lawn service ..You would think they would make those who live there take care of the lawn seeing as they will live there for free..

Do you also want them to wear vests like prisoners do when doing road duty?
No doubt the facility will have a maintenance crew that will take care of the lawn.

Oct 14, 2009, 7:28pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

They've already seeded the front lawn, I noticed today. Which I found strange. I don't know all that much about grass growing in WNY, but my lawn seems to be going dormant for the winter. Just wonder if that seed will sprout? In the spring maybe?

Oct 14, 2009, 7:33pm Permalink
George Richardson

Richard said: "Your gonna need alot more units than that, hell I personally know more than 31 mentally ill Batavians."
Richardson says:
Yeah Man, and that's not even counting us guys who moved away. Haha, you're pretty funny for a Dick and I mean that in a serious, although meant to be funny, disrespectful way. I think you are O.k. just a little snarky, me too.

Oct 14, 2009, 7:36pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Living Opportunities of DePaul

Address: 2240 Old Union Road,
Cheektowaga NY 14227

Contact: (716) 608-1000 Kristi Ford, Intake Director

Serving: Erie, Genesee, Orleans, & Wyoming Counties.
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm.
Eligibility: 18+ years, mental health diagnosis, in need of supervision.
Fees: Most applicants apply for SSI, Medicaid, Public Assistance or few are private pay.
Intake: Call for an application & other admission criteria.
Services: Strives to provide the least restrictive living environment for chronically mentally ill adults. Length of stay averaging from one to three years. Residential counselors focus on increasing residents' independent daily skills.

OMH Certified Supervised Community Residences (CR)
On site supervision provided 24 hours/day, 7 days/week relevant to the provision of community rehabilitation skills. Supported Transitional Housing Program (Erie County) - Offers housing in the form of apartments for seriously & persistently mentally ill adults. Candidates must be enrolled in SPOE & demonstrate that they can live independently within the community. Rental stipend & case management services offered with this program.
Aurora Street (10 beds), Lancaster, NY 14086
Rutherford Place (14 beds), Depew, NY 14043
Warsaw House (8 beds), Warsaw, NY 14569
Genesee House (10 beds), E. Pembroke 14056
Allegany House (10 beds), Darien Center, NY 14040

OMH Certified Treatment Apartment Programs (Erie, Wyoming & Genesee Counties)
A staff person visits these apartments 3-5 times/week relevant to provision of community rehabilitation skills. Has staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Apple Blossom Apartments (30 beds)
2244 Old Union Rd
Cheektowaga, NY 14225
(716) 608-1000

Woodstock Garden Apartments (11 beds)
North Street
Batavia, NY 14020
(716) 344-0197

Edgebrook Estates (17 Beds)
Bldg #65, Apt. 12
Cheektowaga, NY 14227
(716) 686-5329

Warsaw Apartments (4 beds)
35 Culver Avenue
Warsaw, NY 14569

Garden Village Apartments (12 beds)
70 Garden Village Drive
Cheektowaga, NY 14227
(716) 608-0002

Albion Treatment Apartments (6 beds)
243 South Main St, Suite 274
Albion, NY 14411
(585) 589-8315

OMH Licensed Service Enriched Single Residence Occupancy (SRO)
Efficiency apartments in a supportive community. Case management, activities, and 3 meals a day are provided. Smaller staff to resident ratio than a CR or a TAP.
Kensington Square (75 beds)
563 Kensington Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14214

McKinley Square (80 beds 24 of which are reserved for mentally ill homeless persons)
2704 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14214

Seneca Square (75 beds)
1603 Seneca Street
Buffalo, NY 14210

Oct 14, 2009, 7:34pm Permalink
George Richardson

Howard, it is probably Rye Grass they plant it everywhere to hold the soil and moisture in place then it is turned under in the spring.

Oct 14, 2009, 7:38pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Farmers grow winter wheat, probably the same theory as the rye grass. I don't know if it would germinate. Guess we need to hear from someone who knows.

Oct 14, 2009, 8:15pm Permalink

@Bea: FYI, Woodstock Gardens is owned by Sermar Management which is based in Rochester. The Batavia office managess several other complexes besides Woodstock, one of which I'm living on. I can't really recommend any of the complexes run by the Batavia office.

I could write up a giant paragraph on this, but I'm going to try condensing it. The lady that runs the Batavia office is alright for the most part. Her husband, who runs maintenance, I could go on and on about. I can't think of a single occasion where he hasn't knocked on my door to either threaten to tow my car for whatever reason or just to pitch a fit about something so insignificant, I just shut the door.

Oct 15, 2009, 4:51am Permalink
Bea McManis

Chris, I just posted the information on DePaul and what facilities they are presently using. I don't know if those living in those 11 units will be moved to the new facility.

Oct 15, 2009, 6:32am Permalink
Kim Tiede

Was it really necessary to post the addresses of where DePaul houses their clients???? I mean, Really??!!

I know what you are going to say.. "It is on their website, anyone can look at it." True, but if people want to look at it, let them go do the leg work,, by airing it here is just bad taste,,

I hope that Howard can delete that post as keeping it on here only promotes bad taste all the way around!!

Oct 15, 2009, 7:49am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I fail to see why it's bad taste. It's public record. I mean, it's not even on the radar of bad taste as far as I can see. It's a great public service of Bea to post it as far as I'm concerned. Obviously, DePaul doesn't consider having the information a problem, or they wouldn't make it available publicly.

Oct 15, 2009, 8:00am Permalink
Karen Miconi

Whats in bad taste is when your in the doctors office, and the receptionist proceeds to shout your name, then address, then phone number out into a full waiting room. What is wrong with some people??? I jumped up, ran to the window, and said excuse me?? there is such a thing as patient privacy. When you sign in they only want you to put your first name, so why would she do that. Further more we all could hear everything she was saying about people, their condition, name ect. I hope she doesn't do that to anyone else!

Oct 15, 2009, 8:31am Permalink
Lorie Longhany

I receive the DePaul newsletter and have seen the great work they do in Rochester, first hand. DePaul has a website and a quarterly newsletter to inform the public where they are in our communities and what services they offer. I don't think they want to hide their "brand".

Oct 15, 2009, 8:35am Permalink
Bea McManis

Posted by Karen Miconi on October 15, 2009 - 8:33am
Bea, what I want to know is, are they going to move all the people from the facilities you list above to Batavia??

According to the article, they are moving people from Darien and Pembroke. I really know no more than that.

As far as bad taste is concerned, I think it was bad taste to assume that everyone in this program is "poor" or an alcoholic looking for the nearest "beer store".
Mental illness, from what I understand, hits every social and economic strata, not just the poor and not just those who suffer from the inability to control their drinking.

What I find in poor taste is those who want to deny services to those in need because, for whatever reason, they were not qualified to receive the services they felt they deserved. The "if I couldn't get it, why should anyone else" attitude is the epitome of bad taste.

Oct 15, 2009, 9:32am Permalink
Kelly Hansen

In regard to a 'business' in Batavia to generate revenue, this is not going to be the place. It is, however, a aesthetically pleasing addition to the east side. It is a home for people who clearly need housing. Sure, they had a place to live - but not one of their own. How many of you live in the same home with a dozen of unrelated adults?

These folks deserve to have an opportunity to live in their own apartment and be treated with <i>dignity</i>. It is not a luxury, but a necessity. They will not live there for free. They will pay rent just like the rest of us, though it may be deducted from their SSI checks. Are all of them poor? Another generalization. Mentally ill folks come from silver spoon families and welfare dependent families.

Over 26% of Americans are living with a diagnosed mental illness and it sounds like many of you who post here would rather see them live on the streets. A whole lot of speculation can make a poster sound like an un-medicated mentally ill person him/herself. Would there be this outrage if the building was for people with terminal cancer? Would everyone assume they were all destitute and a burden deserving of living in a backyard dog house? Batavia=Calcutta???



Fall is a great time to plant grass (but preferably early fall). There is no weed seed to compete with, and if it has time to germinate, it will do fine. Typically this time of year, cold-hardy grass seed would be planted. Sometimes, the seed will survive lying dormant in the yard until spring time. Regardless, they will probably have to bit of reseeding in the spring. If they are planting rye, the entire yard will need to be replanted in the spring. Rye is an annual.

Oct 15, 2009, 9:52am Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

Depaul has been doing great things for many years in Genesee County. I guess with the stigma still entrenched when it comes to mental illness they have gone under the radar. I believe that the goal is to move the residents out of Darien and East Pembroke and close those other "houses".

Oct 15, 2009, 10:00am Permalink
Karen Miconi

I know what you mean Bea, but "just for the record" I never said anything bad, or unsupportive, about these people. I think its great that they have built this new facility. I just hope it is catering to the mentally ill only, and not drug addiction, or dangerous people. Only then would I be concerned, for our city, and the neighbors adjacent to the buildings. But thats not the case, so far anyway.

Oct 15, 2009, 10:01am Permalink
Bea McManis

Not directed at you. Sorry if you took it that way...just making a statement in general.
If the residents, already living in Genesee Co. have not posed a threat in their current locations, what reason would we have to believe their behavior will change when moved to this facility?
I, like you, only know what I've read regarding this new facility. It sounds as if it is a place where people with problems, we can only imagine, can learn to cope with them or, in come cases, come out healed ready to resume their former life among family,friends, neighbors and co-workers.

Oct 15, 2009, 10:13am Permalink
Lianne Gahagan White

I want to set the record STRAIGHT! For everyone who thinks that the Richard Gahagan that is on here and that some of you refer to as Dick Gahgan. IT IS NOT DICK GAHAGAN, it is Rick Gahagan. Dick Gahagan, who is my father, truly loves Batavia and the people there! My father would drive to Batavia from Florida every June and stay until the begining of November to help with the Batavia Blue Devils Football team and did not do it because he was paid but because he loves the program and the kids. He played for Coach VanDetta when he was in school and wants to keep the legacy that Coach created alive. He has also helped kids that were in need by making sure that they had what they needed when they needed it. He has put his heart and soul into the program and the kids. He dedicated his time to the kids and is very well respected by the them. He also would put his time into assisting with the Hall of Fame Banquet. He has gone around town asking for donations for the program as well. It is very disheartening for me to read and receive phone calls in Florida that people think that the Richard Gahagan on here is Dick Gahagan. Anyone who knows my father knows that he would give you the shirt off his back if he thought that you needed it! My father will forever be a Batavian! I can not explain to you why my brother Rick feels the need to come on here and say the things that he says, but please know that my parents (Richard and Lynette) are not a part of it. Anyone that reads this please pass the word around that it is NOT DICK GAHAGAN!
Thank you!

Lianne Gahagan White
Proud Daughter of Richard and Lynette Gahagan!

Oct 15, 2009, 7:34pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Posted by Kim Tiede on October 15, 2009 - 7:27pm
My comment was not directed specifically at the mentally ill.. I was mearly saying that the government gives out money for other things and those of us that "fall in the cracks" get nothing.
As for exposing the addresses in this forum,, I DO feel it was in bad taste. What was the purpose of it??? I just don't understand.

Kim, if you are still reading this I will try to explain.
The purpose was to show that DePaul is an established, well qualified organization to work with those who will eventually be well again. The work that they do is incredble. They provide service throughout Western New York and should be applauded for what they do.
I'm sorry you found their website so offensive.

Oct 15, 2009, 8:06pm Permalink
Bea McManis

I chose to ignore your brother's comments after I learned that he was not Dick but Rick.
Your father is a well respected legend in Batavia.
Your brother's hatred of all that is Batavia is annoying
but easy to ignore.

Oct 15, 2009, 8:10pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Last night, a person left a comment attacking this site making statements there were no way true and going after our business partnerships. I get a little riled when people attack my livelihood and something I care passionately about making work. Rather than argue with this person in public about things that have no basis in reality, I just took down her post and my response. She asked to have her account deleted (before I wrote my response), so she's no longer a member of the site.

For anybody who read those comments -- that's what happened to them.

Oct 16, 2009, 7:46am Permalink

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