Homeless sex offender trailer in Riverside removed

08/15/2013 2:00 PM |

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | This metal staircase and water pipeline are all that remains of the trailer that once housed homeless sex offenders in Riverside.

Three months ago, the homeless sex offenders housed in a faded white and blue trailer in the Suffolk County Correctional Facility parking lot were moved out, marking the victorious conclusion of a six-year battle by politicians and civic leaders.

And now, the trailer is gone, too.

The Riverside trailer, which had rested on cinder blocks next to employees’ parked cars, was removed over the weekend, leaving behind a patch of faded asphalt.

It had been too hard to move, so county workers simply traced around the trailer when they laid down the new parking lot.

A metal stairway leading to where its entrance had been and a few water and electrical pipes sprouting from the ground were all that remained of the trailer.

“That means we have an end to a long, long fight,” said Mason Haas of Jamesport, who was one of the strongest advocates for the trailers’ removal. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to sit out there with a beer and watch them go.”

Mr. Haas said he hopes other states look to the county’s new approach to housing sex offenders and learn from it, adding that without the support of residents and politicians, the trailers would never have been moved.

“You have to stay on government to get things changed at times,” he said.

The county-run trailers in Riverside and Westhampton had been operating since May 2007, a short-term solution that turned into a much longer stay.

The trailers were supposed to rotate among Suffolk County towns every three weeks to keep any one community from bearing the full burden, but that plan quickly fell by the wayside and the trailers became permanent.

Now, homeless sex offenders are now being housed in county-run shelters scattered throughout Suffolk. No shelter that serves families or children will take on a sex offender, county officials have said.

Though the sex offenders were long gone, the trailer remained an eyesore for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office.

As he walked near where the trailer had been Wednesday morning, chief of staff Michael Sharkey scoffed and kicked a small piece of metal half buried in the dirt among the discarded chip bags and trash. It was a rusted harmonica.

“It’s one less headache to have,” Mr. Sharkey said. “We had nothing to do with the administration of it. It was just in the corner of our parking lot.”

psquire@timesreview.com