05/30/13 8:00am
05/30/2013 8:00 AM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | County Executive Steve Bellone announces the homeless sex offender trailers will close within the next three days.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | County Executive Steve Bellone announces last week the homeless sex offender trailers would close.

The fight against placing two trailers for homeless sex offenders on the East End in 2007 was never a NIMBY protest. It was a pure and good fight. With good results.

Locals here acknowledged early on that both sexual assaults and the management of convicted offenders once they are out of jail are societal problems. Protesters in the Riverhead area and Westhampton said repeatedly at rallies and community forums that they would “take care of their own,” meaning they would house homeless sex offenders from the area.

Anti-trailer activists recognized that the county’s policy of taxiing homeless sex offenders into Southampton Town daily from all over Suffolk’s 900 square miles was not only unjust but immoral as well. The policy was immoral because it shifted the burden of managing offenders from the entire county to one town and, worse, put the safety of children living in some areas over that of children living in others.

The policy devalued human lives — our lives — and that’s what galvanized and inspired local protesters, turning them into an unstoppable force against what many perceived to be an immovable object: a county executive, Steve Levy, much more concerned with the population and voting base to the west, backed by county legislators content to send their undesirables to someone else’s district.

Along with the protests and op/ed columns, advocates were also working behind the scenes, meeting face-to-face with policymakers to help them understand why the county’s policy was so wrong. And many people in positions of influence were persuaded to help.

Then in March 2011, Mr. Levy — on whose watch the trailer policy was enacted and became entrenched — announced unceremoniously amid a DA investigation that he wouldn’t be seeking another term. That same month, when county executive candidate Steve Bellone stopped in Riverhead during a campaign “listening tour,” locals made sure he got an earful about the trailer policy.

“This has been a real education,” Mr. Bellone said. “We’ve been involved and very aggressive on the issue of sex offenders in Babylon for many, many years now. But what you are experiencing out here is unlike anything I’ve seen.”

Not long after taking office, the former Babylon Town supervisor pledged to shutter the trailers and implement a new, more just policy of housing and monitoring homeless sex offenders. This past weekend, Mr. Bellone made good on that promise, not because it was popular or expedient, but because it was the right and just thing to do. Now, through the Community Protection Act, Riverhead and Southampton Town residents must be prepared to make good on their promises and cooperate with town and county officials as they execute plans to house the offenders at shelters spread across the entire county — because that also includes our own backyards.

05/06/13 6:00am
05/06/2013 6:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A vote to expand Sunday bus service is expected to take place at the County Legislature’s general meeting May 7 in Hauppauge.

Suffolk Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone are rolling out new legislation aimed at bringing year-round Sunday bus service to the East End. The measure would extend service for the S92 and 10C routes.

The proposed expansion comes on the heels of a pilot program launched two years ago that introduced Sunday and holiday service from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, according to Mr. Schneiderman.

New York State recently increased funding for Suffolk transit, giving the county the opportunity to provide Sunday bus service year-round, officials said. The legislation allocates $1.1 million additional state funding toward expanding the service.

In addition to the state-provided funds, the legislation would also direct the county Department of Public Works to apply for federal matching grant funding through the Job Access Reverse Commute program, with the goal of receiving more than $2 million to cover the cost of the expansion.

The measure is co-sponsored by Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue).

“Many businesses on the East End, including in my North Fork legislative district, rely on public transportation to get workers to their jobs, especially during the summer season,” Mr. Krupski said in a press release issued this week.

Aside from the benefits the additional service could provide residents, officials say the new legislation could potentially bring environmental and economic improvements to the county.

“This resolution is a step forward to expand bus service while cutting our deficit,” Mr. Bellone said in a statement. “Expanding bus service helps take cars off the road and provides opportunity and access for thousands of Suffolk County residents.”

The bill, which has already passed the Legislature’s public works and transportation committee, will be voted on Tuesday during the county Legislature’s general meeting in Hauppauge.

If approved, the plan would be continued as a pilot program for one year. The Department of Public Works would then be required to report on the success of the pilot program to base the feasibility of continuing the program beyond the one-year pilot period.

cmurray@timesreview.com

04/05/13 8:00am
04/05/2013 8:00 AM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Life flourishes in what’s now charred forest in Manorville, where the Wildfire of 2012 destroyed homes and property.

The charred and soot-covered Kawasaki motorcycle sat propped against piles of other burned debris next to a driveway on Oakwood Drive in Manorville. It was a classic, a 1985 454 Limited bike, one of George Moretti’s prized possessions.

The motorcycle is useless now, damaged beyond repair nearly a year ago in the massive wildfire that swept through this neighborhood. The house where he and his family had lived for 25 years — and everything inside it — were destroyed by the flames and smoke that jumped out from the Pine Barrens behind his property.

“The whole house was a loss except for the framework,” he said, sitting outside his trailer this week, watching as contractors worked on the shell of his house. He can’t get what happened out of his mind.

“I know it’s been a year,” Mr. Moretti said. “I think about it every day.”

The Wildfire of 2012 burned more than 1,100 acres of the Pine Barrens in Manorville and Calverton last April 9. The seventh largest wildfire in state history started on Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Upton property and, fueled by strong winds and dry tinder on the forest floor, quickly spread south and east into the Riverhead Town section of Manorville.

The blaze raged for more than 24 hours, destroying homes, injuring local firefighters and forcing the evacuation of nearby residents as the flames drew ever closer to residential neighborhoods. Dozens of fire departments helped bring the inferno under control.

Related: Controlled fires a vital tool to prevent more wildfires

Since then, fire departments across Suffolk County have been reviewing their procedures, and environmental experts and officials say plans are in the works to create new procedures for fighting wildfires and adding additional resources like water wells to the area.

A Suffolk County task force found that “communications was the major issue” in the local response to the fire, said County Executive Steve Bellone.

“That’s what you get from having a decentralized system,” he said. “It is difficult to communicate from department to department.”

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO  |

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO |  A 1985 Kawasaki 454 Limited bike that burned in last year’s wildfire.

But neighboring fire departments, which often work together, all said they have taken steps to smooth out how they manage their resources.

The Manorville Fire Department, which took the lead, was most affected by the blaze. It lost a brush truck — an off-road vehicle designed to fight forest fires — when flames surrounded it in the Pine Barrens and volunteers had to ditch it. Some were hurt and one suffered severe burns.

A new brush truck is being built for the department, fire officials said, and the injured firefighters have recovered.

With wildfires more likely this time of year, the Manorville department has also purchased a six-wheel ATV equipped with a hose to fight “spot” brush fires, fire officials said.

Riverhead Fire Department officials have been reviewing their plans for helping other departments, said second assistant chief Kevin Brooks. A few weeks ago, Riverhead chiefs met with chiefs from Manorville, Ridge, Wading River, Yaphank and Rocky Point departments to go over “mutual aid” procedures.

“We all work together really well,” Mr. Brooks said. “The most important thing in a wildfire like that is getting resources out as fast as possible.”

Last year, the Riverhead department raced to three different locations to fight the fire, one at the Brookhaven National Lab property, one in Manorville and another on Grumman Boulevard in Calverton. The spread-out locations made it even more challenging for firefighters to coordinate their efforts, Mr. Brooks said.

“It was a difficult one from a command standpoint because it was in three different jurisdictions,” he said.

The Riverhead department’s volunteers are trained on brush truck safety and how to drive the vehicles, Mr. Brooks said, adding that some departments were considering covering trucks to prevent injuries from falling branches.

On the whole though, Mr. Brooks says the Riverhead Fire Department can handle another wildfire.

“I think we’re ready for it,” he said. “We’ve got some of the best guys around and we have a lot of experience dealing with brush fires … I think with every large fire you get better with experience.”

Fire departments from farther east also learned from the wildfire.

Jamesport firefighters spent 29 hours working in shifts to combat the flames. First assistant chief Sean McCabe said the department has since “beefed up [its] response to these types of incidents.

“When they call for tankers we send a support pumper [truck] with it,” he said. “It’s a safety thing for us now to just assign a pumper. It gives us the ability to bring more manpower with us.”

Since the wildfire, Suffolk County officials have been working on installing fire suppression wells in the Manorville area.

Bill Faulk, a former county legislative aide who now works for Brookhaven Town, said the county’s well-drilling unit has put the equipment needed for the project out to bid and will have the first well drilled in early May.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Volunteer firemen fighting the wildfires in Manorville last year.

“They’re ready to go,” he said of the drillers. “They’re all set.”

The wells will give firefighters access to water in neighborhoods that don’t have fire hydrants.

“[The wells] are all located along the roadway,” Mr. Faulk said. “This plan is to deal with some of the more remote areas. Even on the main roads, that’s more water than you have there now.”

The county will ultimately drill four or five wells this year, with another four or five planned between Brookhaven and Riverhead Towns, he said.

Richard Amper, executive director of the Pine Barrens Society environmental group, said the wells pose no threat to the area’s ecosystem. But he said the best way to prevent future fires is to use controlled burns to clear out smaller sections of the forest, something the county and state are looking into.

“The Pine Barrens are a fire-dependent ecosystem,” Mr. Amper said. “That means they must burn periodically and have been burning for thousands of years. The burning process clears the underbrush and opens pine cones and drops their seeds on the newly cleared forest floors.”

But because the Pine Barrens are near suburban communities, fires have been “suppressed regularly in the interest of protecting public health and safety,” he said.

This leads to incidents like last year, when a wealth of tinder sparked and grew into an out-of-control wildfire in moments.

Mr. Amper said the area of the Pine Barrens that burned, now littered with the skeletons of charred trees and small patches of brush, is recovering as expected.

He said officials are planning to selectively burn 1,500 to 2,000 acres of the Pine Barrens’ 105,000 acres each year to limit the chance of large wildfires in the future. Unlike last year’s wildfire, these burns would not occur all at once but would be conducted only under the best conditions in small, 20-acre increments, Mr. Amper said.

New York State Central Pine Barrens Commission executive director John Pavacic said the commission is “taking a fresh look” at updating its fire management plan. The group is also working to educate residents on how to limit wildfire damage by protecting their homes.

The commission will meet with the Flanders Riverside Northampton Community Association next week to teach good fire habits, like keeping firewood away from the side of the house.

“That’s our first foray into getting out into the community,” Mr. Pavacic said.

The commission will also host its first springtime fire academy for firefighters at the Brookhaven National Lab property next week geared toward prescribed fires and prescribed fire management, he said.

“We are getting interest not just from within our region but outside our region as well,” he said. “We have people coming from all over the country.”

Ultimately, the Manorville wildfire served as a wake-up call to local fire departments and government officials.

“The biggest lesson is that one can never become complacent,” Mr. Pavacic said. “Even though it had been a significant amount of time since the last wildfire in 1995 you can never let your guard down.”

The Suffolk County Arson Squad and the state Department of Environmental Conservation have labeled the wildfire as “intentionally set,” though officials couldn’t be reached to give an update on the investigation. Suffolk County police have offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Some residents who lost their property to the flames have recovered. But most others, like Mr. Moretti and his family, are still feeling the effects.

Paul Dill lost a pool house at his Wading River Manor Road residence, as firefighters used water from his pool to put out the fire and beat back the flames. His driveway still bears scorch marks and a nearby fence is burned to a crisp.

Mr. Dill said he has since filled in the pool and demolished the pool house.

“All things being equal, because of taxes and everything, we didn’t rebuild,” he said. He said he and his wife were fortunate not to lose their home and have done their best to move on.

“We’re not trauma people,” he said. “If something happens you get by it.”

Next door, Mr. Dill’s neighbor Neal Coleman lost tens of thousands of dollars in equipment that wasn’t covered by his insurance. Thankfully, Mr. Coleman said, his house was spared when the wind shifted just before the fire reached it.

On Oakwood Drive, Ray and Jane Kreiger were also lucky. They lost the trees in their backyard but the house was untouched.

“Fortunately, we didn’t lose anything that was sentimental or valuable,” Mr. Kreiger said.

“I’m amazed it didn’t melt the gazebo,” Ms. Kreiger said. “It was such a raging fire when it came through … we didn’t think there’d be a house standing [when we came back].”

The couple credited firefighters for drawing the line on their street and saving many homes, including theirs.

“The fire departments did a good job,” Mr. Kreiger said. “They held on, considering the massive wall of flame coming right at us. It is just amazing.”

As for the aftermath, the stumps of the burned trees on their property were pulled out only recently, after Mr. Kreiger and his son rented a lift, he said.

“We’re still cleaning up,” he said, adding the family is still waiting for payment on some insurance claims.

But not everyone has recovered yet. Stanley Krupski, who lost his repair shop on Wading River Manor Road to the fire has been battling insurance companies to get his property repaired.

“That was my life savings in the tools and parts and everything,” he said.

A year later, and he’s no closer to rebuilding his shop.

“It was very heartbreaking,” Mr. Krupski said. “I just had to turn very thing over to the attorney. I couldn’t deal with it myself.”

He said he was “disappointed” by politicians who came to stand on his property after the wildfire and voice their support but have done little to help him in his struggle.

“It was really disappointing,” he said.

Like Mr. Krupski, the Morettis down the road have some waiting to do.

Their new house was supposed to be ready a few months ago, but Hurricane Sandy and this winter’s blizzards pushed back construction.

“Everything has been delayed,” Mr. Moretti said. “If the weather had been cooperating this would have been done.”

Problems with the insurance and service companies have also caused headaches for Mr. Moretti. He said he hopes the house will be finished by the end of April. It has to be, he said; the family isn’t allowed to stay in the trailer on their property past then.

“We’re making do,” he said. “You can get frustrated but it doesn’t do you any good. There’s nothing you can do about it.”

psquire@timesreview.com

04/03/13 3:00pm
04/03/2013 3:00 PM

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone met with members of the Long Island Farm Bureau at the Hilton Garden Inn in Riverhead Wednesday.

Speaking to a room full of Long Island farmers in Riverhead Wednesday morning, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone laid out his plan for closing a deficit in Suffolk County that is expected to grow to as much as $400 million by 2014.

In order to do so, Mr. Bellone said the county must accept that revenues will not rebound to previous levels.

“We’re not going to have an uptick in terms of revenue … not in a way where we can replace all those years of loss and repair the structural gap [through revenues],” he said. “We’re going to have to continue to restructure county government.”

Mr. Bellone said his administration has eliminated 750 positions at a savings of $65 million annually. That “tough decision” has helped the county cut into a deficit that a task force found to be between $410 and $530 million when he took office, he said.

“We were able to balance the budget [this year] with the deficit that we inherited by making tough choices, but we also did it by using one-shots,” he said. “Over the past six or seven years the county has used about $600 million in one-shot revenues to cover the deficit. We are now down to the bottom of the barrel in one-shot revenues.”

Muddying the county’s financial picture moving forward, he said, is the impact of Hurricane Sandy, which caused a “$65 million hole in the budget from direct costs, loss of sales tax revenue and loss of property tax revenue.”

“When you add the losses from Sandy to the existing structural deficit, our deficit right now for the upcoming budget year is $250 million and it is projected to be $400 million in 2014,” the county executive said.

Mr. Bellone said his administration’s plan now is to continue making cuts while looking for creative new one-shot revenues, as the economy improves.

“What I won’t do is short-term borrowing to hope the economy is coming back,” he said. “That would sink us more into debt and bring us closer to where Nassau County is.

“We need to be very judicious and critical about what things are a priority.”

gparpan@timesreview.com

01/30/13 10:32pm
01/30/2013 10:32 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | About 50 people attended a community forum on the county’s homeless sex offender trailers in Riverside and Westhampton Wednesday night at the county center, where speakers criticized the county for not removing the trailers after seven years.

Suffolk County’s new plan for dealing with sex offenders will be presented to the county Legislature’s public safety committee at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and it could be approved as early as next week, according to South Fork Legislator Jay Schneiderman.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone directed the county police department to develop “a comprehensive approach to better protect our communities from sex offenders” on Jan. 2, after failing to meet his own goal of eliminating the two homeless sex offender trailers in Westhampton and Riverside by the end of 2012.

Those trailers continue to draw concern from East End residents and officials, who say the county’s entire homeless sex offender population is being dumped on one town.

That was evident at a community forum hosted by Mr. Schneiderman (I-Montauk) at the county center Thursday night, where about 50 people gathered and vented their frustration at the county’s failure to remove the two trailers after seven years.

Mr. Schneiderman said he had spoken to Mr. Bellone the day before the meeting and had gotten some snippets of the new sex offender plan, which will be presented at Thursday’s committee meeting by Suffolk Police Chief James Burke and Laura Ahearn, Executive Director of Parents for Megan’s Law.

Mr. Schneiderman said he had hoped the new plan would have been ready before Wednesday’s forum, but it wasn’t. Mr. Bellone was not present, sending a member of his staff instead.

“The county executive said this new proposal would have the most intense monitoring of sex offenders anywhere in the country,” Mr. Schneiderman said. Mr. Bellone had originally planned to enact a plan the county legislature created in 2011, calling for the creation of six mini-shelters throughout the county, to replace the two trailers on the East End, which house about 40 homeless sex offenders, most of whom are not from the East End, Mr. Schneiderman said.

But Mr. Bellone felt it would take time to build these mini-shelters and each one would be met with intense opposition from neighbors, Mr. Schneiderman said.

So instead, he asked the police department to come up with a new plan that addresses not only the 40 or so homeless sex offenders but also the approximately 1,000 sex offenders who aren’t homeless in Suffolk County.

Mr. Schneiderman said the new plan could be voted on by the full Legislature Tuesday.

“The county executive said that if it doesn’t pass, he is willing to do the mini-shelters, but it is going to take time to build them,” he said.

Bill O’Leary, a forensic psychologist who worked with sex offenders and other criminals in conjunction with the police, said at Wednesday’s meeting that the average cost of putting a homeless sex offender in one of the trailers is $3,000 per person per month, whereas the average cost to house an ordinary homeless person is $309 per person per month.

“This is because of all the residency restrictions [placed on sex offenders],” he said. Living in the trailer hinders attempts to reduce recidivism in the sex offenders, he said.

“The better I do my job, the better chance someone won’t get hurt later,” Mr. O’Leary said. “I fought against the trailers because it compromises my ability to do my job. Instead of being able to get what they’re supposed to get from treatment, most of the ones sent back to jail are from the trailers, and are homeless. They are not getting anything from therapy, because they are worried about where they are going to sleep that night or where they are going to get food.”

Amy Davidson, who lives in downtown Riverhead, said she has two kids and worries about the proximity of the trailer at the jail parking lot to downtown Riverhead.

“I would like my kids to be able to ride their bikes to Ralph’s Italian Ices and know they are safe,” she said.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said it will be difficult to get the 18-member county Legislature to give up the trailers, because only two of the 18 represent the East End.

“The Town of Riverhead did a $104,000 budget transfer to increase patrols on Main Street,” Mr. Walter said. “Main Street is by far the heaviest patrolled area in the town, and that is in no small part because of this sex offender trailer.”

Mason Haas of Jamesport said the county is paying about $1.4 million a year to house the sex offenders in the trailers.

“This program is not working,” he said. “It needs to be fixed.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

01/17/13 5:59am
01/17/2013 5:59 AM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer, County Executive Steve Bellone, Legislator-elect Al Krupski and Legislator Wayne Horsley on election night.

Throughout his campaign for the 1st District seat in the Suffolk County Legislature, Republican Sean Walter repeatedly referred to his opponent’s party as the Babylon Democrats.

It’s not a terribly unfair remark, given that the county executive, the county Democratic chair and the Legislature’s deputy presiding officer all hail from that South Shore town.

County Legislator-elect Al Krupski now faces a major challenge -— how to balance the ideals of the North Fork with his obligation to the men and women who helped get him elected.

That balancing act was immediately on display Tuesday night as he posed for pictures with Suffolk County Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer, County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator Wayne Horsley. Mr. Krupski, third from left in the photo above, was the Teddy Roosevelt to their Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln of Mount Babmore. It was exactly the kind of image Mr. Walter would have wanted us all to see before we headed to the polls.

Soon after that picture came shots of the newly elected legislator with leaders of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association. Trust us, Suffolk’s finest will send him that picture as a reminder of their support when it comes time to negotiate a new contract.

Mr. Krupski is not in Kansas anymore. He’s not in Southold, either.

Hauppauge, home of the county Legislature, is a stressful place where he’ll be forced to make tough, often partisan decisions.

Will he be asked to bring development to the East End and turn his back on preservation? Doubtful. But he will almost certainly be asked to support initiatives that raise spending and increase taxes, particularly as the county continues to plug away at budget shortfalls.

As we noted in our endorsement of him last week, we believe Mr. Krupski has what it takes to balance his obligation to the residents of the North Fork with the needs of his party. Now it’s up to him to prove it.

01/09/13 9:00pm
01/09/2013 9:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The inside of the trailer for homeless sex offenders in place outside the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside.

With the News Year’s Day deadline to close the Riverside and Westhampton homeless sex offender trailers having come and gone without progress, County Legislator Jay Schneiderman has set up a community meeting later this month for residents to state their concerns.

Mr. Schneiderman was a guest speaker at Monday’s meeting of the Flanders, Riverside, and Northampton Community Association. He said County Executive Steve Bellone, who had promised to remove the trailers by the end of 2012, called him on New Year’s Eve to apologize and ask for more time to clear out the homeless trailers.

The trailers house all of Suffolk County’s homeless sex offenders, a policy that local town and county officials said was unfair to the Riverside and Westhampton communities who are being forced to shoulder the burden.

Mr. Schniederman said that while he believes Mr. Bellone will keep his promise and that he “remains committed to getting rid of [the trailers],” the community is not done fighting yet.

“I want to hear from you guys, too,” Mr. Schniederman said. “We’ve got schools, we’ve got libraries, we’ve got a lot places where children are and I will take whatever you say to the County Executive.”

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 30 at the County Center in Riverside and is open to the public.

Though Mr. Schneiderman said he was frustrated with the lack of progress on the issue, he said the county executive promised he would have a comprehensive proposal tackling not just the problem of homeless sex offenders in Suffolk County, but solving issues of housing all homeless families in Suffolk County by the Legislature’s first meeting in February.

Mr. Schneiderman said he hoped to have a draft of the plan before his Jan. 30 meeting to share with residents.

psquire@timesreview.com

01/02/13 11:23am
01/02/2013 11:23 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The trailer for homeless sex offenders on the Suffolk County jail property in Riverside.

County Executive Steve Bellone is urging Suffolk County Police Department officials to come up with a comprehensive plan to better protect residents from registered sex offenders.

No matter what the plan is, it must end the county’s policy of housing homeless sex offenders in trailers on the East End, Mr. Bellone said Wednesday.

The county currently provides overnight housing for homeless sex offenders who receive Department of Social Services assistance in two construction trailers, one in the parking lot of the county jail in Riverside and one on county police property in Westhampton.

Both are located in Southampton Town.

The trailers, which the county initially said would move to different locations, have remained in Southampton Town since 2007.

“We will develop the most stringent monitoring and enforcement program in the nation,” Mr. Bellone said in a press release about a larger plan to better protect the public from sex offenders living in Suffolk County.

Mr. Bellone has vowed to end the county’s current policy regarding homeless sex offenders within the first year of his administration but missed his January 1 deadline to close the trailers.

Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) said although he’s “disappointed” Mr. Bellone failed to keep his promise, he’s “encouraged” about his new approach.

“I think those who are affected are losing patience, but hopefully not losing hope,” said of his Riverside and Westhampton constituents.

The Legislature approved last year a plan to create a “mini shelter” in each town that would provide 24 hour housing to no more than six sex offenders at a time. The program’s design would only allow housing for up to 36 homeless sex offenders, which Mr. Bellone’s spokesman Jon Schneider said the county executive has “concerns” about.

Since the county is currently responsible to provide housing for over 40 sex offenders, Mr. Schneider said the law would already have to be amended to either allow more than six sex offenders in a shelter or place more than one shelter in a town.

Mr. Schneiderman, whose district includes both homeless sex offender locations, agreed the mini-shelter plan is problematic but said he believes it’s the best way to “share the burden.”

On Tuesday, former County Executive Steve Levy criticized Mr. Schneiderman on Twitter saying, “Leg. Schneiderman says can’t move east end sex offenders on his own, but he blocked voucher plan that would have had them moved 2 years ago.”

Mr. Schneiderman described Mr. Levy’s comment as “inaccurate” and “phony” since he and former North Fork Legislator Ed Romaine cast the only “yes” votes for the voucher program.

Mr. Schneiderman said he voted in favor of the voucher program, which involves providing homeless sex offenders $90 a night to stay in a motel, even though he didn’t like it because he believed it was a better plan than the current trailer policy.

“He could have implemented the plan on his own as county executive if he wanted to, but instead he brought it to the Legislature when he knew it would fail, overwhelming” Mr. Schneiderman said.

When asked if the police department is taking another look at a voucher program in addition to de-clustering homeless sex offenders housing on the East End, Mr. Schneider said “everything is on the table.”

“The only thing not on the table is maintaining the trailer policy, which the county executive firmly believes is a burden on East End communities,” he said.

Mr. Schneider said the police department will work with other local agencies, advocacy organizations and mental health experts to determine how to strengthen the county’s overall approach in dealing with over 1,000 sex offenders.

He stressed there has been “far too much focus” on how to deal with the four percent that are homeless and believes the new direction of the discussion is needed in order to come up with ways to track and monitor the majority of county sex offenders.

The new plan is expected to be submitted to the Legislature later this month. County officials said the earliest the plan could be voted is at the Legislature’s Feb. 5 meeting.

jennifer@timesreview.com