By Rich Bockmann
Residents near the Creedmoor Psychiatric Campus in Bellerose say the state-owned property is a magnet for all sorts of unwanted visitors and unscrupulous activities, and neither the police nor campus security can seem to get the situation under control.
Creedmoor is divided into two sections by Union Turnpike, with the state Office of Mental Health’s psychiatric center in the north. The south campus is home to a number of different programs — some run by various state offices, others by independent nonprofits — many of which provide outpatient services to people with substance-abuse, psychiatric and/or developmental-disability issues.
Patricia Luppino lives in Country Pointe, a community developed about 10 years ago on a piece of property purchased from the state on the south campus. Her home is adjacent to the nonprofit Institute for Community Living, which provides supported housing to “chronically and persistently mentally ill adult populations, many of whom are referred from state psychiatric centers [Creedmoor],” according to its website.
Luppino said she has had to put up with rocks being thrown at her house and men urinating against the institute’s building, and even once saw a man expose himself to a woman.
“It’s awful,” she said. “I can’t use my backyard.”
Neighbors tell stories of patients wandering the grounds heavily medicated, and say the large concentration of people with substance-abuse problems makes the campus an ideal target for drug dealers.
Frank Toner, president of the Rocky Hill Civic Association, said he and his neighbors regularly see “aggressive panhandling” at a nearby deli, as well as people fighting and selling drugs along the outskirts of the campus.
“As far as we know, they’re either residents [of Creedmoor] or people there selling drugs to them,” he said.
The Office of Mental Health said it has a total of 22 security personnel at Creedmoor, while others such as the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Treatment and the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities have their own security details, each of which is responsible for dealing with its own patients.
The NYPD said the situation at Creedmoor has gotten worse over the past year.
Deputy Inspector Joseph Courtesis of the 105th Precinct said radio runs to the campus have increased 40 percent, averaging out to about six visits a day. The majority of the calls, he said, are for emotionally disturbed people and require the precinct to send at least two cars.
“It eats up resources tremendously,” he said.
The commanding officer recently attended a meeting to discuss the issue at Queens Borough Hall, where he suggested OMH increase its security staff.
The office, however, asserted it had taken the proper steps to ensure safety.
“Our staff at OMH meets regularly with the community and the surrounding businesses,” spokeswoman Leesa Rademacher wrote in an e-mail. “In most cases, many of the troubles attributed to clients of the Office of Mental Health are, in fact, not OMH patients.”
Assemblyman David Weprin’s (D-Little Neck) office said it was still working with all the stakeholders to find an appropriate solution.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.