Tonawanda News

Columns

October 18, 2012

KEPPELER: In a house at the end of the street

Tonawanda News — I drove past 52 Dixon Drive this morning.

It’s a very nice house, in a nice neighborhood. I could see myself living there. I could see my family taking strolls on those shaded streets, sitting on that porch, playing on that lawn. It looks, well, welcoming.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for me to wrap my brain around the whole brouhaha involving the location of an upcoming respite home for developmentally disabled children, at that very nice house at the corner of Dixon Drive.

Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled plans to open the home next spring, using it to help alleviate the desperate need for overnight respite sites in Buffalo and its ‘burbs. Some families have been on waiting lists for years for overnight respite, and none of the current facilities that meet this need are in this area, said Kari Heigl, director of funding and development for Community Services.

The house will be used by up to six young people per weekday afternoon, teens who will be aging out of school and who need to prepare for living as adults and getting ready for work. They get to learn the ropes in an actual home, and their parents or caregivers get a break. Win-win.

Long-term, the house will offer overnight respite services to up to four children (ages 5 to 18) at a time, giving them a safe place to stay while their families do whatever they need to do, whether it be work or simply get a good night’s sleep. Plans are to start with two, Friday through Monday, and work up to four.

In other words, that nice house will have kids in it. Not monsters. Not criminals. Kids. 

You couldn’t tell from the reaction, though. A resident petition was brought to the Town of Tonawanda board, objecting to the facility. Another resident wants a hearing, wants to make Community Services go before state officials to defend something completely legal and legit. 

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