The cluster of trailers that long housed homeless sex offenders on Suffolk's East End are officially a thing of the past.
More than two months after the county relocated the last of the 40 or so offenders living there, it has hauled away the physical structures. The removal, completed Aug. 9, is providing comfort to local elected leaders, who remained worried that as long as the trailers existed the offenders could be returned.
"I didn't want people thinking, somehow, they might be used again," Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) said of the trailers in Westhampton and near the county jail in Riverside. "It was a sore spot."
Suffolk, after six years of isolating its homeless sex offenders at the two sites within the Town of Southampton, on May 28 transferred the last of the men who spent their nights there. Under the county's Community Protection Act, adopted in February, the homeless offenders will be moved regularly between general single-male shelters throughout Suffolk.
County Executive Steve Bellone proposed the new policy after years of protests from East End residents and elected officials who said the trailers unfairly burdened their communities with all of the homeless offenders, and took attention away from efforts to better monitor all 1,000 of Suffolk's registered sex offenders.
But just as Bellone needed five months past his first self-imposed deadline to relocate the offenders, he didn't immediately break down the trailers, either. Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) raised the issue at a July meeting with social services officials, prompting the action earlier this month.
"They should have moved them that day, because then, there's no temptation," Krupski said of a hypothetical scenario in which an offender would have been temporarily placed back in the trailers, possibly allowing more to follow. "But either way, that won't happen. The trailers are gone now."
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst also said she believed residents needed reassurance that the offenders would not return if the new program doesn't work out.
"This ends what has been a very difficult program for the constituents and neighbors in the Town of Southampton," she said. "Now we're in a more appropriate program spreading the burden around the county."