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Town: County should stop housing clients at motel

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino and councilman

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino and councilman Anthony D'Esposito at a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, at Island Park's Plantation Motel. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino on Tuesday called on Nassau County to disqualify an Island Park motel from housing social services clients.

Santino and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito wrote a letter Tuesday to Nassau County Social Services Commissioner John Imhof claiming there has been “constant police activity and extensive EMS calls for response” at the motel.

“A motel is not a proper housing solution,” Santino said Tuesday at a news conference in front of the Plantation Motel, flanked by D’Esposito, Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty and village community members. “We are fed up with this situation here.”

An employee at the Plantation Motel declined to comment and the owner could not be reached.

The Nassau County Department of Social Services would not confirm if it uses the Plantation Motel for social services clients or provide the locations of other motels it uses, citing confidentiality reasons. More than 1,100 people are housed in hotels and motels in Nassau County through the department.

Imhof said in a statement that while his department usually discourages the use of motels for homeless residents, sometimes shelters are unavailable or family needs “cannot be met in another type of housing.” In addition, individuals and families with health-related issues require private accommodations and bathrooms after hospital stays, Imhof said.

“Because of these needs, it would be inappropriate for them to go into shelters or nursing home facilities,” he said.

Nassau police have responded to the motel on Long Beach Road about 30 times since January and have made three arrests there since then, on drug and stolen property charges. Last year, police made one misdemeanor assault arrest at the motel.

The Island Park Fire Department’s EMS unit was called to the motel 13 times in 2016 — an average of about once a month — and has responded nine times so far this year, Chief James Miotto said. The calls mostly have been for drug overdoses, domestic violence incidents and assaults, he said.

“We think that 13 calls in a year is a lot,” town spokesman Mike Deery said, noting that if other communities in the town have similar issues with hotels and motels, the town would address those as well. “We think there are far too many calls there.”

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