I've read that Rikers Island is New York's largest psychiatric institution, holding more mentally ill people than all Office of Mental Health hospitals combined. This is a result of decades of closing psychiatric facilities: People end up incarcerated as a last resort.

I find it seriously alarming that Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center is slated for closure next year ["Slow down on psych center," Editorial, Sept. 29]. It is unconscionable that a hospital with such a stellar reputation that provides a very valuable inpatient program is on the chopping block.

Last year, Sagamore was told to cut 15 beds. This probably amounts to between 45 and 60 admissions that never happened because of the cut. At any given time, 15 to 20 children were on the waiting list for admission. So the number of mentally ill children who needed these services didn't decrease, but vital services were eliminated for them. And now the hospital is slated to close.

It seems to me that we are targeting the most vulnerable. We are targeting the people who do not have much of a constituency. We are ignoring the needs of the mentally ill.

We are turning the mentally ill into a chemically dependent population. No buildings, no beds, no nurses, no grass to cut; just throw them a pill and move along.

Give these children the support they need.

Patti Zerafa, East Patchogue

Editor's note: The writer is a former parent advocate at the Sagamore center.

How could any sane and caring administration even consider closing Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills? It always has been a haven of care, shelter and concern for troubled children.

To close this center would place an almost insurmountable hardship on Nassau and Suffolk parents, forcing them to travel to Queens or the Bronx to visit their children. How many children would not get to see their parents at all?

Kenneth W. Leeds, East Setauket

Thinking creatively on Postal Service

The Postal Service should consider untapped revenue sources to reduce operating deficits and perhaps even turn a small profit ["Stamps could go up again," News, Sept. 26].

The Postal Service could sell advertising space on mailboxes and vehicles. It could sell some of its valuable real estate and move to less expensive locations.

Why not join banks, fast-food restaurants and coffee sellers that sublet space at Walmarts and other big box stores? Or generate revenue and customers by subletting excess capacity at post offices to city or state agencies, or private sector businesses?

Also, have members of Congress and other elected officials pay the real, full costs for their annoying frequent bulk-rate mailings to constituents. They are nothing more than free re-election campaign brochures subsidized by taxpayers.

Larry Penner, Great Neck

Proper maintenance protects LI water

The Nassau-Suffolk Water Commissioners Association commends the recent Newsday-News 12 effort to inform the public about Long Island's most valuable resource, our single-source water supply ["When it comes to water use, LI is . . . Lawn Island," News, Sept. 26].

As an association composed of professionals closest to Long Island's water needs, we understand the intricacies of water production, delivery, conservation and sustainability. Long Island's independent, commissioner-elected water districts represent ratepayers and constituents with vigilance and dedication. As the recent coverage illustrates, this has resulted in an average cost of drinking water that is one of the lowest in the nation.

The proactive infrastructure upgrading policies have served taxpayers well in other ways. Most notably, when superstorm Sandy carved a wide swath of destruction, water districts did not experience interruption in service.

It should be pointed out that today the safety of our sole-source aquifer and water supply systems must be guarded not only against pollution, overuse and salt water intrusion, but also against potential terrorist activities.

We believe that Long Island's aquifer must be defended with science and passion for the benefit of our children's children.

Gary Brosnan, Hicksville

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the association, which is made up of commissioners from 21 Nassau and Suffolk county water districts.

The political and the personal

The government shutdown would be fixed overnight -- or never would have happened -- if members of Congress were also furloughed and didn't receive any salary or benefits for the duration ["Vote ruled out," News, Oct. 7].

Also, the Social Security mess would be fixed overnight if the members retired on Social Security instead of with extravagant benefits.

Charles Naftal, Mineola


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