BUFFALO, N.Y. — The legal battle over the future of the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center will wage on in the courts, after a judge allowed a lawsuit against Gov. Cuomo and the state’s mental health commissioner to proceed.
State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto denied a motion from the state attorney general Wednesday to dismiss the litigation, ruling the coalition that filed the lawsuit has legal standing to do so.
“The governor is fighting tooth and nail to shut down the state's best facility so I have to anticipate appeals,” said Steve Cohen, attorney for the Save Our WNY CPC Coalition. “I think the governor wants to wear us out financially because this is expensive and people are financing this litigation out of their own pockets.”
It's the latest chapter in a saga that's lasted more than four years for a group of patients, parents and mental health workers fighting to keep the facility as it stands in West Seneca.
They’re suing to stop the state's plan to close the facility, and merge it with the renovated adult psychiatric center in Buffalo. Opponents say kids should not be treated on the same campus as adults.
While opposition continues in the courts, lawmakers are ready to take the court of public opinion back to Albany this month.
Assemblyman Mickey Kearns and Sen. Pat Gallivan say they've gathered more than 14,000 signatures from residents urging Cuomo to sign a bill to keep the children's facility in West Seneca. The state legislature passed that measure unanimously in June.
The legal fight will continue at a date to be determined.