WEST SENECA, N.Y. — The future of the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center is now, literally, in the hands of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The bill that was passed unanimously by the state legislature that would keep the center open in West Seneca was delivered to the governor Wednesday morning, along with a petition signed by more than 16,000 Western New Yorkers.
"I believe it's 15,000 signatures to run for governor in the state of New York, and if you secure 16,000 just from Western New York, that's how much support the people of Western New York has," said Assemblyman Mickey Kearns.
The governor now has 10 days to either sign the bill into law or veto it.
"What the governor's council indicated to me is that they haven't fully reviewed the legislation yet, but they will do that once they get it," said Sen. Patrick Gallivan.
If he vetoes, Gallivan and Kearns plan to call on the legislature to override the veto.
That would require a special legislative session and a two-thirds vote from both the Senate and Assembly.
"Recognizing of this facility that it's not just the best in the state, but the best in the country, and the kids deserve no less," said Gallivan.
The state plans to merge the Children's Psych Center with the Buffalo Psychiatric Center on Forest Avenue.
It’s a move that would save the state approximately $3 million per year.
But it would put children and adults receiving mental health treatment under one roof—a move thousands of Western New Yorkers have spoken out against.
"This is our most vulnerable population. I'm hopeful the governor will be compassionate and sign the bill," said Kearns.
If the bill is vetoed, Kearns plans to join an ongoing lawsuit brought against the governor and the State Department of Mental Health by the Save Our Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center Coalition.
"This will be another empty building on this site and the people of West Seneca pay a lot of taxes. They deserve better from the state of New York," said Kearns.
The governor will have until December 4 to make a decision.