For more than five years, David Chudy was one of the many fighting to keep the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center in West Seneca.
"Those kids and those families, who through all their trauma and difficulties never gave up in their own lives, and we weren't going to give up on them," Chudy said.
Now, the facility once on the verge of closure is in line for major upgrades. New York State is accepting proposals for $30 million in renovations at the West Seneca site.
They include 48,000-square feet of new space for residential inpatient rooms and support services, and demolishing part of the old building, which was built in 1970. The plan also calls for upgrades to the education and administration areas along with enhanced safety and security measures. Proposals are due by February 19.
The surprising turn of events would have been hard to fathom for supporters of the WNY CPC at this time last year.
New York State planned to close the building in West Seneca and begin treating children at the urban Buffalo Psychiatric Center, where adults are currently treated.
Many former patients, families, staff and local lawmakers thought that was a bad idea. For years, they rallied together to urge Gov. Cuomo to change that plan and even sued the state's top executive and the commissioner of the Office of Mental Health.
But last April, Cuomo reversed course and announced WNY CPC would remain in West Seneca.
"The effort to keep that place did not shrink. It just kept growing and growing," Chudy said.
State Sen. Pat Gallivan, R-Elma, was a key lawmaker in a bipartisan effort to keep the center in its current location.
"The investment is a demonstration of their commitment to keeping the Children's Psychiatric Center in West Seneca and it ensures its long-term viability," Gallivan said. "It's rewarding for the people who stood up for that facility, but more importantly, for the children and families that will need these services going well into the future.
And with that future now much more secure, advocates like Dave Chudy can celebrate once again.
"Other than marrying my wife, this is the best thing I've done in my life, and I'm proud," Chudy said.