Call it the Sex Offender Inn. Or Pedophile Bed & Breakfast.
The latest controversy over homeless sex offenders being placed in local motels prompted Warren County supervisors Friday to brainstorm ways to find other places to house them.
Not only would creating a boarding house or other shelter help the county avoid the problems that have occurred with motel placements, it could save the county money, Thurman Supervisor Lawrence "Red" Pitkin said.
Pitkin, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors Social Services Committee, raised the issue Friday in light of a Post-Star article this week that detailed the county Department of Social Services' placement of at least five Level 2 or Level 3 sex offenders in the Econo Lodge motel, less than 1,300 feet from the Queensbury schools campus.
County law bars sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, park or daycare facility.
Queensbury Supervisor Dan Stec said he sent an e-mail to Social Services Commissioner Sheila Weaver on Thursday asking that the sex offenders who were placed in the Econo Lodge this week and last week be removed.
Many of them will have to be moved in the coming days anyway, once a new town law takes effect that limits how many sex offenders can be housed in a motel. Only two Level 2 or Level 3 offenders will be allowed in any given accommodation.
Weaver said Friday afternoon that her office was working to find somewhere else for them.
"We will, as soon as we can, find alternative housing, but it's difficult," she said.
Finding alternative housing was the goal of supervisors Friday as they discussed ways to avoid the issues that have been raised in recent months after the Department of Social Services placed families in a motel with sex offenders, then moved the sex offenders to the motel near the school.
Pitkin suggested using the Gurney Lane building that houses the county Code Enforcement Office as a rooming house once the Code Enforcement Office moves into the new Human Services building. Stec, though, pointed out that building is within 1,000 feet of the town-owned Gurney Lane Recreation Area.
Other ideas tossed around included renovating part of the former county jail so it could be used as a shelter, but the cost of renovations was deemed prohibitive in past debates about reuse of the building.
Glens Falls 5th Ward Supervisor Bill Kenny suggested the county find a property being sold for unpaid taxes and renovate it so it could serve as a boarding house. With $120,000 or so a year being paid to motels to house the homeless, the county could hire a staff member for the house and still save money.
Weaver said some counties, such as Chenango and Orange, have taken this route. Law enforcement prefers such arrangements, since keeping sex offenders in one area makes them easier to monitor, she said.
"It does seem feasible to find an alternative to paying the hotels and motels," said Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors.
County officials are already working toward using part of the county-owned Countryside Adult Home to house homeless women and children, and there is a plan to put homeless men in a new shelter proposed as part of the Glens Falls Open Door Soup Kitchen's future move.
No matter where the county winds up putting homeless sex offenders, neighbors will have issues, Stec said.
"You're never going to put these folks where everybody is happy," Stec said. "But we can solve a social issue and potentially save money."
The committee asked county Administrator/Attorney Paul Dusek to investigate the scenarios for using the former jail or buying a piece of property.
In the interim, Weaver said the Department of Social Services plans to "double bunk" the sex offenders who are in motels to save money. Other counties have done this as well, she said.
She said the county was paying for temporary housing for 12 homeless people, eight of them registered sex offenders, as of Friday.