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Housing proposed for Cooper Street site

A rendering of a proposed 28-unit apartment complex on Cooper Street, Glens Falls, which would be targeted for mentally ill and homeless people. The Warren-Washington Association for Mental Health on May 21 received a variance for the project. The next step is Planning Board review in June.

State bureaucracy moves so slowly.

As a reporter, I often use Freedom of Information Law requests to obtain information. They are helpful to get settlement agreements, contracts or other important documents. I have been covering the efforts by the Warren-Washington for Mental Health to build a 29-unit facility for people who are homeless and dealing with mental illness. Check out my previous stories on the issue that can be seen accompanying this blog.

Back in March 28, I filed an online Freedom of Information Request with the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to seek the application that the organization filed to obtain the project. I figured it would have useful information about the need for the application. I receive an email almost immediately acknowledging my request.

On April 25, I get a reply that more time is needed to fulfill my request and it estimates that the state agency will complete its search for any review of any records that fulfill the request by May 24.

I saw that I had an email regarding my FOIL request on Tuesday and I was optimistic. However, rather than a response to my request, I get a copy of a letter sent by the OTDA to Andrea Deepe, executive director of the Warren-Washington Association for Mental Health, informing her that a FOIL request has been received from me.

The letter says that its various programs have provided the Records Access Office with copies of materials that the mental health organization has submitted to the office. Now it is asking that Deepe: “submit a detailed justification for the portions of your documents that you designated as critical infrastructure or trade secret information, or information that would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of your entity if disclosed.”

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Article 6, Section 89(5) of the Public Officers Law, says that only documents that OTDA determines to constitute critical infrastructure, trade secret or information that would harm the organization’s competitive position can be exempt from disclosure.

The state agency said Deepe must provide very specific reasons if she believes certain materials should be exempt.

“The mere overall claim that material is trade secret, confidential, proprietary, or constitutes critical infrastructure is not sufficient to allow us to grant the material an exception from disclosure.”

The deadline for the Warren-Washington Association for Mental Health to respond is May 24.

I will keep you posted.

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Michael Goot covers politics, business, the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog at http://poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

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