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Officials: Part Of Campus Causing Trouble For Westchester Community Will Be Shutting Its Doors

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A section of a state-regulated facility for troubled youth which has become a big problem for one Westchester County town will be shutting its doors, according to local lawmakers.

Sean Pickering left a Wednesday night meeting feeling optimistic, a vast change from the terrifying incidents of the past week when a 17-year-old from the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls facility -- one of three facilities on a campus for troubled youth in Mt. Pleasant -- walked into his neighboring home with a boxcutter.

"I did not expect anything to come out of this meeting at all tonight, to be honest," Pickering said. "So to hear one of the residences is going to be closing and the most dangerous one at that, I'm quite surprised and happy about it."

State Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Shrub Oak) revealed that the problematic facility will be shutting its doors during the meeting held with concerned members of the community.

Residents of Mt. Pleasant say students from the facility, which is regulated by the state Office of Children and Family Services and run by the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, have been sneaking off campus and into their homes, cars, and businesses.

Local leaders said they were fed up and want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to intervene.

Terrifying, but not unusual to see a student from the facility walking off campus and into a neighboring home.

"We've had kids leaving there, robbing people, breaking into homes," Carl Fulgenzi said.

Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said the state-run school houses troubled kids and teenagers at an open campus facility, meaning students can leave at any time, often with little or no resistance.

When they cause trouble, Mt. Pleasant Police are the ones answering the call.

"They don't pay any taxes, they don't pay for our services, our police are constantly there, fire department ambulances, all these services are provided to the facility on the backs of the taxpayers of Mt. Pleasant," Fulgenzi said.

Residents are fed up.

"I don't want the school here," said John Bishcoff, who lives down the street.

Fulgenzi and Murphy wrote a letter to Cuomo demanding the state police put 'boots on the ground' to help with 'unnecessary drain of local taxpayer resources for the state's problem.'

On Wednesday, the town held a community meeting in hopes of forcing Albany's hand.

"We need the governor to say enough is enough. We either close the facility or run them properly, but our residents don't deserve this," Fulgenzi said.

Officials on Wednesday said the closure will take place over the next several months as the 54 at-risk kids there transfer out. While many residents share Pickering's optimism, others say more must be done.

"I think it all needs to be shut down," Pleasantville resident Susan Kharuba said. "It's just bureaucracy."

Meanwhile, the Office of Mental Health portion of the facility will remain open with added security and restructured guidelines.

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