Citing information he has received that the process to close the Vineland Developmental Center is already under way, Senator Jeff Van Drew sent a letter to Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez calling on the department to refrain from taking any action to shutter the facility before a full and proper vetting of the plan.
Senator Van Drew – who strongly opposes the facility’s closure – said the FY 2012 budget proposal has already caused widespread concern, as it would displace hundreds of facility residents and leave more than 1,300 people jobless in one of the poorest areas of the state.
“Most disturbing, however, is information I have received from residents’ families, as well as advocates, that the administration is already making arrangements to close the facility, before a full and proper vetting of the proposal. This makes absolutely no sense. A proposal that would have such far-reaching consequences – dramatically altering the lives of literally thousands of residents – cannot be rammed through the budget process,” he wrote.
Van Drew added that he has discussed the matter with Senate President Steve Sweeney, who has expressed support for the senator’s position that no arrangements be made to move forward with the facility’s closure before the proposal is fully and publicly vetted.
“He believes, as do I, that it is imperative the Legislature – and facility residents – be given a clear understanding of the proposal and a reasonable opportunity to present alternatives before the administration moves forward. Quite simply, the stakes are much too high to allow for anything different,” Van Drew wrote.