The clock is ticking -- and two homeless sex offender trailers that have been sited for years in Riverside and Westhampton are still open every night.
And, with a Jan. 1 deadline only weeks away, the date when County Executive Steve Bellone promised he would have the sites shuttered at a press conference in Southampton earlier this year, elected officials are calling on Bellone to keep his promise.
The two trailers, which house homeless sex offenders from across Suffolk County, who say it is unfair that Southampton Town shoulders the burden of housing all the offenders and that the balance should be fairly shifted to other locations countywide.
Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman has been advocating for years to have the trailers closed, alongside former Legislator Ed Romaine. But, since former Suffolk County Legislator Romaine won an election to serve as Brookhaven Town Supervisor -- a special election will be held on Jan. 15 as candidates Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter and Southold Town Councilman Al Krupski vie for the seat -- Schneiderman said he is currently waging the battle alone.
Schneiderman said he is slated to meet with Bellone next week.
Although Schneiderman said Bellone told him Hurricane Sandy had delayed focus on the homeless sex offender trailer issue, the legislator said Friday, "I'm still expecting him to keep his promise. We have lived with this for years now. It should never have happened and we have been struggling to correct this outrageous unfairness."
Finally, Schneiderman said, he was heartened in May when Bellone pledged to have the trailers closed by Jan. 1.
That promise, Schniderman said, gave residents "long overdue relief so our communities can sleep at night. He gave us his word, and we are counting on him to honor it."
If, on Jan. 1, the trailers are still open, Schneiderman said he plans to immediately host a community meeting in Riverhead, which he will invite Bellone to attend, "so he can face the community."
Both candidates in the coming election agree the sex offender trailer issue is critical to residents.
"I'm sure the county executive will live up to his pledge," Krupski said. "I don't blame the people who live near there at all one bit for being upset."
When asked how he would deal with the issue, should be be elected to the Suffolk County Legislature, Krupski said, "What do we do with these people? That's the question. No one, for obvious reasons, wants them in their neighborhood."
Although Krupski said the issue was one he had not yet discussed with Bellone, "It's very important to people."
Walter said, as the deadline looms, "I'm hoping the county executive keeps his word. That's what we expect, when our elected officials tells us that they will keep their word."
Should he be elected to the Legislature, Walter said he would try a different approach regarding the homeless sex offender trailer in Riverside. Walter said he would like to study whether Sheriff Vincent DeMarco has the legal authority under the New York State constitution to shut down the trailer, which is sited in the parking lot of the Suffolk County correctional facility.
Should the sheriff have the ability, Walter said, "I would try to take the decision right out of the county legislature's hands."
But no matter what route, Walter "absolutely" wants the trailers closed, he said.
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said Bellone told her that he is addressing the issue, although Hurricane Sandy concerns sparked some delays.
"Mr. Bellone assured me last week that an alternative program is to be put forth in short order. I, in turn, reiterated to him the town's commitment to barring no means to be make sure this happened -- including legal action, if a significant change and relief for Southampton is not forthcoming in the near future."
Bellone did not immediately return multiple requests for comment.