MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- Mount Kisco officials are seeking to clear out two wooded encampment areas, including one in the area of where Jose Sanchez died earlier this month.
The use of encampments by homeless people, along with the clearance plans, was discussed by Mount Kisco Village Board members at a Monday work session.
Interim Village Manager Gennaro Faiella noted that the sites include a wooded area off of Lieto Drive - Sanchez's body was discovered in the vicinity, according to police - and another that is off of Lexington Avenue and behind Hudson Valley Bank.
Faiella, who toured the camp near Lieto last week with village officials, described the camping evidence that was found.
“There’s a tent, couple of mattresses," he said.
A search of the site near Lexington, Faiella added, resulted in the discovery of tents, bottles, clothes and trash.
The plan being considered, according to Faiella, involved getting police and Westchester County's Department of Social Services to get inhabitants of the sites to vacate. An outside company hired by the village would then clean up the sites. The village would then have undergrowth brush removed with special equipment. The removal of the undergrowth, Faiella added, is to make it harder for people to hide. Repeated plant maintenance would need to be done, however.
Westchester County police allege that suspects got into an altercation with Sanchez, who was homeless, in the wooded area.
The wooded area was also used for socializing, police said, also noting that Sanchez and some suspects slept there at a given time.
Sanchez, 53, was originally from Honduras and his body was discovered by a female relative who knew that he socialized in the wooded area, police said. Police said that Sanchez was bludgeoned with a piece of wood.
The trio of suspects were charged, according to police, are 34-year-old Freddy Coronado-Mendez, 35-year-old Milton Ventura and 39-year-old Mario Coronado-Depaz. All three were charged with first-degree manslaughter.
Faiella told the board that Carola Bracco, executive director of Neighbors Link, along with George Oros, chief of staff for Weschester County Executive Rob Astorino, were recently approached about the homelessness issue. He added that alcoholism and other problems preclude members of the homeless population from being able to live in a shelter.
Currently, there is some private assistance for homeless people, although it is not on a year-round basis. A group called the Emergency Shelter Partnership - according to its website , it is backed by several local houses of worship - offers help from November to March.
One challenge, which was discussed during the work session, is to find out what New York City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is willing to support, if anything, in the clearance of the site near Lieto. The site is owned by the village but falls within the watershed for the city's water supply, Mayor Michael Cindrich said in an interview.
It was suggested during the work session that clearance of the two sites could be done in a separate, phased process. One benefit to clearing the site near Lexington, speakers noted, would be that if could then serve as a pedestrian walking trail, the usage of which could help to mitigate squatting.
Cindrich also feels that more should be done to handle the issue.
“We have to be more diligent,” he said.
The mayor also noted that there are unsantifary conditions that need to be addressed; he said that people who may do clean-up work have been looking to use hazmat gear and respirators