Long Island Developmental Center

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Long Island Developmental Center
Established 1962
Opened 1965
Closed 1993
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Melville, NY
Alternate Names
  • Suffolk State School


In the summer of 1962 the state opened up the first bids for the center's construction. This bid included the power plants and the first building. By December of the same year, the second bidding process had begun and this included 50 buildings to go up on the site. That same month, the public was invited to a presentation in Smithtown in which the state presented its plans and functions for the new center. (Long-Islander, Dec. 6, 1962)

By mid-October 1965 the new Suffolk State School for the Mentally Retarded officially opened its doors and admitted its first 10 patients. These children were transferred together from the Bronx State Hospital. At this time, construction would not be completed for at least a year. The School estimated it would take five years to reach full capacity at 2,800 patients, with 1,100 staff, accepting a rate of 10 patients per week until staff was fully trained and they could accept more rapidly. (Long-Islander, Oct. 21, 1965)

The developmental center was a completely self-contained community with three commercial kitchens, a medical/surgical unit that housed x-ray equipment; a surgical suite; dental suites; a physiotherapy unit; clinics; laboratory; medical library and pharmacy as well as wards for postoperative cases and those who were acutely and/or chronically ill. LIDC, as it was fondly called by the individuals who lived there and the staff who cared for them, also had a fully operational power plant, sewage plant, maintenance and security services and a school building.

Controversy began when the living conditions of the patients at LIDC were being questioned. In August 1989 District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein ruled for the second time (first in 1984) that conditions need to be improved and populations reduced at the site. In 1986, the State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities proposed "the building of 40 to 50 small residential units to be built along the perimeter of the 500 acres of the Long Island Developmental Center for 600 clients now living in dormitories on the site… the units would be temporary homes, until the clients could be moved into the community in a 10-year period," according to the Feb. 8, 1987 Newsday.In 1990, in order to settle the lawsuit originally brought in 1978 by patients, the state agreed to move all its residents into small residential homes. (In 1992, they bought 40 homes and converted them for this use.) But by the end of 1990, the state decided to close all of its developmental centers.

On March 31, 1993, in the face of this and another major lawsuit, as well as shifts in the state policy, the Long Island Development Center closed its doors. Following the closure of the LIDC in June, 1993, the Long Island DDSO became a total community-based service system, working in concert with approximately 75 voluntary agencies as well as consumers, families, governmental entities and other interested parties. The property has been re-developed & is now a golf course and housing for seniors.