New Paltz Motel Continues to House Sex Offenders Amid Pending Lawsuit

Three New Sex Offenders Move Into New Paltz Area
The Econo Lodge Motel in New Paltz, now called the Best Inn Motel, where sex offenders are housed in return for compensation to the owner.

The Best Inn Motel has had a controversial presence in New Paltz. On Oct. 25, an email was sent out notifying SUNY New Paltz students about the relocation of three sex offenders to the community. Two of the three sex offenders have relocated to what is now being called the Best Inn Motel, previously known as the Econo Lodge, where sex offenders living in New Paltz have stayed in the past. 

Recently, seven medium-high level sex offenders moved into the Econo Lodge from October and November 2020. Outrage over this from SUNY New Paltz students and town members prompted a local ordinance, called Local Law 92, which required any motel owner to apply for a license to allow for sex offenders to occupy their premises. The law requires two separate licenses that cost $1,500 and $3,000, which is described as “an arbitrarily derived fee,” for the sex offenders to be allowed to live on a site. The law would limit the number of sex offenders allowed to reside at a particular address using a formula based on the three sex offender risk levels. 

In response to the law, the owner of the Econo Lodge, Shree Granesh LLC, a travel accommodation company, filed a lawsuit against the Town of New Paltz. The lawsuit claims, “[New Paltz’s] attempt to enforce Local Law 92, as indicated herein, is an unconstitutional exercise of authority,” because it is in violation of four New York State laws related to sex offenders.

As former University Police Chief Mary Ritayik told The Oracle in November 2020, there’s “an agreement between New York State and the Econo Lodge to house these offenders,” which refers to an over 15 year agreement the Econo Lodge owner has with the Ulster County Department of Social Services, allegedly beginning in 2005, to house registered sex offenders at the motel in return for compensation by Ulster County.

Nearby SUNY New Paltz are the New Paltz High School and the New Paltz Middle School, all of which are within an approximate five-minute drive from the Best Inn Motel. Unfortunately, there is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer as to whether sex offenders may live near a school. After prison, there are few places for sex offenders to live, with many state laws prohibiting offenders from living 1,000 feet from places where children gather, like schools, parks, swimming pools, etc. In New York State, Level 3 registered sex offenders are restricted from “knowingly entering” childcare facilities and school grounds, which courts have interpreted as meaning that those offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school. Level 1 and 2 sex offenders, however, are only restricted from holding residency within 1,000 feet while on parole and probation, not once probation and parole have been lifted. Residency laws often destabilize sex offenders, causing them to cluster together in areas livable for them, such as the Best Inn Motel. The two sex offenders at the Best Inn Motel are placed at a Risk Level 2. 

A final decision regarding the lawsuit has not been made in court as Assistant to the Town Supervisor of New Paltz Kathy Preston, told The Oracle, “The lawsuit is still pending, so it can’t be implemented or enforced until a decision is made by the courts. To be clear, the law as proposed does not eliminate the housing of sex offenders entirely, but only limits the number that may reside at one location at a time.”

No information is currently known about the name change of the motel. The owner of the Best Inn Motel declined to comment in time for the article. 

The Town of New Paltz police chooses to notify SUNY New Paltz about sex offenders in the area because it is considered an “[entity] with vulnerable populations related to the nature of the offense.” University Police Chief Michael Corbisiero stated, “Here at University Police, we put these messages out to advise all members of the SUNY New Paltz community for safety reasons, as the safety of all of our students, staff and visitors is our primary responsibility.” Chief Corbisiero reminds students of a safety message, emailed to all students on Aug. 26, on how to remain safe while walking around the campus and the town of New Paltz, as well as in the residence halls. 

Many students remain outraged at the relocation of the sex offenders to New Paltz. First-year student Jadyn Acosta told The Oracle, “I believe the sex offenders should not be allowed to have reconciliation. Their charges are honestly disgusting, and they should not have been allowed to reintegrate into society. Sex offenders are sick in the head, and the fact that they have levels baffles me. When I was on the phone with the police officer who helped me look at the full list of people, he told me that he immediately recognized one of the names because of his multiple crimes.”

As a reminder to all students, the UPD phone number is 845-257-2222 from a cell phone, and 2222 or 911 from any campus phone.

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About Lilly Sabella 44 Articles
Lilly Sabella is a second-year student from Queens, NY. This is her first semester as News Editor and her third semester on the Oracle. You can reach her by emailing sabellal1@newpaltz.edu.