Plans for former B&B in Schenectady approved

Swinger sex parties a thing of the past

Thursday, November 20, 2008
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— The swinging sex parties on Union Street are being replaced by sedate counseling sessions, and the neighbors couldn’t be happier.

At Wednesday’s city Planning Commission meeting, several neighbors of the former Union Street B&B expressed grave doubts at first about its new proposed use as a mental health office. One said they were envisioning patients in straitjackets, foaming at the mouth as they were dragged into the building.

Once they learned that psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers would be meeting one-on-one with outpatients struggling from disorders as common as depression and attention deficit disorder, they gave the plan their approval. The commission granted permission as well.

“I think they got it right,” said Dr. Anthony DePalma, a dentist who works across the street from the 1362 Union St. building. “This building has been notorious to say the least. This will turn it around.”

Neighbors Terry and Linda McClain agreed.

“It will be nice for him to get rid of the stigma. It was very embarrassing,” said Linda McClain. The couple lives behind the building and endured years of swinger parties in which participants would sneak out the back, climb over a ledge onto their property, and walk down their driveway to avoid being seen.

Dr. Thomas Qualtere, who will run the mental health office, reassured the neighbors that he wouldn’t allow any such sex parties. He joked that he had to burn one mattress left behind and send the ashes to the Centers for Disease Control. He also replaced all the carpets — “They were disgusting, as you would imagine,” — and filled a dumpster with used sex supplies.

“Things were being thrown in there that you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “If I were a sex therapist, I’d be wealthy.”

Now the party-hopping hallways have become boring, well-lighted walkways, he said. The bedrooms have been converted into offices.

There will be five mental health professionals working at the building, but no more than three at a time. All five have offices in Albany and would come to Schenectady only to treat patients who live here.

Two of the doctors specialize in child and adolescent therapy, which Qualtere said is desperately needed in the city.

“The services just aren’t available in Schenectady,” he said. “There’s a month to two-month waiting list. That’s why we’re coming here.”

He added that his practice in Schenectady, which is 19 years old, has never drawn a single complaint from the neighbors.

“I hope that alleviates your concern,” he told the residents.

He was polite even when a resident asked if his patients would “foam at the mouth.” Qualtere said afterward that such comments merely reinforce a prejudice that mental illness is somehow more shameful than physical sickness.

“It’s unfortunately the negative stigma that mental health has,” he said. “They’re just like any of us who may be having some difficult times.”

Resident Dana Swalla, who led a two-year battle against the B&B, was also present at Wednesday’s meeting. She supported the proposal.

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November 20, 2008
2:21 p.m.
cl41276 says...

I have a few things to say about some of the comments that were quoted in this article.

"participants would sneak out the back, climb over a ledge onto their property, and walk down their driveway to avoid being seen"

No they didn't. We had no reason to sneak in or out of the B&B because there was nothing wrong with what we were doing. And we could care less about what any of those neighbors thought of us. Actually the way Ms. Swalla watched out her windows with her binoculars you would think she wanted to join in or was jealous of the fun we had in our lives. Probably many more neighbors would have loved to join in as well!!!!

"He joked that he had to burn one mattress left behind and send the ashes to the Centers for Disease Control"

"He also replaced all the carpets — “They were disgusting, as you would imagine,”"

How dare you!!! As a so-called mental health professional this was highly UNprofessional of you!! How dare you assume that the condition of the mattresses and the carpets were because of the parties going on. Most of us are married "swingers". We go together, have fun together, play together. We do have pride and above all we are very clean people. Most of the time that my husband and I attended it was more about a bunch of mature adults just enjoying each others company. No sex was involved at all. Of course there were some very memorable nights where sex was a big part of our night but it was consensual among all parties involved. I never once saw anyone at the parties disturb the neighbors. Actually there were very few disturbances at all.

The biggest reason that people stopped coming around towards the end was because of the immaturity of the neighbors. They were damaging our vehicles!!! Letting air out of our tires, pouring white paint all over our cars. And that's just the beginning. If anyone was immature and should have been punished or looked at differently it should have been all of you who lived around there and were party to the things you were doing to us. It's not your right to tell us what we can or can't do. If we want to have sex with every person we come across it's no business of yours. I only wish we could have caught the person damaging our cars. We would have shown you what it was like to be put up on that cross!!!! I bet you would have enjoyed every minute of it too!!!!

Why don't all you people who live around the former B&B grow up and stop getting in other peoples business. If you had a life you wouldn't be so inclined to get involved with ours!!!

By the way, just because Mr. Alexson has moved on doesn't mean that we went away too. For all you know we could still be playing in one of your neighbor's homes!! Find us now!!!

November 21, 2008
10:44 p.m.
RaysWayz says...

To reply to cl41276's comment:

First off, there were many times when I walked down the street and witnessed the "participants sneaking down a driveway." I can recall three times in particular that I would walk down the street on my way to a local pharmacy and there would be several people running down driveways and looking back like they had did something wrong. Unless you *ALL* left together and followed each other out, don't assume every person was innocent just because you didn't do it.

Second of all, you claim there were very few disturbances. Having worked in the area and living down on a lower part of Union, I would walk past the B&B twice a day. There were nights when people were drinking on the porch and being VERY loud - and that wasn't the part that disturbed me. The part that disturbed me was: there were people walking down the street that weren't from the area. They looked at the behavior and said "I knew Schenectady was bad!" Yup, that is what I want my city known for ... sex parties and loud drunk swingers. Sorry, but I would rather live in a city known for the friendly people and being the pioneer of television, not to mention other things.

And for you to tell the neighbors of the to "grow up," yet end the letter like your in the 5th grade is just absurd! *shakes head* Yup, I definitely want you representing the people of Schenectady.

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