Methadone clinic planned for residential area
Plans to bring a methadone clinic to Pittsfield have once again struck a nerve among residents and community leaders. They said they were not consulted about where the clinic will go and now want answers as to why it is being placed in a neighborhood that's primarily residential. Our Brandon Walker reports.
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Frustration is the best way to explain how Robert Skowron feels whenever he steps out onto his front porch.
"Try to sell your house across from a methadone clinic. Who's going to buy it?" he asked. "All we're saying is find a better place for it. We're not opposed to one."
He said across the street, at 17 Stoddard Avenue, are plans to open a methadone clinic. Opposition to that is both understood and not new.
Spectrum Health Systems, a Worcester-based substance and mental abuse treatment company, first proposed opening the clinic on Summer Street nearly one year ago. Then-Mayor Jim Ruberto fought that idea, prompting Spectrum to sue the city. Both sides agreed to settle the issue out of court.
Sources tell YNN that part of the settlement is opening the clinic to Stoddard Avenue.
"You got Morningside Community School which is right over there. You have the Juvenile Resource Center that's sponsored by the Sheriff's office. Kids line up here everyday," Skowron said.
"I was a little surprised that the first time I was hearing about it, it almost seemed as if it was a done deal," said Christine Yon, city councilor of Ward 1.
Yon said Mayor Dan Bianchi called her on Tuesday to discuss the plan. Though, she said everything about it, it seemed, was done without her, or any of her fellow counselors' input.
"[Bianchi] said that the city was in litigation with spectrum and there was a confidentiality agreement," said Yon.
Meaning Bianchi told Yon that he couldn't say anything about the deal, even to people who would live directly across the street from it.
"We have a lot of questions and no one even bothered to talk to us," said Robert Skowron.
So, neighbors have started a petition, fighting to block the move.
It is unclear if the lease has been signed. Nor do we know if Mayor Bianchi has formally agreed to anything.
"I'm kind of under the assumption that we're pretty far along with this. Whether we can back it out or not, I'm not completely sure," he said.
That uncertainty, all parties involved, said is due to that confidentiality agreement between the city and Spectrum Health Services.
YNN called Spectrum Friday for comment. They did not return our call.
Meanwhile, a representative from Mayor Bianchi's office said he'd get back to us.