Weinstein asks clinic’s location to be reconsidered
As plans move forward in establishing a clinic that would provide chemical dependency treatments to people with addictions, area residents and town officials have been questioning the facility’s proposed location.
Residents, citing safety concerns, have requested that town officials suggest to Sisters of Charity a location in town that is not in proximity to homes or a park.
The Sisters of Amherst Health Center, which is planned for 910 Millersport Highway, abuts the rear of residential properties on North Ivyhurst Road. The facility, to be overseen by Catholic Health Systems, would also be about two-tenths of a mile from the northwest corner of Garnet Park.
In the plan, the Sisters of Charity-run clinic at 3730 Sheridan Drive would be closed to allow the expansion of services at the new Millersport facility, which is three-tenths of a mile from the existing location. The new clinic would provide treatment services for addictions to drugs, alcohol and prescription medications.
In a recent exclusive Bee interview, Marty Boryszak, Sisters of Charity CEO, said the planned clinic would have onsite security and stressed that there have not been security issues with its other chemical dependency treatment locations, including Pathways Buffalo.
That clinic is within a residential area and located at 158 Holden St., off East Amherst Street near Main Street in the City of Buffalo. The rear of the building is within 10 feet of the side of a property on Wade Avenue.
Additionally, Pathways-Buffalo is 1.1 miles from the Buffalo Zoo, eight-tenths of a mile from McCarthy Park and one-tenth of a mile from Elim Christian Fellowship, a neighborhood church.
Officials from the church could not be reached for comment prior to Bee press time.
The Buffalo clinic is also next door to Brooks Central Park Cleaners, located at 140 Holden St.
“[The clinic] always has a guard on staff,” said Dee King, who has been working at Brooks Central Park for several years. “I don’t really have any safety concerns. There really isn’t anyone hanging around outside.”
King added, though, that the main issue the neighborhood seems to have due to the location of the clinic is littering and sometimes problems associated with parking. There have been a “couple times” she has found used hypodermic needles on the Brooks Central Park property.
“It’s really just the garbage for the most part,” she said. “The guard does a really good job of keeping the people from parking their cars in our lot.”
Supervisor Barry Weinstein on Monday told The Bee that he has requested that Catholic Health officials not move forward with the planned Millersport Highway location.
“My office has been in touch with Hadley Horrigan and encouraged [Catholic Health] to find a new location or to expand its current location on Sheridan Drive,” Weinstein said.
Horrigan, a public policy and government relations official at Catholic Health, could not be reached for comment prior to Bee press time.
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein and Boryszak both said they believe that the planned Millersport Highway location is needed in the community because there have been many opioid-related deaths in Amherst and in the Northtowns.
Boryszak said Catholic Health and Sisters of Charity representatives are planning meetings with elected officials as well as area neighbors to explain how the facility would assist people in need.
He said that currently, about 75 Amherst residents receive methadone treatment at the Buffalo clinic and a majority of the patients also receive counseling at the Sheridan Drive clinic.
In the April 13 edition of The Bee, the CEO stressed that security is a high priority for Sisters of Charity officials.
“To the average passer-by, it will look like a typical doctor’s office,” he said. “The site includes a large parking lot, and we have blocked off access to North Ivyhurst with a privacy fence. The residents who face the back of the building should actually experience less disruption on their street than when the site was an auto parts store.”