Polish Triangle group says no to methadone clinic in neighborhood

Mike Deehan, Special to the Reporter
Jun. 21, 2012

A group representing Dorchester’s Polish Triangle is taking a stand against a proposed additional methadone clinic in the area, a facility they say is not needed and undermines the quality of life for residents.

The McCormack Civic Association voted unanimously Tuesday night to support writing an open letter in opposition to the construction of a new methadone clinic near Boston Medical Center.

“We don’t need another one in our neighborhood,” said Desmond Rohan, McCormack Civic executive board member.

A representative from the Andrew Square Civic Association told the McCormack group about efforts by state elected officials to fight the proposed clinic. The letter will be addressed to the area’s elected officials and other neighborhood groups.

Community Substance Abuse Centers is attempting to place the new clinic at 23 Bradston St., near the corner of Southampton Street and Massachusetts Avenue. The private company received permits from the City of Boston in April to begin building on the site and hopes to spend more than $350,000 to expand the existing structure under lease, according to a letter from the Newmarket Business Association.

Community Substance Abuse Centers must still apply for a state license to operate the methadone clinic. The Newmarket group, the Andrew Square group representative and others from McCormack Civic believe the company will request approval from state regulators based on the cost of the site’s renovation.

Methadone clinics distribute the drug as a controlled means of weaning opiate-addicted patients off dangerous opioids like heroin or oxycodone.

The HabitOpco clinic just a block away on Topeka Street serves over 900 patients a day and is just one of several clinics already operating in the area, the Newmarket group says.

“This is a question of safety, security and business viability. Our businesses are already on the verge of closing, moving and losing their franchises due to the overwhelming number of uncontrolled substance abuse and mental health patients that loiter and exchange/sell drugs throughout the day, every day,” the letter reads.
“If [the private companies] weren’t making any money, they’d leave,” said McCormack executive board member Janice Geary.

State Rep. Marty Walsh, a supporter of addiction treatment and recovery services, said if the civic group’s concerns have not been met, “I stand with the community.”

Some clinics in the area have a history of not being “good neighbors” and not talking to residents, he said, pointing to one clinic on Topeka Street.

The debate and letter come as the area is dealing with increased loitering and panhandling by vagrants and addicts. Neighbors in the Edward Everett Square area formed a task force earlier this year to take on the problem, working with mental health, drug addiction and homelessness officials to try to reduce the presence of vagrants.

Also at the meeting, residents were reminded of a massive water and sewer project set to occur in the neighborhood in the coming months. The project, part of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission’s Reserved Channel Sewer Separation Project, will separate combined sewer lines now leading to Boston Harbor. The federally court ordered project is set to reduce pollution in the harbor.

The group also heard an update on a proposal from Total Outdoor Advertising, formerly known as Icon, to install a billboard near South Bay mall by the Sleepy’s building. McCormack Civic turned down a plan to give local community groups a portion of the sign’s profits and voted to oppose the sign two years ago. That vote still stands and the group took no new action on the revitalized proposal.

Alongside the vote to oppose the clinic, the group approved the construction of a new six-family home on Willow Court near the South Bay mall and elected a new slate of officers for the 2013 executive board term.