Methadone clinic gets green light

East Kens­ing­ton Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation plans to con­test zon­ing board's ap­prov­al of a meth­adone clin­ic at 2100 N. Front St. 

Last week, the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment ap­proved the Kens­ing­ton Hos­pit­al meth­adone clin­ic’s move from its cur­rent loc­a­tion in the hos­pit­al to 2100 N. Front St. on the bor­der of East Kens­ing­ton.

Com­munity mem­bers had voted 54-8 against the move at a joint pub­lic meet­ing of three com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions (East Kens­ing­ton Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation, Hope Street Neigh­bors for Bet­ter Liv­ing and Nor­ris Square Civic As­so­ci­ation) last Novem­ber.

However, the hos­pit­al later worked with NSCA on a pub­lic safety plan and com­munity part­ner­ship agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to Plan Philly, and the group changed its po­s­i­tion. EKNA mem­bers con­tin­ue to op­pose the pro­pos­al. 

The hos­pit­al’s pub­lic safety plan in­cludes pro­vi­sions for a guard dur­ing busi­ness hours and se­cur­ity rounds at night, sur­veil­lance cam­er­as, clean­li­ness and main­ten­ance and “ap­pro­pri­ate light­ing in the even­ing,” as well as a prom­ise to crack down on loiter­ing. 

The NSCA’s let­ter of sup­port to the zon­ing board states an in­tent to cre­ate a Nor­ris Square Com­munity Ad­vis­ory Board, which will com­prise rep­res­ent­at­ives from Kens­ing­ton Hos­pit­al and com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions as well as nearby res­id­ents and busi­ness own­ers, to mon­it­or the clin­ic.

EKNA lead­ers met with Kens­ing­ton Hos­pit­al once to re­view the safety plan, EKNA Pres­id­ent Clare Dych said.

“Our job is to rep­res­ent what the neigh­bor­hood wanted,” Dych said in a phone in­ter­view Monday. “We re­it­er­ated that they had voted against it, so we wer­en’t in a po­s­i­tion to con­duct any kind of side deals. It didn’t seem ap­pro­pri­ate to go against the spir­it of the vote in closed-door meet­ing.”

Dych stressed that EKNA is not op­posed to meth­adone treat­ment. 

“It’s provid­ing a ser­vice that is ne­ces­sary to the com­munity,” she said. “We just don’t think this is the way to go about it.”

EKNA mem­bers had con­cerns about in­ad­equate wait­ing room space for the in­creased pa­tient load, in­con­sist­en­cies in what they were told about the hours of op­er­a­tion and pa­tient load and the fact that the clin­ic would be loc­ated in a res­id­en­tial area where “there aren’t many eyes on the street,” and ques­tions about wheth­er the hos­pit­al would ad­here to the prom­ised safety pro­to­cols. 

“There are a num­ber of fam­il­ies with young chil­dren [in the area],” she said. “It’s pretty well known that meth­adone clin­ics have prob­lems with loiter­ing, and noth­ing ex­pressed to us that they had ad­equate plans in place for con­trolling the pro­posed in­creased pa­tient load.”

Dych said EKNA was ex­plor­ing their op­tions to ap­peal the de­cision.

“It’s not over yet,” she said. “The dis­sat­is­fac­tion ex­pressed with the 54-8 vote has not gone away. Cit­izens will be look­ing at a re­sponse through the ap­pro­pri­ate chan­nels.”

Neigh­bors who are con­cerned about the clin­ic should con­tact EKNA, Dych said. ••

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