Controversial methadone clinic set to open in Holmesburg

The con­tro­ver­sial Heal­ing Way meth­adone clin­ic at Frank­ford Av­en­ue and Dec­atur Street seems ready to open, fol­low­ing last week’s is­su­ance of a state health de­part­ment li­cense to op­er­ate.

The li­cense per­mits the Heal­ing Way to treat 85 pa­tients per day.

In a let­ter to Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation mem­bers, pres­id­ent Rich Frizell wrote, “It is an out­rage that the profiteers have trumped the pro­found neg­at­ive im­pact this fa­cil­ity will have on our com­munity.”

Frizell also thanked the May­fair Civic As­so­ci­ation and neigh­bor­ing com­munity groups for their sup­port.

City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on, U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz and Bob Brady, state Sen. Mike Stack and state Reps. Kev­in Boyle, John Taylor and Mike McGee­han is­sued a state­ment that read, in part, “Though our ap­peal to the state Su­preme Court is still pending, the re­cent Com­mon­wealth Court de­cision makes it clear that it is short­sighted to rely en­tirely on the court sys­tem to pre­vent the dis­rup­tion to our neigh­bor­hoods and the erosion of our qual­ity of life.

“While it seems to defy real­ity to pre­tend that treat­ing hun­dreds of drug ad­dicts every day will have the same com­munity im­pact as any oth­er med­ic­al fa­cil­ity, that is the cur­rent state of our laws and we must ac­know­ledge that. Still, there is much we can do to pre­serve our com­munity. First, we must push for­ward with pro­posed changes to those laws to pre­vent this situ­ation from be­ing re­peated in oth­er com­munit­ies across the Com­mon­wealth.

“Second, many of the prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with the meth­adone-for-money dis­pens­a­tion are not pro­tec­ted by law and can be mit­ig­ated by com­munity ac­tion and vi­gil­ance. We are work­ing closely with city de­part­ments to en­sure that zon­ing, health, tax and fa­cil­it­ies laws are fol­lowed and that de­vi­ations are ad­dressed promptly and de­cis­ively. Once the Heal­ing Way does open for busi­ness, its op­er­at­ors should un­der­stand that it is do­ing busi­ness in a com­munity fiercely in­tent on pro­tect­ing its schools, its chil­dren, its busi­nesses and its way of life.

“Today, we con­tin­ue to in­vest in our ap­peal through the leg­al pro­cess, but we have also be­gun to pre­pare Pro­to­cols of Pro­tec­tion for our com­munity that in­cludes a list­ing of con­tacts, re­sources and in­struc­tions for call­ing po­lice, zon­ing of­fi­cials and the Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Drug and Al­co­hol Pro­grams (DDAP) in the event of dis­rupt­ive be­ha­vi­or re­lated to the fa­cil­ity. Should the courts fail to pro­tect the com­munity, that job will fall to us.”

Meth­adone is a drug that is used to help ad­dicts kick the habit. It is usu­ally ad­min­istered in li­quid form.

Neigh­bors op­posed to the clin­ic worry about loiter­ing, a de­crease in prop­erty val­ues, an in­crease in traffic, a lack of park­ing and a neg­at­ive im­pact on ex­ist­ing busi­nesses. In ad­di­tion, they point to the clin­ic’s prox­im­ity to day care cen­ters, schools, dance stu­di­os and churches.

In her writ­ten opin­ion, Fox de­term­ined that a meth­adone clin­ic is a per­mit­ted use of a C-2 prop­erty, and that the zon­ing board was wrong in its rul­ing.

The Heal­ing Way is mov­ing in­to a prop­erty that has been va­cant since 2008. The Last Call closed that year after a shoot­ing out­side the bar. ••

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