Clinic business

Newhallville rallies against methadone clinic

NEW HAVEN — Residents who say the establishment of a methadone clinic in Newhallville will set back a booming neighborhood finally rallying to their cause on Saturday.

The APT Foundation, which treats opioid use disorder, purchased the building at 794 Dixwell Ave. with plans to move its services there from Long Wharf, a proposal that drew backlash from members and community officials.

“This is truly an American dream for a neighborhood that is resurgent and coming back from a lot of trials and tribulations,” said Kim Harris, a longtime Newhallville resident who organizes a campaign called Stop the APT Foundation. “We are not anti-treatment. That’s not what Newhallville says. We say… that (this) is not the vision we want our children to see.

While residents stressed they weren’t opposed to the treatment, they feared the clinic would expose their children to traumatic sightings, such as active drug use, and scare away businesses in a historic neighborhood. disadvantaged.

Lynn Madden, president and CEO of the APT Foundation, said most of Long Wharf’s services are administrative.

“Every day we serve between 80 and 100 unique people at 1 Long Wharf,” she said, adding that not all of these patients were receiving methadone treatment because the facility also includes a primary care program. .

Madden is open to continuing conversations with the city on other appropriate sites, she said. But in choosing the Dixwell location, the organization focused on finding a building large enough for its needs and where its services would comply with zoning regulations, she said.

“These are well-researched, accredited and appropriate clinical services…that save people’s lives. And I think it’s hard to track them down because there’s a lot of misconceptions and misinformation out there,” Madden said. “These misconceptions and misinformation really serve to further stigmatize not just the treatment itself, but the people who need treatment.

“It can really be a deterrent to, you know, going into treatment.”

The rally

“We don’t compromise. We are not changing our minds,” Jeanette Sykes, chair of the steering committee of the Stop the APT Foundation, told a crowd of around 50 gathered midday Saturday at the corner of Dixwell Avenue and Elizabeth Street.

Sykes was one of many to take the microphone during the rally at the proposed APT Foundation site.

“Why can’t this neighborhood have the same as any other neighborhood?” said Sykes. “Businesses thrive on Fulbert (Street). We want them to continue to thrive.

“Say no to APT,” chanted the crowd.

Most speakers strongly opposed the location of the clinic.

“You don’t create trauma sites in traumatized communities,” said Saladin Hasan, resident imam of the Abdul-Majid Karim Hasan Islamic Center.

Other speakers included state and local officials from New Haven and Hamden, as the clinic is on the town-to-city line.

State Senator Gary Winfield, D-10, State Representative Toni Walker, D-93, Newhallville Alder Devin Avshalom-Smith, D-20, Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett and Legislative Council Speaker Dominique Baez were among those who commented.

“Disproportionately, the economically impacted community of color has often been sidelined and given no voice in very important decisions that involve their community,” Garrett told the crowd. “Your community deserves to be clean, your community deserves to have successful businesses, and your community deserves to be heard.”

“We want to make it clear that the Legislative Council is committed to finding fair solutions to recovery,” Baez said. “But not here. Not APT.

Role of the city

While New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker told rally attendees the city would work to find another solution, he cautioned that he could not promise to halt the project. He had no legal authority to do so, he said, pointing out that the site was not on city property.

His remarks were not well received, as some rally attendees interrupted him and demanded that he “shut down (the project)”.

“I understand people in Newhallville and the Hill are asking, ‘Why does this always have to be in our neighborhoods? “Said Elicker. But “I’m not going to get up here and make promises I can’t keep. The city can’t just decide to put it somewhere else.

Still, Madden, the CEO of the APT Foundation, was open to alternatives, according to Elicker.

“Lynn (Madden) didn’t submit her papers to the city because she told me…she wants to see what she can do here,” he said.

“What I can promise is that we will do everything we can as a city to work with the steering committee, with the community and with the APT to see if we can come up with a better solution.”

In an interview after the rally, Elicker detailed the city’s role in the matter.

“The city does not own the property. The city was not involved in the purchase of the property,” he said. “Other than as a potential convener, the only kind of technical and legal role the city plays is in the approval process.

“It’s a very legal process, not a political one. So the city can’t refuse an application just because we don’t want something somewhere. … We can only refuse a request if it goes against the city ​​zoning laws.

Still, the mayor acknowledged Newhallville’s frustration.

“It’s really important to recognize the frustration of an entity providing services in a struggling neighborhood, and the frustration expressed by many community leaders who are working very hard to improve their neighborhood and their community,” he said.

Impact on neighborhoods

The concerns of many community members relate to reported issues at the APT Foundation facilities on Congress Avenue.

Howard Boyd, chair of the Hill North Community Management Team, said litter from Saturday’s crowd was a problem in the clinic area. He once picked up syringes during a neighborhood cleanup, he recalls, and said people could sometimes be found actively using drugs in the nearby bus shelter.

“Our kids have enough on their minds, enough trauma,” Boyd said.

Madden, president of the APT Foundation, said she believes the problems near the Congress Avenue facilities have been alleviated.

“We’ve been having conversations, and really collaborative ones, with the city for some time now, really trying to address the concerns of neighbors,” she said, adding that the organization has adjusted hours of operation. and reduce its patient population.

Other densely populated areas of the city without methadone clinics suffer from similar issues, Madden said.

“It’s a very dense part of town where there’s a lot going on,” she said.

Congress Avenue location gives methadone treatment to more than twice as many patients as Long Wharf facility, Madden says

But Hamden Councilman Justin Farmer, D-5, had more on his mind than immediate quality of life issues.

“The APT Foundation’s move here could be a catalyst to gentrify the area,” said Farmer, who opposes the move.

If the facility isn’t a good neighbor, he said, residents may worry about property values ​​and sell their homes at below-market prices. Community speculators could rush in, he said, ultimately leading to “a situation where we don’t have our community anymore.”

meghan.friedmann@hearstmédiact.com