NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB)- The City of Niagara Falls is looking for a new location for a proposed methadone clinic after neighbors said they didn’t want it in their neighborhood.
The non-profit Northpointe Clinic wants to open the facility at 606 Sixth St., which is currently vacant. Both BOCES and Northpointe are trying to lease the building.
“We think the BOCES program is the better fit for the neighborhood,” said Mayor Paul Dyster.
Mayor Dyster said the BOCES program would train nurses and medical staff.
“The city would strongly prefer that, yes, we have a clinic but it not be located in the Sixth St. location,” said Dyster.
Northpointe President and CEO Daniel Shubsda said they started the process to lease from Ellicott Development two years ago and have a tentative agreement in place.
Shubsda also said that in February they received state approval to open, and they have filed a letter of intent with the city.
“We’re not looking to make a mega methadone program,” he said. “Basically what we want to do is service our current clients and service the people on our waiting list.”
Northpointe currently serves about 95 people at the Trott Access Center but there are 153 on its waiting list. They cannot expand at their current location.
“They want to come in get their treatment, get their dose, and leave,” said Kristi Yerger, the vice president of treatment services at Northpointe. “They are productive members of society. A lot of people have jobs, a lot of people are professionals.”
Patients are also required to attend individual and group counseling as part of their treatment, said Yerger.
Northpointe recently met with neighbors to go over their plans for the vacant building.
“The couple people that did come expressed a great need for our services but said this is not the right location for it,” said Shubsda.
Shubsda disagrees and told News 4 it’s only half a mile from their current facility, which will make the transition easier for patients.
Mayor Dyster said the city is concerned the stigma surrounding methadone treatment could cause problems.
“Northpointe runs a good program but the problem is the neighbors are upset,” said Mayor Dyster. “Whatever the reality is of the safety of having the clinic located there, it’s causing negative publicity that’s going to make it difficult for us now to rent up apartments where we’ve invested tens of millions of dollars.”
The city is looking at the office building at 1625 Buffalo Ave. as an alternative location.
Northpointe said a representative from the state will be in Niagara Falls on Thursday to look at the Buffalo Ave. location.
Mayor Dyster told News 4 they have asked the state to consider allowing Northpointe to change venues without having to go through the yearlong application process once again. He said the state agencies have responded well.
“We’re very aware this is an epidemic and we need to try to move forward with getting these people treatment as quickly as possible,” said Mayor Dyster.
The city will make the final decision.