New location considered for Amherst methadone clinic

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB)- Catholic Health announced it will consider alternate locations for a methadone clinic in Amherst.

This comes after months of opposition to its planned location on Millersport Highway. Many residents feel it’s too close to homes and parks.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said in a letter to Amherst Town Supervisor Barry Weinstein that he watched “in great dismay” as Amherst residents and board members opposed the site. He went on to say the services offered would help Amherst residents.

The clinic, which would be run by Catholic Health, would dispense medicine like Methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol to help treat patients battling addiction.

“I’m afraid that it’s going to bring the wrong type of people to the area,” said John Radizowski.

Radizowski lives right behind the current proposed site, and has concerns about his property value.

He’s been active in voicing those concerns; his letter detailing them was read during Monday’s Amherst Town Board meeting.

A letter from Town Clerk Marjory Jaeger was also read. Jaeger, who is running for Town Supervisor, requested board members ask the State Department of Health to deny a certificate of need for the current Catholic Health project.

“The problem was the location and that it’s adjacent to a neighborhood along with a couple parks,” she said.

“A great location would be a medical campus, exactly where something like this belongs.”

Because a medical campus doesn’t exist in Amherst, Jaeger also mentioned a business plaza, or an area where other medical offices exist.

She agrees a methadone clinic is needed in Amherst, but like Radizowski, doesn’t think it belongs on Millersport Highway, which borders homes on North Ivyhurst Road.

The County Executive noted in his letter that since 2014, 34 Amherst residents have died of opioid-related overdoses.

Erie County’s Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, also an Amherst resident, voiced her support for the clinic’s Millersport Highway location at past Town Board meetings.

A certificate of need for the current project has not yet been issued by the state.

In April, the Town Board asked to review zoning codes, which could restrict future clinic locations. However, the Millersport Highway location would have been grandfathered in according to town officials, and thus not immediately impacted by new zoning codes; no official rezoning measures have been introduced..

Poloncarz is urging the Town Board to have alternate locations selection by June 30.

Town officials told News 4 they’re anticipating a list of options within the next week.

Catholic Health spokesperson JoAnn Cavanaugh released the following statement on the issue:

“In response to a critical community need, Catholic Health remains committed to expanding its substance abuse treatment services in Amherst to offer medication assisted treatment for opiate addiction.

We have met with neighbors of the proposed location at 910 Millersport Highway and listened to their concerns. While the methadone and other medication assisted treatment services we intend to offer in a professional medical office setting are safe and effective for those in treatment, and pose no threat to the community they are intended to serve, there remains opposition from Amherst residents.

We welcome the support of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and thank him for his leadership. We are willing to look at alternate locations in Amherst if a suitable site can be found that meets our specifications and timeline to transition these services from our current counseling site at 3730 Sheridan Drive.

We know that the Amherst Town Board, along with the residents of Amherst, recognize the need for these types of treatment services in their community and are hopeful that a suitable location in the town can be found to offer these critical services and address this serious crisis that continues to have a devastating impact on area families.”

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