You have to hand it to Lower West Side residents. They know that there is a drug problem in their neighborhood and they’re willing to consider a methadone clinic as part of the solution. They just want to be better informed about the process and allowed to contribute. That doesn’t seem to be too much to ask, so, why isn’t it working that way?
Hispanics United of Buffalo has been working on plans for a methadone clinic for heroin addicts on Virginia Street, all without seeking input from neighbors or the Common Council.
The clinic was a surprise to residents such as Anita Rodriguez. She and others point to the difficult road they’ve traveled, often risking their own safety, in order to build a community in which they and others want to live.
All of that effort has helped get rid of the drug dealers, gangs and prostitutes that once infested the area. Now there are block clubs and many owner-occupied houses in the neighborhood.
The residents don’t dispute the need for a methadone clinic somewhere on the West Side. They just don’t want it dropped fully formed in a residential area that seems to finally be on the rise. It is to their great credit that they are even willing to acknowledge the need for a clinic on the West Side. They just don’t want it at 254 Virginia St., on the same corner where children line up to take the bus to school.
There’s an obvious disconnect here, but there is time to save the situation.
The state agency that oversees drug treatment programs told The News last week that the clinic is still under review. That delay allows time to reopen the process and involve both residents and the Common Council.
Hispanics United punted rather than go public with an explanation, referring questions to Acacia Network, a related agency in New York City that did not return phone calls. This lack of communication speaks volumes.
The plan to open a methadone clinic in a rebounding neighborhood needs to be tabled for now, allowing residents and other stakeholders a chance to get some answers and offer input.