Community Board 11 officials expressed alarm and anger over plans by a private entity to open a drug addiction treatment center on Bath Avenue.
Board 11 Chairperson William Guarinello said the board received a letter from a representative of an entity operating under the name Big Apple Bath Beach Inc. informing the board of the company’s intention to open a chemical dependency program at 1751 Bath Ave.
The community board voted at its March 14 meeting to send a letter to Big Apple informing them that the board does not approve of the plans for the new facility. The board serves in an advisory capacity only and cannot stop a facility from opening.
The three-story building is located on the corner of Bath Avenue and Bay 17th Street.
Details about the new drug clinic facility are sketchy, which raises even more concerns, Guairnello told community members.
For example, it’s not clear if methadone or other medications would be dispensed to patients at the location, Guarinello said. It’s also not clear who would be treated at the new center or if residents from Bath Beach and Bensonhurst would be given first priority.
Big Apple should have done more to inform the community board than just send a letter, according to Guarinello. “That’s not anywhere near enough,” he said.
The community board plans to hold a public hearing in April to give local residents a chance to speak out about the proposal. The date and location for the hearing have not been set.
Guarinello said he objects to the proposal on the grounds that the Bath Avenue site is not a good location for a drug treatment center. The proposed facility is four blocks away from Saint Finbar Catholic Church at 138 Bay 20th St. and is only a few blocks away from the HeartShare School, a school for autistic children at 1825 Bath Ave. Another school, P.S. 163, at 109 Bay 14th St., is a short distance away.
“We don’t think it’s the right place,” Guarinello said. “We’re going to have to let them know how unwelcome they are.”
Guarinello is president and CEO of HeartShare Human Services of New York, the non-profit agency that sponsors the HeartShare School.
The terse letter from Big Apple, dated Feb. 22 and addressed to Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia, informs the community board of Big Apple’s intention “to seek approval from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to operate a chemical dependence outpatient program” at the location.
Officials from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene were CC’d on the letter.
The Feb. 22 letter marked the second time in less than two years that the 1751 Bath Ave. building has come to the community board’s attention.
A representative of an entity known as G Cap Holdings contacted the community board in December of 2017 to describe plans to open a facility there to help drug users overcome their addictions. But Elias-Pavia said the community board was left with the impression that the facility would primarily function as a counseling center and that medications would not be dispensed at the location.
“It now looks like the plans have changed,” Elias-Pavia told the Brooklyn Reporter on Monday.
Guarinello told members his objection is based solely on the specific location and not the idea of a drug treatment center in the community board area, per se. “We have our share of people who need this service,” he said. “We’re not doing NIMBY [‘Not In My Backyard’] here.”
The community board wants to be part of the process and given the opportunity to offer a recommendation to OASAS, according to Guarinello. “We don’t want to be left out,” he said.
Evan Frost, a spokesperson at OASAS, said the agency has not received paperwork pertaining to the Bath Avenue site. “OASAS has not received an application from a provider to open a facility at this location. Without an application filed, we cannot comment on the details of what services would potentially be provided at a facility at this location,” he told the Brooklyn Reporter.
Frost also sought to alleviate concerns that the community board would be left out of the process should an application be filed.
“As part of the application process, OASAS works with local governments, as well as community organizations when choosing where to place treatment facilities. This includes a requirement that providers notify the local community board, whose input is taken into consideration,” he said.
Big Apple could not be reached for comment.