More than 100 Bath Beach and Bensonhurst residents came to a Community Board 11 meeting to voice their strong objections to a proposal to open a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center on Bath Avenue as the board expressed concerns of its own about the planned facility.
“We had a packed room. The residents were very passionate,” Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia told this newspaper about the board’s April 11 meeting, which took place at St. Finbar Church’s Confraternity Center at Bath Avenue and Bay 20th Street, two blocks from the proposed drug center site.
The fate of the proposed drug clinic remained unclear in the wake of the board meeting.
The board voted to rescind a letter it had issued in late 2017 shortly after Big Apple Bath Beach Inc. approached the board about the drug center proposal. In the 2017 letter, the board had stated it had no objections to a drug addiction treatment center opening at the proposed site, 1751 Bath Ave.
The original “no objection” letter was issued because, at the time, the board had been led to believe that the site would be used strictly as a counseling center and that no drug treatment medications, like methadone, would be dispensed there, Elias-Pavia said.
At the April 11 meeting, board members and residents heard from a representative of Big Apple Bath Beach Inc. who outlined plans to open a center to treat patients suffering from addictions to drugs, alcohol and gambling. The representative said the facility would be using a side street entrance to the Bath Avenue building, at 169 Bay 17th St.
The three-story building houses Big Apple Car Service on the first floor. The drug clinic could operate on the second floor.
But board members said the plans sounded vague and that they were left with more questions than answers.
“It’s a little hard to get a handle on it. We don’t know exactly what we’re dealing with here,” Board 11 Vice Chairperson Laurie Windsor told this newspaper.
The objections raised by residents centered on the specific location, not on the idea of a drug clinic per se, Elias-Pavia said. “There were residents who spoke out in support for those with addiction issues. But they pointed out that this location is near churches and schools,” she said.
Assemblymember William Colton, a Democrat who represents Gravesend and parts of Bath Beach and Bensonhurst, said he shares residents’ concerns over the proposal and the lack of detailed information about the drug treatment center.
“This location has many reasons to make us concerned and the lack of providing information by the applicant about what they are planning to do makes us even more concerned,” Colton said in a statement. “The residents expressed their continuing concerns about a site at this location which is surrounded by so many nearby schools, churches, mosques and synagogues with senior centers and youth activities, as well as a school for autistic youth and several after-school music, dance and tutoring activities for children.”
A spokesperson for the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services told this newspaper via email on Wednesday that the agency has not received any application from any entity to open a drug clinic at 1751 Bath Ave.
Meanwhile, the property owner said she’s running out of patience with the whole situation and will likely wind up renting the space to another entity.
Diane Clemente, who also owns Big Apple Car Service, said the application process that the drug clinic sponsor has to go through with OASAS is time-consuming and that she is eager to rent the space out quickly.
“They don’t have final approval to open up a treatment center. That could take time. I am signing an agreement today with a broker to list the space. I’m looking to rent it as soon as possible,” Clemente told this newspaper on Monday.
Big Apple Bath Beach Inc. was initially looking to rent the first floor of the building and then changed its plans and sought to lease the second floor instead, Clemente said.
Representatives of Big Apple Bath Beach Inc. could not be reached for comment.