Parents and teachers have come out in support of the proposed methadone clinic, but object to its location next to Northern Chautauqua Catholic School.
Parents met with an official from Hispanic United Buffalo, which would operate the clinic, Tuesday to express their concerns.
Young’s letter sites possible safety concerns for the school-aged children and the neighborhood overall.
“I am concerned about this location’s proximity to the Northern Chautauqua Catholic School and its students, and the risk this could present to those young people. For the benefit of this community, I urge you to choose another location,” Young wrote to OASAS Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez.
Young, like the parents and teachers, supports wider treatment options in the county, but says the location is a concern because of perceived crime and drug use threats.
“We cannot remain blind to the fact that the presence of these facilities and the addicted individuals they serve can impact the neighborhood and expose children to troubling and potentially dangerous situations,” Young wrote. “These centers are often a magnet for drug dealers looking to sell drugs to vulnerable people in recovery as they enter and exit the building. With this element in the neighborhood, crime and drug use can increase. It is our responsibility to protect our children from these risks.”
Opponents are against the location of the clinic, but do not oppose the clinic itself. Some of the parents and teachers offered suggestions for alternative locations.
Parents also raised concerns, according to WIVB.com, a WNYNewsNow partner, that the clinic could cause a drop in enrollment at the school, with some even suggesting it could cause the school to close if 20 or more families remove their children.
“Our enrollment numbers will definitely be affected. It can mean the difference between us closing in September so this is really difficult. There is a need in the community, it’s just that we have an issue with the location,” School Principal Jenny Tilaro told WIVB.
Among concerns raised by the assembled parents and teachers are that while the clinic would be helping addicts, it could also lead to an influx of drugs and more drug dealers. They also expressed worries that children may find drug paraphernalia on the ground and pick up and play with the items.
Parents said there were other locations that met zoning requirements and were not next to a church or a school full of children.
The sale of the building is still pending, but officials are confident the clinic will open near the school. Hispanics United of Buffalo could not be reached for comment.