Letter to the Editor: Former Planning Chairman Should Be Applauded

Architect Larry Werfel of Werfel, LoPinto & Assoc., Architects P.C. voices his support for former Planning Commission Chairman Dwight Douglas. Werfel's firm is responsible for designing the Renaissance Project substance abuse facility in Ellen

The integrity shown by Chairman Douglas is an act of valor shown by men of principle.

I remember JFK’s book “Profiles in Courage”, with examples of courage and integrity of men throughout the history of our great country. Chairman Douglas shares that courage. I applaud his clear response against NIMBY and for the principles of and law. The few self- interested citizens of the community who spoke at the hearing and signed the petition should be ashamed of themselves.

Helping fellow human beings deal with a scourge of addiction should be a goal shared by all. The political knee jerk of the Article 78 is typical of too many of our elected officials. Show courage to do the right thing.

Larry Werfel, AIA
Werfel, LoPinto & Assoc., Architects P.C.
75-19 Vleigh Place
Flushing, NY11367

Tina Bongar November 20, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Mr. Werfel, AIA -- I happen to be someone who opposes the re-placement of the Methadone Clinic on Corporate Drive and I need to respond because I really fear that smart, educated people are having a knee-jerk reaction to those of us who oppose it -- label me a "NIMBY" or not compassionate to addicts and then use ones of my favorite books. I do not approve of Methadone as the long-term treatment to opiate addiction it has become-- and especially Suboxone (which is the evil twin spawn and parallel addiction drug that the pharma industry hopes will become the new Methadone, except inconveniently addicts are having so many life-threatening seizures that heroin seems like aspirin...) Anyway, the safest and most humane place for addicts is close to the Hudson Valley Hospital, and new, better, more comprehensive and wholistic addiction treatment is created (the most effective addiction treatment is the 12-step program which ends up costing zero, and more importantly, it's principle is self-sufficency). I need to say this because I really want people to be educated about effective models of treating addiction. This is not though the central reason why I oppose the Methadone Clinic. My opposition is because, as an active member of my community committed to reforming our local government and get it out of the knee-jerk, ignorant partisanship that seems to overwhelm otherwise smart Peekskillians....
Tina Bongar November 20, 2012 at 01:29 PM
... my opposition is because it happened "over the heads" of our local residents and taxpayers because of vested financial and political interests of "larger" groups -- except the taxpayers who are funding it, as Leslie Lawler tirelessly points out. (She's a resident who lives by White Plains Linen, a zoning and planning debacle that was never solved comprehensively through our system. She brought it up in another Patch blog post so I keep thinking about it in the conversation of not only development but REFORM.) Back to this "done deal" as the President of the Hudson Valley Hospital apparently said when he heard that residents of the adjoining neighborhood opposed it. So the new Hudson Valley Hospital, which tirelessly asked and got donations from everyone I know in Peekskill (it the unknowing good will of people who want to support the Hospital when) wants to move 'the unprofitable' Clinic out of the Hospital. Okay, but it still supplies services that the Methadone addicts may need, at least it's a lot more likely than you and I. Next, the financial interests of the Renaissance Project: they received a State grant, which again, is funded by taxpayers and involves a real estate deal and development. That will no doubt subsidize your design, or another architects, building. If you were a planner, and you are an architect, would you DESIGN AND ZONE a landscape that included a Methadone Clinic, school and Skate Park? I don't think you would is my guess.
Tina Bongar November 20, 2012 at 01:47 PM
So sorry, I'm doing three things while writing this post because I've got to work and I need to stand up for what I believe and think should be changed here: the Methadone Clinic does not belong on Corporate Drive, it belongs near the Hospital. I happen to think that the Mayor and Council did the right thing filing the Article 78 except that they really didn't need to hire expensive out-of-town lawyers either. Of course the City and Council knew two years ago about this project, okay, but moving forward... I feel that we have an opportunity available to us and that is to overturn the EAF and do a true scoping and DEIS. I believe the issues raised, ie what is the master plan of development for Peekskill and can't we refine and or redefine our zoning laws, this would be the best for residents and taxpayers as a whole... I guess my final question to you Mr Werfel is, if we can keep your own financial interests in view here, what if you were to design and readapt some of the vacant medical offices across from the Hospital? (I'm dreaming here so that's why I've added readapted use and GREEN DESIGN is part of the picture.) What if we look at the efficacy of our current addiction treatment models, since many, if not most, are funded by our tax money (with the exception of health insurance funds but what's the future of this system...?) Mr Werfel, what if we exemplify the courage to do what's best for our community and plan the expansion of the Methadone Clinic where it belongs?
Wendy Kelly November 20, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Bravo Tina and lets not forget The Renaisance Project is a non profit that will not be paying taxes to Peekskill. What was Mary thinking as a former CPA at Deloitte? Still sounds underhanded to me. Time will tell with the outcome of the lawsuit against our PC. HVHC Mission Statement:Hudson Valley Hospital Center is dedicated to serving the health care needs of the community and to providing quality, comprehensive medical care in a compassionate, professional, respectful manner, without regard to race, religion, national origin or disease category. Offering state-of-the-art diagnostic treatment, education and preventive services, the Hospital is committed to improving the quality of life in the community. Does this sound like a hopital that cares about their Meth patients?
Collegenurse November 20, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Mr. Werfel NIMBY really? Have you traveled through Peekskill lately? I wrestled with the ambivalence I was feeling about the project but realized it would be better set up somewhere closer to the hospital. If Mr. Douglas was concerned for Peekskill he should take a look at the atrocity that looms over 9 near Hudson Ave that is rotting in the sunshine and just waiting to get hit by lighting and burn down..what an eyesore.
ED HICKEY November 20, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Thank you Tina for taking the time to express/write your commentary. Just because some may be opposed to the clinic, does not directly correlate to ignorance and lack of compassion. Methadone, as an "answer" for the plethora, and growing, population addicted to heroin was never and will never be an answer for this unfortunate population. All programs for those who suffer from substance abuse, not including heroin, have the goal of having the addict become "clean" of substance. Methadone only offers false hope as the heroin addict is transformed to a methadone addict. The population still has an uncontrollable addiction and acts out of character, often supplementing methadone with continued heroin. Not to mention this very powerful addiction takes good people and turns them into addicts that will go to extreme measures to ensure they have the resources to fill their unfortnate need.
Branwen MacDonald November 20, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Peekskill already houses a number of social service facilities, and with all due compassion our community needs to strike a balance between helping those in need and helping the rest of the community to grow and thrive. A better example of "NIMBY" would be all the well-to-do communities in Westchester who do not have any public housing projects, homeless shelters, health clinics, OR methadone clinics in their towns. As an architect interested in social justice, you are probably well aware that neighborhoods of people making lower incomes, perceived to have less power and ability to speak up or fight, can easily become dumping grounds for every project or facility that others might find undesirable. I'm open to conversations about how much negative impact the clinic would have. I hope it wouldn't be much, but even if it's a small negative impact we're already a struggling community. The program is doing just fine at the hospital and is being moved to Peekskill because it isn't profitable enough. Yet the citizens of Peekskill are "NIMBY" but the hospital is…what? I have nothing against the planning commission or the man you're lauding in your opinion piece. I know they had their reasons. But I think you should reconsider your opinion that as residents we are just mindlessly and ignorantly opposing this project.
Wendy Kelly November 20, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Tina I bet all the great restaurants/businesses/practices that invested in Peekskill thousands upon thousands of dollars knew nothing of this project. Mary should be ashamed at herself she is not serving us well at all.
Liz Claire November 20, 2012 at 07:32 PM
It should be noted that Mr. Werfel lives in Oyster Bay, LI. The nearest methadone clinic to his home is 15 miles away in Huntington. And he accuses us of being NIMBY? People who live in glass houses... Tina, I had the same idea about using the vacant medical offices across the street from the hospital. My guess is the other Doctors there don't want the traffic and potential threat to their patients. "First do no harm..." and that includes creating a risk to the elderly and young children that frequent those offices. Same would apply to 3 Corporate Drive.
Wendy Kelly November 20, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Yeah Liz thanks for this information Oyster Bay better not mess with Peekskill NY we are a very tough, smart group of citizens. Traffic improved tremenously 5 years ago it was a nightnmare. Liz don't forget HVHC mission statement: Hudson Valley Hospital Center is dedicated to serving the health care needs of the community and to providing quality, comprehensive medical care in a compassionate, professional, respectful manner, without regard to race, religion, national origin or disease category. Offering state-of-the-art diagnostic treatment, education and preventive services, the Hospital is committed to improving the quality of life in the community. In fulfilling this mission, the Hospital will strive to continuously improve the care provided and develop and offer programs, facilities, systems and alliances that most effectively respond to community health care needs.
Evan Liaskos November 30, 2012 at 02:46 AM
If looking out for the best interest of my business - (the business that enables me to support my family and my hard working employees to support theirs, as well as provides for us to help others in the community as well as serve many hard working locals quality food and service ) as well as the community at large makes me a self- interested citizen, then SO BE IT and I say it proudly. I could care less about your opinion or the opinion of people not from this community who are only saying this to make money. If this is such a good thing, then FIND ME JUST A FEW SOULS who are in support of this facility who do not stand to gain financially from it happening. I know you are one of the people who are gaining financially. Why not volunteer to put one next to your office or home??????? You can design that one too.


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