Peekskill resident Wendy Kelly is adamantly opposed to the proposed methadone clinic in her neighborhood. And she is not asking for the City Council’s help stopping, she is demanding it, backed by 675 petition signatures collected in the last six weeks.
“I demand the city prevent the for 3 Corporate Drive,” Kelly told the council at the Aug. 13 meeting.
Safety, decreased property values in an already depressed economy and Peekskill’s image were the main concerns Kelly listed. Kelly has found support in hundreds of Peekskill and Cortlandt residents, including Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster and, most recently, Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi.
But while Kelly fights to stop the proposal, the non-profit hoping to open the clinic, the Renaissance Project, is sticking to its plan, which has been in the works since 2008.
“We are trying to work with city,” said Renaissance Project CEO William Magwood. “We know there are people out there that are unhappy. But that is in itself not a reason to stop a project. You have to stop a project on legal merits.”
Magwood said he and his lawyers did their due diligence and worked with the city planning department to be sure the area was zoned for the clinic use when they first considered buying the property in 2008 and again before they closed on the property in 2010.
“We understand the concerns of the community and will work with them on an ongoing basis so their concerns don’t come to fruition. And if they do come to fruition, we will nip it in the bud,” Magwood said. Magwood said he purposely chose the industrial park so it would be out of the way and that he hopes the clinic can help the community.
Residents are concerned that former drug addicts may be in “dire straits” and introduce a public safety risk. They are also concerned about having methadone patients in a neighborhood where children live and frequenting an area that includes a popular teen skating park,
Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi sent the Peekskill Planning Commission a letter on Aug. 13 opposing the methadone clinic on that site on behalf of her residents. Read the letter .
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“The proposed methadone clinic, while providing an important medical service, has the potential for adverse impacts to the surrounding neighborhood,” Puglisi wrote. The supervisor's concerns were over the impact on traffic and a clinic being "incompatible" with the other businesses in the industrial park.
Mayor Mary Foster the proposed location for the clinic. She says the area is not zoned for such a clinic and that it should stay on the Hudson Valley Hospital Center grounds, where it has been operating for thirty years. However, the Planning Commission decided that the 3 Corporate Drive area was appropriately zoned for the treatment center and granted the applicant, the Renaissance Project,in June. Since then, the mayor found a notification error in the process and voided that approval. The plans have been sent back to the Planning Commission and
“We have been having extensive conversations with staff and our attorney on what rights the council has to further analyze and dig in to this issue. Right now it is only in front of the planning commission,” Foster said.
Magwood said that because city staff and the Planning Commission has already confirmed that the area is properly zoned for the clinic, there is nothing legal the city can do to stop it.
Peekskill resident Tom Wahlman believes the clinic cannot legally be located at 3 Corporate Drive. At the Aug. 13 council meeting he told the council that land use lawyers with whom he has consulted have advised him corporate drive location is not zoned for the clinic.
“I don’t think the children, property and streets will be safe. You will have to get with Cortlandt Manor for a greater police force. I strongly recommend that you don’t allow this Renaissance methadone treatment in my neighborhood,” Walhman said.
To read more about the Renaissance Projects plans, click here.