Peekskill residents are mobilizing to launch a full-fledged fight against the on Corporate Drive on the border of Peekskill and Cortlandt.
In June, the Peekskill Planning Commission gave final site plan approval to the Renaissance Project, a proposed methadone clinic that would service about 250 patients a day. The Renaissance Project would combine the current methadone maintenance center and the Renaissance Project's outpatient therapy program currently run out of Peekskill's , into the one location.
Since the plan was approved, residents concerned over the effect of the proposed clinic on safety, property values and Peekskill's image said they were never informed of the clinic and have started a petition against it. They have also held conversations with city officials about how they can keep it out of their neighborhood. To investigate the matter, the Council asked staff to compile a file with information on the zoning, planning board process and notifications associated with this project.
“This is not something that can belong in this community. There are hundreds of homes and children,” Sprout Brook Road resident Netty Wahlman told the Council at the July 16 Council meeting.
“No one we’ve spoken to wants this. They are shocked,” said her husband Tom Wahlman.
Last week, city staff discovered the Renaissance Project did not properly notify the Cortlandt neighbors within 250 feet of the proposed site of a Feb. 15 public hearing and had only properly notified its Peekskill neighbors, Mayor Mary Foster said. Once that was discovered, city staff sent the organization a letter stating that all actions following the February public hearing are now “null and void,” Foster said; meaning the Planning Board approval has been rescinded.
Foster said that the Council is also “upset” over the proposed methadone clinic and the fact they were not told about it.
“I understand you being upset, we are also upset,” Foster told the Wahlmans. She later clarified to Patch that the council was "upset" over not being a part of the discussion.
“You just need to be aware that we sitting here did not give any permissions, approvals or grant any authority for this,” Foster said at the Council meeting. “It was deemed to be purely a planning commission action...We are likewise concerned what the impacts would be moving the methadone clinic from the hospital down on to Corporate Drive. That worries us all and we are looking into that.”
Foster said the Renaissance Project bought the Corporate Drive property in 2010 from Phil Miller. She had known Renaissance was looking to relocate, but was unaware it would also be taking over the Hudson Valley Hospital Center’s drug administration operation.
“We had no idea the Renaissance Project was expanding and opening a methadone clinic,” the mayor said.
She also said that the industrial park is not properly zoned for such an operation.
“Right now it is not a permitted use at Corporate Drive,” Foster said. “We don’t have a defined use called a medical office.” The city has business office or ambulatory healthcare facility defined uses, but the clinic does not fit either one, or any others, she explained.
Corporate Drive is located in an industrial district that adjoins the Town of Cortlandt. The Cortlandt Colonial Diner is located across a small stream, 2nd Nature Skate Park and several industrial businesses are the closest establishments to the proposed clinic location. Peekskill Housing Authority development Dunbar Heights also abuts the property.
The clinic would take over drug administration services that have been performed at the Hudson Valley Hospital Center since 1979 and are funded by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).
“Despite the great quality of the service as demonstrated by third party surveyors such as the Joint Commission, Department of Health and OASAS, the clinic has not been profitable for ten years since governmental changes reduced reimbursement,” the Hudson Valley Hospital Center wrote in a press release. “The hospital did request enhanced funds to continue to operate the program but was denied.”
Westchester County officials recommended the Renaissance Project to the hospital as an organization with which to partner several years ago, said HVHC's William Dauster, Vice President of Marketing and the Foundation.
“We never had any problems with the clinic, which is very highly regulated,” Dauster said. But the decreased funding is now causing the hospital to loose money, he said.
Foster believes that the methadone clinic should stay on the hospital grounds, even if Renaissance does take it over, she said. “It is the chronicness of treatment…it needs to be sited in a location conducive to medical use and not in a half vacant industrial park,” Foster said.
William Magwood, CEO of the Renaissance Project, was not available for comment when Patch called Friday evening.
To read about Magwood's plans for the new clinic click .