During the City of Cortland Common Council meeting last night at City Hall, Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services (CARS) made a presentation over a future opioid treatment facility that will be located at 6 Euclid Ave. in the City of Cortland.
Speaking for CARS was Jessica Janson, CEO of CARS, she spoke in hopes of gaining support from both the Mayor and the Common Council for the opening of the opioid treatment facility. The facility will be designated to opioid use treatment from the medication called Methadone, which is used to treat severe pain and opioid addiction.
She continued on saying the new treatment facility plans to serve about 50 patients, but noted it is possible for this number to increase. The facility would be open from 6:30am to 3pm Mondays through Saturdays. Janson noted improvements to the facility have been made already with a $10,000 investment towards security and surveillance including an on-site security guard, but only during hours of operation.
“You’ve (CARS) come to us tonight asking for a letter of support. I didn’t find out anything about this until I got a call from a constituent in Mr. Carpenters ward last night. The fact that you need this letter, like tonight, that’s concerning.” Council Member Lane said in the frustration of CARS asking for a letter of support from the Council when the Council was not aware of the organizations plan to open the facility until recently.
The main question all council members agreed with was why did Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services choose this location, especially it being a residential location, and near a daycare facility.
Janson said the reason for choosing the site at 6 Euclid Ave. was the building having easy renovations, it met the regulatory requirements for both interior and exterior for housing Methadone, close proximity to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, and it is what they considered being a private area. She noted that CARS looked at four other locations within the Cortland area and have been searching for a location since early Spring.
Another question brought up was how those seeking treatment would access the facility. Jenson said some would take a cab to the facility and some could walk to the facility. This brought up more frustration and residents in the area surrounding the building have voiced concerns of homelessness, loitering, trespassing, litter, and more happening already within their neighborhood.
All Council members stressed though they do support for the area to have an opioid addiction treatment facility, but its location in a residential neighborhood was not beneficial.
“I wanna apologize and I apologized earlier to the mayor. I think during the pandemic, our community service boards and our county boards maybe are not coordinating as closely with the city and this council meeting specifically.” Sharon MacDougall, Cortland County Mental Health Director, said to the Mayor and Common Council over the lack of communication towards the plan to open the facility.
She continued to note Cortland County has been without an opioid treatment facility for two years and was appreciative towards CARS willing to open a facility in the county that needs it severely.
Still though, when residents spoke on the issue, all of whom were residents in the neighborhood of the facility, all spoke out loudly against.
Frustration was made of the lack of notice to the facility moving in, it being in a residential area, that the community should’ve had a say in the decision, and the already major issue within the neighborhood.
“We have so many issues right now with loitering, people foot traffic through our yard, coming across the creek, coming across peoples yards on Samson to cross the creek and go back there. I just called the police not too long ago for a user going back there that [Overdosed] in my front yard.” Said Ms. Rainbow, a resident nearby the facility.
Unfortunately for both the residents and the City, there isn’t much that can be done to stop Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services from opening their facility, it is currently finishing renovations. Mayor Scott Steve though, said he and Councilmember Carpenter, will work to use leverage on CARS wanting to be a good neighbor on making any improvements (fences, increased security) at and surrounding the facility.
Agenda Item Number 4 of authorizing a letter of support to CARS for the facility was pulled from the meeting. The reason why it was pulled and not voted down was the City does want an opioid treatment facility and praised CARS work in helping those seeking recovery, but didn’t support the location being in a residential area.