Skip to main content

Officials voice concerns over proposed drug rehab center

March 22, 2018 11:30 pm

HUNTER — Greene County legislators and health professionals met with members of a drug rehabilitation facility based in Queens last week to discuss opening a 60-bed residential center in a private lodge near Hunter that would primarily serve patients from the city, Hunter Town Board members said.

Representatives from J-CAP, the Queens-based nonprofit drug rehabilitation facility, discussed buying the former Clover Lodge on Clover Road in Lanesville during a meeting facilitated by Sen. George Amedore, R-46, and Greene County legislators March 13, the senator said.

“It was a preliminary discussion,” said Greene County Legislature Chairman Kevin Lewis, who was at the meeting. “I didn’t feel like they {J-CAP] were going to proceed down that path. I think if there’s someone to help the opioid epidemic in New York state, we’re open to listening to proposals.”

Hunter Town Board members discussed the potential sale OF the former lodge property at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The inn, on Clover Road near Route 214, sits on 8.7 acres, according to county property records. The property is the former site of Clover Lodge and the Vatra Lodge.

The rehab center would open 60 to 65 new beds for patients, but most of those would go to overflow patients from Queens, Hunter village attorney Larry Gardner said after Tuesday’s meeting. No other residential drug rehab facilities exist in Hunter.

“Its primary mission was to fill beds up here with excess capacity from Queens, and if in a given week they had an extra bed, then maybe a Greene county resident would find his or her way there,” Gardner said. “They [J-CAP] made the acquaintance of someone in the community that has a property that can use a customer. These would be less expensive beds and rooms in Greene County, so they saw an opportunity to move some of their operations here.”

Hunter Town Supervisor Daryl Legg expressed his distaste for the proposal at Tuesday’s board meeting.

“We had a question-and-answer session, and the people [J-CAP] were really not familiar to Greene County — it was pretty obvious that they weren’t here to assist us [Greene County residents],” Gardner said. “I don’t believe it’s [the rehab facility] going to happen, which I think is a good thing.”

“They [J-CAP] wanted to see what the local support would be for this and there was no local support — they were like a deer in the headlights,” Legg said during the meeting, adding J-CAP representatives were unable to answer basic questions about the proposed facility including how many beds would be reserved for local residents, if the organization would be tax-free or if it would add security for the property.

“It’s not advantageous to the county or the town because of past practices of this company,” Legg said Thursday. “Their properties are taken off the tax rolls; it would put a burden on police and ambulance services. The way I took it, there would be no benefit for the county residents.”

J-CAP first contacted Amedore as a licensed provider seeking assistance to expand its facilities, Amedore said. The senator is co-chairman of the state Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction.

“I am here to help connect local government and providers who offer these services in Greene and Columbia counties that are desperately needed,” Amedore said Thursday. “This organization came to me asking about trying to get everyone together so they can talk with the local authorities on the proposal that they want to provide.

“The locals and providers need to be talking on a day to day basis,” he added. “I have not followed up with them on this issue.”

The inn on Clover Road is owned by pizza magnate Frank Ciolli, owner of the original Brooklyn location of the Grimaldi’s Pizza franchise, Garner said.

“It almost was county-owned,” Gardner said of the property. “They didn’t pay their taxes for a couple of years, it was in a tax-sale mode, but was redeemed at the last minute.”

Hunter Town Board members plan to deliver a letter expressing their disapproval with J-CAP’s proposal to Amedore’s office next week, Legg said.

“This is not what we would like to come in,” Legg said. “It would be nice for a hotel or another resort.”

J-CAP representatives could not be reached for comment Thursday.

“We can’t stop a sale,” Gardner said. “But if they’re looking for grants, then we can say no. We have better uses for that public money than to help promote this. I’m not against treatment services, but it would be very inappropriate to have those services here for nonresidents.

“But if they come to the planning board or need town permits, we would deny them public support,” he added. “If they want to sell it they can sell it, this is America, but it doesn’t mean they’ll get to operate it.”

Twin County Recovery Services, a residential and outpatient drug treatment center with locations in Catskill and Hudson, is expanding treatment programs to reach the underserved, rural parts of Greene County.

“Traditionally, treatment has taken place within the four walls of possibly an inpatient facility or outpatient services in Twin County Recovery Center,” said Lori Torgersen, program manager at Greener Pathways, a mobile drug treatment service provider, who is also a county legislator, D-Windham. “There are underserved areas in the mountaintop regions. Because of population and geography, most [treatment] services exist in Catskill, but someone who lives in Prattsville is a long way from Catskill.”

Greener Pathways, a branch of the Twin County Recovery Center, is expanding services to Greene County rural and mountain areas with a $1.1 million federal grant, which was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September.

The organization’s programs include clinical consulting for inmates at the Greene County Jail, walk-in counseling at the Prattsville Arts Center and transportation to treatment facilities, Torgersen said.

Navigating the medical and insurance requirements to get help for people seeking drug treatment is a familiar story for Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann.

“We’ve learned this dysfunctional, disfractured system of recovery,” Volkmann said Thursday. “Finding rehab beds is harder than finding detox beds — everybody’s at maximum capacity. And once they’re done with rehab, there’s limited resources to continue recovery besides AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] and NA [Narcotics Anonymous] meetings.”

Volkmann referenced the Rhinebeck-based rehab facility Cornerstone, which beds are primarily filled with overflow patients from its Queens facility, he said.

“I don’t know how beneficial it would be,” Volkmann said, referring to another overflow facility. “How many local people go to Cornerstone in Rhinebeck? History repeats itself.”