Amherst, NY - The on-going struggle over the site for a substance abuse treatment clinic in the town of Amherst has taken another turn with an additional government official weighing in. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is calling on the town to come up with a better location than the much-debated Millersport Highway site.
Across the street from the proposed substance abuse treatment clinic that Catholic Health wants to build, you'll see the signs of opposition on North Ivyhurst Drive. And you'll hear the same feelings about why it doesn't fit in to this residential neighborhood, despite the cited needs for a treatment facility with the opioid epidemic.
Resident Lynda Hitchcock says: "There's school buses, and day cares, and parks."
County Executive Poloncarz says: "It's needed everywhere. We have treatment facilities in the city of Buffalo, but we need to put treatment facilities where the people are that are addicted."
The debate escalated as the town board said it would seek restrictions on any new clinics. And residents said this was a stealth move without sufficient prior notice by Catholic Health to move into the old auto parts store.
So Poloncarz sent a letter of request to Amherst Supervisor Barry Weinstein with a June 30th challenge date.
"The town of Amherst said we don't think it's appropriate so we think you could go someplace else," Poloncarz said. "So my response is if that's the case then help them find another location. Otherwise they have the right to go in that location....it's zoned properly"
Weinstein told 2 on Your Side: "I've discussed with three department heads since last night's meeting about identifying potential sites and I'm gonna respond to the County Executive with a a list of sites."
But neighbors question Poloncarz's timing.
Hitchcock says: "We haven't heard anything from him whatsoever. The only person we heard from is Dr, Burstein, who's been all over us because we're supposed to be heartless people that don't want to offer any help to people suffering from addiction...that's not the case...we just feel there's more suitable locations."
Catholic Health put out a statement complimenting Poloncarz and saying: "We are willing to look at alternate locations in Amherst if a suitable site can be found that meets our specifications and timeline to transition these services from our current counseling site at 3730 Sheridan Drive. "
Down the road there might be a similar issue elsewhere. County Executive Poloncarz says a site for a substance abuse treatment clinic in an unspecified Southtowns location could be announced in the very near future. He would not say where.