Potential treatment facility rejected

A potential center for court ordered drug treatment was rejected by the Georgetown Village Council at a special meeting on July 31.
The former Meadowwood Care Center, which has been vacant since February of 2013, was being discussed to house in-patent drug treatment.
The facility would have been administered by the STAR program, which currently runs a drug treatment center connected with the Ohio Department of Corrections.  It would have brought 30 more jobs to Georgetown as well.
The current STAR facility that treats Brown County residents is located in Franklin Furnace, and also serves Adams, Clinton, Highland, Lawrence, Pickaway, Pike, Ross and Scioto counties.
The average wait time for treatment is about a month, which means that those waiting to be admitted have to sit in the Brown County Jail until a bed opens up.
That puts a strain on the overcrowded jail and on the county budget.
“We were approached by Common Pleas Judge Scott Gusweiler about an opportunity to open a behaviorial health center for individuals sentenced to court ordered drug treatment,” said Georgetown Mayor Dale Cahall.
“He had reached an agreement with the county commissioners, ABCAP and the vocational school (SHCTC), to put a program together where the former Meadowwood Care Center could be used for that purpose.”
Since Georgetown zoning rules have the facility in a residential area, a zoning change was required from council to allow the project to proceed.  In the  contentious meeting, the majority of those attending were not in favor of the idea and spoke out against it.
“At that time, we heard from numerous residents in the community voicing their opposition to housing such a facility in that neighborhood.  They were concerned about property values, about safety, the image of the community, the proximity of the school and other concerns,” Cahall said.
“After hearing numerous people voice their concerns, it came to the point in time where we asked that the rules be suspended to pass the measure as an emergency ordnance.  Council member Susan Bean offered that motion, but it did not receive a second.”
By rule, that meant that a immediate vote on the question could not be taken.  Cahall then asked if any council members were willing to consider the motion in three readings, which is normal procedure.
“I asked if there was a motion to do so and there was no motion.  So at that point, the motion died,” Cahall said.
“(Council has) made (its) decision that if there is to be that  type of entity here, that is not the site where it should be.”
Council member Susan Bean did not mince words when discussing her opinion of the vote.
“I am very disappointed.  I have seen the council do some wonderful things, but this was not their best day.  It is an election year.  Honestly, I felt that they were playing to the audience.  There are four positions available on council this year and three of those running are incumbents.  They don’t want to get a black eye before the election.”
She is also disappointed with those who came to the meeting to oppose the project.
“I think the people that were against this were acting in a very self-interested and short sighted way.  I think they were being led by some people that have exhibited very unforgiving attitudes,” Bean said.
She also pointed out that the council was turning its back on an investment in the community.
“What we have is a building that is decaying and getting worse and worse by the day.  There was actually someone in this meeting that was willing to put $1.3 million dollars into resuscitating that building,” Bean said.
She added that the STAR program has a very high success rate, and that treating local people in their own community would benefit everyone.
“Let’s just say that Georgetown has 50 addicts walking around and breaking into houses, trying to get a fix.  If you had a facility that could house 50 addicts, then you would have those people off the street.”
Cahall agreed that just because addicts are not housed together, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there.
“These people are on our community streets all throughout the county.  This would get them off the street and into some sort of treatment where they could perhaps change their outlook on life and get them away from the drug issue.” Cahall said.
“I’m not opposed to a site being here.  We need drug treatment sites everywhere.  It just has to be the right site that can conform to the usage that this group wishes to put there.”
Cahall added that the issue is more complicated that just locking addicts up.
“The issue is dire all over the country, especially in Ohio and here in this county and many others.  We have a serious drug problem where people need specialized help to get them away from drugs.  When you incarcerate someone, they usually come out the same way they went in.  I think with intervention, there is a higher success rate.”
At press time, village administrator Art Owens said that the issue was not on the agenda to be discussed at the next village council meeting on August 10.