Nearly 1,000 Pelham Parkway/Allerton residents came out to oppose a rumored methadone clinic at Community Board 11’s town hall on Thursday, November 7.
Because of the size of the crowd, the meeting was split into two one-hour sessions.
While elected officials promptly assured the audience that the proposed plan by Carnegie Hill Institute to put a methadone abuse treatment clinic at 2500 Williamsbridge is dead and there has been no application for 2440 Esplanade, the evening was filled with yelling, interrupting, rudeness and downright concern.
The community board didn’t anticipate the large turnout. Residents waited hours in the pouring rain to be heard.
By 7 p.m., the room at the NY Institute for Special Education at 999 Pelham Parkway North was filled to capacity.
Local residents and community activist Minister Irene Estrada helped organize the town hall.
Over the past few months, she spread the word on social media, and got the word out about the planned clinic.
She noted people are elated that there are no plans to bring a clinic to the community.
Councilman Mark Gjonaj and Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez did their best to calm everyone down.
“I want you all to know that this is a real community issue,” the councilman said. “People worked behind the scenes and in front of the scenes to make sure that it will not happen.”
As Gjonaj spoke he was constantly interrupted by the angry audience. He stressed that he knows why they were there and supports them 100 percent.
However, he acknowledged opioids are killing more people than suicides, guns and car accidents combined, so providing people a place for help is important.
“There’s a real need for clinics to help with substance abuse,” Gjonaj said. “Where they put them is the problem.”
In fact, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto introduced a bill in August that would prohibit the approval of licenses for alcoholism programs, substance abuse programs, and chemical dependence programs within 500 feet of a school, public park or church, synagogue or other place of worship.
Gjonaj reiterated that no state application has been made for 2440 Esplanade and 2500 Williamsbridge is dead. He noted that this does not mean that others will not try and come into the neighborhood.
In September, Carnegie Hill Institute presented a proposal at Community Board 11’s Health and Social Services Committee regarding their intention to open a drug treatment center in the one-story corner property on Williamsbridge Road between Hone and Mace avenues.
CB 11 already has nine active and certified chemical dependence treatment centers within its boundaries, with another located just outside.
Fernandez, who was also interupted while she spoke, said she has steadfastly fought alongside the neighborhood against another methadone clinic.
“I care about this community and about what you need and want,” Fernandez said.
Among the angry residents were Daniela DiMaggio and Marcia Lewis. DiMaggio. They stressed there is a need for more homes, not clinics.
“Enough medical buildings and facilities,” DiMaggio shouted. “We don’t want a methadone clinic in our neighborhood.”
Lewis told the Bronx Times that people are pissed off because they don’t want another clinic in their backyard. This area of the Bronx is already overcrowded, she stressed.
“If not for the grassroots effort, nobody would know what’s going on,” she stated. “We do not need people coming from outside areas walking through neighborhoods where kids still play in the street, near schools, near houses of worship, near stores and where people go shopping.”