The Throggs Neck community continues to clash over a proposed drug rehabilitation and treatment facility that would occupy 2800 Bruckner Boulevard, putting the area’s residents at odds with the local merchant association president.
In previous months, east Bronx elected officials have formally opposed Miracle City, the drug treatment center’s operator, while multiple protests in front of the property have been held.
Residents are trying to block Miracle City from obtaining a state license to operate the facility.
As an ‘822’ program, regulated by the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, Miracle City would be providing counseling services to clients afflicted with drug addictions and eating and drinking disorders.
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Councilman Mark Gjonaj sent a joint letter to OASAS, recommending that the agency not approve the license for Miracle City. Senator Alessandra Biaggi has also made her displeasure known in a separate letter to the state agency.
Even though a representative of Miracle City indicated its current business model will not include dispensing any narcotics, it could do so at a later date by filing additional paperwork to the proper regulatory governmental agencies, community leaders learned.
Taking the words of the drug treatment operators at face value, that they do not intend to dispense any narcotics from the location, Bob Jaen, president of the Throggs Neck Merchants Association, has personally thrown his support behind the Miracle City proposal.
“No drugs should be coming out of that building,” Jaen said.
According to Jaen, the merchants association is neither opposing or in favor of, the drug treatment facility at this time.
“The viewpoint of the (Throggs Neck Merchants Association) is that Miracle City is a good standing merchant. (The merchants association) is about economics, not politics,” he said.
Even though he supports the current drug treatment proposal, he explained how he and the TNMA thwarted Miracle City’s earlier attempts to install a hyperbaric chamber and a pharmacy at the facility, citing concerns about its impact on nearby schools and the surrounding residential area.
“(Miracle City hasn’t) done anything wrong yet,” he said.
None of 2800 Bruckner Boulevard’s current tenants have voiced support for the Miracle City proposal.
On the other side of the battle, opponents of Miracle City fear that the clinic would start distributing drugs in the future as per its license.
Pelham Bay activist Egidio Sementelli, who has been leading the opposition and organizing protests against Miracle City met with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez along with others to share his and a dozen other attendee’s concerns about the facility.
“It was a very productive meeting,” Sementelli said mentioning that Ocasio-Cortez is still reviewing the situation.
Federal money would be allocated to Miracle City if its license is approved by OASAS, Sementelli explained.
He believes that the selected location of Miracle City is inappropriate and will lead to an increase in crime and other illicit activity in the area.
“Facilities like this unfortunately bring unwanted and dangerous behavior,” Sementelli said, noting that being on the corner of a residential street, in a neighborhood surrounded by schools, would only invite such criminal behavior into the core of the Throggs Neck community.
“Places like Miracle City belong on Waters Place where there aren’t schools close by and no residents in the immediate area,” he said.
Sementelli also used the example of Waters Place’s frequent issues of “loitering, panhandling, drug activity and shoplifting” to reiterate his stand that Miracle City doesn’t belong at 2800 Bruckner Boulevard.
“It’s not like our concerns are baseless,” Sementelli continued.
The next protest he has planned against the drug treatment facility will be on Saturday, August 10 at 2800 Bruckner Boulevard.
The Bronx Times Reporter contacted Miracle City for comment but did not receive a response by press time on Wednesday, July 24.