Protesters gathered outside of Miracle City’s offices at 2800 Bruckner Boulevard on Saturday, May 18 for the second time to protest the opening of a drug counseling clinic.
The rally, which drew a sizable crowd, called attention to the impact that the substance abuse treatment program, known as an 822 program, would have on the surrounding Throggs Neck community, said event organizer Egidio Sementilli.
“There was a lot of support directly from the community, and a very good response from people in the immediate area,” said Sementilli, adding “We are organized, we are ready and doing our homework.”
Representatives from Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Councilman Mark Gjonaj delivered news that the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, had not yet received an application to establish the clinic from Miracle City.
Additionally, the electeds representatives informed the crowd that they had jointly penned a letter to OASAS on Friday, May 3 expressing their strong opposition to a counseling center for those afflicted with substance abuse and eating disorders at this location.
Senator Alessandra Biaggi, who previously stated she was remaining neutral on the matter, had a change of heart and eventually sided with Benedetto and Gjonaj in opposition to the substance treatment program at 2800 Bruckner.
“I’ve had several conversations with community members who have informed me of their concerns regarding 2800 Bruckner,” said Biaggi. “While there is a clear agreement among us that there is an opioid epidemic that must be addressed, it has become apparent that the circumstances surrounding Miracle City at 2800 Bruckner Boulevard do not meet the needs of the community.”
Benedetto said 2800 Bruckner Boulevard is in an entirely residential area with one-, two- and three-family homes and that there are facilities in Westchester Square and on Waters Place that already serve Bronxites afflicted with substance abuse disorders.
Nicole D’Napoli, executive director of These Our Treasures special needs pre-k program, which has a playground that is 100 feet from Miracle City, said she is concerned about loitering outside its building that schools 3 to 5 year olds, if Miracle City is granted a license.
She said that even though the organization says they won’t dispense any narcotics, they could easily obtain permission to do so at a later date.
“We are the closest and we are the ones who are going to be impacted the most; it is just too close,” said D’Napoli. “For me, it is a safety issue first. It doesn’t belong in a residential neighborhood, so close to so many children.”
Community activist Andrew Chirico, Waterbury LaSalle Community Association board member, said hospital settings are more controlled, making them a better place to have substance abuse treatment programs, especially those that dispense substances like Methadone, and expressed staunch opposition to siting a treatment center at 2800 Bruckner Boulevard.
Mary Jane Musano, WLCA president, said that people who spent between $400,000 and $800,000 on a home near the proposed substance abuse clinic are rightly concerned that their property values could be affected if a drug treatment center opens at this location.