Drug Treatment Center Moving to Atlantic Avenue

By Nikhita Venugopal on December 5, 2013 11:30am 

 New Directions, an alcohol and substance abuse treatment center, will move to 500 Atlantic Ave. in Boerum Hill after Community Board 2 supported the proposal Wednesday night.
New Directions, an alcohol and substance abuse treatment center, will move to 500 Atlantic Ave. in Boerum Hill after Community Board 2 supported the proposal Wednesday night.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

BOERUM HILL — An alcohol and chemical abuse treatment center is slated to open on Atlantic Avenue next year, and it's already getting a mixed reception from its new neighbors. 

New Directions, which provides outpatient services to about 500 people suffering from chemical abuse and dependency and alcoholism, will move their facility from 202 Flatbush Ave. to 500 Atlantic Ave. after Community Board 2 supported their plan Wednesday night.

“New Directions has become a gatekeeper in the community by offering both direct and referral services that broaden the definition of community and serving the community’s health needs,” said Kerri Kopelowitz, New Directions' associate director, at the meeting.

With a staff of physicians, psychologists, social workers, certified alcohol and substance abuse counselors and creative arts therapists, New Directions offers diagnostic and psychiatric evaluations, individual, group and family counseling, adolescent services, relapse prevention, pharmacotherapy, acupuncture therapy and art therapy.

New Directions officials said there would be no drug or methadone treatments conducted at the Atlantic Avenue facility, which is slightly smaller than the center's current home.

Community Board 2 voted overwhelmingly to support New Directions' move, even though several property and small business owners turned out to say they worried about the facility's impact on the neighborhood.

“Nobody wants it in their own backyard,” said committee chairwoman Ruth Saunders. “But they have to go someplace.”

Sue Wolfe, co-vice president of the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation, asked the community board to hold off on making a decision, saying she had only heard about the plan recently.

“Our board is very concerned about what this will contribute or not contribute to our neighborhood,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe added that their board needed time to research the treatment center's impact on their former neighborhood near the Barclays Center, where they had been located for 25 years.

“There’s really been no negative impact,” responded New Directions executive director Mark Salomon. “We’ve had no impact.”

New Directions officials admitted, though, that they did not inform their new neighbors of their plan.

Other critics said the surrounding blocks are already overrun with healthcare and social service facilities, including a YWCA, Preferred Health Partners and Graham Windham, a children's services center.

“Social services have taken over out block,” said Nancy Cogen, a property owner near the proposed site, adding that there should be a “fair balance” between retail stores and other services in the area.

“This is not a fair balance,” she said.

The Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District issued a statement asking CB2 to maintain a balance of retail businesses and other services on the corridor.

New Directions looked at several possible sites for the new facility, but settled on Atlantic Avenue for its proximity to their former center and to public transportation, Salomon said.

Their existing lease expires on March 31 after the center's landlord on Flatbush Avenue declined to renew it because of the real estate boom near the Barclays Center, Kopelowitz said. Kopelowitz expects to start construction “soon” on Atlantic Avenue and move in early next year.

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