MANHATTAN — New legislation has been proposed that would require the city to notify local community boards of plans to open methadone clinics in the wake of a failed attempt to bring a clinic to lower Manhattan last year.
The bill Councilwoman Margaret Chin is set to introduce would force the city’s Health Department to contact community boards and the City Council about any plans to open methadone clinics when the department is first contacted by the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services for certification.
The proposed legislation stems from a controversial attempt in December to open a substance-abuse treatment center in the Financial District that local residents roundly rejected.
Methadone is a drug used to treat heroin addiction that also has street value, leading drug dealers to spring up at methadone clinics across the city, an official with the Manhattan District Attorney's office said.
"Given the strong feelings that many communities have regarding clinics that dispense methadone within their neighborhoods, there is little incentive for applicants to inform the public that they are intending to open a clinic," Chin said in a statement, referring to a proposal by Gramercy Park Services to open a treatment center in a 6,000-square-foot space at 90 Maiden Lane.
"Local governments know their community best, and they should have an opportunity to comment on whether the proposed siting is appropriate or needed."
Chin added that the proposal had already received conditional approval from the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services before it reached Downtown’s Community Board 1, "thus diminishing the community’s voice in the process."
The plan was ultimately shot down after public outcry that included a petition against the clinic containing hundreds of signatures and a unanimous vote against the project by a CB1 committee last year.
Chin is expected to introduce the bill at the Council’s meeting Wednesday.