PORT RICHMOND — Opponents to an addiction treatment center proposed for Staten Island say their neighborhood is already saturated with 50 different social service facilities.
Some Port Richmond residents are fighting a planned expansion of an addiction treatment center run by Camelot. The group wants to build a 35-bed facility for clients as part of a state-funded renovation of its 263 Port Richmond Ave. site.
But neighbors told Community Board 1's meeting on Tuesday they felt their area was taking much more than its fair share of facilities.
Beryl Thurman, president of the North Shore Waterfront Conservatory who's lived in Port Richmond for 18 years, has called on government officials to put a hold on adding any more.
"The other 60 communities [on Staten Island] have zero spots," Thurman said. "You can't find a place in New Drop, in Tottenville, in Eltingville. You can only find a place here in Port Richmond.
"It's never anything that benefits the entire community as a whole, it's always about a particular clientele that doesn't have a vested interest in the social growth or economic community."
A spokeswoman for the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) — which will fund the construction and gave Camelot $1 million for operational costs — said the organization has been in the neighborhood since 1972.
They chose the neighborhood for the expansion because of its proximity to public transportation.
"NYS OASAS works with communities to address community needs for substance use disorder services," the spokeswoman said in a statement. "The heroin and opioid problem on Staten Island is significant. This new funding meets a need for community residential services in the borough."
The community launched a similar fight last year after Saint Joseph's Medical Center announced plans to build a new mental health facility at 108-110 Port Richmond Ave. Residents and elected officials rallied against those plans, which were eventually voted down by Community Board 1.
With Staten Island in the throes of a drug epidemic and suffering the highest rate of heroin and prescription drug overdoses in the city, elected officials lauded Camelot's plan for adding much needed beds in treatment facilities.
"I am proud to have helped to secure this critical funding for a new residential treatment program at Camelot so that more Staten Islanders who are struggling with addiction can get the help they need," state Sen. Andrew Lanza said in a statement last week after the announcement of the facility.
Luke Nasta, executive director of Camelot, did not immediately respond to a request for comment but told NY1 he couldn't understand the opposition to the facility.
"I wouldn't expect anyone to oppose an essential service that is designed to save lives and restore families during a drug epidemic," he said.
Thurman said that opponents weren't against the specific facility or the work Camelot is doing, just another social service facility being added to Port Richmond.
"We're not saying that any of them are bad, that anything of them horrible," she said. "It’s about the over saturation of social services."
Nasta told NY1 that patients will live at the facility between six months to a year while they try to find a permanent job and housing.
The plan will be presented at a community board meeting next week. The board acts in an advisory capacity for elected officials on plans like this.
If approved, construction is expected to start in 2017 and the facility will open in 2019.