Dear Wilmington Residents,
As many of you are aware, a development group is presently considering constructing a 48-bed detox center in North Wilmington on Middlesex Avenue. The Concerned Citizens Coalition has been formed to protest the location of this facility. Predictably, we have drawn a lot of fire for taking this position. We have been characterized as “heartless,” “uncaring” and “self-serving” as well as being totally ignorant of the opioid epidemic that is taking a devastating toll on our American society.
The purpose of this letter is to clarify who we are and, more importantly, who we are not. From a personal perspective, in a past life, I was a Director Level Manager at Mass Rehabilitation Commission. In the recent past, I formed a group of over 100 subject matter experts from Cape Cod to include clergy, physicians, pharmacists, law enforcement specialists, rehabilitation counselors, recovering victims of the epidemic and family who has lost love ones to this tragedy. We were able to formulate a comprehensive multi-faced strategy to mitigate opioid use and deaths. My wife and I have also lost a relative to Fentanyl.
Our neighborhood is blessed with wonderful people to include nurses, social workers and first responders who exist to combat this epidemic and save lives on a daily basis. Like us, many of our friends and neighbors have experienced the profound grief that comes with the loss of friends and family to this tragedy. To suggest the members of our coalition do not understand or care about this issue is hurtful and irresponsible. Our resistance to locating a detox facility next to our neighborhood is not fueled by ignorance. On the contrary, too many of us have experienced the ravages of this epidemic up-close-and-personal. We know first-hand of the predictable consequences of locating a detox center next to any residential area.
At the Selectmen’s meeting on September 25th, Selectman Mike Champoux lectured our residents about NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). If NIMBY is a crime, we are guilty as charged. NIMBY is a double-edged sword. If you live in our neighborhood, you oppose the location of the detox center. If you know it will not be in your back yard and like us, you understand the seriousness of the opioid crisis; you can easily occupy the moral “High Ground” comfortable in knowing that you will not suffer the ill effects of having a detox center in your backyard.
The Concerned Citizens asks you to “walk a mile in our shoes.” Pretend the detox center will be within 200 feet of your property line. You and your family understand the rate of recidivism, the fact that this industry is unregulated and that the proposed detox center will allow patients to walk out the front door any time they desire. The school bus stop is only a stone’s throw from the facility. You have the knowledge that the crime rate will increase. The children in your neighborhood have always taken a short-cut to get to a local store. That short-cut will take them through a wooded area right behind the proposed location. You know that it is very likely that used syringes will be discarded here. Your property values will drop on the average of $100,000. Finally, your fellow citizens have tarred you as uncaring and selfish.
The residents in our neighborhood are no different than you. We care deeply about and have felt the sting of the opioid epidemic. Like you, we want to protect our family, especially our children and grandchildren. To do anything else would be unthinkable. We do not oppose detox centers. In fact, we recognize the need for them. However, they have no place in proximity to a residential area. Please support a change in the zoning laws that will prevent this from happening by limiting the location of detox facilities to industrial zoned locations. If you don’t and the attempt to locate the facility in North Wilmington fails, you could be in the cross-hairs next. When and if that ever happens to your neighborhood, our Coalition will be there to defend you.
Why jeopardize any Wilmington neighborhood for no valid reason when there is an effective solution that will place none of our residents in peril? I close with the Concerned Citizens Coalition mission statement:
“The Concerned Citizens Coalition exists for two equally important purposes. First, to support any and all responsible efforts to combat the opioid epidemic which is devastating the fabric of our society. Second, to defend and preserve the safety and well-being of our families and neighbors.”
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