LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Come To The Board Of Appeals Meeting On Dec. 12 To Protect North Wilmington

Dear Wilmington Residents.

The power base that rules this town is not acting in our best interest and only what’s best for their wallets. Example: the proposed detox in North Wilmington. Please remember we are all stakeholders and the stakes could not be higher.

Look around town and you will see a trend, a trend of vacant stores and old manufacturing facilities, less than vibrant business districts and contaminated waste sites all at a time when other communities are seeing record economic growth. Our economic future and vision appears to be more of what the power base wants and their narrow vision. The proof is in the pudding. As a result, we are now faced with the possibility of a detox facility alongside a residential neighborhood that could also at some point house a methadone clinic. Once a detox is approved, there appears to be no mechanisms for stopping the owners from creating a methadone facility. How could this ever be good for the town in this area?

This can be a “pay to play” scenario and there are many instances where for-profit “clinics” are taking advantage of vulnerable victims of addiction with the sole intention of making lots of money under the pretense of community concern. It is disgusting. Recently there was a story on CBS called ‘Methadone Mile’ in Boston. I encourage you to watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT4MSAZGYa4.

They claim they care, but do they? How is adding insult to injury in an area already struggling caring? And for who? I, as other North Wilmington residents, have long advocated that there is a need for addressing the crisis of addiction. We feel badly for people struggling and we all have personally been faced with this issue one way or another. Drug addiction is an overwhelming societal problem, and one we can all agree must be addressed. But in doing so Wilmington’s social and economic health cannot be sacrificed. Bottom line, this location is in completely the wrong place – it is as simple as that! You simply do not put these types of facilities in neighborhood/commercial business districts.

When I was a teenager I worked in Klemm’s diner in Center Square Lynn. At that time it was a vibrant district with lots of shoppers, families etc. Then President Reagan eliminated federal funding of mental institutions. Danvers State Hospital closed and patients were relocated in communities like downtown Lynn. Concurrently, malls were opening up in the suburbs. Those two actions combined killed the local businesses and it devastated Lynn’s local economy. The city has yet to recover. At that time I also lived next to a place for war veterans who had mental health and substance abuse problems, so I know what I am talking about, I have experience of what it is like to be an abutter. It can be very trying. I moved here because I did not want to live in an area that had been “sacrificed”. There is a reason why studies have shown land values drop around these types of facilities and people may avoid North Wilmington businesses. In similar ways, like Lynn, I believe North Wilmington can not absorb this negative impact and I resent the notion that fellow citizens and businesses will be that “sacrificial lamb” while lining the pockets of a few. And that is what this is about, money, not what is in the best interest of the town otherwise it would move to the other property where the new by-law has designated it to be a better fit.

I hope every resident from the impacted area along with general townspeople attend the ZBA meeting on Dec. 12th and demand that the ZBA protect one of our town’s only neighborhood/business districts from this ill-conceived project. The time is now to take a stand on the issues that affect us all. So please help protect North Wilmington and let the Zoning Board of Appeals know on December 12th, that this project is the right thing but in the wrong place and is not in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood and business district. Let’s send a message and start a trend toward local government representing ALL of its people.

Suzanne M. Sullivan

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