Albion village officials say they don’t support proposal to turn Clover Hill into rehab site

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 February 2023 at 9:40 pm

Gates to Recovery says it would invest $1 million into improving site, add 90 to 100 jobs

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Clover Hill assisted living site at 355 South Main St. closed last March. It is listed for sale by Snell Realtors for $899,900.

ALBION – An organization that has been overseeing walk-in centers for people fighting addictions wants to operate a residential site in Albion at the former Clover Hill Adult Residence at 355 South Main St.

Randy Cimino, president of Gates to Recovery, said the organization is looking to invest $1 million in interior and exterior improvements to the property. It would like to operate a 35-bed residential treatment program with a focus on mental health.

Cimino, who said he is a recovering addict and is 15 years sober, said the mental health treatment is critical to breaking the cycle of addiction. He also said Gates to Recovery would offer longer supervision and treatment – from 4 to 18 months. He said most treatment programs are only a month – not enough time for many people to be successful in breaking their drug addictions.

“This is about saving lives,” Cimino said in a presentation to the Village Board this evening. “This village could be the one place where it all started, where we change rehabilitation.”

Mayor Angel Javier Jr. said Gates to Recovery hasn’t shown a proven record in running a rehab facility. He told the group the Village Board doesn’t support that use of the Clover Hill site, which is close to many residential properties.

He said he also doesn’t want to see the property become tax exempt, taking away about $30,000 in tax revenue for local governments. Javier said he also envisions the facility putting a strain on local police and ambulance services.

Cimino and Gates to Recovery representatives said they didn’t see the site putting a demand on local services. Cimino said there would be about 90 to 100 employees at the site, about 30 per eight-hour shift.

Cimino said the organization has the financial backing to run the program in the foreseeable future. He said the local governments could be paid any lost tax revenue. He urged the board to support the effort. If Gates to Recovery fails, Cimino said the community would get back an upgraded Clover Hill site with about $1 million in improvements.

“Give us a chance,” Cimino said. “I’m telling you we can do this.”

Deputy Mayor Joyce Riley said Albion already has two drug treatment sites in the community, plus two state prisons.

“We don’t want to be known as the drug rehab center of Western New York,” she said.

Riley said the village can’t stand in the way of Gates to Recovery purchasing the property, which is listed for sale at $899,900. But Gates will need “a certain amount of community buy-in, acceptance and tolerance” to succeed, Riley said.

The organization also will need to find a full staff of professionals to run the site, and Riley, a retired nursing supervisor, said there is a shortage of healthcare professionals.

Gates to Recovery reps said they have some key staff members ready to go, and relationships with colleges for work placements.

Cimino said Gates to Recovery sees the Albion location as ideal for the program. But he doesn’t want to move forward if the board and community are opposed to the effort.

He was joined at the meeting by recently retired Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode. He said the opioid crisis has caused over 100,000 fatal overdoses annually in the country, and numerous related burglaries, larcenies and crimes as people try to feed their addiction.

He said the longer-term residential program will make a big difference for those in the program, who are only there if they choose to be.

“This is a perfect facility for us,” Cimino said. “We could do a lot for your community. I know it works because it worked for me.”