Some residents speak against drug rehab site at former Clover Hill site in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2023 at 5:55 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Clover Hill assisted living site at 355 South Main St. closed in March 2022.

ALBION – Six residents spoke out at a recent Village Board meeting against having the former Clover Hill Adult Residence being turned into an in-patient drug rehab center.

Randy Cimino, president of Gates to Recovery, spoke at the Feb. 22 Village Board meeting and said his organization wanted 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.

Mayor Angel Javier Jr. and Deputy Mayor Joyce Riley told Cimino then they didn’t want to see another tax-exempt property in the village, and they didn’t think the site was a good fit. Clover Hill is on Route 98 at the southern entrance of the community, leading into a residential neighborhood with many stately homes.

Cimino left that meeting discouraged, but said that feeling changed when he saw hundreds of comments on the Orleans Hub Facebook page in support of the project. Cimino said Gates to Recovery offers longer-term residential stays, up to 18 months, and will work to address mental health issues behind the addiction.

Cimino said this week his organization remains very interested in Clover Hill for the rehab site, which he said will save lives in the community.

Six residents – Diana Reed, Diane Heminway, Jason Dragon, Terry Wilbert, Quincy Washburn and Rachael Spearance – spoke at Monday’s Village Board meeting. They said they don’t want Clover Hill to become a rehab site. They support those facilities that provide treatment and assistance to those with addictions, but think those being served would do better in a more remote location.

Diane Reed bought the house next door last year. It was her childhood home until she was 10 in 1954. The home came back on the market about a year ago and Reed left Florida to move back after 60 years away from Albion.

Reed, 78, said Albion has declined in those 60 years with many beautiful homes demolished for chain stores or carved up into apartments. She said South Main is a rare neighborhood in Albion that has retained its character.

“If you want to keep it that way, you do not cap it off with a drug rehab facility,” she said.

The site should be in a non-residential area out in the country, Reed said.

Jason Dragon and Quincy Washburn both shared their concerns that another tax exempt site would deprive the local municipalities of needed revenue – about $30,000 total.

Dragon also questioned whether the zoning would allow such a use. He said Clover Hill is in a limited business district. He doesn’t think a drug rehab facility fits the criteria.

“I’m not opposed to a rehab facility, but I’m opposed to it at this location,” Dragon said. “We need to protect the property values in the village. Dozens of nearby properties could lose values.”

Rachael Spearance and Terry Wilbert also said there are better spots in the community than Main Street for a drug rehab site.

Diane Heminway also said she supports such a facility, but not in a residential area.

“Drug addiction continues to be on the rise as synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, infiltrate even small communities,” Heminway told the Village Board. “Today, addiction crosses all social strata, regardless of education, occupation, financial status or IQ. Sadly, drug addiction has touched has touched the lives of most of us as we’ve helplessly watched families torn apart emotionally, financially and sometimes physically by this tragic, progressive disease, which too often takes its victims by overdose or suicide.”

Heminway said that despite the best intentions of family and friends, those with drug addictions will often take advantage of them and steal from them.

Heminway said there is a high relapse rate among addicts – 40 to 60 percent within the first month of leaving a facility and 85 percent within a year.

“South Main Street is not an appropriate location for such a facility where neighbors’ homes and yards could be ‘cased out’ for future looting,” Heminway said. “There are far better locations away from homes for this vitally needed facility.”