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Counseling center shift to 460 Main is backed

A plan to move a drug and alcohol counseling center to the Main Street business district is being endorsed by some downtown leaders.

Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services was planning to ask the city Zoning Board today to approve plans to set up its family addiction outpatient program on the second floor of the Courtyard Mall at 460 Main St. The program provides counseling and drug testing to adolescents and adults. It also provides some support services for families of substance abusers.

Last December, a proposal to open a rehabilitation center for mentally ill adults in the same building spurred such opposition that advocates withdrew their plans. Critics said the Restoration Society had a large number of police complaints at its existing center on Elmwood Avenue near Virginia Street.

But some downtown leaders who raised concerns about the Restoration Society's move to Main Street said they have no problems with the proposed drug counseling and testing center locating near Lafayette Square. Buffalo Place Executive Director Michael T. Schmand said the human services group has been downtown for 25 years, the last seven in the Statler Towers.

"Their track record speaks volumes," Schmand said.

Common Council Member Brian C. Davis, whose Ellicott District includes much of downtown, said clients would be visiting the center for only short periods. "They won't be hanging out at the site," he said.

Richard J. Gallagher, the program's executive director, said rehabilitation plans by the new owner of the Statler Towers is necessitating the move. He said the center services 250 to 300 clients in a given week. Counseling sessions generally last 60 to 90 minutes.

"All our clients have scheduled appointments. It's not a walk-in center," Gallagher said.

The center is never opened past 7 p.m., Gallagher said, and it closes even earlier on most days. "We've been good neighbors wherever we've located," he said.

About 88 percent of the center's clients live in Buffalo, Gallagher said, so it is important to move to an accessible site.

Carl P. Paladino, a prominent downtown landlord, owns the Courtyard Mall, which is located near at the intersection of Main and Court streets.


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