Williamsville holding forum on opioid crisis - The Buffalo News

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Williamsville holding forum on opioid crisis

Tiny Williamsville, population 6,000, has been affected by the opioid crisis, just like most towns, villages and cities.

Thirty-four Amherst and Williamsville residents died of opioid related overdoses from 2014 until 2016, according to the Erie County Health Department.

"We've got a problem ... it's a suburban problem as much as it's an urban problem," Mayor Brian J. Kulpa said.

Now, the village is planning to host a forum of municipal leaders from across Erie County on April 27 in Village Hall to share ideas about what can be done on the local level.

"I'm not bigheaded enough to think the Village of Williamsville is going to race out and find an answer to this," said Kulpa. "What I'm saying is whenever we have an issue that's bigger than one municipality, all municipal leaders really have to start wrapping their heads around the best solutions. I've found our best solutions come when we get everybody into a room with some experts and start talking about it."

The forum is slated to include presentations from a licensed mental health counselor and recovery specialists. The county Health Department is also interested and determining if Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein is available to attend, said a spokeswoman. The Erie County District Attorney's Office has also been invited.

The forum comes as Catholic Health System's plan to open a methadone clinic in Amherst has stirred opposition from town officials and neighbors of the proposed site, which borders a residential street and a park.

The clinic is needed to serve Amherst residents battling drug addiction, Catholic Health administrators and Burstein say.

The plan is to relocate a clinic that provides drug and alcohol counseling services from Sheridan Drive to 910 Millersport Highway, which is around the corner. The clinic would expand its services to include providing patients with methadone, suboxone and other medication used to treat narcotics dependency.

"This is the single hardest issue that we'll have to deal with as municipal leaders," said Kulpa, a candidate for Amherst Town Supervisor. "You cross into mental health issues, cross into drug and addiction use and it crosses over into the world of land use."

Kulpa said he had no position on the proposed clinic, and prefers instead to explore community-based solutions to the questions it has raised.

"People don't know what to do and we are reacting because there is obviously a need for treatment," he said. "There's a need to connect people to treatment centers and we haven't figured out the right place, the right methodology to provide that. Now it's time to do that, not just in Amherst but across Erie County."

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