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Plan to relocate methadone clinic raises concerns in Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS – Several residents spoke out Monday about plans that have been proposed by Northpointe Council to relocate a methadone clinic to 606 Sixth St.

Although all are in agreement that those who are addicted to heroin and painkillers should have access to treatment, concerns were raised about the size of the facility, safety and whether it fit into the neighborhood. City leaders have also spoken out against the plan and suggested Northpointe move the clinic to 1625 Buffalo Ave.

Northpointe Council President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel J. Shubsda spoke to the City Council on Monday about the two-year process to relocate the clinic from Trott Center at 1001 11th St. to the larger building on Sixth Street owned by Ellicott Development.

Shubsda assured the city that the clinic is highly regulated. He also denied rumors that it would be a “mega” clinic, but rather would expand from its current case load of 95, to about 250 clients, which would allow those on the waiting list to have access to the clinic. He said most of their current clients and those on the waiting list are from Niagara Falls.

There have been some questions about whether Northpointe board members Councilman Charles Walker and Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson should have acted to provide information about the planned move, but Northpointe Board Chairman Joseph Sbarbati said that was not their role and added that they would be violating the confidentiality of the board.

Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo said the state would work with Northpointe to expedite approvals if they changed the location to the Buffalo Avenue site. He said the owner at Buffalo Avenue is already working to make it handicapped accessible.

“It’s only 1.3 miles from Sixth Street and 1.5 miles from its current facility,” said Piccirillo of the Buffalo Avenue site. “The big difference between Buffalo Avenue and Sixth Street is that we are very confident that BOCES is looking at the entire site on Sixth Street for its vocational training site and Northpointe’s occupancy could jeopardize that.”

In another matter, the Council approved, with four votes to one with Council member Ezra Scott Jr. abstaining, a $355,190 plan to put automated parking meters downtown.

The approved contractor, Ber-National, will put automated pay stations in lots on First Street at Buffalo Avenue, on Third Street at Rainbow Boulevard and on downtown streets.

Three Department of Public Works employees will add the parking duties to their current tasks, according to the plan.

Casino revenues will be used to pay for the costs of the new meters, which are expected to be installed by May in advance of tourist season.

The Council also honored Niagara Falls Firefighter Kevin Dobmeier for his actions in saving a man who was having a heart attack. Dobmeier was off-duty when he responded to the emergency scene and started CPR on William Studi of Bollier Avenue, who collapsed while snowblowing. The members of Engine 9 were also honored. Capt. Mike Accetta and Firefighters Chris Janese, Larry Quarcini and Tim Kennedy responded to the scene to provide emergency care, which helped save Studi’s life.