The facts about drugs in Rutland are hard to ignore. At Rutland Regional Medical Center, one in seven babies is born to an opiate-addicted mother and crimes related to drugs are on the rise. That's why in November members of the community and Vt. health officials came together to discuss options for a possible opiate treatment center.
"These safeguards actually make sense. The expertise that's here in this room today is far greater than it was 13 years ago," Rutland City Police Capt. Scott Tucker said at the meeting.
At that meeting, the plan was to create a model treatment facility with the potential to help over 400 clients. But now Dan Quinn, CEO of Rutland Mental Health, says funding issues make that goal unattainable.
"We have to face the fiscal responsibilities of what we can afford. So what we can afford is 1,500-2,000 square feet of office space," Quinn said.
Right now, the budget-- about $500,000 coming from the State health department-- could staff about six people and treat up to 75 clients; a much smaller version of the center dreamed up in November.
"I think day one it won't have the capacity to be this hub and spokes model that's been chatted about," Quinn said.
But Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras says he doesn't think money should matter most.
"The state needs to make the investments at the front end of this facility to make it the best facility, to make it a model facility for the rest of the state," Louras said.
A rented space from Rutland Plywood on Park Street is Quinn's choice for the treatment facility. but Louras says he'd rather see the facility put on Allen Street near Rutland Regional Medical Center.
"That planned office park is where all the medical facilities are. This really is a medical intervention and, my opinion, that's the best place for it-- is with the rest of the medical community," Louras said.
But Quinn says he looked at locations on Allen Street and none of them work.
"The challenge is that on Allen Street, that amount of square footage comes with three or four parking spots," Quinn said.
Rutland Plywood offers enough parking for all the clients and staff, but Dave Allaire, chair of the board of aldermen, is not sure it's right for the neighborhood.
"Neighbored directly next door-- the Vermont Achievement Center which serves kids, young people, children, and various groups here in the city and they have voiced a concern to me and I think rightfully so," Allaire said.
The Vermont Achievement Center declined to comment Tuesday, but Allaire says he and Quinn hope to hold a joint community meeting at the end of the month to hear what neighbors have to say.
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