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Neighbors should let St. Joe’s treat veterans

January 30, 2012
Editorial by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Publisher Catherine Moore, Managing Editor Peter Crowley

St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers already does great work to help heal people from alcohol and drug addiction - essentially trying to save their lives, and often succeeding. In recent years, the group has been trying to do something new that's incredibly important to our society - build a 25-bed residential treatment center for veterans of recent wars who suffer from both addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.

No one we know doubts that the United States, in starting two wars with no draft, has made things unduly hard on those who volunteer to enter the military. And no one we know doubts that the wars have been traumatic and our welcome of the troops home has been more tepid than we wish. Also, we know many of our nation's soldiers suffer from PTSD, substance abuse or both, and that there aren't enough treatment facilities out there. New ones are needed yesterday, as it were.

This is all of our problem, as Americans.

St. Joe's proposed to build such a facility several years ago, and New York state agreed to pay for it, but the plans unfortunately hit unexpected snags and took longer than expected.

Now that St. Joe's is rolling out those plans, neighbors are trying to block it.

St. Joe's has moved the project site downhill, with an entrance from Kiwassa Drive. It's closer to some people's houses and would require a zoning change to match the zoning of St. Joe's current buildings. Numerous neighbors are trying to get the Saranac Lake planning board to reject the change, saying it would lessen their property values to have such a facility so close and because the draft comprehensive plan does not include that zoning change. Nearly 40 people showed up at a Jan. 19 planning board hearing on the issue, although not all voiced objections.

We have known and admired these individuals for many years, but they should back down on this one.

St. Joe's has been there since before their houses were built, so they already have people with addiction problems in their neighborhood. These neighbors don't have much to worry about now, and the veterans facility won't change that. Their property values shouldn't be affected in any meaningful way.

And any comprehensive plan that doesn't allow a facility needed this badly should be changed.

St. Joe's has offered to look again at other locations on its property it had previously considered, but those locations were rejected for good reasons: rocky ground and difficulty in routing water and sewer lines. Maybe they'll work it out on their own, but if they can't, these neighbors should step out of the way.

If they can't be happy to have this treatment center because it's noble, we hope they can accept it because it's necessary.



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