Residents oppose recovery houses

WARREN TOWNSHIP — While representatives of FSR Parkman Detox and Treatment told residents they would be courteous and respectful of the neighborhood where two extended-care recovery homes are being located, residents sent a message loud and clear they do not want them.

More than 50 residents attended an informational meeting Wednesday organized by Warren Township trustees where Cindy Woodford, consulting director with FSR Parkman and CEO with First Step Recovery, and April Caraway, executive director of the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, explained what was being planned at two locations in the township to help residents recover from drug addiction.

FSR Parkman provides a 16-bed detox and treatment center that opened several weeks ago at 4930 Enterprise Drive, which formerly housed the Boy Scouts of America Northeast Ohio.

Woodford said the facility helps people with a 21-to 28-day stay with intense treatment and extended care services offered at the main site and recovery offered at the nearby homes.

She said the homes at Leavitt Drive and North Leavitt Road and at Parkman Road and Huntington Drive were selected for their closeness to the main site. Woodford said the men at the houses will be supervised 24 hours by certified chemical dependency counselor assistants and there will be video surveillance and security.

“They will not be allowed off the property. Cellphones are prohibited,” she said.

Caraway said she is familiar with the agency.

“They run a good operation. This is to help people. These are people seeking help. These are not criminals,” she said.

“We are in the neighborhood. Allow us to earn your trust. We want to help our clients improve their lives to become contributing members of society,” Woodford said, noting recovery houses are allowed in residential areas.

However, residents did not want to hear what was planned and expressed anger about not being notified ahead of time of three detox-treatment and recovery places being located within a half mile of each other and two on the same road. Several residents questioned why they can’t be located somewhere else.

John Astolfi of Huntington Drive said the two houses are creating “bookends for a tiny residential neighborhood with 60 homes.”

“Leavittsburg is tired of being dumped on with a prison, a landfill and now this in our neighborhood…These two houses are like two lions at the end of the neighborhood,” he said.

Astolfi said residents are frightened about what will happen to their property values as well as the safety of children.

Several residents expressed concern the men may flee the houses and steal items from nearby homes for drugs.

“We moved here to get out of the urban element because we are frightened by the shootings and all that is happening and now we have this,” Astolfi said.

Alicia Stilwell of Leavitt Drive said she is afraid to let her three young children out of the house. She and others questioned Woodford if she had recovery houses in her neighborhood.

“You told us this is not in your neighborhood. I don’t like a grocery store in my neighborhood and can easily say that because I don’t have one in my neighborhood,” Stilwell said.

Nicole Ullinskey of Leavitt Drive said “there is no community support” for what is being done by FSR Parkman.

“This is a pop-up shop for profit. How can we trust you. You needed to keep people informed and you didn’t,” she said. “What do I have to do to get you out of my neighborhood?”

Trustee Ed Anthony said they are having an attorney look over current zoning guidelines. He noted one property off Parkman Road is located in commercial zoning.

“I understand residents have concerns. I have concerns,” he said.

Woodford said the people being helped have sought assistance or have been referred. She noted backgrounds are checked and no sex offenders are accepted.

She said the 10 to 12 people per home, including the certified counselor, will be there 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and for a few hours in the afternoon, 12:30 to 2:15 p.m

Stilwell said the“one to 10 ratio is ridiculous.”

The facility will have a staff of about 30 and follow the evidence-based treatment model used by First Step Recovery, a Warren-based detox and treatment center that opened in 2015, and also provide consulting services.

Woodford said she acquired proper permits from the county and also had FSR Parkman representative speak with Warren Township Zoning Inspector Norman Ashley.

Woodford said the agency’s goal is to help people affected by the opioid epidemic in Trumbull County.