June 24, 2019 By Christian Murray
A drug and alcohol rehabilitation center is planned to open on Roosevelt Avenue near the 52nd Street subway station this fall.
Representatives from Argus Community, a non-profit organization that treats people with substance abuse problems, told Community Board 2’s Land Use committee Thursday that it plans to move into a 7,800 square foot space at 52-22 Roosevelt Ave.
The building is under construction and Argus aims to move in by October. The non-profit did not say what floors of the 5-story, mixed-use building it would occupy but did say it was close to signing a lease.
The organization plans to use the site to treat up to 45 adults with drug and alcohol problems via an inhouse treatment program. The inhouse patients would be at the facility 24/7 for a 21-day detox period.
Argus also plans to open an outpatient clinic on the site that would operate from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The plan was not viewed favorably by some members of the Land Use Committee who said that it was not a good place for the facility.
“You should anticipate an enormous amount of community pushback,” said Patrick O’Brien, a member of the Land Use Committee, to the Argus representatives.” The neighborhood is going to go bananas over this.”
He said the facility would be just one block away from the Quality Inn homeless shelter on Queens Boulevard, which many residents are already unhappy about.
Additionally, it would be located in a poorly-lit section of Roosevelt Avenue that is not that far from two schools—P.S. 11 and the Razi School—as well as the Woodside Library. He said that there have been problem bars and crime in that section of Roosevelt Avenue too.
“It’s the perfect storm,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien recognized a need for the facility but said it wasn’t fair to the residents who live in close proximity to the proposed location. He asked the Argus representatives if they looked at other sites in the district.
An Argus representative said yes, but was unable at the time of the meeting to say where.
Argus officials said the facility would have security. They said that the patients undergoing the 21-day detox program would be inside the facility the entire time and they would not leave unless they are escorted. Furthermore, when the patients complete the program, they are discharged to family members or go into other programs to ensure a smooth transition back to the community.
Argus does not need to get a special permit or require a rezoning for its plans to move forward. However, it does need the New York State OASAS (Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services) to sign off on the proposal. Argus has been working with OASAS on the location.
Questions were raised by the board about the outpatient component of the program and whether it would result in patients loitering at nearby parks or in the streets.
Argus insists that it has security personnel to minimize problems and that it would conduct regular sweeps of the area. However, board members noted that Argus doesn’t have any authority outside the facility.
But not all members opposed the plan. Some argued that there is a need for programs like Argus’ and that Community Board 2 should not adopt a NIMBY approach to it. Some argued that no matter where it would go there would be pushback. They were reluctant to reject it.
The committee, by a 5-3 vote, ultimately decided to write a letter in opposition to the plan arguing that the board needed more information about the plan. The letter is being addressed to OASAS and elected officials.