Neighbors rebuff town, village over therapy site plan
NIVERVILLE–It was standing room only last week at Kinderhook Town Hall as a joint committee of the town and the Village of Valatie discussed a proposal by Twin County Recovery Services to rent two rooms in the former Martin H. Glynn School once the two municipalities take ownership of the building.
Ichabod Crane School District voters approved a resolution at last May’s annual vote to turn over ownership of the unoccupied school building to the town and village. Officials of both the town and Valatie plan to move their offices into the building on Church Street in the village once the transfer of ownership from the school district is finalized.
Town Supervisor Pat Grattan said several times during the meeting Thursday night, July 26 that the municipalities do not yet own the building. But village and town officials have been in talks with Twin County about opening an office at some location in the area for several years and only started talking about using the school building once they knew in May that voters had approved the resolution.
Supervisor Grattan said the $2,000 monthly rent payment from Twin County’s use of two rooms in the building would be placed in a reserve fund account and used for capital improvements to the building. “Do we have to have them in there? Absolutely not,” Mr. Grattan said of the rent money from Twin County.
Twin County has proposed using a space in the building one day a week for individual and group therapy for people with substance abuse and mental illness diagnoses. The organization said the Valatie office would be a year-long pilot program which, if successful, might lead to added days when treatment is available. Twin County would start with individual sessions and work up to groups depending on who uses to the site, so officials don’t yet know how many people the office would serve.
There would no drugs prescribed at the office and it would not be used as a residential facility.
“A third of [our] population lives within five miles of Valatie,” Michael Cole, director of the county Mental Health Department, said at the meeting. He and others involved said they hoped having the Valatie office would make it more convenient for people in the area to get treatment. Twin County Recovery Services, Inc, will still have full-time offices in Hudson and Catskill, and the Valatie office would serve only Columbia County residents.
The Town Hall meeting room was packed with residents of Church Street and other parts of the village opposed to having drug and alcohol treatment services in their neighborhood. Many residents pointed out that the clinic would be across the street from a preschool and near a daycare center as well as community playground and library.
“I don’t want this around my child,” said one resident of Church Street. “You can go somewhere else.”
Residents suggested having the services at the Valatie Medical Arts Building (VMA) or in the plaza on Route 9, where Columbia Memorial Hospital has opened a Rapid Care Center.
Beth Schuster, the executive director of Twin County, said that her organization was invited to the area and this was the building that Twin County was offered.
Mr. Cole said that the VMA rent was three times what the town and village are offering in the school building.
Mr. Cole and Ms. Schuster stressed that this office would be providing services to people already in the community, not bringing people from outside in.
“The users of these services are in this room,” said resident Keith Stack, who urged his fellow residents to support the treatment program wherever in town it ends up.
Many people in the room expressed frustration with the village and town for not getting the information about the public hearing out to residents and worried that the board would make a decision without community input.
Supervisor Grattan said they would have another public hearing on the issue and would post the date of that meeting on the town website, www.kinderhook-ny.gov.
Though many village officials pointed out that the services would be safe and helpful for the community, Town Board member Glyn Smith said that there were other properties that the boards could look at offering to Twin County.
Supervisor Grattan said they did would take the community’s comments under consideration.