Clinics find new home

Mental health service agencies seek OK for new Valatie offices
VALATIE–The county’s Mental Health Clinic and Twin County Recovery Services anticipate officials will approve a plan for the two agencies to rent space at the Valatie Medical Arts (VMA) building on River Street in the village.
“Our expectation is that both the Columbia County Department of Human Services’ Mental Health Clinic and the Twin County Recovery Services Substance Abuse Clinic will be able to obtain authorization from the New York State Office of Mental Health and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to establish co-located clinic satellites at the Valatie Medical Arts building by the first of the year,” Michael Cole, Director of Community Services for the county’s Human Services Department, said in an email to The Columbia Paper. Both Twin County, a substance abuse counseling center, and County Mental Health are currently housed in Hudson and plan to use the VMA offices for services two days a week. Mr. Cole said the clinics have not yet signed a lease. 
This summer the two mental health agencies proposed using space in the old Martin H. Glynn School building in Valatie that the town and village governments plan to use for municipal offices. But the town rejected that offer after public discussions revealed strong local opposition.
Explaining the need for the local clinic, Mr. Cole said in his email, “Residents of the northwestern corner of Columbia County comprise one third of the population of the county, yet the only county service sites for either agency are currently in Hudson.” 
In a subsequent phone interview this week he said that the county has planned to offer services in the Kinderhook area for years. “It will grow,” he said, referring to use of the site, “but grow slowly.” He said clients will have a choice to continue receiving services in Hudson or come to the office in Valatie if that is more convenient.
County Mental Health and Twin County plan to rent 2,000 square feet in the VMA at roughly $19 per square foot, making their rent about $38,000 a year, said Mr. Cole. The county will pay 75% of the rent and Twin County will pay 25%, he said, since County Mental Health needs to use more of the space. Both clinics are reimbursed for their services by patient insurance.
When the clinics initially presented their plan for a satellite office in the Glynn School on Church Street, they sought to use two rooms in the building for group and individual counseling sessions one day a week and offered to pay the town $2,000 a month.
After residents of the village spoke out against clinics’ use of the building at a public meeting in July, Town Supervisor Pat Grattan, who also serves as chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said that the municipalities did not need Twin County’s rent money to cover the costs of occupying the old school building. The town and village are still working out the terms of ownership of the building with the school district and have discussed having other tenants in the building.
In August Town Board members heard a presentation from the Academy of Christian Leadership about using the Glynn School for as the headquarters for the private Christian school. But the school has since suspended classes for the school year.
At the July meeting, residents suggested the clinics look into renting space at the VMA, located at the corner of Route 9 and Main Street, or at the plaza on Route 9 that houses the Ocean State Job Lots store and Columbia Memorial Hospital’s Rapid Care Center and doctor’s offices.
Mr. Cole said in July that the rent at the VMA was cost prohibitive, but he said this week that the clinics have negotiated terms with the building’s owners. He said the lease still needs approval from the county attorney and the Board Supervisors.
“It’s taken awhile,” he said of finding this site.
“I was glad to hear they were able to find a location in our community to deliver the needed services,” Valatie Mayor Gary Strevell said in an email.
Supervisor Grattan could not be reached prior to press deadline.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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