Residents, city officials express concerns about proposed opioid treatment center in Lynnwood

The opioid treatment center, at 2322 196th St. S.W., will be located near the Alderwood Boys and Girls Club.

Concerns about location, lack of transparency and children’s safety were the main topics at Thursday night’s public hearing regarding a proposal to locate a Comprehensive Opioid Treatment Center in Lynnwood.

The center, which is currently in Bothell, is set to be relocated to 2322 196th St. S.W. in Lynnwood – just a few blocks from the Alderwood Boys and Girls Club.

The virtual public hearing was hosted by the Washington State Department of Public Health as part of the licensing process required by state law.

Almost everyone who spoke at the public hearing Thursday night voiced their concerns with how close the treatment center would be to a hub for Lynnwood’s children.

“I appreciate [the center],” said one community member, who identified himself as David, “but what makes you think it’s a good idea to put this program hundreds of feet away from the Boys and Girls Club?”

Ruth Cassidy, who works at the Boys and Girls Club, said the facility already has issues with drug deals going down in its parking lot and transport vans being vandalized. She expressed concerns that the arrival of the center will further exacerbate the problem.

Michael Friar, another community member, asked why that location was the only option being presented.

“A lot of the people [who need this treatment center] hang out around Airport Road and Highway 99,” Friar said. “I’m wondering why somewhere over there wasn’t decided and why we’re choosing to place this facility near our children, especially a program dealing with people who have impulse control issues.”

Daniel Hymas, regional vice president of Acadia Healthcare, which will operate the facility, said the proposed treatment center location makes the most sense because over 100 current patients at the Bothell facility live within a five-mile radius of the new address.

The new location would provide many patients with convenience, Hymas said. A shorter commute to treatment will mean less interference with patients’ schedules, which is something the center strives to do.

“We will have early morning hours so our patients can receive treatment when it’s convenient for them and so it doesn’t interfere with the rest of their lives,” Hymas said. “Our goal is to help them get back to leading productive lives.”

In addition to questioning the location of the proposed treatment center, many of those commenting Thursday said they were unhappy with the lack of information regarding the facility.

“Nobody more than me wants to see people get help for getting off of opioids,” said Sandy, a community member who lost her child to an opioid addiction. “But I will tell you – I smell a rat. I want to be a cheerleader for this program, but the lack of transparency seems really shady to me.”

Very few details were shared about the proposed treatment center prior to the announcement of the public hearing, which was also not widely circulated to community members or even Lynnwood city staff, commenters said.

Lynnwood City Council President George Hurst said councilmembers did not receive any information on the facility until the council’s last meeting of the year. Even then, Hurst said the date on the original public hearing announcement said it was held in August, so many councilmembers discarded the announcement as an outdated piece of information. 

Regardless, with an already full agenda for the evening, Hurst said the council wouldn’t have had time to discuss the issue before their three-week long break anyway.

“Instead of having a meaningful dialogue about the Comprehensive Treatment Center, now I feel like we are just part of a ‘check the box’ process,” he said.

Holding the public hearing the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day also raised concerns among some commenters.

“You’re holding this on Dec. 29,” David said. “Most people are on vacation and this so-called ‘public hearing’ is at 4:30 on a Thursday night. Not many people are going to come to this.”

Lynnwood City Councilmember Jim Smith agreed, saying the date of the public hearing made attendance inconvenient for many who would otherwise have tuned into the meeting.

“This is extremely disturbing to me,” he said. “Not just the lack of transparency but that it’s being snuck in here without the participation of the Lynnwood City Council. We were not contacted about this. To be doing this in the middle of the Christmas season is just ridiculous. If this is coming to Lynnwood, it’s going to be a magnet for drug users.”

Smith went on to say that it’s still unclear whether the treatment center has already been approved and the public hearing is just a legal matter, or if the community’s input will actually be taken into consideration when officials decide whether to approve the center’s move to Lynnwood.

Regardless, Smith said the process should be halted for at least six months so city staff can have adequate time to gather more community input and discuss the matter, to see if an opioid treatment center would really benefit Lynnwood residents.

Many community members said opening an opioid treatment center in Lynnwood will increase the city’s drug problems, and asked staff if that is the reason the Bothell facility is closing its doors.

Despite the mostly negative comments, State Rep. Lauren Davis – a 32nd District Democrat who represents part of Lynnwood – said she is looking forward to the positive work that the treatment center will do in the city.

“I’m actually incredibly excited about this program coming to our community,” she said. “Methadone [a medication used to treat opioid addiction] is an incredibly effective medication and it’s heavily regulated.”

To have such a medication offered in Lynnwood will bring numerous positive outcomes for the city, Davis added, which will make housing the treatment center in the city limits more than worth it.

Staff from the Washington State Department of Health will be responding to each commenter’s specific questions within the next two weeks.

— By Lauren Reichenbach

  1. In addition to the opioid treatment facility opening right here in our city… making access to it hugely simpler than if someone with problems must travel miles to get similar treatment (this is, in my opinion a very good thing), we must also turn our crimefighting efforts to combatting this KILLER. I lost my son this past August to an opioid overdose. Had those supplying the local dealers, AND the local dealers been aggressively hunted, found and brought to fierce justice… those of us who’ve lost loved ones to opioids might not be drowning in grief right now. Of course, impact the market (users) by acutely shrinking their numbers, by getting them OFF the drugs helps to make the need for a treatment center far less necessary. Until all such elements are met… it is this parent’s opinion we needed that treatment center YESTERDAY. PS Please make sure George Hurst and Shannon Sessions see this comment! Thank you.

  2. “If this is coming to Lynnwood, it’s going to be a magnet for drug users.” Well yeah I sure hope it does, that’s kinda the point. The point of these is to get drug users in and turn them into former drug users. The harder you make these facilities to physically access the less people you will see utilizing their services and the more actually scary and unpredictable drug users will remain in the community and will be using hard drugs in the parks these kids play in more often. If you care about the children and them having safe parks to play in, you support opening the perfectly safe and regulated treatment center without delay, that includes no pointless delays trying to find some last minute alternative location because local nimbys are always going to nimby.

  3. Not a good idea will create more crimes and other problems and more homeless to the neighborhood

  4. I’m a business owner for over a decade located hundreds of feet away from this proposed site. But my negative feeling aside, who is the genius that thought it would be a good idea to place methadone next to. Yes next to. Not blocks away or hundreds of feet but next to the Alderwood Boys and girls club. Great decision. Under priveraged kids and methadone. Lets have tweakers hangout on the ball field our kids use. Needles, crime , and homelessness. I don’t see a bad recipe here…..
    One thing to note, the Washington state liquor control board passed law prohibiting any legal marijuana retailers from opening within 1000 feet as the crow flies from the Boys and girls club. How does a methadone store circumvent this law? Maybee the highly controlled methadone is less intrusive over legal marijuana? This is crap. Complete corporate overstep. . I can’t wait to join the class action lawsuit against the city of Lynnwood allowing this travesty.

  5. This center should not be located so near to our kids, by the established Boys and Girls Club and Little League field. Move this to Hwy 99 or another appropriate location where our kids are not affected. We care about our community and drug users should get help, but not at the expense of our kid’s safety. As a long term Lynnwood resident, I oppose the location of this center.

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