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Methadone Clinic In Pittsfield Stalled Again

A company seeking to open a heroin addiction treatment clinic in downtown Pittsfield has been halted once again. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard has the story…

The proposed methadone clinic owned by Worcester-based Spectrum Health Services Inc. will need to find a new location in Pittsfield after the owners of the property under consideration declined to rent use of the facility located in a residential neighborhood in downtown Pittsfield.

Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi spoke Tuesday night at a City Council meeting about the new development.

The mayor mentioned that because of an ongoing lawsuit between Spectrum and the City of Pittsfield, he could not provide many details about the situation.

At the end of former Mayor Jim Ruberto's administration, Spectrum sued the city for denying the company a building permit to open downtown under the American with Disabilities Act and the Dover Amendment. Spectrum, which classifies itself as a nonprofit educational corporation, argues they are exempt from certain zoning restrictions. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is requiring Pittsfield to open a methadone clinic within the city. Berkshire County is home to a large number of people suffering from opioid addiction.

Gail Krumpholz, chair of Pittsfield’s Morningside Neighborhood Initiative echoed the voices of many at the city council meeting, saying that they recognize the need for the clinic, but stressed that a residential area is not a suitable place.

Before the city council, residents warned the clinic would present dangers to area children, destroy a sense of community, and tarnish the image of the neighborhood.

Bob Skowron is a local resident who has been very vocal in the movement against putting the clinic in the Stoddard avenue location, which has included impromptu rallies and petitions, says the refusal of the lease to Spectrum serves as to what he called a “moral victory”.

What happens next is uncertain. Pittsfield is still fighting the current lawsuit of which details remain under confidentiality agreement, and it appears that state law will still require the city to find a suitable location.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.