LYNNWOOD — Armed with picket signs and impassioned public comments, dozens of community members commanded the Lynnwood City Council’s attention on Tuesday night regarding an opioid treatment center set to open a few hundred feet from the Alderwood Boys and Girls Club later this month.
Picket signs read “No Opioid facility Near kids,” “Protect our kids” and “We need transparency.”
The meeting spanned about four hours, adjourning just before 10 p.m., with council members wondering aloud how they could slow or stop the center from opening. However, on Wednesday, the council president said he believed there’s little that can be done to stop it.
City Council members, Mayor Christine Frizzell, Lynnwood police and other officials said they were not aware the opioid center was in the works until recently. The city’s planning department began processing the permit in March and inspected the facility for code on Dec. 16.
A public hearing didn’t come until Dec. 29, in the middle of the holiday season and following the “final inspections,” according to the council. The council work session on Tuesday quickly turned into a forum for public outcry.
“They said they reached out months ago. I heard about this a week ago,” said council member Julieta Altamirano-Crosby.
The opioid center — owned by Acadia Healthcare — is set to dispense methadone, a highly regulated medication, as treatment. More than 300 patients would need to travel to the center every day to receive medication. Acadia plans to open the facility Jan 23.
Residents raised concerns about having the facility so close to children. One mother said she took off work on Tuesday to look for new places to move and other school districts to join, to avoid exposing her kids to potentially dangerous or confusing situations.
Others emphasized the need for treatment facilities, such as this one, to help fight the opioid crisis plaguing Lynnwood and neighboring communities.
“For those on Zoom, there were about 70- to 80-ish people in here, and that’s amazing for how quickly everybody just learned about this,” council member Shannon Sessions said. “I don’t think the problem is that we’re against treating these folks who need it. … The location is the problem. I know there isn’t a perfect spot, but it cannot be next to the Boys and Girls Club.”
Washington’s Department of Health, Lynnwood police, Acadia Healthcare, the Snohomish County Boys and Girls Club and 32nd Legislative District Rep. Lauren Davis all commented at Tuesday’s meeting.
Acadia Healthcare Regional Vice President Dan Hymas maintained that proper steps had been taken in opening the facility.
“We did what we felt was our due diligence back in March when we reached out to the city planners,” Hymas said. “We’ve gone through all the permitting process. … So for the city to at this point, say, ‘No, you can’t come in here’ — we’ve invested a lot in this community already.”
Acadia has already invested $300,000 to remodel the Lynnwood location.
Council member Patrick Decker raised questions about the location, saying the current infrastructure would not support 300 more people driving in per day. He also questioned the corporation’s motive to move the facility away from Bothell.
“This is about big pharmaceutical and big business taking advantage of Lynnwood for profits,” Decker said. “This methadone clinic is about making more money for what’s already a giant business.”
Rep. Lauren Davis countered, saying that there is no location in Lynnwood people would not argue against.
“I am very much in support of this facility,” Davis said.
Council chair George Hurst asked a question that never quite received a complete answer at the hearing.
“Who do we need to talk to to stop this?” Hurst said.
In a Wednesday phone call following the meeting, Hurst explained that upon reading the legal documents, there isn’t much left to do.
“Our city attorney is going to advise us, but reading the RCW and the Lynnwood Muncipal Code, once they comply with all the codes and zones, there’s not much we can do,” Hurst said. “I don’t see them stopping it.”
Kayla J. Dunn: 425-339-3449; email@example.com; Twitter: @KaylaJ_Dunn.
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