EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 6, 2013

Meth clinic proposed at N.H. border

Clinic would be at border of Haverhill and Plaistow

By Alex Lippa

---- — HAVERHILL — A methadone clinic is considering opening right on the border of Plaistow and Haverhill.

Spectrum Health Systems has applied to the Haverhill Building Department for occupancy of a building at 100 Plaistow Road in Haverhill. The clinic would be located at the former site of the The Children’s Learning Center daycare.

“The building literally cuts through the state line,” Plaistow Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said.

Spectrum is a nonprofit that operates multiple outpatient clinics throughout New England.

Haverhill City Councilor Bill Macek said the council has voted down methadone clinics twice before in the city.

“The information was not laid out to us in a favorable way,” Macek said. “It was also going to be a mobile facility, which would roll into parking lots. That isn’t something we were quite comfortable with.”

But Macek said he’d be open to permitting a clinic.

“I know that it is helpful for many people,” Macek said. “But others could utilize it as an additional free high. I will keep an open mind and, hopefully, it will be able to provide other services, such some counseling and social work services. I don’t want them to just provide methadone to people on a list.”

Fitzgerald said the clinic would impact Plaistow even if it’s in Haverhill.

“I just want to make sure that all parties involved are fully abreast of the impact such an establishment would have on municipal services,” he said. “Good work happens with organizations working with people struggling with addictions, but we just have to be mindful that we understand just how municipal services will be impacted.”

Fitzgerald said he has asked Town Planner Leigh Komornick to look into the project. He also directed Plaistow Police Chief Stephen Savage to meet with Spectrum representatives last month.

“We don’t know exactly what the foot traffic will be,” Fitzgerald said. “But introducing a medical facility in a heavily congested area may bring some other concerns.”

Fitzgerald said he plans to work closely with Haverhill in the coming months. He said it was too early to tell what influence Plaistow officials could have over the permitting process.

“The town will be following up with city officials regarding all of the issues to evaluate the potential impacts to the town,” Fitzgerald said.

Spectrum Health Systems could not be reached for comment.