Not in my backyard: Neighbors protest methadone clinic


    DES MOINES, Wash. -- Parents and students holding signs reading "Meth Is Not A Good Neighbor" lined the sidewalk Tuesday in front of Woodmont Elementary in Des Moines, protesting a proposed recovery center.

    Doreen Harper owns a farm on the same street where Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation plans to build an evaluation and treatment center and methadone clinic.

    Harper is worried about what will happen to the children in the neighborhood and her property values. She is considering selling her farm if the facility goes in.

    "Our neighbors already sold their home. they're relocating because they're in fear of what is gonna happen," said Harper.

    Several community members oppose putting a methadone clinic a block from Woodmont Elementary. Harper joined the demonstration with her neighbors saying, "It's s a ridiculous idea to put it near an elementary school."

    Ken Taylor, The CEO of Valley Cities, found the 8 acre lot in South King County at Pacific Highway and 272nd for $4.75 million after an offer on property elsewhere was rejected.

    "King County has a psychiatric boarding emergency," Taylor said. "3,000 people with mental illness need treatment and many are stacked up like cord wood in hospitals."

    The group went through a public hearing, received permits, and a million dollar grant from King County, and the State Legislature earmarked $5 million for the Woodmont Recovery Center.

    Taylor said their intention is to start building the first of five buildings in the fall. He said that building with 24 beds would house the evaluation and treatment center for people who are dangerous to themselves or others and need to be detained, evaluated, and treated.

    Taylor said people who are mentally ill and suffer substance abuse issues "are dying in King County, Washington because they are not getting the treatment they need."

    Valley Cities only has enough funding to build the treatment center according to Taylor. He said the methadone clinic is in the plans for building number five.

    City officials say they're listening to community concerns and looking at ways to get the location moved, but that's easier said than done. Taylor said there aren't many suitable properties in South King County that are zoned commercial and have good access to public transportation.

    Harper empathized, but still protested.

    " I want it to move. It's needed, it's necessary but it's not needed near a school," she said.

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