City braces for methadone battle

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The director of a methadone clinic in Bessemer has notified a state board that he intends to open a new methadone clinic in Alabaster.

Robert White filed a letter of intent with the State Health Planning and Development Agency on Dec. 14. According to state law, he must file the letter of intent before applying for a Certificate of Need from the board.

The notice comes on the heels of a year-long battle surrounding the proposed Shelby County Treatment Center in Saginaw, just a few miles from Alabaster.

In that case, Shelby County Circuit Judge Dan Reeves blocked the clinic from opening, contending the applicants failed to give residents fair notice of the clinic’s opening.

Shelby County Treatment Center applicant Susan Staats-Sidwell has filed an appeal of Reeves’ decision, and she said Tuesday she still expects her clinic to open.

&uot;We feel very confident it will be open,&uot; she said.

Although Staats-Sidwell said she is not a part of the application for the new clinic in Alabaster, she agrees that methadone is needed in the county.

&uot;There is a need, no matter what happens,&uot; she said.

Staats-Sidwell said her application process for a Certificate of Need took six months, but the State Health Planning and Development Agency eventually granted her one for a methadone clinic in the county.

White declined comment for this story.

Alabaster city leaders are not withholding their thoughts on a clinic, however.

On Monday, Alabaster City Council adopted a resolution opposing the proposed methadone clinic.

City leaders and legislators seem prepared to re-start the battle against methadone that began last December when Staats-Sidwell began her application process.

This time, residents might be better prepared.

Rick Walters, president of the Alabaster City Council, said the city is prepared to block the methadone proposal.

&uot;The intent of the resolution was to send a clear message to our residents and to the people proposing this clinic that we don’t want it here,&uot; Walters said.

&uot;We tap our city as a city for families. We don’t believe that bringing people in for methadone is in the best interest of the city. It doesn’t serve our residents.&uot;

If White continues with his application process, Alabaster officials will look at what else they can do to block it, according to Walters.

&uot;We’re going to do whatever it takes,&uot; he said