Virtuoso, Zona, Grozio Help Keep Methadone Clinic at Current Site

The Northpointe Council’s methadone clinic in Niagara Falls, which only a few short months ago was on track to move to a Sixth Street site that some residents were resisting, will remain at its current location at the Trott Access Center on 11th Street thanks to bipartisan efforts of several elected and officials.

Trott Access Center

Trott Access Center

         It was last June at the ribbon cutting for the opening of the Golisano Center for Community Health at Memorial Hospital that Democratic legislators Dennis Virtuoso, Jason Zona and Mark Grozio from Niagara Falls began talking to the county’s director of mental health, Laura Keleman, about finding a way to keep the Northpointe clinic at its current location and not moving it to Sixth St. where opposition was brewing.

         “We started talking at that time, and things just kept moving,” said Virtuoso, “and eventually through due diligence and help from others, including former GOP Legislature Majority Leader Rick Updegrove (now the appointed county manager), we have a success story.”

         Virtuoso also acknowledged the work of State Sen. Robert Ortt (R-C-I-North Tonawanda) in securing $150,000 in state grants to help with the reconstruction of the first floor at the Trott location, a renovation that will likely cost more than $200,000 in all, with Niagara Falls city government expected to contribute.

          “Finally, everything is in place,” said Zona, noting the approval on Wednesday by the Northpointe Council’s board of directors of a resolution to move forward with expansion and renovation plans within the Trott building instead of relocating to a building on Sixth St.

          The approval of the resolution was announced by Sen. Ortt, who said in a press release that “with the ongoing heroin and opioid addiction sweeping across our communities at an alarming rate, the need to expand Northpointe’s services is clear.”

          Ortt also thanked Northpointe for working with the city, county and state to find common ground and reaching a resolution that works for everyone and will also created 10 new jobs.

          According to Ortt, Niagara County, which owns the Trott Access Center, negotiated with Northpointe so that it could remain in the building, with the agreement including lease terms, allocation of extra parking spaces, and moving the Children With Special Needs division from the first to the second floor.

          The renovation and expansion will allow the clinic to double the number of heroin and opiate addicts it serves from 120 to 250 and will improve the overall flow for clients receiving methadone treatment.

          Mental Health Director Keleman, who was part of that initial get-together at the ribbon-cutting with Virtuoso, Zona and Grozio, said “because of the physiological impact of opioid addiction, methadone-assisted treatments, such as methadone, are an essential component in a whole-person approach to treatment and recovery.  We applaud the efforts to expand the availability of methadone treatment for individuals in our community.”

         The renovation work is expected to be completed in the spring, according to Ortt.

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