By Steve Pomper
Alderwood residents outraged at company attempting to locate opioid clinic into building near Little League fields and Boys & Girls Club
An opiod clinic just opened in the Alderwood neighborhood of Lynnwood, WA. a suburb north of Seattle. It seems that everyone opposed to Acadia Healthcare’s apparent stealthy ramming of an opioid treatment center near the Alderwood Little League ballfields and the Boys & Girls Club, “down their throats” was playing catch up.
Boys & Girls Club shares parking lot with Alderwood Little League.
I’ll admit this is partly personal, as my daughter, her husband, and their three young children live about a block from the Boys & Girls Club and ballfields. She first told me about an apparent attempt to sneak in this opioid treatment facility, which so obviously doesn’t belong near any residential area or facilities frequented by young children. I was a cop for a lot of years. I’ve seen firsthand how these clinics affect neighborhoods.
On Sunday, January 22nd, I attended a scheduled protest of the “drug treatment clinic” so many communities and their law enforcement agencies are dealing with across the nation. Frequently, criminal activity is associated with such facilities, which also can impact police resources.
There may have been some form of meetings, but it appears they were limited participation via Zoom. I wrote to the Washington Health Department (below) and was advised my comments were received after the opportunity for public comments had closed. A consequence of being taken by surprise.
Vivian Dong, founder of SafeLynnwood, about Acadia, said, “They haven’t showed up in person to any of the city meetings. They’ve always just been hiding on a Zoom call.”
Many opponents say the state is complicit in “sneaking” this facility into this grossly inappropriate location. Demonstrators also faulted Gov. Jay Inslee for ignoring their public safety concerns—which is not surprising, as he tends to prefer protecting criminals over law-abiding citizens.
Photo: Steve Pomper
I can’t imagine any responsible adult reviewing this proposed location, and, after seeing its proximity to where children gather, approving it. Apparently, Acadia didn’t even notify the B&G’s Club about the proposed facility to be located so close to them.
One counter protester showed up with a virtue-signaling sign reading “All Are Welcome,” as if that were the issue. She chose to interpret the subject as if every patient were responsible and dedicated to treatment and getting clean. Aside from this fantasy, she also lambasted a young man, accompanied by his little daughter, for opposing the clinic.
He tried to explain his situation to her, saying he’s already having challenges with addicts loitering in this area. Incidentally, the Boys & Girls Club director also described already having to run off drug deals occurring in their parking lot.
Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County (Lynnwood, WA). Photo: Steve Pomper
The man finally interrupted the woman and said, “Stop telling me what I think and then attacking me for it.” He specifically opposed the location, not the treatment. Many of the demonstrators agreed, this wasn’t a political issue; it was a public safety issue—the safety of children.
I actually saw the two shake hands before they parted. The parent offered his hand, not the lefty. However, credit where it’s due; she shook his hand. That’s how it’s supposed to work in America.
Local residents also have concerns because, while the facility is located within city limits and receives municipal police services, residential areas immediately adjacent the fields, club, and clinic are in the county sheriff’s jurisdiction with deputies spread over a large county. Even with mutual aid compacts, neighbors—and law enforcement—are right to be concerned.
It appears the company may have intentionally delayed a “public meeting” from August to over the Christmas holiday. And, according to FOX 13 News reporting, Acadia didn’t even notify the Lynnwood City Council.
City Council Member Julieta Altamirano-Crosby said, “It is outrageous this is so close to a Boys and Girls Club, where kids and family go to spend time.” She said, “plans for the Lynnwood Comprehensive Treatment Center even took the council by surprise. She says the council wasn’t notified until Dec. 12…” about a process begun last June.
Photo: Steve Pomper
In a timeline reported by the Lynnwood Times. Acadia began the permitting process when it requested a remodel permit on June 24, 2022. Though murky, it appears an original August 16, 2022, public hearing date may have changed without notice to December 12 (reportedly when the council was first notified), which was the “Last Lynnwood City Council meeting of the year.”
If Acadia is proud of its work, which its website seems to indicate, then why hide what they’re doing?
Building, in background with brick portions, proposed by Acadia to house opioid clinic 200 feet from Little League baseball/softball fields. Photo: Steve Pomper
The issue isn’t about denying opioid treatment to patients who need it. The problem is locating it within 200 and 400 feet of Little League ballfields and a Boys & Girls Club. The ballfields are heavily used during spring and summer for scheduled youth baseball and softball games and the B&G Club is used year-round.
The concerns of parents are not hard to understand, but Acadia’s unconcern for parents’ worries is hard to understand. As a cop, I saw the crime associated with drug treatment facilities in Seattle. If you attract drug addicts to any location, you will also naturally attract drug dealers. Ostensibly, the addicts are seeking treatment to quit their addictions, which is laudable for those who are sincere.
However, ask any neighbor who lives near one of these facilities, and they will tell you horror stories. Talk to any cop, and they’ll also provide you with examples of the criminal behavior that follows the introduction of such a facility in any neighborhood, but in a residential area makes it even worse.
I contacted the Lynnwood Police Dept. public relations and received this response:
“We acknowledge the need for opioid services like the proposed one this clinic provides in the area. However, approving those locations are for the legislative branch and the public to weigh in on.”
Maren McKay | Public Affairs and Communication Manager
Lynnwood WA Police Department
Professionalism | Vigilance | Community
I also contacted the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office who hadn’t responded to a request for a statement at the time of this writing.
Concerned parents are having some success. FOX 13 News reported, “Outraged residents continue to push back the opening of a proposed opioid treatment center in Lynnwood.
“The clinic, located just off 24th Avenue, was set to open on Jan. 23, but was delayed to Monday, Jan. 30.” When it opened.
Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell wrote a letter to the Washington Department of Health, in part, saying, “We need an opioid treatment facility, we need drug rehabilitation centers but not right next to childcare.”
Is that really so hard to understand?