Residents protest opening of methadone clinic in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

Residents protest opening of methadone clinic in Grass Valley

Neighbors angry over the pending opening of a methadone clinic in Grass Valley showed up en masse to a planned meeting Monday, urging clinic administrators to consider relocating elsewhere.

"This was the absolute worst location" that could have been picked, said Diana Dallago, who works nearby at Golden Empire Nursing & Rehab Center. "I don't know whose great idea this was … (but) we have no protection."

The medication assisted treatment facility at 109 Margaret Lane, near Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in a mixed-use neighborhood, is owned by Aegis Treatment Centers and is set to open in April. The Grass Valley facility will have some 20 to 25 patients visit six days a week, and on one day a week the patients will have to go to Marysville for counseling, said clinic manager Nicole Kloncz.

"There is a need up here," Kloncz said, saying the facility will help Nevada County residents in recovery who previously had to travel to Marysville seven days a week for methadone treatment. While there are other medication- assisted treatment options locally, none currently offer methadone.

“I get that you don’t want this place here. But once people get treatment and get stable, this will help them get off the streets.”

— Nicole Moen, Aegis patient advisory group member

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Kloncz told those at the meeting that the clinic will be open from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. during the week, and from 5:30-9:30 a.m. on weekends.

"We will have a concierge — that's a nice word for a security guard," she said.

'This place saved my life'

Later, after concerns were repeatedly expressed by neighbors over loitering and increased crime, Kloncz said the area and hours of security could be expanded. She also agreed to look at providing better lighting and continuing dialogue with the neighborhood.

Nevada County Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Program Manager Nicole Ebrahimi-Nuyken said she views the methadone clinic as being an important part of the puzzle of providing drug treatment in the county, a piece that was not previously available.

Nicole Moen, a recovering addict who is on the patient advisory group for Aegis, told the neighbors that "this place saved my life, no joke."

Moen said she receives daily treatment as well as counseling, and works with other patients in recovery.

"I get that you don't want this place here," she said. "But once people get treatment and get stable, this will help them get off the streets."

Phebe Bell, the interim director of Nevada County Behavioral Health said the ultimate goal was to address addiction issues and thereby reduce crime in the county, adding, "This is how we turn the tide."

But residents were unappeased, complaining of the lack of outreach and continuing to express concern over the location of the clinic.

Official: didn't expect concern

"It's not that we don't want people to get help, but this should not be in a residential community," said Terry Matthews, who lives just down the street. "I have seven grandchildren who play on this street."

Matthews and others in attendance said there were plenty of vacant buildings out of the immediate neighborhood that would have been more appropriate.

"I hear your frustration, and your fear," Bell said.

Kloncz said she was not able to give details about the length of the lease, and told those in attendance Aegis CEO Alex Dodd would have the final say in any decision to move locations.

"I would just ask for openness," she said, pledging to be available for concerns or complaints and to conduct ongoing meetings.

According to Kloncz, her facility conducted some outreach about 18 months ago, when it first began the process of opening the center.

"Honestly, we weren't aware there would be" a concern, she said.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.