Monument residents — you’re right to be upset. You got a raw deal.
Of all the commercial space, Orlando-based Colonial Management Group, which seems destined to open a small-town methadone clinic in your city, decided to introduce a facility in the middle of your family-centric town.
You’re right. The clinic will attract clientele addled by addiction, and your concerns for safety, property values and the overall aesthetic and reputation of your community are valid.
Unfortunately, your mayor, Rafael Dominguez, has said he sees no legal recourse. And he’s more right.
The law is on the side of CMG. Despite best intentions, the area was zoned so a clinic, among several dozen other business types, could open shop. Reneging on that contract (the board of adjustments will hear an appeal Aug. 10) will open legal liabilities against the people of Monument. And it’s a liability that’s especially risky since the town plays with other people’s money.
Finances aside, Dominguez concisely summed up his hesitation to refuse the permit in last week’s Business Journal:
“What does it say about a body of elected officials knowingly and wantonly [going] out and [violating] its own laws? I would find that to be a very irresponsible and untrustworthy government. Where do you draw the line?”
Where indeed? Prohibiting alcohol? Banning Muslim-owned businesses? Interdictions on dancing? Simply, the mayor is right to side with law over emotion. It’s his job.
But not everyone is right.
Colonial Management Group — you’re wrong. Despite being a legal business in an approved location, you had options. Choosing the corner of Front and 2nd streets — yards from a playground and park in a town of fewer than 6,000 — was irresponsible. And your company’s handling of public relations since has been atrocious. Representatives of your company have shown very little consideration for public perception, done next to nothing to assuage safety concerns (as well as concerns regarding out-of-state regulatory violations), and have been all but invisible during a time when cultivating a relationship with the community should be your primary concern.
Also, to the faction of Tri-Lakes residents who have resorted to fear mongering and threats — you’re wrong. Raising the pitchforks and torches at the door of town government, not to mention threats against the landlord’s family, will accomplish nothing. It will only prove the protestors more savage than the savages they protest. Assuming the town will easily cover any litigation due to a breached contract is reckless. The costs could impact the entire community.
Fear is the catalyst for blurred reasoning. But what is the community really afraid of? Drug abusers and dealers wandering the park? Needles cluttering the playground? The thought of “them” in “our” town?
Regarding crime, police departments around the state have reported no increase in areas where methadone clinics operate, to include one owned by CMG in Grand Junction.
What of our perception of “junkies”? Consider CNN’s story last summer about Cynthia Scudo of Denver, a grandmother of 18, who became dependent on opiates after she sought treatment for hip pain. Or the multitudes who trace opiate dependence to painkillers prescribed during innocuous wisdom-tooth extractions.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicates opiate abusers are three times more likely to abuse prescription drugs than heroin, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported an estimated 2.1 million Americans in 2012 suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. An estimated 467,000 were addicted to heroin.
Colorado is especially in need of intercessions. During the past five years, our state has ranked within the top 15 (as high as No. 2) for prescription opioid abuse. People need help and, until there is reason to feel otherwise, those seeking it in Monument should be treated with compassion and respect, not as criminals.
After all, compassion and respect are virtues that define the Tri-Lakes region — the empty bowl dinners, the works of faith-based organizations, the food banks of Tri-Lakes Cares and the philanthropy of Sertoma and Serteen clubs.
I recollect “Satellite,” a homeless man who camped for several summers atop a grassy median bordering Highway 105. Satellite was perpetually surrounded by bags of food and bottled water delivered by locals.
I remember him because I’ve lived in the Tri-Lakes region for a decade. The clinic will fill space once occupied by our pediatrician. My family frequents the adjacent park to picnic, listen to live music and push our 2-year-old on its swings.
We love the area, and we have no plans to leave or change our way of life — not because of a medicinal marijuana dispensary or an in-patient rehabilitation facility. And certainly not because of Colonial Management Group.