Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Summary of the 6th Ward Townhall Meeting on Nuway Methadone Clinic

This past Saturday, January 24th, Alderman Roderick Sawyer hosted a town hall meeting on Nuway Methadone Clinic. There were several reporters, Glenn Reedus of the Crusader and Andrea Watson of there and they have their stories which are pretty accurate but there are some issues that I feel are important to the community that will get lost in the political spin that is out here.

The owner of Nuway Community Services, which is the holding company for the clinic, Mr. Olajide Soloja did come and address the community,

He didn't provide the answers that most of the 100+ in attendance wanted to hear. He stated that the business was previously located on the 600-700 E 75th vicinity. One remark that he made especially didn't go over well with most is when he indicated he now owns the building located at 110 E 79th. He stated he is making improvements to the property but that didn't mean much to the audience.

The building at 110 E 79th has been a medical building for years but has changed hands over the years as doctors and doctor groups including the City of Chicago health clinic moved out or died.

At the meeting, a number of residents openly discussed personal and family issues with drug addition and understand the need for services but did not condone the behavior of some of Nuway's clients behavior. Also, the owner of  Gilead Behavior Health Clinic located at 132 E 79th scolded the owner for not taking a more proactive role in monitoring what is going on and around his facility because it is having a negative affect on other operators in the building who have operated for years basically transparent to the community. One operator that is located in the building, Emages which offers services to those convicted of  DUI's, also disclosed they have a program for sex offenders and have operated for over 15 years. The representative did not go into detail but there will be a follow up with the owner on what kind of services they are offering.

Several, Nuway employees made passionate presentations about how they came to work for Nuway. They all stated they completed similar programs and used it as springboard to become counselors and other positions. One employee's presentation caught the attention of the crowd as he asked for the opportunity to work on a solution to the problem. Stating that it was highly unlikely the owner would relocate the clinic since he owned the building, it was in everyone's best interest to try and identify the issues and work on a solution.

The audience requested that this gentleman represent the clinic on the task force that was being set up. The task force was suggested and a cross section of residents volunteered to serve. Yes, some left the meeting just as upset as they came in the meeting and want the facility to relocate and others left upset for other reasons We will see if there if the follow through that was stated will actually happen.

1 comment:

  1. A lot more went on at the town hall meeting that was not reported. For instance, some residents asked Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) what could he do to close down or relocate the meth clinic and Sawyer said there was nothing he could do because the clinic is licensed by the state. He told residents, who grew angry when he said so, that after he checked with the city's Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Office, it had no complaints about the clinic on file. Residents said they have called Sawyer's office and the 311 Center to complain therefore those complaints should have been forwarded to the right office.

    "I'm not saying you didn't call, I'm just saying what the city told me," Sawyer said. "From a city standpoint, it's not much I can do."

    At one point Sawyer got irritated by residents who would not let him speak and slammed his hand on the table asking for respect! He explained to residents that the reason he does not hold regular community meetings, as most aldermen do, is because he would be rehashing some of the same issues discussed at monthly community meetings by organizations and block clubs. Instead, he urged residents to attend monthly organization meetings, which he said he attends each month, if they want to discuss issues with him.

    But one resident said the best way to have a discussion with Sawyer is to go to the Presidential Lounge (a bar) in Park Manor where she said he goes on a regular basis. This was Sawyer's FIRST town hall meeting to discuss the meth clinic, which residents have staged outdoor protests in the past without visible support from Sawyer.

    In the end, most residents said while they agree a meth clinic is needed it should be located in an isolated area like instead of near daycare centers, parks and schools.


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