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Indianapolis Board of Zoning approves new site for opioid treatment center despite pushback from residents

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Posted at 7:42 PM, Sep 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 19:42:41-04

INDIANAPOLIS — An opioid treatment center is moving from downtown Indianapolis to another part of the city.

Earlier this month, WRTV found there are three times the amount of overdose deaths as there are homicides in Marion County. The planned treatment center would go in the Twin Aire neighborhood, southeast of downtown Indianapolis, and will be run by Eskenazi Health.

The board of zoning approved the re-zoning of the former Big Lots store, 3-2. That is located at 3415 English Ave., not far from the new Community Justice Center.

Some residents aren’t in favor of this development, but one business owner in the same business plaza says anything will be better than what is there now.

"Homeless people come in a lot in here,” Jose Cardona the Owner of Reveles Auto Service said. “They make this area look dirty and I don't think it's good for the neighborhood you know? "

Cardona has been in business for 12 years. He feels bringing development to the run-down building would benefit the community.

"I think it's great I mean whatever comes any business or service offered to this area I think is very important, " Cardona said.

However, not all residents feel the same.

Ahead of the Board of Zoning meeting that took place Tuesday afternoon, a petition was circulating online to stop the development from happening. Several people spoke out against the development saying bringing a methadone clinic to the neighborhood could make it more unsafe than it already is.

Many people who opposed the development live in the Twin Aire neighborhood.

"Once you bring in a methadone clinic you bring a certain class of clientele and it won’t stay in that 500 feet that they want,” Edgar Guadarrama a Resident of the Twin Aire neighborhood said. “It's going to walk into my front yard, it's going to be in our park where people play pee-wee football and where our children play in the splash pad."

According to Dr. Ashley Overley with Eskenazi Health the zip code in which this development is located has the highest number of overdoses in Marion county.

She says moving their clinic here will help them serve more patients, especially those most in need.

"What we really like about Twin Aire is proximity to current patients,” Dr. Overley said. “So we already have lots of patients that live in the neighborhood. We also know that transportation is consistently one of the number barriers for people not being able to access treatment so really the closer we can be the more likely it is that people are going to be able to access treatment."

The clinic, which offers methadone treatments is only one of two in Marion County. Eskenazi says the approval of the development will allow for providers to service almost double the number of patients they are now.

Residents opposed feel their property value and safety will pay the price.

"There is a real consequence to having a methadone clinic property value do drop,” Guadarrama said. “The crimes may or may not increase but the perception is that it's there."

Eskenazi says now that the development is approved, they have a goal of opening at the new location by November 2023.

Residents opposed to the decision say they will work with both the healthcare system and police to make sure security measures are in place ahead of the clinic opening.