Dauphin County Residents Shut Down Plans for New Rehab
A well-respected recovery provider walked away from its plans to open a full-service treatment center in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Why? Because a small, yet very vocal group of Middle Paxton Township residents went well out of their way to protest those plans. The treatment center consequently decided to seek a more welcoming environment.
Then again, New Jersey-based BlueCrest Recovery didn’t have much choice. They couldn’t have. Otherwise the company wouldn’t have pulled its application even before another scheduled hearing could be held. BlueCrest was kind enough to leave a note on the hearing room door though, which is more than Dauphin County ever did for BlueCrest.
The protesters couldn’t have been more pleased with themselves. In fact, Middle Paxton Township resident Gene Stilp told the gathered gaggle to “give yourself a hand for winning”. And, like all good sheep, the residents did just as they were told. It’s probably a good thing they applauded themselves though, because nobody else will ever applaud their selfish actions.
Dauphin County Loses
Some of those Dauphin County residents are likely already regretting their decision to stop BlueCrest’s plans. If not, they should be. After all, is preventing the rejuvenation of a region really a “win”?
And from what we can see, Dauphin County could use some rejuvenation. The National Association of Counties pegged its 2020 unemployment rate at 8.8%. And even if things have gotten a little better since, that’s a whole lot of folks without jobs.
Maybe such a high unemployment rate isn’t so evident in a county that boasts only 546 people for every one of its 525 miles. Nevertheless, 8.8% of 286,401 residents still adds up to 25,203. And twenty-five-thousand-plus out-of-work neighbors surely must register, no matter how far apart they’re spread.
Unlike a Good Neighbor
Could it really be that Dauphin County residents just don’t care about their neighbors?
PennLive’s Sue Gleiter said “dozens of residents” were responsible for the recovery center pushback, and that those folks had all come from “one Dauphin County community”. Does that mean a mere 24 or 36 disgruntled people can decide what happens to and for nearly 300,000?
And BlueCrest’s choosing to take its treatment center elsewhere most certainly affects each and every one of those nearly three-hundred-thousand residents. Heck, the tax revenue alone would’ve probably paid for the repaving of all Dauphin County’s roads within the first five years.
We mention roads because the handful of protesters were reportedly “concerned about increased traffic.” BlueCrest’s tax dollars would’ve definitely assuaged those concerns. So would the tax revenue generated by incidental increases from local businesses. After all, an 80-bedroom complex would’ve certainly sourced considerable goods and services from local businesses.
PennLive’s Daniel Urie said the vociferous residents were also worried about “the potential for zoning changes to open a floodgate of more development in the rural valley.” While we recognize the desire to protect an idyllic region, we also recognize the innumerable smart and sustainable ways to such a place can be both protected and developed. In fact, BlueCrest’s forward-thinking retrofit of this so-called “resort” seems perfectly in line with such practices. Even if it wasn’t, worries of that sort are things that hearings are designed to address.
A Stormy Welcome
Of course, that implies a climate for civil hearings. And if BlueCrest’s abrupt departure is any indication, the Dauphin County climate called for nothing but storms. Heck, we bet there was a good bit of thunder even when the disgruntled residents met among themselves.
Urie did learn that the not-so-good neighbors “weren’t opposed to more mental health facilities,” per se. “They [just] didn’t think their neighborhood was the right fit.”
If that’s not a glaringly indicative example of NIMBYism, well…
Dauphin County Recovery
Dauphin County already has Gaudenzia Common Ground, which operates a plethora of addiction treatment facilities across Pennsylvania, as well as in Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Its Downtown Harrisburg location, however, is at least a good 20 minutes from Middle Paxton Township and undoubtedly already fully-booked handling the state’s capital city.
The point is county residents know about substance use disorder, how severely it’s impacted their community and how desperately more treatment is needed. In fact, last year Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick used Gaudenzia as a backdrop when addressing where to spend incoming opioid settlement money.
Had the community stalwarts taken the time to look and see that BlueCrest already operates the BlueCrest Recovery Center in Woodland Park, New Jersey, they’d have been assured the Dauphin County facility would’ve adhered to established standards and practices. They also would’ve discovered BlueCrest had vision, experience and resources enough to remake a place fallen under complete disrepair. Now, rather than have a state-of-the-art recovery facility come in, take over and rejuvenate the grounds of an abandoned and neglected property, the county stays stuck with a dormant eyesore.
Too bad too. Because while BlueCrest might temporarily lose this one chance to help even more substance abuse sufferers, Dauphin County forever loses this great, good opportunity to be of help to their neighbors, as well as to themselves.
Both Sides Now
Nobody’s claiming that addiction treatment centers don’t present real challenges for a community, especially one that’s become accustomed to its rurality. But, as Commissioner Hartwick stated, with challenge comes “real opportunity”. And BlueCrest’s plans to turn a rundown and abandoned “resort” into a revenue-generating treatment facility was indeed a real opportunity.
Sadly, it is now a missed opportunity.
Gone, Gone, Gone
So, out go the few dozen well-paid jobs BlueCrest would’ve brought to town, as well as whatever taxes the facility would’ve generated. Also gone are any residual revenue that would’ve trickled down to local shops, gas stations and suppliers. Again, an 80-bed treatment center would surely need to source a significant amount of goods and services. And it only makes sense to source such things locally.
Gone too are the extensive savings state and local municipalities would’ve realized by helping its residents into recovery. We’re talking about expenses incurred by EMS, hospitals and other health and social services, in addition to those accrued by police, courts, probation, prisons and jails. Heck, just getting one Dauphin County resident back into the workforce would save the state tens of thousands of dollars in unemployment, food stamps and other social support services. It would also reduce the likelihood that said resident would need mental health help as well.
We probably don’t need to mention how much a family is impacted when a parent gets back in the workforce.
Commissioner Hartwick knew that, just as he knew about all the benefits that come from winning the battle against addiction. Most importantly, the good commissioner also believed the fight could be won.
“We believe that there’s a real opportunity where there are challenges,” Hartwick told WHTM/ABC27, when addressing earlier opioid casualties. “I think there is an opportunity to be able to collaborate and coordinate a strategy to be able to combat the epidemic of these opioid and fentanyl deaths.”
Unfortunately, an angry group of Hartwick’s constituents can’t be bothered to agree.
How about you? Have you battled addiction? And? Are you now finally done with drugs and/or alcohol? Ready to reclaim your life? It’s doable, you know. Definitely doable. You simply just have to get up and do it. How do we know? Because Healing Properties has been helping men get it done since 2002. If you give us a ring, we’ll help you get it done too.
Image courtesy Travel Republic. Thank you!