'We're being rammed down our throats:' City, neighbors frustrated with new opioid treatment center in Lynnwood

Parents, business owners and city leaders say they were left in the dark about a new opioid treatment center opening at the end of the month. 

The clinic is still under construction, but it is already getting a lot of heat as residents say they have a few issues: transparency, its location and safety concerns as the proposed site sits in a residential area and near the Alderwood Boys & Girls Club. 

Vincent Albo’s kids go to the after school program daily. 

"They're only eight and five, and I don't want to have the drug talk with them so early," Albo said. 

A fear and concern he now has as a treatment center is set to open across the street from the Boys & Girls Club and Little League field. 

He’s not the only one worried. 

"I'm grateful that they're having an outlet for people who need the help; however, I just don't think it's an appropriate place next to a facility filled with children," Shaina said, as she picked up her nine-year-old son from the program. 

On Tuesday, Lynnwood residents filled city hall with signs saying no opioid facility near kids, and calling for transparency on behalf of the city and Acadia healthcare – who's bringing in the center. 

"Don’t you feel it’s ironic to put a drug facility right next door? This is wrong, this is really wrong," Christy Alexander, a resident said. 

Vivian Dong, a resident said she too was concerned with the location and lack of transparency on behalf of Acadia – who scheduled a public hearing on Dec. 29, while families are out on vacation or holiday break. 

City Council President George Hurst says the city was only notified about the opioid center on Dec.12, through an email by the Department of Health (DOH). The DOH is responsible for approving licenses, and was seeking information to grant one for plans that started in March 2022. 

"I called or contacted the Department of Health for the state and I said, no one has contacted us about this," Hurst said. 

He said he only heard from Acadia a day before the public hearing. 

"It was so like we're being rammed down our throats," Hurst said. 

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Acadia applied for permits and was granted the green light by city's planning and zoning department as they sought to relocate from Bothell to Lynnwood after their building was sold. 

"Per DOH requirements, it is the responsibility of the provider to conduct outreach and engage the neighboring community and make a connection with the legislative body," the mayor’s office told FOX 13. 

While residents and city leaders don’t deny a need for a center, they are questioning Acadia’s decision on the location. 

"First and foremost we look at where the greatest need is in the community," Dr. Nasser Khan, Acadia healthcare 

Dr. Khan says there were 198 overdose-related deaths in Snohomish County in 2021, and there are 100 patients who live within five miles of the current proposed site. 

Some residents and business owners say they were only contacted by Acadia representatives Friday. FOX 13 reached out to Acadia for answers.  

"Is there always opportunity for more engagement communication? Absolutely. But to also say that we didn’t follow the process as defined by the city and notify them, is a bit of a mischaracterization," Dr. Khan said. 

However, not everyone is in disagreement. 

"These are people like you and me in this room, and I am heartbroken to hear the way that we are talking about these individuals," Caroline Judd said addressing her neighbors at city hall. "They're individuals striving for their family to have jobs and to keep their children." 

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The center is still on track to open at the end of the month. 

Acadia says they welcome further discussions as the DOH has yet to issue a license. Additionally, they will take resident and city concerns into account before making a decision. 

The city will be meeting on Monday, Jan. 9 on the issue.