Spectrum Health System's apparent plan to move its methadone clinic to Merrill Road will concern neighbors, which is understandable. The key is to make the transition as workable as possible for all parties.
It is apparent that Spectrum officials weren't prepared for questions from the media about the expected move (Eagle August 12), which is a little worrisome. The lease agreement for a vacant building at 390 Merrill Road gave it away and Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer acknowledged that she knew of the impending move.
The Worcester company needed to be out in front, something it failed to do when it came to the city in the first place. Spectrum was caught by surprise by the vehemence of opposition, which it could have perhaps avoided to some degree by laying the groundwork for its arrival in the city.
Spectrum has state law on its side and doesn't need any special permits to set up in a city — knowledge which can lead to institutional arrogance. It is still in Spectrum's best interests to be a good neighbor, which means, as the mayor said, it should reach out to nearby residents, such as those on Laurel and Victor streets, as soon as possible.
Spectrum has apparently outgrown its clinic at 42 Summer Street where it has been for four years, necessitating a search for larger quarters. This is no surprise given the extent of the opioid addiction epidemic in the Berkshires. Methadone reduces withdrawal symptoms common to heroin without providing the same desirable effects, and Spectrum clinics also provide mandatory psychological and educational services.
Methadone clinics are now an accepted part of the opioid addiction treatment picture, and Spectrum's clinic has settled into Summer Street with relatively little notice, although it is close to restaurant and entertainment venues. A move from downtown has merit, but those who will be near the clinic on Merrill Road have worries. We urge Spectrum to address those concerns with fences, lights and landscaping, as the mayor suggested, Rules and regulations aside, Spectrum has responsibilities that come with being a part of the community.