In a unanimous vote, the village board of suburban Itasca rejected a proposed drug treatment facility, capping off an issue that had caused a huge debate in the small village.
The vote rejected a proposal, presented by Haymarket Center, to turn a former Holiday Inn hotel into a 240-bed drug rehabilitation and treatment facility.
The two-year fight brought a crowd of approximately 80 individuals to the meeting, with most opposed to the measure.
“Haymarket’s request on our village is unreasonable,” Itasca Village President Jeffrey Pruyn said.
“The facts are that this would have overwhelming consequences for this large of a facility,” resident James Diestel added.
Dr. Dan Lustig, the president and CEO of Haymarket Center, blamed stigmas about drug rehabilitation for the defeat of the measure.
“I will tell you what this is clearly about. Unfortunately, stigma plays a serious role,” he said.
While many residents who attended the meeting were opposed to the facility, others say that a local treatment option for drug addiction is long overdue.
“High school is where I started losing friends to heroin,” Julie Detwiler said. “It’s still happening, and if a treatment center like this can exist to save one of my daughter’s friends, then I want it here in Itasca.”
Opposition centered around the size of the facility, and what some opponents called a potential strain on local fire and EMS services, concerns Lustig says were addressed.
“A lot of the comments that were made tonight were just not true,” he said.
While opponents of the measure say they recognize the need for a treatment center, and that they would be open to a compromise on the size of the facility, Lustig says that he has no intention of scaling back what a facility could offer, leaving open the possibility that the group could pursue legal action to move the project forward.