Wellesley residents came out in force at Monday’s two-and-a-half-hour Board of Selectmen’s meeting, which was devoted to discussion of the Coleman Institute opioid and alcohol treatment center that’s readying to treat patients at a Lower Falls office building by year-end. It presented residents with their first opportunity to hear directly from the healthcare organization and for the organization to hear straight from residents about their concerns regarding the outpatient facility slated to open at 30 Washington St., nearby several schools as well as Warren Park.
While company officials heard from supporters, and were assured numerous times by residents that Wellesley is open to having a treatment facility, they mostly got an earful from parents concerned that the office is located so close to where their kids go to school and play. Parents expressed concern that addicts being treated, and those turned away, could be a threat to their kids. Parents also criticized Coleman for not engaging sooner with the community about its plans, and asked the Board of Selectmen pointed questions about why it wasn’t taking steps to at least delay the office’s opening until the community can further explore the issue.
Our report in September that the Coleman Institute would be opening caught town officials by surprise and resulted in parents organizing a meeting to hash out their concerns in anticipation of Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting. The Board announced in late September that it would be inviting Coleman reps to attend its Oct. 22 meeting.
More than 100 people, some standing, jammed into Great Hall. Three reps from BayMark Health and its Coleman Institute business — including founder Dr. Peter Coleman — answered questions (through the Board of Selectmen) from more than 2 dozen citizens. The majority of those who spoke identified themselves as parents of children who attend St. John School and/or Schofield Elementary School, both situated near Coleman’s planned office. (You can watch a Wellesley Public Media recording of the meeting below.)
Doctors and other healthcare professionals were among residents and former residents who spoke. They all empathized with the need to treat addicts, though differed on whether the current location is appropriate.
Dr. Patricia Helm, a pediatrician and Wellesley resident with a child at St. John, described herself as an advocate for all children, including those affected by the opioid crisis. “My concern lies only with the specific location that the Coleman Institute has selected. There is no community that is untouched by this epidemic. This disease is in Wellesley. The [Read more…]