EUGENE, Ore. – A methadone clinic is being proposed in downtown Eugene, but the Lane County Board of Commissioners will need to give the OK because it would be located close to a day care.
Lane County Health and Human Services hopes to transform the currently vacant building at 432 W. 11th Ave. into a methadone clinic so people struggling with heroin and opioid abuse can get treatment. Methadone is a synthetic drug that provides pain relief as a substitute for other narcotics.
Jason Davis, a spokesperson for Lane County Public Heath, said along with providing people with medication to help fight their opioid addictions, they will also have access to councilors to help find jobs and reconnect with family.
Lane County's current methadone clinic is located at Lane County Public Health’s office at 151 W. 7th Ave. Davis said they are running out of space and have to put some people on a waitlist before they can get treatment.
"It will double our capacity, so it will pretty much solve all of our capacity needs at this point," Davis said. "With some extra staffing, we will be able to open our doors and eliminate a lot of that waitlist."
Under state law, methadone clinics cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a licensed child care facility, but county leaders can waive that restriction on an individual basis.
Nellie Huggins owns Kaleidoscope Child Development Center, a preschool and day care facility on Jefferson Street for children ages two to six. She said she has mixed feelings about the proposed clinic, which would be a five-minute walk from her day care and inside the 1,000 feet restricted zone.
While Huggins hopes it helps people struggling with addiction to get help, she wants officials to put a plan in writing outlining how they will make sure everyone will stay safe and comfortable. She said a homeless camp right across the street from her business has created concerns, and they've experienced trespassing and minor theft. Huggins is worried the clinic could mean more homeless camps in the area and could cause more problems.
"I would like to be in the loop of what is going to happen to ensure that everyone here remains safe and comfortable," Huggins said. "This is a child care center and a preschool. People should be more than just safe but comfortable."
The Lane County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on whether or not to waive the state restrictions during their Tuesday meeting. The county has not yet set aside funding for the proposed clinic.