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Proposed rehab center raises questions

Similar Carbondale facility described as “invisible”

More than 70 people packed the Crested Butte Town Council meeting room Thursday, November 20 to ask questions and learn about a drug and alcohol recovery center being proposed for the town’s east side.

 

 

Questions concerning potential danger to the neighborhood, the possibility of damaged property values, the loss of tax revenue in a tourist zone, licensing requirements and the impact on nearby businesses were all brought up.
The 5,300-square-foot facility would house up to 12 adult men in the “phase-four” stage of addiction recovery and is being proposed by the Oh–Be-Joyful Church and pastor Jim Kunes.
Proponents want to locate the so-called “New Adam’s House” behind the current church at Seventh Street and Gothic Avenue.
Right now the town can’t even consider such a program because such a use is not allowed in the T-zone (tourist zone) at Seventh
and Gothic. The fi rst step is for the Town Council to insert a “conditional use” clause in the zoning code as part of the T-zone. If that happens, the application for the specifi c Adam’s House proposal would have to go through the BOZAR (Board of Architectural and Zoning Review) and town approval process.
Kunes outlined to the crowd the proposal for the center, which would be a “faith-based facility and program.” While Crested Butte council members Kimberly Metsch and Leah Williams attended the meeting, the gathering was not an offi cial town meeting but rather an Informational exercise. Town planning and zoning director Bob Gillie opened the 90-minute meeting explaining that he knew the idea for the facility would be controversial and he wanted the town to have a very, “transparent discussion and approach
this in a very measured way.”
process was needed, and said the
church, “wants to serve the community.
We felt for years there was
a need for such a facility in Crested
Butte so we are trying to make this
happen and want to hold meetings
like this to be a good neighbor and
be proactive with the discussion.”
The three-story structure would
include eight parking spaces, four
bedrooms for clients and a two-bedroom
apartment for the director and
his family. “We want to meet all the
parking and town architectural requirements
and have a green building,”
Kunes said. He feels that with
volunteer help, the building could
be constructed for less than $600,000
because the land is owned free-andclear.
The annual operating budget
would be approximately $150,000.
Kunes introduced Western
State College sociology professor
Dr. Dan Cress, who gave the crowd
some background information on
the chronic disease of addiction. He
said the proposed facility would
be treating so-called “phase-four”
patients, those who have been sober
for a while but need help being
mainstreamed “back into the community.
This facility would not be
clinical in nature.”
People going through the
Adam’s House program would be
required to have a job and pay up
to $600 a month in rent. Cress said
those using the facility would be
in such economic straits that they
probably couldn’t afford similar
structured programs while remaining
at home.
Kunes emphasized that the potential
clients would be screened before
being accepted and there would
be a zero tolerance policy concerning
drugs and alcohol. “We want a safe
environment,” he said. “No felons,
no people coming from major incarceration,
no sex offenders would be
allowed.”
While the facility would try
to cater to those from the Gunnison
Valley who need help, Adam’s
House would take anyone who fit
the criteria.
Kunes said there is a similar facility
in Carbondale. Crested Butte
resident Rob Bowen asked how it
was received in the community. Gillie
said he called the town staff in
Carbondale to see the impact of the
facility, which is called Jaywalkers.
“I’ve been assured that there have
been no incidents,” he said. “The
town said the facility was essentially
invisible.”
Chief marshal Tom Martin said
he asked his counterpart in Carbondale
about the facility, and reported,
“Their police said there were no incidents
at Jaywalkers where the police
had to be called.”
Kimberley Barefield of Crested
Butte asked if Adam’s House
would just cater to clients with alcohol
problems or whether those
recovering from meth, crack or cocaine
would also be allowed in the
program. “And what is the success
rate at places like this?” she asked.
“Is it 50-50? Are the marshals picking
them up if they don’t follow the
program?”
“Statistics show the success rate
is very poor,” admitted Kunes. “One
in ten make it through the entire process.
There is a 90 percent recidivism
rate in terms of five years of sobriety.
But when nothing is there, there
is probably 100 percent recidivism
rate. It provides the chance for people
in need. My understanding is
that there is a higher rate of success
with faith-based programs.”
Resident Cathy Steinberger
asked if any of the clients would be
using methadone, which would indicate
a past problem with heroin.
Kunes said probably not because
that would require medical procedures
not part of the phase-four
step. “This is a work in progress,”
said Kunes. “We haven’t come up
with a definite screening process
but probably in that case it wouldn’t
work.”
Neighbor Bill Smith asked if
other phases eventually be included
in the program… a phase five house
or clinical programs in the phase two
or three range? “I don’t know but it
could be a possibility,” said Kunes.
Mark Ewing, a member of the
Adam’s House board, assured the
group that there were no immediate
plans to expand the program into
phase one, two or three programs.
“If that happened we would have
to come back before the town for a
change of use,” he said. “We also
want the board of directors to be a
diverse group that isn’t all from the
church.”
Resident Don Haver said his
son owned a bed-and-breakfast in
the neighborhood but was out of
town. “Why is this meeting being
held in the off-season?” he asked.
“It is probably one of many
meetings to come,” said Kunes. “We
are in a process. I talked to Bob Gillie
a year and a half ago and he knew it
would open up a can of worms. He was right."
When asked if the program
would take advantage of healing
methods found in Crested Butte
like Reiki and yoga, the pastor said
“Probably not right way. That would
maybe be down the road.”
Local counselor Marymike Haley
wondered how the county would
deal with those who did slip away
from the program. “Once you slip,
you go back to the day you stopped,”
she said. “Do we have the facilities
to deal with those folks? Gunnison
County really doesn’t have a detox
center. If you have zero tolerance,
they will end up somewhere when
they leave your facility.”
Professor Cress said his statistics
show that people who fall into
that situation are usually less likely
to commit violent crimes but more
likely to commit nuisance crimes
like littering or urinating in public.
“But the benefits of this program
is that the clientele would be
highly motivated,” he said. “It’s a
transitional program and they are
trying to connect back to normal
life. They will have been sober several
months before they get here and
they will be screened.”
Steinberger again pointed out
the nature of Crested Butte. “This is
not an easy community,” she said.
“There is lots of exposure to alcohol
and drugs. It shows up in jobs as
well.”
Kunes admitted that was true.
“We need a collaborative relationship
between Adam’s House and
the employers. Martin Catmur, who
owns the Cristiana Guesthaus, has
said he sees this as a potential pool
for responsible employees.”
“It seems counterintuitive to
import drunks and drug addicts
to Crested Butte,” said Denis Hall.
“And I’m a recovering alcoholic
who hasn’t had a drink in 19 years.
But I know that if I fall off the wagon,
all I have to do is go across the
street. I guarantee that this is a very,
very, very hard place to stay dry.
The temptation is out there and if it
grows too strong, they’re back right
where they started. I’m a little skeptical.”
Others agreed with the idea of
bringing in people to an extreme environment
would hinder more than
help. “Taking people out of their
support zone and bringing them
here also seems counterintuitive,”
added John Elm.
“There is no easy place to stay
sober,” responded Edie Gibson, a
member of the church. “Whether it’s
New York, or California or Crested
Butte, unless the person chooses to
work on their sobriety, it won’t happen.”
Kunes said, “This is a program
meant to help those people retool.
It’s not a permanent removal from
their homes but a chance to regain
skills needed to get back in the mainstream,”
said Kunes.
When asked by Marcel Medved
to explain the zoning aspect of the
proposal, Gillie said that the town
had made a T-zone with the idea of
getting tourist-oriented businesses
to locate there. “But over the years
it’s become more of a hodgepodge
zone,” he said. “There is multifamily
and the Meadows is in there. We
wanted to create a place for hotels
and lodges but that’s not happening.
The town recently allowed a
children’s museum as a conditional
use.”
Medved was uneasy about taking
potential tax revenue away from
the town by allowing something
other than a business on the community’s
limited T-zone property.
He was also concerned about lowering
property values in the area.
Neighbor Laura Martineau
was concerned about the screening
process and if it would be thorough.
“How do you make sure some people
don’t slip through the cracks?”
she asked.
“We would have people trained
in the process,” said Kunes. “We
would hire experts who do this and
we would meet the standards of the
industry.”
When asked by Steinberger if
a license was required to run such
a program, Kunes explained that
“faith-based” programs are exempt
from licensing. “I don’t want to
move toward licensing,” he said.
“But I want to move toward meeting
the quality of the licenses.”
Overall, the 90-minute meeting
was civil and informative. Kunes
said it was the first of what could be
many meetings. “We’d like to figure
out a win-win situation,” he said.
“Our attitude is that we’d like this to
happen. Let’s find something where we can help some people."

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