The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is wrestling with news that neighbors of the St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center in Saranac Lake are opposing plans to expand the treatment facility so that it can accommodate struggling veterans home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
St. Joe’s wants to build a new dormitory near their current facility and it turns out the addition would require a zoning change, one that many local residents — including two former Adirondack Park Agency employees — hope to block.
In Chris Knight’s story on the case, former APA staffer Mark Sengenberger expresses concern about the kinds of issues that the veterans would be treated for.
“We have no knowledge whatsoever, nor has there been any public explanation of the degree of impairment or PTSD that these folks would have,” Sengenberger said.
“As a general concern, sure, but one assumes St. Joe’s would have programs and practices in place to deal with the kinds of clients they would be bringing in.”
The larger issue appears to be anxiety that a large dormitory-like structure could erode the quality of life and property values in the neighborhood. But in an editorial on Monday, the Enterprise chided the neighbors for their stance:
We have known and admired these individuals for many years, but they should back down on this one.
St. Joe’s has been there since before their houses were built, so they already have people with addiction problems in their neighborhood. These neighbors don’t have much to worry about now, and the veterans facility won’t change that. Their property values shouldn’t be affected in any meaningful way.
And any comprehensive plan that doesn’t allow a facility needed this badly should be changed…these neighbors should step out of the way.
If they can’t be happy to have this treatment center because it’s noble, we hope they can accept it because it’s necessary.
So what do you think? PTSD, substance abuse and suicide have emerged as major issues for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Would you welcome a facility like this in your neighborhood?