The Southern Tier will soon have another tool in the battle against opioids. The Broome Developmental Center is slated to open this spring after the county legislature voted 11-4 to accept $2.7 million in state funding late last month.
The funding will be used to operate the 100-bed opioid addiction treatment facility, located on a 40-acre property in the Town of Dickinson. The facility, which previously provided long-term inpatient services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will be repurposed as a drug rehabilitation center.
“The right choice was made tonight,” Broome County Executive Jason Garnar tweeted shortly after the vote. “More treatment is coming to Broome County!”
The funding will be used to support the operation and opening of the first phase of the facility, which will provide 50 beds for supervised short-term detoxification services. State Sen. Fred Akshar said $1.2 million of the funding will be used to repair the facility, as well as building costs, according to Spectrum News. The other $1.5 million will cover costs for those who can’t afford services.
“Tonight I thank the people of Broome County and beyond,” Akshar tweeted. “There is no more powerful a voice than that of the people. I also thank the legislature in its entirety, democracy is alive and well. #PeopleBeforePolitics prevailed.”
The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services is funding the first phase of the project and Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare will provide services at the facility.
Robert Kent, chief counsel for the Office of Counsel and Internal Controls of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, attended the legislature vote. He said that in 2016, there were 450 reported administrations of naloxone — the lifesaving drug administered to those who have overdosed on opioids — in Broome County.
Approximately 94 percent of the 66 overdose deaths in 2017 were heroin- or opioid-related, according to data released by Broome County District Attorney Stephen Cornwell’s office early this year. The deadliest month was last February, when 11 people overdosed in the county.
“New York State has committed to making the space and funds available to create this program in Broome County so that your residents can receive care where they live allowing them to be near their families,” Kent wrote in a letter last month to Daniel Reynolds, chairman of the Broome County Legislature.
The remaining beds are expected to provide more long-term residential treatment, although county funding for the additional $500,000 needed has not yet been approved.
A vote on accepting the money for the first phase of the project was postponed in early December by Republican legislators of Broome County because of budget concerns. Reynolds and other members of the legislature expressed concerns about the facility’s capacity and impact on the community. Reynolds said he was concerned about missing information on the subject and the facility’s fiscal impact, according to WBNG.
Later that month, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz reached out to New York state officials to express an interest in the funding allocated to Broome County in a letter, which Poloncarz tweeted in early December.
Garnar said he made fighting the opioid epidemic his top priority when he took office in 2017, and will push further treatment and resources in 2018.
“This new treatment center at the former Broome Developmental Center is going to save lives,” Garnar said. “I remain committed to working with all of our partners to end the epidemic through prevention, law enforcement and treatment options.”
While various challenges have set back the expected opening date of the center, Garnar said the center is expected to open its services to the public as early as April 1, according to Binghamton Homepage. The center is currently recruiting personnel to fill approximately 50 positions.