11/15/13 1:51pm
11/15/2013 1:51 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Attorney Vincent Messina (right) speaks to the Riverhead ZBA with researcher

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Attorney Vincent Messina (right) speaks to the Riverhead ZBA with researcher Stephen Dewey on behalf of a proposed addiction facility in Calverton.

Supporters of a multi-million dollar addiction research and treatment facility being proposed for private property at the Enterprise Park at Calverton spoke in support of the project before the Riverhead Board of Zoning Appeals Thursday night.

The group of researchers, doctors, and scientists that attended the meeting said the center offers a unique opportunity to not only treat those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, but also develop more effective methods of treatment faster.

Among those supporters was Stephen Dewey, who said he’s studie the science of addiction for more than three decades.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A concept map of the facility shows the layout of where patients would sleep on site.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A concept map of the facility shows the layout of where patients would sleep on site.

“What you have before you is kind of a lifelong dream,” Mr. Dewey said. “If I could design a center, after 30 years of experience, I’d design a center just like this.”

The Calverton Addiction Research Education: New York, or CARE: NY, facility would feature a 34-acre campus and include 41,000 square feet of housing, 20,000 square feet of offices and 15,000 square feet of indoor recreation like a gymnasium and a pool, project officials said.

It’s proposed for property currently owned by Jan Burman, just north of River Road and just west of Connecticut Avenue.

The facility would have a maximum of 130 beds for volunteers looking to get treatment, said attorney Vincent Messina of Central Islip, who spoke on behalf of the center’s founders. Patients would stay at the facility for up to 120 days and would pay for treatment privately, though Mr. Messina said new federal regulations may allow insurance to cover the costs.

Mr. Messina assured the board that the center would not be part of the criminal justice system, saying the goal of the facility is to research and make breakthroughs in the treatment of addiction — not serve as a way for convicts to get reduced sentences.

The facility would cost roughly $10 million to build, and Mr. Messina told the board the project was expected to lose money in its first few years. He said the facility would not use the nonprofit status of any companies operating in the center to get tax breaks.

Mr. Messina promised that if a nonprofit were required by law to get a tax exemption, the owners of the center would pay the difference in price to ensure that no tax revenues are lost.

The attorney told the board that 64 percent of the facility was already covered under “as of right” use in the zoning code.

The center would need zoning exemptions made mainly for the housing component of the research facility.

Mr. Dewey told the board that more children and young adults will die on Long Island this year from opiate abuse than from alcohol abuse.

ZBA chairman Fred McLaughlin acknowledged the need for more addiction treatment.

“The opiates are just out of control,” he said.

Andrew Drazan, the facility’s founder and CEO, told the board there is “so much more to learn” in the field of addiction treatment.

Mr. Drazan said he was inspired to build the facility by his own experiences at a young age; his mother died due to addiction when he was a child, he previously told the News-Review.

He told the board that there has been a shift in the approach to addiction and addiction treatment.

“[This is] no longer looked at as moral failing,” he said. “It’s considered a disease and it’s going to be treated as such.”

The ZBA adjourned the center’s request to the Dec. 12 meeting.

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Read more in the Nov. 21 edition of the Riverhead News-Review.

10/03/13 12:00pm
10/03/2013 12:00 PM
FILE PHOTO | The southern entrance into the already-developed part of EPCAL, referred to as the industrial core.

FILE PHOTO | The northern entrance into the already-developed part of EPCAL.

A group of scientists, medical professionals and developers has proposed building a multi-million-dollar research and treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, town officials and developers said this week.

The proposed facility, called Calverton Addiction Research Education: New York (CARE NY), would be a sprawling, 34-acre campus with housing for about 100 patients seeking treatment, a gymnasium and pool and a research facility with state-of-the-art equipment to allow scientists to learn more about how best to treat addiction.

Patients would stay for up to 120 days in overnight beds at the facility while they receive treatment, which would help inform the research conducted at the site, said CARE NY’s founder and CEO, Andrew Drazan.

Mr. Drazan described the facility as being similar to the Betty Ford Center, a California nonprofit facility devoted to alcohol and drug addiction treatment.

“There’s nothing like it in the New York area,” Mr. Drazan told the News-Review. “It’s going to be first-rate, world-class … Alcoholism and substance abuse will be treated as a science and an illness.”

Though Mr. Drazan didn’t say how much the entire facility would cost, an estimate in a progress report filed by the N.Y. Regional Economic Development Council this year states that the research component of the facility would cost $10.3 million.

CARE NY will treat those suffering from alcoholism and addiction to cocaine, heroin and prescription drugs  like Oxycontin, Mr. Drazen said. By having the facility focus on the science of addiction, Mr. Drazan hopes to learn better ways to treat patients.

“There’s a lot of misinformed individuals who feel an addict is just a screw-up,” he said. “It’s really the way your brain is mapped, the way your brain is wired.”

Mr. Drazan said he was inspired to build the facility by his own experiences with addiction; his mother died due to addiction when he was a child, he said.

The Brookville native previously worked in home improvement, but three years ago he began assembling a team of medical professionals to bring the treatment facility to life.

“I always wanted to do something and give back, and I had to find a developer who had the land out here,” Mr. Drazan said.

He found Jan Burman — who owns subdivided property at EPCAL — and they are now waiting to go before the Town’s Board of Zoning Appeals for approval later this month.

An attorney for Mr. Burman declined to speak publicly about the center.

Mr. Drazan hopes to have permits approved by the end of the year and begin construction in 2014, with a planned opening in early 2015.

When asked about the proposed facility, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said he “generally supports” the proposed center.

“It’s an interesting project,” he said. “I think it’s an interesting place for people to live temporarily. It’s not housing; it’s not long term. I’m a little surprised that people want to build that type of facility in an industrial area but they’ve put a lot of time and money into doing it.”

The proposed facility already has the support of several high-profile organizations, such as Columbia University, the New York Regional Economic Development Council and Peconic Bay Medical Center, Mr. Drazan said.

Mr. Drazan said families visiting those under treatment at the facility will provide an economic boost to Riverhead Town and noted that the facility is isolated enough so as to not disturb the community.

The progress report filed by the NY Regional Economic Development Council recommends the state award a $1.5 million grant to help build the treatment facility, stating the center will create 86 new jobs.

Mr. Drazan said he hopes the facility will become a think tank for educators and doctors to learn more about what chemicals in the body underlie addiction and its progression. The facility will also include personalized treatment options for its patients, he said.

“One size will not fit all,” he said. “It’s quite an undertaking … but I think we can get it done.

“I think it can be fantastic for the Town of Riverhead and Calverton.”

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