‘Betty Ford’-style center planned for 34 acres at EPCAL

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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