Saugerties residents divided over housing for recovered addicts

Several residents of the Village of Saugerties turned up to speak on a proposal to convert the former Knights of Columbus building at 19 Barclay Street to housing for recovered alcoholics or drug addicts at the Village of Saugerties Planning Board meeting on Wednesday, October 13. A public hearing in September drew a large number of speakers on both sides of the proposal.

The proposed facility would occupy the former Knight of Columbus building on Barclay Street. It would be called RYAN [Raising Your Awareness about Narcotics], an acronym based on the name  Ryan Kelder, the son of the buyers of the property, Vincent and Carole Kelder.

According to RYAN’s website, the organization intends to use the property as a “self-sustaining safe, sober, supportive home for individuals who are in recovery and are working to establish themselves back into the community.” 

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Suzanne LeBlanc said the neighborhood already has facilities for mental health, and as a quiet residential area, it should not be burdened with more. She warned that the addition of a facility for recovered addicts could lead to reduced property values in the area and bring drug dealers and addicts into the area.

On the other hand, Rosemarie Laureate said she lives near Abel House, a recovery halfway house on Overbaugh Street, “and I have never had an issue with any of the residents.”  

LeBlanc said the proposed facility would alter the character of the neighborhood, primarily single family homes, which she said are well kept by their owners. 

Security is an issue, as the community has no information about who would be in charge, or how security would be handled. LeBlanc asserted that the presence of the facility would decrease the value of surrounding homes by 15 to 20 percent and that the facility would probably be tax exempt, increasing the tax burden on the rest of the village residents.

“Your responsibility is to protect this neighborhood and keep it safe and secure,” Leblanc told the planners last week. “We don’t know what their security will be and I don’t have to tell you that there will be drug dealers attracted to this area.”

The location is at the entrance to the village, and people will be going past the sign that says drug half  house. “If I was a stranger coming into the community, I would say, ‘whoa, this community’s got a drug problem’ and most communities do, but this is a big problem.”

She believes the facility should be in a place where it would be well off the street. “There should be lawns, grass, gardens surrounding it. Instead, it’s paved all around, except where the woods are.”

LeBlanc also raised the questions of whether the developers had the financial resources to ensure that the facility could operate, and where the residents would come from.

“Would you vote for it if it was next door to you? Would you vote for it if it was on your street? Would you vote for it if it was on your block or in your neighborhood? I don’t think you would,” she said.

LeBlanc concluded that while the proposed facility is needed, “this is not the best place for it.”

On the other hand, Laureate said she frequently passes Abel House on Overbaugh Street, a short distance from her home. “I’ve had two kids grow up there, I walk my dogs there every single day,” she said, and she has never had an incident with any of the residents.

“Ryan House is not a halfway house. I believe it is not a treatment facility, but more toward a place for someone who is in recovery.”

While she has no direct experience, she said, “God help anyone who is struggling with that kind of thing. I don’t think it will be a magnet for drug dealers.” It’s a good location, as it is close to transportation and close to the Village.

 “I support it because I believe in supporting recovery and I don’t believe our neighbors, who are struggling with recovery, would be hanging out. I am part of that neighborhood [near Abel House] and 

I support it wholeheartedly.”

The Kelders, who are proposing the facility, were not at the meeting; nor were any of the others who spoke at the meeting last month, except LeBlanc. 

There are 9 comments

  1. Jaymes Nohns

    Would Suzanne LeBlanc support it if her son or daughter was an addict, or would it still have to be put on the edge of town where the outcasts should go according to her?

  2. Bill H

    I am 100% in support of Ryan House and would be if it were right next door to my home. This will meet a great need in our community. In LaBlanc’s argument, I also see a good deal of misperception of who the “drug addicts” are. LaBlanc in particular is expressing her fear of a stereotype, not the reality of those who suffer from addiction. Most folks won’t even know that Ryan House will be serving those suffering from addiction, as is typical of most towns that have such important facilities.

    And what data is LaBlanc using to claim that home values will drop 15-20% if Ryan House is in operation? That sounds like a scary number, but is it real? I can’t find any data that would support such a claim. Did anyone at the meeting challenge LaBlanc to support that claim?

    The vast majority of those suffering from addiction are regular folks who likely are a part of your life, and you wouldn’t even know they were suffering. The stereotype of the misdemeanor zombie shuffling around in your back yard is total absolute nonsense. The addict is much more likely to be your local clergy member, small business owner, politician, teacher, retail salesperson, police officer, etc., rather than the homeless-disconnected-desperate-drifter-psychopath stereotype.

    Lastly, where did LaBlanc get the idea that drug dealers hang around drug addiction treatment centers? That’s preposterous. Not only that, the drug dealers are already in our neighborhoods, and it is always shocking to find out that they are the very same people we thought we knew for years. Time for a reality check.

  3. Jeannie

    Drug use is in every community. It is easier to buy and use drugs here than it is to find a sober support or recovery program. Our community is lacking in mental health and addiction services for these struggling individuals. A place where people can share their pain and stories, Provide hope to those who are struggling alone, And feel a sense of belonging in a positive way is so vital to one’s continued sobriety success . Instead of labeling all addicts as criminals We need to recognize the psychological and mental components contributing to addiction and assist in providing direction , hope and opportunity. Addicts in recovery who are willing to attend a program or place like this are those that want to make a positive change in themselves, which can therefore lead to providing a positive change for their community. Isnt that a good thing to have here ?

  4. Roadshow Magic.

    We need to be realistic about this. A facility such as RYAN House is an absolute necessity.

    Government alone can’t do the job of helping everyone in our community. And the problem of addiction is only getting worst. If, and when, the meth crisis – that’s spreading like fire everywhere in the country – strikes the Hudson Valley full force, we’ll need more resources like RYAN to cope with the resulting problems.

    I’m also curious to know what the source of Ms. LeBlanc’s 15-20% property devaluation assertion. Can this devaluation quote be supported by any published data?

    My hat is off to Carole and Vincent Kelder. I applaud them for their selfless concern and generosity.

  5. Leigh-Ann Davies, LMSW

    I 100000% support RYAN house! The drug dealers hang out at the love knot from early morning to late night so let’s cut the BS about it attracting dealers. The location is perfect, close to transportation and walking distance to stores, churches, the water, etc. 3 minutes down the road is the Wenton which is absolutely horrific and is where DSS places individuals that need housing. Drugs, alcohol, prostitution, violence and rape happen at the Wenton and people seriously have something to say about a sober house?

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