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White Plains Neighbors Unite Against Proposed Detox Center

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Ira Wunder was one of nearly a dozen members of the Carhart Neighborhood Association who told the White Plains Common Council at its meeting Monday they don't want the proposed Sunrise Detox Center location on 37 DeKalb Ave. in their "quiet" neighborhood.

The common council scheduled the public hearing on the detox center's application for Sept. 4. During the public comment period before the meeting, all of the speakers from the neighborhood association cited concerns over safety. Wunder feared the detox center would become a magnet for crime.

"It doesn't seem appropriate to dump this facility in the middle of our neighborhood," the Waller Avenue resident said.

William Null, representing Sunrise Detox, didn't return three calls for comment.

Sunrise Detox has two other locations in New Jersey and Florida, and submitted an application to the City of White Plains for a special permit and site plan approval to operate a short-term, medically supervised detoxification treatment facility with up to 33 inpatient beds.

In its application, Sunrise White Plains, as it would be called, said clients would be admitted on a voluntary basis only, and that the facility won't "serve as a receiving facility for court-mandated clients, nor any other non-voluntary clients."

"I don't see much of the distinction there," said Ken Kristal, the Carhart Neighborhood Association spokesperson. "Whether it's mandated by a court or its some wealthy professional, these people have a problem and they are in fairly desperate straits in their life. It's unfortunate, but that's how it is.

Wunder questioned what "voluntary" meant in terms of client's ability to leave the premise and wanted to know how long the average length of stay would be.

Clients would be treated for an average of 5.7 days, according to the application, which emphasizes the detox center's similarity in terms of zoning to the Nathan Miller Nursing Home, which had been housed at 37 DeKalb Ave. since 1962.

The Carhart neighborhood has 10 elementary school bus stops, including one on the same corner as the proposed facility, Kristal said.

"At the end of the day, it's about our kids and their safety," said John Hegarty, whose Carhart Avenue home would be across from the facility.

In support of the proposal, a 20-year-old White Plains woman noted she wouldn't have overcome her heroin addiction without a detox center, and suggested the presence of one in White Plains could help locals struggling with the same issues.

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