|Judge Executive, Steve Pendery at a recent Fort Thomas City Council meeting. FTM file.|
Over the past several weeks, rumors have been swirling and misinformation has abounded as to what Brighton Center intends to do with the property they are acquiring at 5161 Skyline Drive in unincorporated Campbell County, the site of the former Campbell Lodge Boys’ Home.
It’s time to lay the facts on the table.
What was a residential treatment facility for boys and young men, run by the Diocese of Covington from the late 1950s until 2012, would become a residential treatment facility for women operated by Brighton Center. Brighton Center is the most trusted and accomplished social service agency in our region, directly touching the lives of 50,000 Northern Kentuckians this past year. They have a purchase agreement, as well as plans to remodel and refurbish the existing buildings on the site, so they can expand their existing Recovery Center for Women in Florence to serve about 50 additional women who are suffering from alcohol and drug use issues.
The Brighton Recovery Center for Women is voluntary, and, to be eligible, the clients must first have detoxified elsewhere. Residents will be regularly drug tested, and, if they fail such a test or fail to follow the precepts of the program, they are asked to leave. Unlike the thousands of substance abusers living among us right now in our neighborhoods across Northern Kentucky who are not undergoing treatment, folks living in the Recovery Center are clean and are working hard to stay that way. It is for these reasons that, in nine years of operation, there has never been a complaint by neighbors against the 100-bed facility that Brighton Center operates in Florence. By the way, there are far more residents and homes in close proximity to the Florence facility than there are near the Campbell Lodge site. That is a better record than the Boys’ Home had.
As you might expect, there has sometimes been wild speculation about what will be proposed for the site, so that, at this point, people are entirely justified in worrying over what might happen there. For instance, there have been folks – who should know better – saying for weeks that the Campbell County site will be used as a methadone clinic or will house a syringe access exchange program. Brighton Recovery Center is not a medical provider, and this program is not such a clinic, nor will Brighton Center operate those sort of programs there.
|This is an advertisement.|
The Brighton Recovery Center in Florence has seen 180 women from Campbell County in its nine years of operation. In the past 15 months, St. Elizabeth’s emergency departments have seen 422 heroin or opiate overdoses alone from those reporting a Campbell County ZIP code. To say that this problem is not affecting all of our communities is just plain wrong.
With an epidemic well underway, with treatment beds in very short supply, the Campbell Lodge site offers the prospect of a much faster, much less expensive response on a property that historically has been devoted to similar purposes and is already properly zoned. Millions of dollars can be saved because there are already buildings on the site built to handle the need, and, certainly, it will take less time to remodel than to build from scratch.
There is much more to say, but hopefully this brief explanation will put things in better perspective. The Brighton Center website, http://www.brightoncenter.com, is a great resource if you are so inclined to learn more. There is no question there are legitimate concerns about the project. Often mentioned is the potential effect on traffic in the area. The 100-bed Florence facility is twice the size of what is planned for Campbell County, and yet it generates very little traffic. Only about 10 percent of the women living there even have a car. That said, the roads in the vicinity of the Boys’ Home are less than ideal, so this topic needs attention.
The willingness to find a way to tackle our problems and find solutions together is one of the great strengths of our community. It is my hope that we can get the facts on this project – and the opportunity it represents – and find common ground. In the last few years, several hundred people have died in Northern Kentucky because of substance abuse issues. This is literally a life-and-death matter for our community; it is about saving lives.
The Brighton Center deserves our consideration and support.
Steve Pendery has served as Campbell County’s judge-executive since 1999.