LYNNWOOD, Wash. — A contentious debate in Lynnwood reached a stalemate Monday night over the planned location for an addiction treatment center.
Despite pushback from concerned parents, Acadia Health attempted to clear its final hurdle for approval to open its opioid treatment clinic just steps away from the Alderwood Boys and Girls Club, an after-school program for kids and teens.
Although Snohomish County makes up only 10% of the state's population, county data shows they now account for more than 18% of the heroin-related deaths statewide. As such, company Acadia Health said drug addiction clinics are badly needed in Lynnwood.
Still, protestors at Monday night's Lynnwood City Council meeting said that they are more concerned about location than anything else.
"I feel like this location is... crazy," said one public commenter at the podium.
"Safety," Jou Hou, a protester, told KING 5. " Yeah. The safety is our priority. It's the wrong location because it's too close to our kids."
Acadia Health is one of Snohomish County's largest treatment centers. On January 23, it plans to relocate its Bothell facility to Lynnwood on H. If it receives final approval from the state, the center would host an estimated 300 patients and it would be one of few local clinics that administers methadone, a medication for opioid dependence.
Vivian Dong, another protester and Lynnwood local, said she feels that she and other parents are being unfairly judged for being opposed to its location.
"We're in this position of either being called NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard), and ya know like -- like, 'You just don't have a heart, you don't want to help people,' or, we stand up and try to protect our community and we want to know who is accountable for this," Dong said. "And we are glad that the city council is apparently on our side and wants to work with us."
Councilmembers expressed agreement with the concerned parents' perspectives.
George Hurst, Lynnwood City Council President told KING 5, "This is just the wrong place for it. If Lynnwood wants one or will have one, and I think they should be, I'm thinking along Highway 99, in a light industrial area."
The city council, however, said by state law there is nothing they can do to stop it from debuting at that site.
KING 5 reached out to the State Department of Health Monday and a spokesperson said that a final decision on its licensing has yet to be made.
“Department of Health is now waiting for Acadia to meet some final requirements, including meeting with local governing bodies and providing an updated community relations plan before the department can make a final licensing decision," the spokesperson said.
Dong hopes they will listen to concerned citizens and city officials, as they promised.
"I just want to make sure everybody has a say in this and that everyone has input on a community relations plan," Dong said.
An Acadia representative told KING 5 that he was prepared to provide updated community relations plans to the governing body on Monday, but said the opposing council did not ever invite him up to speak. He left after they moved on to the next agenda item.
Acadia Health previously addressed safety concerns by saying it hires security guards if needed.
The Department of Health's spokesperson said they have heard the concerns of citizens and council members, adding that, "all of that will be taken into consideration before a final licensing decision is made."
At the conclusion of Monday's discussion, Hurst urged his fellow council members to fill out complaint forms on the Department of Health's website.