Chesapeake mayor shortsighted

Published 12:02 am Sunday, September 11, 2016

There is a serious case of NIMBY syndrome spreading across the village of Chesapeake.

Most recently, the syndrome has taken out nearly its entire police department.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for NIMBY and it is highly contagious.

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NIMBY, an acronym that means “not in my backyard,” is a term for one or more members of a community who oppose the development of a certain establishment too close to their homes for fear of negative consequences.

In the case of Chesapeake, the NIMBY syndrome revolves around Riverside Recovery Services, a drug and alcohol counseling center and sober living home.

The center is on Riverside Drive, a residential street, and Chesapeake Mayor Tommy Templeton has arguably been its most vocal opponent, calling the center a “burden,” to the village at a public council meeting back in April.

But right now, the only burden being placed on village residents is a lack of law enforcement following the resignation of police chief Lenny Abrams and two other officers.

In the letter provided to The Tribune by Abrams, he explained that Riverside wanted to donate funds to buy bulletproof vests for the officers, which Abrams said Templeton would not accept. The money was generated from a car show at a recent awareness fair organized by Riverside.

Unless the village of Chesapeake has recently received a surge of revenue, there is no good explanation as to why the mayor would turn down such a generous offer for much-needed safety equipment.

Abrams speculated it was because of Templeton’s “grudge” with the center, and anyone who has been to a council meeting since Riverside made its presence known to the village could come to the same conclusion due to Templeton’s frequent and vocal opposition.

Riverside director Amy Smart has been transparent to the public, coming to council meetings, answering questions and addressing concerns, stating that no violent or sex offenders would be allowed and residents would be under varying degrees of supervision. Smart has also invited the public to its community events to learn about the facility and its goal for Lawrence County.

Up until Abrams’ resignation, the center and the police department had a good working relationship, with the chief even being part of the intake process and given the option to decline any prospective resident and perform random drug searches with a K-9 unit.

What other private business in Lawrence County gives law enforcement that kind of leeway?

Abrams stated in his letter, “Since their opening there has been no incidents near the home.”

It seems that Riverside has gone above and beyond what is normally required of any business to ensure the public of its intentions and continued safety of the community.

It also seems, despite the best efforts of Riverside staff and the police department, mayor Templeton’s NIMBY syndrome has left him shortsighted. Multiple calls to Templeton by The Tribune have not been returned.

The drug epidemic is crippling Lawrence County and the Tri-State. You can’t say you don’t want drug activity in your community, while at the same time saying you don’t want treatment centers in your community.

Treatment centers are as vital a resource now as fire and police departments, emergency rooms and urgent care facilities. People who are seeking treatment and trying to better themselves shouldn’t be made to feel like lepers.

If Templeton cannot find a way to be a part of a real solution to curb the drug problem and work civilly with Riverside, he should give the opportunity to someone else.