|Jay Leeson has questions|
Although this proposed rehab center is permitted as a "special exception" under Bethlehem's zoning ordinance, it borders a Bethlehem Catholic High School baseball diamond, is only a block away from the Bernie Fritz playground, and is only a few hundred yards away from Kirkland Village, a senior assisted living center.
To mollify security concerns, Atiyeh Attorney Blake Marles called Malvern's Chief of Security, Tim Hubbard. He testified that the precautions planned at 111 Dewberry, from 24/7 security to fencing, are "above and beyond" what already exists at Malvern.
Hubbard told zoners he'd be comfortable with his own children attending a high school this close to a residential treatment center. But in response to cross-examination by City Council Solicitor Chris Spadoni, Hubbard conceded that he played no role in creating security plans for the Dewberry facility, although he did review them.
Monique Sexton, Director of Marketing at Malvern, told zoners there is a "huge need" for this kind of facility n the Lehigh Valley, which has no similar kind of rehab facility. But Bethlehem Catholic Attorney Jay Leeson pointed out that the Lehigh Valley's need is irrelevant, and the only need that should be considered under Bethlehem's zoning ordinance is the need within Bethlehem itself. She also conceded, under questioning by Attorney Spadoni, that Malvern only serves paying customers, and would be unable to meet the need of those without means.
Malvern CEO Joe Curran described the typical patient as the same as everyone else. "Addicts come in all colors, sizes, ages, professions," he stated, adding that a stigma exists because "people are afraid." He pointed to movies like Reefer Madness, designed to scare people into thinking that addicts will "rape, pillage, murder and kill." In reality, Curran stated 1 in every 4 families has a loved one who suffers from addiction.
Under intense cross-examination by North Bethlehem Action Committee Attorney Steven N. Goudsouzian, Curran was forced to concede there were inconsistencies between his own descriptions of addicts and those which appear on Malvern's own web page. Curran also admitted that at least 50% of his clients suffer relapses and that he does no criminal records or Megan Law checks for prospective customers.
Curran was also grilled by Kristine Borges about a bed bug infestation at Malvern, resulting in three citations from the Department of Health. "I know more about them than I ever wanted to learn," Curran stated, noting that he had to purchase special equipment, change exterminators three times, bring in specially trained dogs and undergo special heat treatments. Noting that bed bugs can even be found in 5-star hotels, Curran testified that the issue was confined to Malvern Institute and presented no danger to the community.
"I am so happy that we are free of them," he stated, as audience members and zoners began scratching themselves.
Testimony will resume on December 19, 4 PM, at Town Hall.