OKC Business Leaders, Residents Fight Proposed Rehab Center

Tuesday, February 19th 2013, 10:24 pm
By: News 9

Business leaders and residents are saying "not in my backyard" to a proposed drug rehabilitation center near downtown Oklahoma City.

The Referral Center for Alcohol and Drug Services hopes to break ground at 1401 NW 1st Street for its second location. Neighbors say they do not want drug addicts filling the streets. Already, more than 50 signatures have been sent to the city as a notice of protest from mostly business owners telling The Referral Center, it's not welcome.

"I have mixed feelings for it," neighbor Lenna Deboard said.

Deboard is one of the many people who are not sure what to think. Protesters want the city to reject a re-zoning application to allow the substance abuse facility to operate. So far, the application has already passed the city's planning commission.

"I think they're just looking for somebody to beat up on," Referral Center CEO Don Burk said.

Burk insists his patients will not be wandering city streets and up to no good.

"These aren't rapists and they're not breaking into people's homes," Burk said. "They're people trying to get help."

People living less than a mile from the proposed site say the rehab center won't make a difference one way or another because the fear is already a reality.

"Most of the time, [drug addicts are] here anyway, so it won't make a difference," resident Maxine Hill said.

Burk says The Referral Center already treats about 2,000 people a year from its current Oklahoma City location at 1215 NW 25th Street. Most patients will stay seven to 10 days receiving medical intervention as they experience serious withdrawal symptoms, according to Burk.

The next step for the rehab center will be a vote before the city council. The vote is expected to be called in March.