The progress on a drug treatment center at the former Broome Developmental Center has hit a standstill after the county legislature failed to set a date to accept state cash for the project by the end of the year.
The legislature will not consider this month a resolution to accept $2.7 million in state funding that was set to go toward Syracuse Behavioral Health's treatment services, which include 50 medically-supervised and 50 residential rehabilitation beds.
Chairman Dan Reynolds, a Republican, chose not to put the resolution up to vote until the legislature can review more project details. Reynolds added that the full legislature would consider a resolution to accept the state funds in early 2018.
Some leaders had targeted early 2018 to open the center.
State Sen. Fred Akshar, a Republican, said he was disappointed by the inaction of the legislature.
"To move forward, this project simply needs the Broome County Legislature to vote to accept funding from the State to bring much-needed addiction treatment services to the former Broome Developmental Center, just as they have accepted state funding for other projects,” Akshar said.
But, Reynolds said, when leaders chose not to let the state handle project details, including awarding of a request for proposals, it gave the legislature the authority to review it.
“When the County is involved, the Legislature is required to review the contract and all ancillary information associated with the agreement,” Reynolds said in a statement. “I’m surprised and disappointed that both Senator Akshar and County Executive [Jason] Garnar appear to be interfering in that process.”
The state senator said while the county legislature "needs to do their due diligence on this project," they've been involved for quite some time and "any unnecessary delay does nothing but hurt Southern Tier families and prevents us from saving lives."
"When President Trump and Governor Cuomo can both agree that the heroin and opioid epidemic has become a public health crisis and requires action, you know it truly is a pervasive issue," Akshar said in a statement. "Anyone who thinks that we're already doing enough to combat this epidemic clearly has their head buried in the sand. In the business world, time means money. When dealing with the heroin and opioid epidemic, time means lives.”
Democratic Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo called the lack of movement on the project "frustrating."
"We've made this process as transparent as possible and worked with Syracuse Behavioral Health and County departments to answer every question and concern that has been raised," Lupardo said in a statement. "This is the final hurdle for the treatment facility to clear; the Legislature's lack of cooperation shows very poor judgment.”
Reynolds added that he realizes there is a serious opioid addiction problem in Broome County, “but having an honest and open discussion over how best to dispense public tax dollars to combat that problem should always be an accepted practice.”