Springfield’s Mayor defends plan to relocate alcohol treatment center

Sheriff Ashe is interested in a lot on Wason Avenue in the city's North End

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – People in Springfield’s Brightwood section are anticipating a new neighbor: The Western Massachusetts Correctional Alcohol Center, home to about 200 recovering inmates. Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe has identified this Wason Ave lot near Baystate as the new site, after the facility was bumped from the South End by MGM.

“This place is so quiet. There is nobody around. The only people you see here are the nurses coming from the hospital there. They have a lot of places, woods, other places they can build. Why are they coming down here?” said Carmelo Morales.

Mayor Sarno released a statement defending the plan and the facility itself. In the South End it was located close to schools and apartment complexes, and he said public safety was enhanced by extra police patrols. 22News spoke with one woman whose mother lives across from the new site. She herself lives near a halfway house, and says she’d welcome people working toward recovery.

“They don’t bother no one. They go out early in the morning to go for jobs. They have to be there for a certain time. You barely see them,” said Migdalia Santiago.

Sheriff Ashe told 22News they run a tight ship at the facility; there are routine bed inspections, and for 47 hours every week the offenders are involved in treatment programs.

Mayor Sarno said with the ongoing opioid crisis here and across the country, these types of programs are needed more than ever. Sheriff Ashe said they’ve helped more than 17,000 offenders and the program has an 88-percent compliance rate.

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