APT Gets A Local Earful

Allan Appel Photo“You’re blowing smoke at us and expecting us to see clouds.”

“You’re talking first about your clients, and not about the neighborhood, of which APT is a part.”

Hill neighbors offered an evening of comments like those Tuesday night to an official from the APT Foundation.

Having received an earful last month from two dozen speakers at a City Hall hearing, APT sent Kathy Eggert, the director of its Congress Avenue clinic, to meet neighbors at the monthly Hill North Community Management Team meeting.

There, in the basement community room of the Wilson branch library, she heard about unaddressed quality-of-life problems caused by APT clients leaving the clinic on nearby Congress Avenue.

Eggert said she found the meeting positive, and vowed to come to each monthly meeting of the Hill North Community Management Team until a solution is worked out.

The team members voted to form a committee of their members, devoted specifically to the APT issue, to help accomplish precisely that purpose.

Under pressure from constituents following a killing near the site on Congress, overdoses on the Green, and the daily dealing with APT clients wandering the streets near Congress Avenue and engaging in unwholesome activities including defecating on neighbors’ property after exiting APT, alders last month were able to address APT staff directly. (Click here for a story exploring the pros and cons of APT’s unique methadone model.)

Tuesday night the conversation continued with the nearest APT neighbors like Lynda Wilson and Dora Brown, both of whom emerged from last month’s larger discussion skeptical of APT’s promises.

“All the green spaces have been taken over” by APT clients, said Wilson. “What do we do to reclaim our neighborhood?”

“Those APT people were admonishing us,” said Brown of last month’s City Hall meeting. She is a molecular biologist now retired after 39 years of service with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.  With irritation, she added: “I understand [the science of the treatment]. But those people have a responsibility. We need to address this. There’s no quality of life.”

Leslie Radcliffe suggested one approach might be to infuse the green spaces in the community —particularly the park on Arch Street and White Chapel’s prayer garden on White Street — with positive behaviors, like people going in as a group to play cards.

That was small comfort to longtime residents like Brown, who remember quieter days before the growth of APT’s methadone clinic. “I’m impatient,” she told Eggert. “We’re being completely ignored as a community.”

Eggert said APT CEO Lynn Madden and other officials have been meeting with alders. The conversation is ongoing.

“I acknowledge your concern and frustration,” said city government Community Services Administrator Dakibu Muley, who was also in attendance.

“The mayor is committed to a solution,” said Alder Hurt.

“Some problems are bigger than APT,” said Eggert. “People with homelessness, others with serious medical conditions. [But] I recognize some of our patients are not good neighbors.”

Brown said Eggert’s generally quiet attendance, mainly to listen, reflected a lack of a sense of urgency. “You should know the history . We were promised not to disrupt the life of the community!”

Then it was the turn of Pastor Chip Anderson of the Community Presbyterian Church on Davenport Avenue to weigh in: “There is history. You focused on your clients, not the neighborhood. We don’t have a safe neighborhood. Safe corners to walk to. We think about the drug abusers because, yes, they’re our neighbors. You need to start by thinking you’re in a neighborhood where people live. The wounds are decades deep. You’re not going to address them by first talking about your clients.”

Landlord Kampton Singh offered to clarify the group’s position to Eggert: “We have no issue with the APT Foundation [work], but with the loitering” and other quality of life issues.

As its last order of business of the evening, the management team organized committees, one of which is devoted specifically to focusing on APT Foundation issues. Both Wilson and Brown signed up for the committee.

Eggert is also going to the Downtown/Wooster Square Management team meeting next week.

“It’s a complex issue. We’re in the neighborhood. We need to partner and find solutions,” she said.

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posted by: RealElmHavener on October 10, 2018  3:13pm

And let’s start the countdown—3,2 ,1…for APT Foundation to respond as they did with the last NHI article on this, mobilizing their people to write in comments, viciously attacking those speaking the truth. Shortly we should also expect condescending lectures from people identifying themselves with their MD, Phd initials, accusing neighborhood residents of Nimby ism. The lack of leadership on this issue across the city is appalling. I don’t think it is any surprise that APT chose an African American community to set up their operations - and across the street from a public school too. That their failed policies are affecting other neighborhoods won’t matter to them, because this is not their community. What a shame. And where exactly is City Hall on this?

posted by: Sabrina-in-NewHaven on October 12, 2018  1:35pm

@RealElmHavener I doubt APT has that kind of time to mobilize online commentators. Really?  There are plenty of people (without initials behind their names) that are fully capable of having an opinion without APT’s endorsement. I don’t know anyone at APT. However, I do work and have worked for nonprofits and know public policy. I was one of the people who spoke out in the dialogue about APT’s responsibility for policing the community around their facility. APT has no such responsibility or capability.

Not one person who commented brought a solution that is actionable. Well, that’s not true. I said (and did not mince words) what needs to be done. But of course, you want to only point out the fact that APT has some kind of support. You haven’t discussed any resolutions that can be turned into policy either. And you are repeating a lot of what I and others have already said. As a matter of public record, you could write the principal founders of APT Foundation. That information can be found online. You would also see that only one of the 6 lives in New Haven.

APT has been around for over 40 years, so there is a history of ignoring issues and it does not start with the current administration. Anyone in office for the past decade has probably inherited a mess around this issue. And APT alone can not clean it up.

posted by: cantsufferfools on October 15, 2018  1:19pm

If you look closely, it seems these types of programs and so called recovery program housing are always in a predominately black neighborhood that is high crime and drug infested areas. Most definitely a set up for failure which keeps places like APT in business. The clients that go to APT absolutely should be held accountable for their actions and behavior in the neighborhood or not be allowed to attend. Period. I have worked in the Mental health and addiction field for many many years. The methadone program here is a blatant joke and a crutch to those who are not truly trying to be 100% clean. There are drug transactions taking place on the property on Congress Ave that are right out in the open. People are hanging around zoned out, nodding, panhandling etc. Its not what those kids need to see and its not what most adults want to see or have to be subjected to while trying to conduct our own business and lives. SOMEBODY has to stand up and be responsible…