BENNINGTON — An application for an opioid addiction treatment facility planned in Bennington has yet to be posted with the state permitting authority, but the project is clearly moving forward.
Signs of movement were evident during a Development Review Board discussion of a subdivision request for the proposed site — in a small shopping center at 120 Depot St. — and in comments at another meeting from an official with the group expected to provide the services, including methadone treatment.
The Bennington area currently lacks a facility approved to provide methadone, meaning patients recovering from addiction who might benefit from the treatment must travel to Rutland, the Brattleboro area, North Adams, Mass., or farther for daily, supervised administration of the drug.
BayMark Health Services, which operates several hundred facilities providing addiction-related services in 37 states, including four clinics in Vermont, has received local permits to renovate a former Family Dollar store space in the center for a clinic.
The next step would be submission and posting of an application to the Green Mountain Care Board, seeking a required certificate of need permit.
BayMark Health, headquartered in Texas, already operates treatment facilities in St. Johnsbury, Newport, Berlin and St. Albans through a subsidiary, BAART Behavioral Health Services Inc., or BAART Programs.
Daniel Greer, the regional vice president with BayMark Health Services, attended the Bennington-focused leadership conference this week at Bennington College that brought together 25 agencies, departments and organizations.
At one point, Greer was asked about the expected application and for an estimated timetable for the treatment facility.
“We are hoping to have some good news for the community within the next few months,” Greer said during a discussion of local efforts to combat addiction.
Having a center here approved to provide methadone has been a prime focus of local and state officials, health care providers, those working in the criminal justice system and others — especially in light of a high rate of overdose cases and overdose deaths in the state and Southern Vermont.
A preliminary notification letter about the proposal was sent in early January by BayMark to the state board. It stated that BAART Programs “will be expanding its reach in the state of Vermont to the Bennington County area, providing both methadone and buprenorphine medication-assisted treatment” at the proposed clinic.
Local care providers have estimated that an average of 100 individuals in the area struggling with opioid addiction could benefit from methadone treatment, which, unlike other medications, requires daily supervised treatment.
The clinic site in the center at 120 Depot St. “has a tentative floor plan of 3,760 square feet, with an additional 3,470 available for future expansion,” according to the notice letter.
The plan calls for “3 dispensing windows, 2 group rooms, 5 counseling offices, a lab and an exam room,” according to the letter. The total build-out cost is projected to be around $750,000.
“In addition to the provision of medication management, patients will also benefit from additional services to include counseling services, case management, crisis intervention, referrals, assessments, and care coordination,” the letter states.
The Bennington DRB unanimously approved the subdivision on Tuesday of the 1.92-acre shopping center parcel, which is owned by Dionysus LLC and BGB Holdings LLC.
A 1.17-acre parcel around the main center buildings includes space currently occupied by PhytoCare Vermont, Hollister’s Appliance and Anytime Fitness. That parcel was subdivided from a .75-acre site to the south occupied by the former T.J.’s Fish Fry restaurant.
Eamon Mulligan, of MSK Engineers, who represented the owners, said there will be a reciprocal parking arrangement for sharing of the parking areas between the buildings.
Town Planning Director Daniel Monks said during the meeting that the developers of the treatment facility have local permits for the construction work.