ROCKLAND, Maine — Two years after proposing to open a methadone clinic, Rockland Metro Treatment Center is ready to treat patients.
Director Mike Franklin confirmed Thursday that the clinic would open next week, but declined to comment further because of company policy.
Turning Tide closed in 2010, a few weeks after the clinic’s owner and a drug counselor were charged with felony drug offenses.
The clinic is located in the former Tuttle Shoe Barn building on Route 1 in Rockland, adjacent to the Thomaston town line.
The company has worked for the past two years to receive the necessary state and federal permits. The final one was obtained in March from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Since Turning Tide’s closure, patients have had to travel to clinics in Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Waterville and Bangor.
The firm estimated two years ago that it would serve 400 patients.
In order to locate in the town, the clinic has to establish a community-based advisory committee to address concerns of the public. The committee is required to meet quarterly and its meetings will be open to the public.
Rockland resident Sandra Schramm, a community member on the panel appointed by the council, said she is frustrated by the refusal of the clinic to hold a meeting before it opens. She said she was told by Franklin that he does not intend to hold a meeting until 45-60 days after it opens.
Schramm knows many people who have drug addictions or family members with addictions and says an advisory committee is crucial to ensuring that the new clinic runs better than the first.
“We have a big problem in this community with heroin and bath salts,” she said. “We have to do something.”
People try to sell their methadone or other prescription medications, but the proper use of methadone can save 20 percent of patients, she said. Having a clinic here will help working people get treated locally instead of traveling long distances to other clinics.
The police chief is also to serve on the committee. The Rockland City Council voted in November to appoint James Pease, supervisor of the midcoast bureau of Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, to serve on the advisory committee.
As of yet, the committee has not scheduled any meetings.
A competing proposal for a methadone clinic in nearby Warren was dropped in October when CRC Health Group announced it would instead pursue its federal civil rights lawsuit against the town to recover damages for not being allowed to open when it had planned. That lawsuit is not yet scheduled for trial, with pretrial motions still being filed.