Let's be clear from the start: Most opposition to methadone clinics is pure hysteria. The recovering addicts who use such services typically bother no one, and in fact try very hard to slip in and out unnoticed.
Think about it: Would you want to draw attention to yourself as you climb your way out of heroin addiction?
As law enforcement officials have told some of the tenants of the Park Place shopping center in Evans, there generally is little reason to fear those patients will be lurking around causing problems.
That's the good news. The bad news is a little thing called "perception." And it is an unavoidable perception that a clinic catering to recovering drug addicts can be an unsettling neighbor -- especially next to a toy store.
The danger for such stores as Learning Express, or PeachMac, or Augusta Cheer Academy, isn't that their customers will be harmed by Treatment Centers of America patients at their Evans strip mall.
The danger for those stores, especially in a struggling economy, is that their customers will be fearful of those patients, and rather than test the perception will simply take their business elsewhere.
Call them irrational all you want, but it's entirely reasonable to expect moms to not want to take their children to a store next to a heroin-addiction treatment clinic, especially when they can take them down the street or around the corner for similar products or services.
Property owner George Snelling, likewise, could have rented space to the clinic in one of his many other, more suitable, properties. He wouldn't have to lose a dime.
Unfortunately, it appears Snelling couldn't care less whether his tenants lose money because of their new neighbor -- even threatening to evict them if they protest.
No matter what the perception, the reality is that just the presence of that clinic is likely to harm the other businesses in Park Place. And putting it there is a horribly bad idea.
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