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Neighbors of the Allied Health Services methadone clinic on East Main Street in Medford have voiced concerns about clients who are disruptive or leave paraphernalia in their yards. The clinic has promised to build a fence to separate patients from the neighborhood. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore

Methadone clinic concerns neighbor

Before sunrise, patients on their way to work line up for a dose of methadone at a clinic on Medford's East Main Street.

Behind the clinic, in a usually quiet residential neighborhood, lives Bob Biondini, who says he's been roused from slumber by the patients talking, listening to music, smoking or sometimes even fighting.

On several occasions, he's discovered discarded needles, syringes and rubber tubing in his backyard. Once, he confronted two men carrying sleeping bags who had broken through his fence and were planning to camp there.

"They saw my gun," he said. "I told them, 'I want you to climb through the fence and don't ever come over here again or you're going to get into trouble.' "

Biondini and other neighbors have complained to Medford police and Allied Health Services, the owner of the clinic. In the past 12 months, police have received 22 calls for service at the clinic, though eight were false alarms and another two were related to non-criminal activity.

The remaining 12 calls involved everything from restraining-order violations to a report of possible drug activity in the parking lot.

But a possible resolution to the neighbors' concerns is at hand. Director Kristen Hanson said the clinic will be applying for permits to build a 7-foot-tall, 270-foot-long fence to separate patients from the neighborhood.

"Regardless of the cost, it is well worth it for us," said Hanson, who has been director for about a year. "Being a good community partner is a priority."

The clinic has been working with patients to make sure they don't loiter in the parking lot and have stepped up monitoring of the parking area.

She said there already has been a major improvement as a result of these actions.

"I think there has definitely been an issue," she said. "We're working together to resolve it."

Getting the fence built as soon as possible should resolve any additional concerns neighbors have, she said.

The clinic has about 20 employees and dosing begins at 5:30 a.m. for patients who are going to work. Patients drink the methadone from a little cup on site.

Hanson said some of the patients arrive earlier to get their methadone treatment.

She said neighbors' concerns came to her attention six weeks ago. Hanson said she wished she'd heard about them earlier and wanted to develop better communication with the neighborhood.

Biondini said the clinic appears willing to tackle the issues that have been raised.

"They have responded very well," said Biondini.

But Biondini said he's not sure whether the fence will prevent clients from throwing paraphernalia into neighbors' yards. He said a 12-year-old girl who lives next-door found a used pregnancy tester in her backyard.

The girl's parents worried about hepatitis or some other disease that she could have been exposed to by innocently picking up the used tester.

Clinic property owner Alex Jauregui said he believes Allied Health has been a good neighbor, and he has received only a couple of complaints from other tenants in his buildings.

"As far as impacting the neighborhood, that's bunk," he said. "I don't buy it."

Jauregui has told the clinic it can build the fence on his property, about a foot or so from the property line so there are no disputes with nearby residents.

Jauregui attributes the vacancies in his building to the economy, not the clinic.

"You go down any street in Medford, and you'll see places are empty," he said.

Biondini said it has been a lot easier working with the clinic director than the owner of the property.

He said he'll be glad to see the fence going up in the near future.

"Hopefully, this will solve a lot of the problems we've had," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.

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