64° F Thursday, April 27, 2017

To the Editor:

At the Feb. 15 community meeting at the Lakeway Activity Center, many people asked why Recovery Ways would select a site adjacent to an elementary school for their proposed alcohol and drug treatment facility. With experience in this field, including the planning and development of St. David’s psychiatric hospital in the mid-1980s, I know the answer to this question.

Recovery Ways selected this tiny site, maybe half an acre, because this for-profit company was so enthralled with the prospect of marketing Lakeway’s amenities to prospective clients, particularly our parks and greenbelt trails, that they were willing to completely overlook the dangers of building such a facility next to an elementary school. Why waste millions of dollars on a 10-, 20- or 30-acre site, Recovery Ways coldly calculated, when they could get by with half an acre and gain free use of Lakeway’s wonderful amenities? Our secluded and peaceful parks and trails, which we have worked so hard to build and maintain, will become just about the only outdoor space for Recovery Ways employees and patients to use and, possibly, abuse.

Some additional points: 1.) I feel that private psychiatric hospitals are motivated by only one thing – making money. If Recovery Ways had a vacant bed, they would be hard pressed to turn down anyone, regardless of diagnosis who was willing and able to pay for it. 2.) Halfway houses almost always accompany inpatient psychiatric facilities, so it is likely Recovery Ways will purchase or rent several homes in Lakeway for this purpose. Our neighborhoods could be adversely affected. 3.) The employees at mental health facilities are often more of a problem than the residents. Low wages, high turnover and suspect backgrounds are commonplace. These folks will have free reign throughout our community.

It appears Recovery Ways misrepresented this project to the City of Lakeway as a “convalescent home” and broke ground next to Lakeway Elementary before revealing the true nature of the facility. Public comment was never solicited. It doesn’t set well with me that Recovery Ways will apparently bring in drug and alcohol abusers from all over the country in order to make a return on their investment while exploiting our extraordinary amenities and quality of life. For these reasons, I don’t want Recovery Ways next to Lakeway Elementary, I don’t want them anywhere else in Lakeway, and I don’t want them on 620 from where they will likely spread back into Lakeway with their halfway houses and still use, and possibly abuse, our amenities.

Bob Schooler

Lakeway

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