Despite the Sequim City Council not being involved in the permitting of the first phase of a planned Medication-Assisted Treatment Center by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, city councilors want to hear what residents think about the proposed $20 million facility planned for 19.5 acres near Sequim’s Costco.
The City Council holds a special meeting July 29 about the city’s role in the permitting process for the potential Medication-Assisted Treatment Center (MAT) at 6 p.m. at the Guy Cole Event Center in Carrie Blake Park, 202 N. Blake Ave.
City Manager Charlie Bush said Monday the full city council will be on hand for the meeting to hear public comment up to three minutes per person.
“This will give us an opportunity to hear the community fully,” he said.
Bush said Mayor Dennis Smith will lead the discussion with a short presentation by him and city staff followed by public comment.
“This is a forum to hear from the public,” he said. “From that we’ll strategize what to do next. We’ll let the tribe know what we hear.”
Opponents of the proposal, many members of an online group “Save our Sequim” sought to discuss the plans with the Sequim City Council on July 8, and again at the Sequim Planning Commission on July 16.
The July 29 meeting was announced just prior to the Planning Commission meeting.
“We have not received an application (for a permit), which makes it really challenging for us to talk with our community,” Bush said.
Since then the tribe has confirmed with the city that it plans only the first phase of the project at this time.
The potential development of the MAT is part of a larger plan to build a behavioral health center that will be jointly operated by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and Olympic Medical Center.
The expectation is that the first phase would be a walk-in clinic. The area the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has purchased is zoned for clinics, said Barry Berezowsky, Department of Community Development director.
The process for that is administrative, with approval made by the staff, and any appeal of the decision would go before a hearing examiner whose decision in turn could be appealed to the Clallam County Superior Court.
The second phase, expected to have an in-patient component but which has not been funded at this time, would take a different route. Depending on what is needed and what is done, this process could result in an appeal to the City Council.
Bush said on Monday it’s important for the community to understand the role of the different agencies.
“The tribe is the applicant and the city is the regulatory agency,” he said.
“We’re not experts on the project.”
However, after listening to the public on Monday, Bush said city staff hope to have the tribe address the community’s concerns.
Berezowsky told a packed crowd on July 16 that city staff doesn’t know specifics about the project, such as when it’ll come in, and in what capacity.
Jodi Wilke, a spokesperson with “Save our Sequim” asked him if city staff has some power to make a determination about the proposed project when it comes in. He said yes.
“That’s why we’re here,” she said. “To influence whoever “we” is in their determination.”
Later, Berezowsky said that city staff “will hold this project up to the highest level of review possible.”
“We’ll do everything in our legal ability to address all of the impacts on the community,” he said.
Specifics for the agenda of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s public forum on its MAT facility/ “Healing Campus” have not been released yet.
The tribe’s meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, in the tribe’s Red Cedar Hall in Blyn.
Brent Simcosky, director of health services for the tribe, previously said “many unfounded rumors are circulating both on social media and around town” about the facility and they will “address many of those unfounded fears and concerns” at the forum.
Tribal leaders anticipate breaking ground on the MAT facility in spring 2020 and being complete at the earliest the first quarter of 2021.
The tribe had purchased most of the parcel off Ninth Street west of Sequim’s downtown on May 21 for $900,000 with the remaining area of less than 3 acres to be purchased in a transaction that will close in the fall, Simcosky said.
Tribal officials said the facility will dispense daily doses of methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol in a 15,000-square-foot building that could grow to about 25,000 square feet.
Simcosky said whether it grows depends on the need.
Facility management has an agreement between the tribe and Olympic Medical Center to operate the psychiatric facility, as well as potential agreements to collaborate with Jefferson Healthcare, Forks Community Hospital and Peninsula Behavioral Health.
The tribe, OMC and Jefferson Healthcare applied for and received $7.2 million for Phase 1 from the state’s capital budget application, and tribal officials plan to seek the remainder of the facility’s funding in the 2020 legislative session.
Simcosky said OMC CEO Eric Lewis will be in attendance at the Aug. 8 forum, and that the tribe has hired a public relations firm to develop handouts and flyers along with a Frequently Asked Questions sheet to address operations for its Healing Campus.
They also plan to create advertisements to promote the forum and “talk about how there will be no busing of homeless people from Seattle, no loitering of patients at our facility, and how Jamestown has stepped forward to lead the way in health care and we intend to provide a local solution to a local problem.”
Bush said city staff plans to provide informational handouts about the city’s process as well at July 29 meeting. City staff also moved Coffee with the Mayor on July 25 to the Civic Center to potentially accommodate a large group.
For more information, contact the City of Sequim at 360-683-4139 or the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe at (360) 683-1109.
Leah Leach, Peninsula Daily News senior editor, contributed to this report.