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Addiction center finds new space

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Development Review Board last week unanimously agreed to allow the Turning Point Center of Addison County (TPC) to relocate to 54 Creek Road, where it will continue to offer its peer-to-peer support services to people battling substance abuse.
It was just three and a half months ago that the board rejected the center’s proposed move from the Marble Works complex to a single-family home at 91 Court St., a property the panel noted was in the town’s Office-Apartments zone and therefore ineligible to host a social services organization.
So with an August deadline to vacate its 228 Maple St. headquarters, Turning Point Center officials again scoured the Middlebury area for another possible landing spot. They located approximately 2,000 square feet of space to rent within a building at 54 Creek Road that used to house the Gailer School.
“I think it’s going to work out real well,” Turning Point Executive Director Bill Brim said of the new spot, for which the organization will sign a five-year lease. Turning Point will become neighbors with another non-profit social services agency — Addison Community Action/Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity. And Brim added TPC will still be close to downtown, Middlebury’s new recreation facility, and the Addison County Transit Resources bus route.
Brim is currently lining up volunteers to help with the impending cross-town move, which he hopes will be completed by the end of July.
“I am excited about the fact that we finally got this nailed down,” he said.
The Creek Road location features what Brim described as two “good sized” classrooms that will be able to accommodate support group meetings. It also features a social area, and a loft that will accommodate TPC’s administrative offices.
Another positive: 54 Creek Road is ADA-compliant. Brim said access issues have precluded Turning Point Center from using a room in the lower level of 228 Maple.
The Marble Works Partnership plans to refurbish and sell 228 Maple St., according to Brim, who added TPC considered buying it but determined it would not meet the organization’s log-term goals. One of those goals is the creation of a residential facility for folks to transition from addiction to recovery, and then secure permanent housing and jobs. Brim stressed there is no plan for such a facility at or near 54 Creek Road.
“To be a person in recovery, you have to change your life,” Brim said. “Having a space that’s well managed and operated under strict guidelines is very much needed in this county. I would like the community to understand that there is a drug addiction problem here.”
For now, Turning Point officials are simply looking forward to the upcoming move.
“I was getting nervous,” Brim said. “The clock was ticking.”
The Turning Point Center is a member of the Vermont Recovery Network. In addition to peer-to-peer support, the organization dispenses Narcan emergency kits to people in an effort to prevent fatal opioid overdoses. TPC also offers clients a safe, drug-free place to gather and associate.
During 2014, the center received around 1,000 visits per month from addicts or their family members seeking various services, ranging from a willing listener to pointers on how to re-enter the labor market.
Jennifer Murray, Middlebury’s director of planning and zoning, said the DRB’s evaluation of the Turning Point application was made much easier by the fact that 54 Creek Road is in the town’s Village-Residential-Commercial district, in which social service agencies are permitted.
“Brian and Georgianne Valley, Turning Point board members, were instrumental to the process,” Murray added. “They really took the lead on working with this office to identify areas of town that were within the VRC district, where this use is permitted.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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