BLUE POINT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Should a landmark convent be turned into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for Long Island women in need?
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, a battle is brewing in Blue Point over the fate of the historic St. Ursula Center.
“Safety obviously is an important aspect, and something that we want to preserve for our community and our kids in particular,” said Jason Barowski of the Blue Point Civic Coalition.
Barowski pointed to the nearby elementary school, parks, and quaint main street, and said his group wants a library in the convent – not patients.
But Sister Joanne Callahan of the St. Ursula Center said the Seafield Center rehab facility could be a good fit.
“The privacy of people that choose to go to rehab is as important as the privacy of the people in Blue Point who surround the property,” Callahan said. “For us, the mission — we’ve always been working on behalf of women.”
Callahan is saddened that there are so few nuns joining the convent, and that they are forced to sell to help pay for rising costs of living and health care for elderly sisters throughout the order.
Yet they are surprised at the pushback.
“I support Seafield and the Blue Point community supports Seafield,” said Brookhaven Town Councilman Neil Foley. “The problem is turning this parcel into a 78-bed rehabilitation that would increase traffic; increase the amounts of people living on the parcel — and would affect the quality of life.”
But everyone’s quality of life is being affected by the explosion of the opioid epidemic, say experts. They say as a society, we can no longer say, “Not in my backyard.”
“In particular, we’ve noticed a dramatic increase in the number of young women committing crimes because they’re heavily addicted,” said Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family and Children’s Association. “This a facility specifically for women — to get them well.”
The nuns and Seafield Center will host a public meeting on the proposal on the evening of Dec. 7. An overflow crowd is expected.
The alternate plan to turn the convent into a library could take years of studies, referenda and bonds. The nuns say they do not have that kind of time to wait.