Haymarket DuPage 'will make Itasca ... a better and safer place,' says letter to Itasca residents

Haymarket Center officials are making a direct appeal to Itasca residents before a Wednesday night public hearing on their proposal to open an addiction treatment facility in the village.

The Chicago-based nonprofit group sent letters to 5,278 households and businesses this week explaining why it wants to purchase the Holiday Inn on the west side of I-290 and Irving Park Road and convert it into a 240-bed treatment center. The letter also responds to some of the community's concerns about the project.

“Saving lives is what drives us to bring evidence-based treatment to DuPage County for anyone seeking to overcome substance use disorders, regardless of ability to pay,” Haymarket President and CEO Dan Lustig wrote in the letter.

“We truly understand that Itasca is your home and that you want what's best for your community,” Lustig wrote. “Respectfully, we believe that Haymarket DuPage can and will make Itasca, and all of DuPage County, a better and safer place.”

Residents started getting copies of the letter Tuesday — one day before the Itasca plan commission is scheduled to hold the first of several public hearings on Haymarket's plan. The hearing will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Lake Park High School's west campus in Roselle.

Haymarket wants to refurbish the hotel to house hundreds of patients with substance use disorders at a time when advocates say there is a rising demand for services. There were 98 opioid-related deaths last year in DuPage.

More than 2,000 residents from DuPage and other collar counties were patients at Haymarket's Chicago facility in 2017 and 2018, according to Lustig. Having a facility in the county would keep suburban patients closer to their family support system.

“Studies confirm that people with substance use disorders have better outcomes if they receive treatment close to home and are then transitioned back to their daily lives and routine with resources crucial to success,” Lustig wrote.

The proposed Haymarket DuPage facility would provide a “full continuum of health care services,” including primary care, for adults 18 and older.

The proposed project, however, is facing strong opposition from residents in the town of roughly 8,600.

Opponents on Tuesday said they don't dispute that treatment options are needed in the fight against the opioid crisis. But they say Itasca is too small to support a 240-bed facility.

“There's no challenging the need for a facility,” said James Diestel, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Itasca group. “We're just calculating the impact on the town of Itasca.”

In addition to costing Itasca tax revenue, the center would put a strain on police and emergency services, opponents say.

Lustig says in the letter that the village and other taxing bodies in Itasca collected roughly $188,000 in property taxes from the Holiday Inn last year. The village also received an estimated $52,500 in revenue from the hotel's operation.

While Haymarket wouldn't pay property taxes, Lustig said the facility would create more jobs than the hotel did. He also said Haymarket has been successful in getting grants and funding to benefit other towns.

But state Rep. Deb Conroy said on Monday that she has delayed proposed legislation to provide an annual grant for Itasca that would replace local tax dollars lost by the hotel's closure at the request of Itasca Mayor Jeff Pruyn.

There's also concern about the number of 911 calls from the proposed facility. Lustig said Haymarket will provide projections for 911 calls during the public hearing.

“The estimated impact is significantly less than what has been reported,” he said.

Nonetheless, Lustig said, Haymarket has contracted with a private ambulance service to handle all advanced life safety and basic life safety calls from the proposed facility.

But Diestel says the village asked for the 911 data months ago. He said Haymarket also hasn't provided details about its contract with the ambulance service, including where the ambulances are located.

“That kind of data is needed to truly understand how this treatment center would affect Itasca,” Diestel said.

  Haymarket Center wants to place a new integrated behavioral health clinic and recovery campus at the Holiday Inn in Itasca to support families in DuPage and the collar counties. Rick West/
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