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Council approves recovery house letter of support

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou City Council unanimously voted during a Sept. 9 meeting to approve a letter of support for a project to build a recovery house on Hammond Street.

Recovery houses are designed to assist members of the community with all forms of substance use whereas sober houses typically only assist individuals with alcohol use disorder.

The effort has been spearheaded by Recovery Aroostook, a grassroots organization formed in 2017, and members of the group have indicated that all tenants in the home will need to be drug- and alcohol-free before moving in. A manager will live at the home with the tenants.

Recovery Aroostook spokesman Bill Flagg first approached City Council about this project during a July 22 council meeting, asking if councilors would approve a letter of support to help finance the project. Councilors did not vote on the matter during this meeting, but agreed to consider approval after further consideration.

Flagg approached the council again on Aug.19, and while all were in support of the project, Mayor Mark Goughan requested that the organization inform residents living near the future location of the house about the project.

Since then, the organization has held a town hall meeting at the Caribou Performing Arts Center in which medical officials and law enforcement expressed support for the project. Additionally, a recovery vigil was held in which members of the organization shared their own personal stories of recovery.

Recovery Aroostook Chairwoman Sarah McLean told the council at the recent meeting that members of the group had canvassed the neighborhood and informed them of their intentions with the recovery house. McLean also clarified that while the letter is not legally required for the group to open the house, it would help them secure financing for the project.

The letter, which is included in the Sept. 9 council packet, states that the city is “aware of a proposal by Recovery Aroostook to open and operate a recovery facility at 22 Hammond Street. The facility will be used to house individuals who are on the road to recovery from various addictions. The City of Caribou is supportive of efforts to help individuals and families who have been devastated by addictive substances.”

The letter continued, reading that the city “applaud[s] the efforts of Recovery Aroostook and other groups which serve to lift and sustain those individuals who are seeking for a better life out of the dregs of despair and chemical dependency. We will work closely with Recovery Aroostook to make sure their facility is safe for its occupants and compliant with all applicable zoning, building, and life safety codes.”

Goughan later entertained a motion on the matter, and all councilors unanimously voted to  accept the letter. The mayor also thanked members of the organization in attendance before moving on to the next agenda item.

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