Narcon looking at second location

The Walton Sun, Florida/August 7, 2007
By Heather Civil

Almost all of those who attended a meeting Monday night to learn about a proposed drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility agreed on one thing.

They do not want it in their neighborhood.

Narconon Gulf Coast, Inc. wants to purchase a three-story beach house at 263 Snowdrift Road and turn it into a 28-bed residential rehabilitation facility.

The nonprofit organization hosted the meeting to answer questions from those who live near the proposed location.

Henry Pitts owns property one street over from Snowdrift. Narconon will bring too much traffic and create drug-related problems in the neighborhood, he said.

"I am very vehemently opposed to it being allowed in our neighborhood," he said. "It's not compatible."

Most of the roughly 75 people at the meeting shared Pitts' viewpoint.

Some said Narconon does not belong in their residential community.

Others expressed concerns that the type of people treated by Narconon could bring drugs and thievery to the neighborhood.

Cindi Bleifer owns a condominium in Mainsail, which is across the street from the proposed Narconon site.

She said she plans to fight the facility as much as she can.

"Mainsail is very family-oriented," she said.

Narconon had planned to buy a house on Scenic Gulf Drive for the facility, but that has fallen through.

The Snowdrift Road location will house patients who have already undergone 30 days of treatment at an existing Narconon in Destin.

Narconon is a voluntary drug and alcohol addiction treatment program that has its roots in Scientology.

The Walton County Commission must grant approval to the planned facility before it can open. The commission has not yet set a meeting date to hear the proposal.

The Snowdrift Road location will be an "educational center," said Narconon spokesman Barnett Gilmer.

Patients, or students, as Narconon calls them, will stay up to 90 days at the beach house, where they will take educational courses and get counseling.

"We blend into the community, and that's what we want to do," he said. "That's our purpose."

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