Following a change of heart, a Sheepshead Bay landlord decided not to void his contract with an embattled drug counseling center, despite community pressure — and reports to the contrary.
John Notias, a travel agent who also owns an E. 17th Street property dispelled rumors that he’s planning to tear up the lease he signed with Dmitri Oster, owner of One World Counseling, saying the drug-quitting business will provide a much needed service for the community.
“To hurt somebody is very easy, and to help somebody is very hard,” said Notias, who agreed to host One World Counseling as his tenant at the E. 17th Street building he owns near Kings Highway. “I’m upgrading the community, not downgrading it.”
Adding fuel to the rumor mill was an account of a recent Community Board 15 meeting published by a local news blog, which reported that the landlord had pulled the lease on the drug rehabilitation center, although the site latter flagged that information as unverified.
That’s not to say that Notias has always regarded the drug counseling business with unbridled enthusiasm, however.
The last time this paper sat down with the long-time E. 17th Street property and business owner, Notias expressed serious reservations about One World Counseling, which he had assumed provided general therapeutic services and not drug counseling.
“I had no idea,” Notias told this paper in February. “I feel like I’ve fallen into a trap.”
At the time, Notias went so far to say that he would tear up his contract with Oster, if indeed One World Counseling did deal with folks addicted to narcotics.
“If he treats drug addicts, then he played a game with me,” Notias said in February. “If that’s the case, he would forfeit the lease.”
The property owner seems to have had a change of heart, however, saying that as long as the drug center doesn’t prescribe drugs, he’s fine with hosting folks recovering from drug addiction — regardless of how undesirable his neighbors assume them to be.
“He is not prescribing drugs, he is only helping people,” said Notias. “Instead of scratching their own behinds, people should try to do the same.”
Furthermore, Notias says that his building is well-stocked with numerous security cameras, which will help ensure that the recovering addicts frequenting the clinic will mind their manners.
“I’ll have cameras for people coming in and out, so it will be very safe,” said Notias.
A long-time friend of Notias, Richard Costel, says he hopes his buddy is making the right decision, fearing his drug counseling tenant might be more trouble than his rent is worth.
“I’ve known John for 30 years or more, and we’re pretty close, but I can’t go any further than I have in convincing him that it’s not good for his business,” said Costel, who lives on the other side of E. 17th Street from where One World would be moving in.
“That’s his property and, like he said to me, ‘people have to stay out of my business,’ ” Costel recounted. “Even though [Oster] is not prescribing drugs, it might be bad for John, because his clients are still drug addicts, and they might come with drugs.”
Oster defended his business, saying it would prove itself a good neighbor soon enough.
“We are there for the betterment of the community,” said Oster.
The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services has to make the final call on whether to license One World for that location.Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cn