Gresham addiction clinic opposes pub location

Gresham Outlook – August 24, 2018

Planned brewery would be next door to a treatment center for Native American youths

A controversy is brewing in Gresham.

Inner Fire Brewing is attempting to open a location in Gresham at 633 E. Powell Blvd., placing it adjacent to a treatment center focused on helping Native American youths struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.

The Native American Rehabilitation Center of the Northwest (NARA NW) operates its Gresham facility to help those severely struggling with alcoholism. It is the only center in the region that supports a group hard-struck by alcoholism — providing critical support such as long-term commitments to clients and a familiarity with the Native American culture.

Advocates for the treatment facility say placing a brew pub next to an alcohol and drug treatment center is a recipe for disaster, tempting clients who are struggling to get their lives back on track.

“The youths going to NARA are in their most ill state, just weeks out from not drinking,” says Jason Renaud, speaking on behalf of the board of directors and supporters of the Mental Health Association of Portland. “When your alcoholism is acute, you have an addiction of body and compulsion of mind.”

According to the Mental Health Association of Portland, a nonprofit organization that helps people with mental illness, addiction and alcoholism speak out, more people die of alcoholism and alcohol-related illnesses, accidents and suicide than almost any other preventable cause of death. Effective treatment for alcoholism is rare, making it important to protect facilities like the one in Gresham.

“A lot of these kids, if they drink they will go to jail,” Renaud says. “Being that close to a brew pub — it’s the smell and sounds.”

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is reviewing the application before putting together its final report on whether to allow Inner Fire Brewing to move into the spot.

“We have received a lot of feedback from nearby residents and (NARA NW),” said Matthew Van Sickle, spokesman for the OLCC.

The application could be approved with restrictions, like only allowing the location to operate during certain hours. The problem, in the mind of proponents of the treatment center, stems from Inner Fire’s application indicating a plan to brew at the location. That means there would be activity going on throughout the day.

The OLCC is still waiting on input from certain entities, such as the city of Gresham, before making its final decision. The expectation is for the process to be complete by the end of the month.

Repeated attempts were made to contact the owners of Inner Fire Brewing, but the Outlook received no response by Thursday’s press time.

Renaud says the opposition has nothing to do with Inner Fire Brewing, or any other alcohol-related businesses. For people who can drink normally, he noted, they are a fun place to spend time. Brew pubs also employ thousands across the state.

“We’re only concerned for people who want to stop drinking alcohol,” he says.

The hope for those opposed to the brew pub’s planned location is for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission or city of Gresham to block the license and application.

“Its common sense that this shouldn’t happen,” Renaud says.