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Easter Seals to take over, expand drug and alcohol recovery facility

A sun porch overlooks the extenisive garden area which residents of Webster Place can work in and enjoy.

(Concord Monitor photo/Ken Williams)

A sun porch overlooks the extenisive garden area which residents of Webster Place can work in and enjoy. (Concord Monitor photo/Ken Williams)

The drug and alcohol recovery facility located at the Webster Farm complex will soon be changing hands, from restaurateur Alex Ray to Easter Seals, a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities and has recently expanded into addiction services.

The Webster Place Recovery Center in Franklin has been open since 2008 and has more than 40 beds to help recovering addicts through a 12-step program. Easter Seals began helping Ray manage the property more than a year ago and is now in the process of purchasing it for full ownership. The program at Webster Place will remain intact, but Easter Seals also plans on renovating some of the property’s old buildings to expand the program and open transitional housing for people who complete the program and have nowhere to go, said Larry Gammon, president and chief executive officer of Easter Seals New Hampshire. Easter Seals runs another addiction treatment facility called the Farnum Center in Manchester.

Easter Seals’ goal is to “make the whole thing an interesting continuum of services for people with addiction issues,” Gammon said.

Ray, who owns the Common Man family of restaurants, purchased the property in 2007 and opened Webster Place in early 2008. He wanted to invest his money in something beyond restaurants, and he cited his own battle with alcoholism as part of his commitment to the cause.

“I want to invest my resources, time and energy into things other than just feeding people, other than just the restaurant game,” Ray said.

More than a year ago, Gammon visited the property as Easter Seals was working on its own expansion into addiction services. At the time, Gammon said he told Ray to give him a call if he ever needed help managing the property. About three months later, Ray called him, and the partnership began.

“We were doing our program here in Manchester, and I wanted to see Webster Place,” Gammon said of his first visit to the facility. “I was really impressed with what (Ray) had done with the physical facility and his vision for serving people in recovery who can benefit from a 12-step program. So we were impressed with that, and also I could tell it’s the kind of thing we could help him manage.”

Ray has a passion for the cause, but he said Easter Seals’ success in managing the property for the past year has proven that they can handle it more effectively.

“I have no regrets about Webster Place,” Ray said. “(I) thought they could do a better job, that’s all.”

There isn’t a concrete timeline in place for the transfer of the property, but Easter Seals plans to have it purchased by the end of this year. The group renewed their lease when it was up in January. The Phoenix House, a smaller organization that runs an addiction program, has also been leasing space from Ray. Its lease is up April 1, and is looking to relocate to Gilford.

Gammon said the group plans on renovating two old buildings that are in disrepair to expand the number of beds available, which could give the facility upwards of 100 beds. He’s also interested in beginning a transitional home, perhaps in the smaller property that the Phoenix House is vacating.

The Farnum Center offers comprehensive services for treating alcohol and drug addiction, which is slightly different than the continued recovery program Webster Place provides. The boards of the two organizations will merge, and Easter Seals plans to continue expanding its services by opening a medical detox facility in Manchester by April.

Gammon said he believes there will always be more demand for addiction treatment facilities, and Easter Seals hopes to provide resources for addicts and their families when they don’t know where else to turn.

“Almost everybody’s touched by somebody that’s abusing drugs and alcohol,” he said.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or or on Twitter @kronayne.)

A previous version of this article misstated the number of beds that will be available after renovations.

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