RTT Associates counseling center to leave Beacon Street by November
A counseling center on Beacon Street that has drawn attention since one of its clients was charged with sexually assaulting a neighborhood girl will leave its building by November.
The property owner notified the city last week that he had reached an agreement with the counseling center, RTT Associates, to end its lease at 2½ Beacon St. as of Nov. 1 – four months after the deadline in the city’s initial order revoking its zoning approval.
“All parties have actually been working very hard toward such a resolution,” said Simon Leeming, the attorney representing property owner David Ossoff.
Deputy City Manager for Development Carlos Baia said yesterday that the new deadline is reasonable, as it can take time to resolve zoning issues.
“Anytime that there are legal proceedings, or the possibility of those, the time frames change and they can change dramatically,” Baia said.
In May, a mother found a man in her 11-year-old daughter’s bedroom with both hands on her buttocks just before 4 a.m. Prosecutors said David Mandigo, the 42-year-old Concord man charged with the burglary and sexual assault, attended sex offender counseling at RTT Associates. The police did not believe he targeted the family’s home near Beacon Street at random.
Zoning Administrator Craig Walker revoked the counseling center’s zoning approval in June, calling its presence in a mostly residential neighborhood “a hazard to the health safety and general welfare of the public.”
Leeming said his client has worked to comply with the city.
“One of the primary concerns of Mr. Ossoff has been the concerns of the city, the concerns of the neighbors and his wish to be a good landowner and a responsible landowner,” Leeming said.
Roger Chadwick, RTT’s attorney, said yesterday that he still does not understand how the city found a direct link between Mandigo’s alleged actions and RTT’s operation at Beacon Street. The counseling center will follow its landlord’s wishes and seek another location, he said, but it has an obligation to continue counseling its clients.
RTT filed an appeal to the city’s order last month. Walker did not accept that appeal, writing in a letter that the center did not have the property owner’s permission to appeal and did not include an appeal fee or formal appeal application.
Chadwick said yesterday that the counseling center has again tried to appeal, and is awaiting a response from the city. He declined to comment on RTT’s agreement with the center’s landlord.
“I have not seen that letter from the property owner and we have not heard back from the city on our latest letter of appeal,” Chadwick said. “And so when people decide they’re going to respond to RTT directly, the business and people that are affected the most by this, then I’ll be able to respond.”
Mandigo, the man charged with the sexual assault, was indicted this summer on the felony charges and is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 6 in Merrimack County Superior Court.
City Councilor Amanda Grady Sexton, who represents Ward 4 and lives on Beacon Street, has spoken against RTT’s presence in the neighborhood. Yesterday, she shared reactions to the latest agreement that she has heard from constituents, including the family of the young victim.
“The family of the victim and neighbors to the treatment facility are pleased that the city, RTT and the property owner came to an agreement that prioritizes public safety,” Grady Sexton said. “The family in particular is pleased that this issue will be resolved so that they can focus on the healing process.”
(The Monitor is not naming the family to protect the girl’s identity.)
RTT Associates offers counseling for sex offenders, abuse victims, substance abuse and anger management, according to its website.
The center moved into the multitenant office building at 2½ Beacon St. in 2005. Though the neighborhood is residential, the building can legally hold office space. When the city learned of RTT’s presence in 2011, the zoning board granted a special exception for a social service center.
Tensions have increased in the neighborhood since the alleged sexual assault and the city’s revocation of the special exception. Earlier this month, bricks were smashed through a glass door and window at the counseling center. The vandalism was discovered the same day the Monitor published an article about RTT’s attempts to fight the eviction order; Ossoff and Chadwick have said they believe the crime was a reaction to the media coverage.
Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley said yesterday that his department has made little progress in the vandalism case. He encouraged anyone with information to contact the police.