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Former addict hopes to transform historic Arlington school into drug recovery center

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ARLINGTON, Wash. -- There is a new vision for an old, historic Arlington fixture.

“This is not about money,” Kris Wright said.

It’s about a second chance.

“I am grateful to be clean,” Wright said.

Once a prescription pill addict, Wright now wants to transform the Trafton School into a drug recovery center.

“These are somebody’s kids, somebody’s parents,” Wright said.

Wright's goal is to create more than just a rehab center. The center will be used as a bridge between rehab and full recovery, where people can live permanently and receive help similar to an Oxford House.

“You can live in an Oxford House forever; treatment centers are 14, 15 days, 28 days,” said Rick Mogel, who beat his meth addiction with the help of an Oxford House and now he helps run 65 Oxford Houses across Western Washington.

“Oftentimes we are the nicest-looking house in the block,” Mogel said.

Rick is rooting for Kris but some neighbors say they feel blindsided.

“The Arlington School District sold to a potential drug rehab center without notifying any of the residents,” Arlington resident Drew Danford said.

Danford is now worried about his community’s safety.

“It’s a good idea but it’s the wrong location just because of infrastructure,” Danford said.

With not enough public transportation, Danford said, it will be hard for recovering addicts to seek jobs and other resources.

“We are going to end up with recovering drug addicts who are going to be trapped in a rural residential neighborhood,” Danford said.

“I don’t blame them for having fear about it, there is a vetting process when they come here. I will be living on site,” Wright said.

Wright added that there is never a perfect spot for a recovery center.

“There is a stigma behind it,” Wright said, but it's a stigma worth fighting.

“This is the best chance for them, it’s the school of life,” Wright said.

Wright said he wants to teach recovering drug addicts life skills. He said the center will have strict rules and zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol. He also will not accept convicted sex offenders and arsonists into his program.

The district accepted Wright’s bid of $450,000 in early June. An Arlington school board member told Q13 News on Wednesday that they do not have a problem with Wright’s plans as long as he preserves the historic nature of the Trafton School, originally built in the 1800s.

The district said they did have a sign up notifying neighbors they were selling the property. But they did not hold any public meetings letting neighbors know about Wright’s plans for a recovery center before they accepted his bid.

Wright said he will continue to reach out to neighbors during his feasibility study, which will end in August. He plans to then close on the school this fall.