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MIAMI-Local voices of protests may soon be drowned out by the roar of bulldozers as the Watershed, a 332-bed, four-building drug-and-alcohol-treatment center, moves closer to groundbreaking. The center passed muster with the city of Boynton Beach, FL’s Planning and Development Board last week and now faces the town’s City Council. The council, at its Nov. 6 meeting, is scheduled to ratify the Planning and Development Board’s decision. The item is set to be on the Council’s consent agenda.

The controversial project reportedly has angered some area residents, who have spoken out at Council meetings and have said they don’t want such a large neighboring facility, pointing out that they felt misled on its size in earlier discussions on the project. These protests come despite the developer’s claim that the project may bring up to 150 jobs to the city, according to published reports.

The 104,000-sf private center may be the largest of its kind in Palm Beach County. The Watershed has outgrown its current locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, city officials say. Those locations have 144 beds total.

Bill Russell, the Watershed’s chief operating officer, would not discuss the complex’s projected construction costs. However, industry sources estimate the price tag could range from $40 million to $45 million.

Tentative ground-breaking is penciled in for early next year and the project will stretch over three phases. Phase one would have 120 patient rooms as well as meeting rooms, a kitchen, a dining room and offices in a four-story building. This phase would also include a separate building with a 174-seat auditorium, a fitness room and a pool. Phases two and three would each add a three-story building with 106 patient rooms.

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