A task force's recommendation for housing three health care agencies is nearly completed, but it doesn't include how to pay for the moves.
A panel today recommended that the Lawrence and Douglas County governments renovate and build an addition onto two former Lawrence Memorial Hospital buildings to house three health agencies.
The Interagency Board for Health Facilities Review met for the past six months to figure how to meet the space needs of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and the Douglas County Visiting Nurses Assn.
The three agencies have outgrown their current offices in the 1956 wing of LMH at 336 Mo.
The panel, which includes representatives of the three agencies as well as the hospital and the city and county commissions, today backed a plan to renovate the 1956 hospital building and the adjoining 1928 hospital wing, and to build a 20,000 square-foot addition between the two buildings.
Gould Evans Associates, a Lawrence architectural firm, roughly estimated that the project would cost $6.9 million.
The panel had studied nine options that included constructing a new building near LMH. One option would have placed VNA in the county-owned Valley View Nursing Home, 2518 Ridge Ct., which will be vacant some time in the next 18 months.
The three agencies strongly favored remaining in one facility and near LMH.
"The ideal would have been more land around the hospital," said Marceil Lauppe, director of VNA. "I think we've done what we can with what we're working with."
The panel will send its recommendation to the city and county commissions, which will have to consider if and how to finance the project -- an issue not addressed in the interagency panel recommendation.
Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug told the panel that the most likely funding options would be through property taxes or a possible temporary county-wide sales tax -- plus any contributions the agencies could make.
The panel will meet again at 7:30 a.m. March 3 at city hall to finalize its report and presentation to the county and city commissions.