Public invited to share ideas on design of mental health crisis center

Construction equipment sits idle at the site of the former Lawrence VFW, 138 Alabama St., Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center has designated the site as the home of a proposed Douglas County crisis intervention center.

Douglas County residents are invited Tuesday and Wednesday to share ideas about what they want in a mental health crisis intervention center.

Treanor Architects and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center will be hosts Tuesday and Wednesday of a charrette, or stakeholders meeting, designed to gather community input on the design of a crisis intervention center.

The Douglas County Commission and Bert Nash support building a crisis center to fill a gap in the continuum of services to residents living with mental illness in the county. It would provide local overnight or extended care options for those in a mental health crisis.

In December, the County Commission and Bert Nash signed a memorandum of understanding that would have the county pay for the construction of a crisis center on land Bert Nash owns north of the Community Health Facility and adjacent to the Sandra J. Shaw Community Health Park. Last month, the County Commission awarded a contract to Treanor Architects to design the facility.

Jeff Lane, of Treanor Architects, said the charrette would start with a day of activities from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday in conference rooms A, B and C on the second floor of the Bert Nash center, 200 Maine St. Mike Treanor, a principal with Treanor, and Bert Nash CEO David Johnson will kick off the charrette at noon with short presentations on the purpose of the crisis center.

Visitors would then be invited to visit stations to share ideas on the crisis center’s design, Lane said. The stations would include drawing tables so that people can sketch out floor plans and computers on which they can select and print out features from other facilities or undertake online searches for such features. There also would be writing stations at which visitors can explain their ideas, he said.

Visitors also will be invited to share ideas about other uses at the crisis center’s Second Street site, such as a place to view the community health park’s lake, a soccer field or ball field, Lane said. Although how much property will be available has not been fully determined, there would be space for such applications, he said.

The charrette will conclude with a noon luncheon on Wednesday at the same Bert Nash conference rooms, Lane said. Community members are invited to join in the search for consensus on the crisis center’s design based on trends that emerged from ideas shared Tuesday.

The County Commission has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Bert Nash to fund construction of the crisis intervention center on the Second Street site that Bert Nash owns. No financing mechanism has yet been proposed, and a price tag for the facility hasn’t been determined. It has been proposed the crisis intervention center will be part of a package that includes an expansion of the Douglas County Jail. County officials have provided a rough estimate of $30 million for the jail expansion.