Douglas County commissioners select local firm to design crisis intervention center

Douglas County commissioners gained a partner with their decision Wednesday to hire a local firm to design a proposed crisis intervention center, community leaders charged with recommending an architect for the project said.

The commission unanimously approved the recommendation of a search committee to award a contract to Treanor Architects to design the center. County Administrator Craig Weinaug said the county received seven proposals for the project, and two firms were interviewed before the committee made its recommendation. Treanor was the only local firm to submit a proposal, he said.

Treanor is to be paid $60,000 for its Phase I work of preparing an initial concept design and presenting the plan at public gatherings. The contract’s second phase will involve the completion of bid-ready plans and the performance of contractional administrative services. The firm is to receive 8 percent of the final design’s construction cost for those Phase II services.

The proposed crisis intervention center would provide alternative treatment for those incarcerated with mental illness. The county and Bert Nash Community Health Center have agreed to a letter of intent, which would have the county build the crisis intervention center on land Bert Nash owns north of Second Street, near the Douglas County Health Department.

Those on the selection committee said the choice of Treanor was an easy one, and the committee viewed the firm as a community partner in the effort to make the center a reality. Serving on the committee were Weinaug, Burt Nash CEO David Johnson, Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern, former Douglas County Extension executive director Bill Wood, Bert Nash chief operations officer Patricia Smith and Douglas County commissioners Mike Gaughan and Nancy Thellman.

Johnson said a partnership with Treanor already was established from Treanor’s participation in the past year, with county leaders, on informational tours of facilities and programs for the treatment of mentally ill inmates. It was also clear during the interview that Treanor presenters understood through personal experiences the city’s needs, he said.

“They are committed to making this the best facility it can be for the community,” Johnson said.

He noted another plus in Treanor’s favor was its decision to hire as a consultant for the project the architect responsible for the design of a mental health center in Washington, D.C., that was the final site local leaders visited.

Treanor also understood an important component of the partnership was selling the need for the center to the community, Wood said.

“That’s something we need,” Commission Chairman Jim Flory said.

Gaughan said he was unsurprised by the committee’s recommendation, and Thellman said it was “crystal clear” Treanor was the right firm.

“I came away thinking they understood the need for this,” she said. “I have no doubt they will create a special place and service for our community.”

Weinaug said a design-work timetable had not been established. That detail should be in place in about two weeks, he said.

The money to pay Treanor’s fees will come from the county’s capital improvement project fund, Weinaug said. A commission workshop will be scheduled in the next three to five weeks on the bigger question of how to pay for the construction of the crisis intervention center and expansion of the Douglas County Jail, he said.

In other business, the commission: ?

• Approved a $25,000 contract with Cook, Flat and Strobel Engineers of Lawrence to conduct soil, concrete and other third-party testing associated with the Douglas County Fairgrounds capital improvement project.

• Re-elected Flory as commission chairman for 2016 and Gaughan as vice chairman.