Douglas County Commission to discuss behavioral health service needs, consider tax incentives for downtown condos

The Douglas County commission meets in the historic courtroom on the second floor of the old county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St.

The Douglas County Commission will discuss behavioral health service needs with five partner agencies Wednesday as part of a series of work sessions on the proposed expansion of the Douglas County Jail and creation of a crisis intervention center.

Bob Tryanski, county director of behavior health projects, said executive teams from Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, DCCCA, Heartland Community Health Center, the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority and Lawrence Memorial Hospital will update the County Commission on plans to implement the $1.9 million in mental health initiatives commissioners included in the county’s 2018 budget. The leaders of the partnering agencies also will discuss how those new programs will relate to the crisis intervention center proposed for a West Second Street site across the street from Bert Nash, 200 Maine St. There will also be discussion of identified gaps in services, Tryanski said.

The 2018 budget commissioners approved in August included $922,800 to hire two new psychiatrists for Bert Nash and two more for Heartland. The county also will provide $400,000 to help LMH build a behavioral health crisis stabilization center next to its emergency ward and is using $658,000 to start phasing in programs for substance abuse treatment and services for those with chronic mental illness.

In other business, at their regular 4 p.m. meeting, commissioners will determine whether the county will participate in a tax incentive program for a proposed five-story, mixed-used condominium project in downtown Lawrence.

On Oct. 3, the Lawrence City Commission approved a 10-year, 75-percent rebate on the property taxes paid on the proposed development, and the Lawrence school board followed suit Monday. The County Commission now will consider the county’s participation in the rebate.

The plans of the developer, former City Commissioner Bob Schumm, call for a five-story building with retail space, offices and 12 condos to be built on two vacant lots on Vermont Street. The building would have a one-bedroom condo permanently designated as affordable housing.

The work session will start at 2:30 p.m. in the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St.