Douglas County’s new crisis center is licensed, but officials still ‘ask for the community’s patience’ on opening date

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Staff with the Douglas County Sustainability Office gave the Douglas County Commission an update on the work they've been up to during a work session Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022.

Douglas County’s new behavioral health crisis center has been granted a provisional license, but there’s still no indication of when it will open, officials told the Douglas County Commission on Wednesday.

Dr. George Thompson, the Treatment and Recovery Center of Douglas County’s executive director and medical director, told commissioners that on Tuesday, the center was granted a provisional license through June 30, 2023. Thompson told the Journal-World last week that, at the latest, the center was set to be licensed by Nov. 1.

It’s licensed as a “private psychiatric hospital,” a designation Thompson explained to the Journal-World last week. That will function as a stopgap, as the center will be aiming to get licensed as a “crisis intervention center” as soon as it’s able. But for the time being, that isn’t an option anywhere in Kansas. That’s because the state hasn’t publicly announced the regulations for that type of licensing, Thompson said.

County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said Wednesday evening that there still isn’t a concrete opening date to share, but she didn’t provide a detailed explanation as to why. She said leaders with county staff are “resolved” to make more frequent updates to commissioners and the public about progress at the center following a relatively quiet summer.

“I know there’s a lot of excitement and desire to say ‘Today’s the day of the first patient,'” Plinsky said. “I continue to ask for the community’s patience and our partners’, who really are so eager to have this vital piece of our crisis system together, as we really make sure that we are doing our due diligence and we are putting all those pieces together so that we have an operational, successful crisis center on day one.”

In other business, the commission:

• During a work session, heard an update from the Douglas County Sustainability Office team about how projects related to sustainability are progressing.

One highlight of that presentation was an update on the county’s Open Space Plan, which the county first began crafting in March. Kim Criner Ritchie, the county’s sustainability manager, said she’s anticipating that project will be complete by April of 2024, and the office is currently in communication with two possible consulting firms to help guide the work to put together the plan between now and then.

Commissioners also learned that the office broke ground on a 12th community garden for the Common Ground urban garden program Tuesday, this one located at Broken Arrow Park.

• Approved an amendment to Plan 2040, the long-term plan of the county and City of Lawrence that guides growth and land use, to revise the land use map for the property generally located at 1715 East 902 Road from “residential/office” to “medium-density residential.”

According to the city’s zoning regulations, that specific zoning would allow for a density of seven to 15 dwelling units per acre. The area in question is just west of Lawrence, right off Kansas Highway 10 west of Rock Chalk Park.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission proposed the amendment because the City of Lawrence has identified a single-family residential lot shortage, represented in the city’s 2021 residential lot inventory report by an overall 32.1% reduction in available lot supply for residential uses.

• Approved a conditional use permit for an indoor sports or recreation facility at 960 East 1296 Road.

The property is owned by Veritas Christian School, and the permit allows the space to be rented for club volleyball and basketball practices at an existing school gymnasium on the property. That permit was approved with conditions, including that the building can’t be used to host club games and tournaments. Another condition limits the number of club team practices that can take place there in one week to six, with no more than 30 players or coaches present.


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