Douglas County Commission to hear update on opening of new behavioral health treatment housing

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Journal-World Photo

Transitions, one of the three facilities that makes up the planned Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County, is seen here on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.

Douglas County housing dedicated to helping people with behavioral health issues may soon begin taking on residents.

The County Commission on Wednesday will hear an update about the Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County, which the county and local health organizations have been working on to help address behavioral health issues among county residents. The campus is located at 1000 W. Second St., near the corner of Maine and West Second streets.

The presentation will be provided by Jay Zimmerschied, the county’s director of capital projects, and will occur during a work session, which means the commissioners will not take any action.

According to a presentation that will be provided to the commissioners, the Transitions and Cottages housing units, which are two of the three tiers of the campus, could begin to be occupied by residents next month. Karrey Britt, a spokeswoman for the county, said the construction manager anticipates receiving occupancy permits from the City of Lawrence in November.

The Transitions building, which is two stories with a basement, will be able to provide group-home living space for 12 residents. Those residents will be clients of Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center who may live in the facility from six to 12 months. The purpose of the facility is to provide those residents with programs to help them recover and transition back into the general community.

The Cottages facilities, which are a collection of one-bedroom apartment homes, will provide permanent supportive housing for up to 10 residents. The units will be owned and operated by the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority and aim to provide permanent housing to people who have been diagnosed with a behavioral health condition.

As the Journal-World previously reported, the County Commission set the guaranteed maximum of $4.1 million for the overall cost of the housing portion of the project, with the county providing about $400,000 of the funds. The remainder of the funding was expected to come from local, state and federal agencies. According to the presentation, the construction project came in at a cost of $3.7 million.

photo by: Contributed photo

The site plan for the Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County shows the planned construction site for the project. The housing portion of the project, shown as Tier II and Tier III, is currently under construction.

The third tier of the campus, the planned behavioral health crisis center, is also scheduled to begin construction this fall, according to the presentation. The Douglas County Crisis and Recovery Center plans to provide 16 spaces for people to receive 23 hours of observation from health professionals and another 16 bedrooms for others to receive 72 hours of observation.

The total cost for the project was left blank in the presentation materials. In March, the County Commission selected Mar Lan Construction as the construction manager at risk for the project. Additionally, the state government provided $750,000 in its budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the Journal-World reported.

County officials previously said the center is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. When operational, the facility is expected to be managed by the recently established nonprofit organization Behavioral Health Partners Inc., the Journal-World has reported. The nonprofit will be governed by a nine-member board, with Bert Nash, LMH Health and the County Commission each appointing three members.

In other business, the commissioners will consider approving “findings of fact” related to a rural land owner’s request to rezone her 70-acre property just west of Lawrence for the purposes of subdividing it into residential lots.

Last month, the County Commission came to a consensus to deny Mary Wakeman’s request to rezone her property, located at the northwest corner of East 800 Road and North 1500 Road, but the commissioners said they needed a “legally sound” denial to the request.

E 800 Rd & N 1500 Rd, Kanwaka, KS 66049

According to a memo to commissioners, the proposed findings of fact document outlines the many reasons the County Commission believed the rezoning request could not be approved. One such reason is that the proposed development would have needed a variance on recently approved county codes, which the document noted is a factor that “weighs against rezoning.”

The County Commission will convene Wednesday at 4 p.m. for a work session and 5:30 p.m. for a regular business meeting. The meeting will be open to the walk-in public at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., but a link for the public to watch live online is available on the county’s website, Residents may also call in and listen by phone by dialing 1-312-626-6799 and entering meeting ID 962-6059-1347.

Full audio from the meeting will continue to be posted on the county’s website, as usual. The meeting’s full agenda may also be found on the county’s website.

Related coverage:

• Nov. 10, 2019 — Construction of behavioral health campus set to begin, but price tag for Douglas County may grow

• Feb. 16, 2020 — Health leaders provide updated facility design for planned Douglas County behavioral health crisis center

• March 27, 2020 — Douglas County crisis center receives $750K in state budget

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