New site being sought for psychiatric facility
WILLMAR -- Minnesota Department of Human Services officials are hunting for a new site for a 16-bed psychiatric hospital to be built in Willmar. About 10 locations are under consideration, said Steve Renquist, executive director of the Kandiyohi ...
WILLMAR -- Minnesota Department of Human Services officials are hunting for a new site for a 16-bed psychiatric hospital to be built in Willmar.
About 10 locations are under consideration, said Steve Renquist, executive director of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.
"They'll be seeking other input," Renquist told the EDC's joint powers and operating boards at a meeting Thursday to update them on the project.
The EDC has been working with the state to finance and build the facility, which is replacing beds being lost with the closing of the Willmar Regional Treatment Center.
A site had been selected this fall at Willmar Avenue and Seventh Street Southeast and a purchase agreement signed.
But the location came under some fire from the public, mainly because its $394,000 price tag was the highest of 20 sites that were evaluated -- even though it was the state's preferred location because of its proximity to transportation and other health services.
Then came the word that significant soil corrections would be needed, possibly adding as much as $100,000 to the cost.
Of the new sites that are being looked at, about half were previously under consideration, Renquist said. Another five or so are new to the list.
"We looked at three different sites on Lakeland Drive," Renquist said. "They're looking at a few other sites in the community. They'll be seeking other input."
It's not clear how the delay might affect the construction schedule. The original timetable called for construction to start this winter and for the facility to open in the summer of 2007.
Renquist said the goal is still to begin the project this winter. "It could still be done," he said.
In the meantime, officials are working to develop the financing package for the $4 million project. A bid was awarded last month to Wells Fargo to handle the financing and the issue of revenue bonds to pay for the project.
The Economic Development Commission had agreed to be the fiscal authority, but this role might now be handed over to Kandiyohi County, since the financing will fall under a $10 million annual limit that cities and counties are allowed to bond for each year.
A meeting will be scheduled some time in the next week or so among city, county and EDC staff to discuss this further.
There are "some unanswered questions" about the feasibility of having the county be the lead fiscal agent, said Dennis Peterson, a Kandiyohi County Commissioner and member of the EDC joint powers board.
Overall, though, there appears to be room in the county's bonding capacity to add the $4 million psychiatric hospital financing next year, Peterson said.
"We don't expect a problem," he said.