Search under way for new site for 16-bed psychiatric facility
WILLMAR -- Officials are continuing to search for an acceptable site somewhere in Willmar for a 16-bed psychiatric hospital. They're under time constraints: The Minnesota Department of Human Services, which will operate the facility, wants it to ...
WILLMAR -- Officials are continuing to search for an acceptable site somewhere in Willmar for a 16-bed psychiatric hospital.
They're under time constraints: The Minnesota Department of Human Services, which will operate the facility, wants it to open next spring.
That's an "extremely ambitious" timeline, but local officials believe they might be able to achieve it, said Steve Renquist, executive director of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Partnership.
"We are trying to move forward cautiously with all haste," he said.
Renquist brought the EDC joint operations board up to date Thursday on the progress being made.
The 16-bed mental health facility will help replace beds that will be lost as the state closes most of its programs at Willmar Regional Treatment Center in upcoming months.
The Economic Development Commission agreed last month to act as a local fiscal partner in the project by issuing tax-exempt revenue bonds to help pay for construction of the facility. The cost has been estimated at $4 million, Renquist said Thursday.
The most immediate need: finding a site.
The initial location, on Willmar Avenue Southwest next to the city's outdoor athletic fields, was rejected after the city's Community Education and Recreation Advisory Council Board recommended against it. Advisory board members said they were reluctant to sacrifice park land for development.
"We now are looking at a variety of other sites -- some privately owned, some publicly owned," Renquist said.
There's a list of nearly 20 potential locations, he said.
A representative from the Minnesota Department of Human Services and an architect visited Willmar on Monday to tour most of the sites.
"They have come back with some preliminary findings of some of the questions and the considerations for us to respond to," Renquist said. "Unless the state tells us this just isn't going to work, we're going to move forward."
Renquist also told the EDC operations board Thursday that if an acceptable site can't soon be found, he's prepared to ask the Willmar City Council to consider the Willmar Avenue site again.
The Willmar Avenue location is directly west of Rice Care Center, the nursing home operated by the city-owned Rice Memorial Hospital. The proximity offers a chance for the nursing home and mental health facility to share services such as housekeeping and grounds maintenance, Renquist said.
It also could be an attractive prospect for bringing a veterans' nursing home to Willmar, he said. "This could give us a stronger leg up. If we have to go back to the City Council, we have a strong argument in favor of this site."