Mayor Leslie Soden has publicly mentioned an interest surrounding issues of mental health. The Lawrence Police Department would be the greatest law enforcement user of a Crisis Center. Board members for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital are chosen by the Mayor. The Kansas City, MO city government paid $2.5 million to renovate a building a new Triage Center. Plus, Dave Johnson has intimated to members of Justice Matters that there are discussions taking place presently to get Crisis Center services available before a new building is built. For all of these reasons, we meet with Mayor Leslie Soden.
Our biggest worry is when such a facility would be open for service. We have been told that there would be a delay of three years from the time voters approve of funding to the opening of such a facility, if county funds are used to finance new construction. This is an unacceptable timetable given that people seeking in-patient mental health services are presently waiting up to 4 days in the Emergency Room. Our research shows that a viable alternative would be to use a renovated vacant building that can be ready to open within 90 days of signing the lease at a fraction of the costs of new construction.
This conversation with Mayor Soden is scheduled with an eye toward understanding the wheels that appear to be in motion to create such a facility. Most importantly, the timetable, costs and funding sources.