County needs more money for treatment center

Island County commissioners are asking state lawmakers for another $2.5 million for construction of a crisis stabilization center in Oak Harbor.

Last session, the Legislature allocated $4 million toward the project, but the expected construction costs of the 10-bed facility leave a budget shortfall. Commissioner Helen Price Johnson delivered the letter to local state legislators last Thursday, she said.

The voluntary stabilization center will offer services to those in a mental health or chemical dependency crisis and be the first behavioral health facility of its kind in the county. It will also serve Skagit and San Juan counties.

Facilities Director Larry Van Horn said the project is through the design development stage and has moved into the final phase of design.

The county is working with BCRA Architecture out of Tacoma and Cummings Construction Management Inc. of Seattle.

Island County purchased the seven-acre plot on North Oak Harbor Street for $1.1 million. The crisis center will use one acre and the rest of the property is meant to become supportive housing.

North Sound Behavioral Health Organization provided $1 million for project development.

Van Horn said plans were submitted to the City of Oak Harbor and construction is expected to begin in March.

The letter, signed by board of commissioners chairwoman Jill Johnson, emphasizes the need for treatment beds given the closure of several wards at Western State Hospital.

“… stabilization facilities are needed now more than ever as individuals wait for an open treatment bed or receive tools and services that will divert them from this over-stressed system,” the letter states.

“Local communities need the capacity to meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.”

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