Plans for children’s mental health hospital approved; Willmar Planning Commission gives OK for facility plans

Plans for children’s mental health hospital approved; Willmar Planning Commission gives OK for facility plans

October 8, 2018

Plans for children’s mental health hospital approved; Willmar Planning Commission gives OK for facility plans

WILLMAR—Plans for a new 16-bed child and adolescent mental health hospital were approved Wednesday evening by the Willmar Planning Commission.

The hospital will become the new home of Child and Adolescent Behavioral Services, currently housed on the MinnWest Technology Campus. The new facility will allow for more youth to take part in the programs offered, as well as give both clients and staff a state-of-the-art facility.

“It is a highly regulated facility that will require a lot of specialty features,” said Willmar City Planner Sarah Swedburg.

The final 2017 bonding bill included $7.5 million for the state-operated facility. Construction on the project could begin in 2019, with completion in 2020.

The 18,000-square-foot mental health hospital will be located on 8.25 acres along Transportation Drive Northeast, south of the Minnesota Department of Transportation offices and near the Willmar Civic Center.

“The property is currently state-owned,” Swedburg said.

The property is zoned government and institution.

“Public hospitals and treatment centers, with no size limit, are allowed,” Swedburg said.

High-quality materials including wood and stone will be used for the building facade, similar to other buildings in the area. There will be two accesses to the property off of Transportation Drive. The project plan more than meets the parking requirements for facilities of this size, because of the number of employees who will work there.

“It is a very heavily staffed facility,” Swedburg said.

While the state is first planning for 16 beds, there is room to expand the hospital if needed.

The facility will be completely secure, with even the outside play areas fenced in and secure.

“Patients will stay on site at all times,” Swedburg said.

The Planning Commission approved the plans on the condition that fire marshal and engineering comments are met by the builder, that the stormwater plan is adequate and all applicable local, state and federal rules and regulations are adhered to at all times.

“There is a crying need for facilities like this in the state,” said Commissioner Jerry Kjergaard, a retired educator who served as superintendent of Willmar Schools for seven years. “As a city, community, it is a really good facility for us to have.”

 West Central Tribune by Shelby Lindrud