Gilbert parents stress concern with proposed mental hospital near school - East Valley Tribune: Gilbert

Gilbert parents stress concern with proposed mental hospital near school

After vocal Town Council meeting, Gilbert to hold April 29 follow-up to address issues

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Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013 9:12 am | Updated: 6:04 pm, Tue Oct 8, 2013.

After a number of parents vocally stressed at Thursday’s Gilbert Town Council meeting that they think the proposed construction of a mental health facility in Gilbert is too close to a nearby elementary school, the Town of Gilbert is hosting a follow-up meeting later this month to specifically address the topic with local residents.

It is said that the mental heath center, to be called Saguaro Springs, will offer both inpatient and outpatient treatment of mental health and drug abuse problems. It is to be located at Baseline Road and Quinn Avenue, just around the corner from Pioneer Elementary School. Under the current plans, the two would share a fence.

“I know the (Town) of Gilbert. I know the school board. They want to protect our kids,” concerned parent Amy Peterson said at Thursday night’s meeting. “I know this is nothing malicious. My point is we can’t protect what we are ignorant to.”

Peterson wants more information about the facility’s security — information that isn’t “sugarcoated.”

After annexing the land into Gilbert in 2001, it was zoned for a shopping center in 2006 that never materialized, according to a Gilbert Design Review Board report. In 2008, the area was rezoned from a shopping center to a general commercial zone. The change of zoning allowed for the hospital to be proposed.

“We believe our hospital will be an integral part of the medical services corridor developing down Baseline Road and we look forward to bringing good jobs and continued economic development to the Town of Gilbert,” said Dan Beuerlein, chief development officer for Springstone, the company looking to build Sagauro Springs, in an email.“We are committed to educate the community about the important, high quality services we provide and look forward to working in partnership with the community to provide these services.”

Pioneer Elementary parents have voiced their concerns through parent-teacher association emails and a Facebook group called “Stop Saguaro Springs.”

Peterson told the council that even after talking with representatives from Springstone, including the chief developing operator she described as an “absolutely nice man,” she is not convinced of the facility’s security.

“I’ve talked with staff from all the hospitals,” Peterson said to the council. “The first question to them was has anyone ever — I don’t want to say escaped because they are there on their own will — but has anyone ever unknowingly left or gotten lost?”

Every single hospital said that had happened at least once, she told the council.

“But once is too much with our kids next door,” Peterson said.

In response, the town will be holding the public meeting 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 29 to address the concerns brought forth by Peterson and other area families.

“The Town of Gilbert is hosting this public meeting to get all of the stakeholders for the planned behavioral health hospital in the same room,” said Gilbert spokeswoman Jennifer Alvarez in an email. “This is an opportunity for the Town Council to hear from residents and connect them with hospital officials to ensure that all questions and concerns are addressed.”

Springstone Inc., operates five mental health hospitals in Indiana, Ohio and Texas, offering treatment of adult mental health and addiction disorders, as well as mental health issues rising from geriatric conditions. The hospitals provide a continuum of treatment, including inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, individual and group intensive outpatient programs and after care programs.

“On the record, we’re not against mental institutions in Gilbert,” Peterson concluded to the council. “This is the wrong location.”

The public meeting will be at Gilbert Town Hall, 50 E. Civic Center Drive, in the council chambers.

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