BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) – There is growing concern about the arrival of a mental health hospital in North Baton Rouge.
The new facility can be located in the Glen Oaks neighborhood next to Forest Heights Academy of Excellence and blocks from Glen Oaks High School.
But who can be housed there is what the legislators are now involved with.
According to forms submitted to the Louisiana Department of Health, the facility will be an intermediate psychiatric facility with 118 beds.
They will accommodate the adult population with severe and persistent mental illness, including “those who have been criminally implicated in aggressive/dangerous behaviors, and who have been civilly obligated after being found incapable of reform are ineligible to proceed to trial.”
Directly across the street from Central Specialty Plaza is Sandra Collins’ home, which will become home to the new facility.
“It’s very calm, we have a guard around with police back and forth, so I’m very happy about that,” Collins said.
She has lived in the Glen Oaks area for 17 years and has concerns about the proposed facility.
“Really, I’ve lost some sleep over it, you know by looking out the window, coming to the window, making sure things here are safe and stuff,” Collins said.
The news quickly spread throughout North Baton Rouge, from neighbors to state legislators.
“My main concern would be security. How strong is the security?” said Paula Hills, a neighbor, “I don’t think this is a good place for that, I don’t agree with that.
“I don’t think this is an ideal location for this type of facility, and I’m not in favor of that,” said State Senator Regina Barrow, District 15.
Metro council member Darrell Hearst says all he was told in December was that it would be a healthcare facility that would provide high-paying jobs for the area.
“It’s a mentally ill facility, not a prison, so there’s no barbed wire. These are people who might have been tried for serial murder and serial rape but they weren’t eligible to go through a trial process, so they were sent to an institution that could house them,” Hearst said.
The facility is located right next to Forest Highs Academy, which raises concerns for parents and educators as well.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for our district, I don’t think it’s appropriate for the community. But more than that, I don’t think it’s appropriate to be next door to a school in any district, not just mine,” said councilman Hearst.
He told us that the operator of the proposed facility is Collis Temple Jr.
WAFB attempted to reach him several times on Tuesday, January 17, to find out more about his plans for the facility, but received no response from him.
“Everyone who knows me, knows I’ve been a strong advocate for individuals struggling with mental health. But I think putting a facility of this size in a community where I am is just kind of creating a recipe for disaster,” Sen. Barrow said.
Now the neighbors are left wondering what this facility means for their future in the community.
“If they did, I think I would move on. It’s not worth the risk, not worth my life,” Collins said.
WAFB’s Lester Duhe spoke with EBR School Board President Dadrius Lanus, who believes there’s nothing legally the school system can do about it. But he says officials are now examining all their options to see if they can work with the landlord to mitigate the problem.
To learn more about requesting information about the proposed facility from the Ministry of Health, click here.
The community meeting will be held on Saturday, January 21st at 10:00 am at Forest Heights Academy.
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