Owners of controversial mental health facility pull out of Gilbert - East Valley Tribune: Gilbert

Owners of controversial mental health facility pull out of Gilbert

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Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 12:00 pm

For the second time this year, the owners of a proposed mental health facility in Gilbert have opted to withdraw from its proposed location in the midst of vocal public opposition.

In a letter sent to Mayor John Lewis, the company, Springstone, stated it has taken back its proposal to build a mental health facility, called Saguaro Springs, near Williams Field Road and Val Vista Drive. The letter also states Springstone will “discontinue our discussions with the Town of Gilbert, local landowners and medical providers in the area.”

“We’re very grateful they’re not going to be there and that they listened to the community,” said Gilbert resident Christine Accurso.

If built, the $14 million facility would have housed 72 beds for people who were a danger to themselves — for example people who had tried to commit suicide — and were not incarcerated or criminally committed. The average stay for a person in the facility would have been seven days.

This is the second time Springstone has withdrawn from a proposed location in Gilbert. Back in April, the company opted to find a different location from the one that would have sat adjacent to Pioneer Elementary School.

On both occasions, the driving force for the decision came from a contingency of Gilbert residents — some who live near the proposed site, others who reside in the town — who have protested the facility since Springstone announced the new site. Although the property is zoned for a mental health facility, the letter states the continued protests against the facility could have delayed the building process by at least 12 months if the protestors enacted their procedural rights.

“Unfortunately, the stigma and bigotry surrounding mental health treatment continues to be an obstacle for those who suffer from this terrible disease,” the release states.

The protestors’ objections against the new location stemmed from its proximity to residential communities and a school bus stop — they claimed the type of facility could create public safety issues — as well as concerns about a potential decrease in property values.

Protestors lodged allegations recently that two members of Springstone’s executive staff working on the project were part of a Medicare and Medicaid fraud settlement, although Springstone spokesperson Rosemary Plorin said those allegations were not true.

Despite the protestations, Accurso, who lives near the proposed location, reiterated the opposition’s slogan of “right idea, wrong location,” and said the protestors want a facility like Saguaro Springs in Gilbert.

“It would be too bad if they’re being extreme and running from Gilbert,” she said.

As a sign of support for people with mental health problems, Kristina Bradley said the opposition members plan to work with a facility in Mesa to provide information about ways to get help. She added the members of the opposition group also plan to research ways to reach out to the community to show “Gilbert does care about mental illness,” although she said more specific details will come within the next week.

“We’re not going to let that passion go to waste,” she said.

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