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County kicks off work on Coupeville mental health building

"Island County commissioners have acquired an acre of property at the west end of Northwest First Street in Coupeville that is scheduled to become Island Mental Health's new home in October 2002.The nonprofit organization contracts with the county public mental health services.Gary Hess, county public works engineer, said the county and Island Mental Health have begun to design and build the facility from scratch, beginning in October this year. We now have the property to build a new building on, Hess said.Planned by the Washington State Office of Community Development under a community block grant awarded in March 2000, the project is budgeted at $747,710 with matching funds of $100,000 from the county and $100,000 from Community Mental Health, parent organization of Island Mental Health. Hess said the county will own the building and lease the space to Island Mental Health.The new building will replace the existing building on Main Street and Coveland, Hess said. The fixed budget will allow construction of an estimated 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot building. We hope for 5,000 square feet, we'll have to see as we go, Hess said.Robin Farrand, clinical site manager for Island Mental Health, is handling the organization's side of the project. We've hired an architect and are talking about the plans, Farrand said. The budget is tight, but we'd just like to have a modern, professional building to see our clients in so that they feel well cared for and respected. In addition to offices and counseling spaces the new building will provide play therapy rooms for children and will be nearer the hospital for emergency services. The design firm, Environmental Works of Seattle, is a nonprofit architectural company.These are the folks who designed the Island County Family Resource Center (north) on Whidbey and Regatta, and the South Whidbey Family Resource Center on Maxwelton, Farrand said.I'm extremely thrilled, Farrand said. We're bursting out of the seams, we have way too many clients for the size of this building.The old building is a well-known landmark and according to Farrand will be remembered fondly by Island Mental Health workers. But the structure is not handicapped accessible and needs extensive repair. In my second story office there's a place in the floor where, if I tap my foot during a rainstorm, it goes splash, splash, splash, Farrand said. We got through the earthquake, but we were kind of surprised. "

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