With Compass Behavioral Health agreeing to join in on the health campus vision, work on the site will have to start soon.
With Compass Behavioral Health's commitment to build its new facility in Ford County's developing health campus, the County Commission said it's willing to let the organization take the lead determining the campus's unified architectural style.
The county also instructed the professional staff to start preparing to demolish the existing brick and rock structure on the site of the campus at an estimated cost of $180,000.
"As we can, I think we need to move forward. We have a commitment from a strong partner in Compass. The quicker this can be cleared up the more opportunities for other partners to come in," Commissioner Danny Gillum said.
Commissioner Shawn Tasset agreed: "I think it needs to come down. We're also trying to market to other entities to be in the health campus and I don't think (the old build is) conducive to that goal."
Members of the Compass professional staff attended a work session, Monday, to get clarity on where the group will proceed with construction now that it has gone along with the county's vision.
Compass needs to have design work done on the new facility within the next few months in order to meet the deadlines attached to a $400,000 government grant being used for the building.
As the county wishes to have a unified look and style at the campus, Compass wants details from the county so it can adjust accordingly.
"We're willing to be the pace setters, to set it up and do what we're going to do," Compass Director Ric Dalke said, but the non-profit mental health provider didn't want to "step on any toes."
"We're pretty wide open at this point. We know you're one of the two anchor tenants," County Chairman Chris Boys said. Ultimately he would like the campus to be lit and landscaped in a theme that is being pitched by the developer Building Solutions for the entire stretch of East Wyatt Earp Boulevard, including potentially new development of Lewis Ford.
"You guys have been the ones who came forward and said you would do this," Tasset said. "You helped us float the idea. You made that commitment, I think (you) should be able to" determine how they would like the facility to look.
Gillum was selected by the Commission to speak for the board in coordinating meetings between Compass and the county.
Demolition of the rock and brick structure could start in the next few months, County Administrator Ed Elam said, and the new county health department could open in as few as 120 days. Once functional, the converted old jail will get a facade to match the style of the rest of the potential health campus.
The county has also been getting positive response by outside investors interested in building, Boys said, and earlier interest by a pharmacy and a cancer treatment center continue to hold.