Stillwater's city leaders are celebrating the arrival of a new mental health provider for Payne County. The City Council approved a Specific Use Permit on Monday for Grand Lake Mental Health Center. The SUP will allow the non-profit behavioral health center to operate an outpatient mental health and substance abuse clinic in a commercial shopping development.
The agency plans to continue offering services for children separately at the office located at 604 S. Walnut St. that it currently occupies.
The administrative headquarters for Grand Lake Mental Health Center is located in Nowata. The agency provides services in multiple counties.
Grand Lake Mental Health Center will occupy 24,000 square feet at 1624 and 1706 N. Cimarron Plaza, in a shopping complex located along Boomer Road that is owned by Stillwater Public Schools.
In other business, the Council approved a plan to replace a bridge that washed out on 26th Avenue with a new, longer bridge. Flooding in May washed away the soil surrounding the culvert pipes that allow water to flow under the roadway.
The councilors were given several options with costs ranging from $100,000 to just replace the dirt and repair the pavement to at least $1 million to replace the whole structure with a mult-span bridge.
The softening and erosion of the road base damaged the pavement and has forced the city to keep 26th Avenue closed since May. At one point city crews had to dump loads of sand on the road to keep cars from driving around barricades into an unsafe situation, Director of Engineering Monty Karns said.
The councilors stayed to the middle of the road when it came to spending. They took Karn's recommendation to extend the length of the bridge to allow for the eventual addition of a multi-use path along the road and replace the tin culverts with aluminized steel culverts that are less susceptible to corrosion at a cost of about $350,000. Karns said the option they chose extends the life of the bridge to an estimated 50-75 years, possibly as long as the $650,000 concrete box culvert design.
Karns said he doesn’t see the need to use reinforced concrete there, based on anticipated development and traffic patterns.
“There are a lot of places, I’d rather spend $200,000-$250,000,” he said.
Karns told the Council he thinks it will take about 5-6 months to get the bridge completed and the road open.
The Council approved a rezoning request for SC Retail Management, LLC, the owner of Slim Chickens, to reclassify an undeveloped piece of land it owns at the rear of the restaurant. The land, addressed as 1011 N. Boomer Road, will be rezoned for two-family and multi-family development.
Assistant City Manager Paula Dennison said no drawing have been submitted yet but the applicant has indicated it wants to build duplexes, probably as two-story structures to make the most of the .64 acre lot.
The Council also approved yet another SUP for a medical marijuana dispensary at 1124 E. 6th. Councilors Amy Dzialowski and John Wedlake were absent and the measure passed in a 2-1 vote with Vice-mayor Pat Darlington in opposition. It was the 18th such application approved in Stillwater, Darlington said.
She has recently begun joining Wedlake in voting against the medical marijuana facility permits when they come before the council. Darlington, who is a retired clinical psychologist, said she has been dismayed to hear some of the claims dispensary operators are making about the benefits of marijuana for mental health issues. In her own professional experience the opposite has been true, she said.
The remaining councilors vote in favor of the applications because the city doesn’t have any choice under state law and they don't want the city to get sued, Mayor Will Joyce said.
Both Darlington and Joyce expressed dissatisfaction with the state overriding local control on matters that would usually fall to the City Council to decide.
Finally, the Council appointed Austin Pollard to the City’s Audit Committee and Jamie Payne to the Stillwater Regional Airport Authority Board.