Johnson County supervisors pleased with $1 sale of former public health building


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Johnson County officials and local do-gooders agree that the sale of the former public-health building to four nonprofit agencies is in the best interest of local residents.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Thursday for area citizens to discuss disposing of the leasehold interest of the former public-health building, 1105 Gilbert Court, to the Johnson County Crisis Center.

At the price of $1, the nonprofit organizations are paying 14 one-thousandths of a cent for every square foot of the 7,000-square-foot facility. The supervisors approved the sale unanimously on Aug. 30.

Along with the public hearing, the supervisors passed a new adaptation to the agreement that prevents the four agencies from renting out the building to for-profit agencies.  

This resolution ultimately protects the people of Johnson County, Supervisor Janelle Rettig said.

During the hearing, Becci Reedus, the director of the Crisis Center, expressed excitement about the move on behalf of the nonprofit agencies — the Crisis Center, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Free Lunch, and the Domestic Violence Intervention Program.

With the programs housed in the same building, the various nonprofits hope to work together and increase efforts in the county.

“We are excited to be able to do this in this building,” Reedus said.  “We hope to set an example for the rest of the community in terms of what we can do when we work together … so I’m for it.”

While no one aside from the agencies stepped forward, the project faced adversity.

“Those who have been against it — they’re some out there — I’ve heard from them,” Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said. “They’ve come to my listening posts.”

Not only have citizens stepped expressed concerns, Rettig said she doesn’t normally feel comfortable giving away county property, but this project is an exception to the case.

“Normally, I’m really opposed to giving land away,” she said. “It just never seems to work out for the government. But in this case, the public good is so strong.”

While the supervisors have faced some public backlash, they remain enthusiastic about the endeavor, dubbed Project 1105, that began last April.

“We’re all pretty overjoyous at the potential of what this could provide,” Neuzil said.

The four nonprofit agencies will move to their new home next spring after the building is renovated.

The supervisors say they believe in the progress the agencies have made and the progress they have yet to make.

“I remember when the Crisis Center was a telephone answering service,” Supervisor Pat Harney said.

While the Crisis Center and other agencies have come leaps and bounds in the supervisors’ view, the nonprofits believe they still have more obstacles ahead of them.

“This is a big step,” Reedus said. “But we have a couple of big steps waiting.”

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