Sarpy County is in the early stages of negotiating with Nebraska Medicine-Bellevue to build a mental health treatment facility on the hospital’s campus at the southwest corner of 25th Street and Highway 370.

Sarpy County Commissioner Jim Warren formally revealed the negotiations, which previously had only been mentioned as a possibility, at the June 11 County Board meeting.

He said nothing has yet been finalized and many details need to be clarified, including such matters as architectural plans, operations and staffing.

The decision to seek a partnership with Nebraska Medicine-Bellevue came after the Bellevue City Council voted publicly to oppose building the facility just south of the southeast corner of the intersection of Highway 370 and 25th Street.

County commissioners had tentatively entered into a contract to buy 6.8 acres at the site with a view to building a stand-alone mental health crisis center that would have easy access to Nebraska Medicine-Bellevue, which sits across the road.

But Bellevue’s determination to reserve that corner for a commercial, taxpaying organization rather than a government, tax-exempt institution put an end to those plans.

The $1 million that would have purchased the land will now be applied to the cost of building the crisis center.

Warren said that is probably a better use of the funds for taxpayers.

He said a partnership with Nebraska Medicine-Bellevue is probably the best answer to the problem of mentally ill individuals being booked into the county jail or deposited in hospital emergency rooms.

It is important, he said, that the facility be based in Bellevue because about half the county’s mental health incidents originate in the city.

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