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Plan to open new mental health facility near BR neighborhood reportedly halted amid pushback

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BATON ROUGE - Officials say plans for a new mental health facility nestled alongside a Baton Rouge neighborhood have dissipated after the proposal was met with criticism from neighbors.

The facility, which has already faced significant community pushback, was set to be located at 7414 Sumrall Drive, right next door to Forest Heights Academy of Excellence, an elementary school, and across the street from Glen Oaks High School.

Frank Brown lives in the area. He's frustrated that plans for the facility to be established in Glen Oaks were created in the first place.

"Any time you want to do anything, just go to north of Florida Street, and it's fine. And it seems like nobody have an opposition to these things that happen in our community," Brown told WBRZ.

The Glen Oaks Area Neighborhood Association was expected to discuss the proposal at its monthly meeting Thursday, and public officials planned a separate meeting Saturday to hear public feedback. Both discussions are currently expected to go on as planned pending official word on the matter.

The company that would operate the facility released the following statement Thursday night about their decision to throw out the proposal:

We have continued to listen to the community and other stakeholders. As such, we convened a meeting with area elected officials before concluding that this decision may be in the best interest of everyone affected. Our priority is the safety and well-being of our patients, staff, and neighbors.

"No decisions have been made regarding next steps. As more information becomes available, we will be able to provide updates.

The new facility would provide up to 118 inpatient beds for the "severely/persistently mentally ill adult population in the state of Louisiana," according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Read the LDH's description of the proposed facility below:

The purpose of this RFI is to enter into one or more in-kind Cooperative Endeavor Agreements for services from qualified Private Sector Providers who are interested in providing a highly secure, licensed, Joint Commission Accredited, and CMS Certified Intermediate Psychiatric Hospital with 50-118 licensed inpatient hospital beds for the Severely/Persistently Mentally Ill adult population in the State of Louisiana. The population served are those who are forensically involved with aggressive/dangerous behaviors, and who have been civilly committed subsequent to being found un-restorably incompetent to proceed to trial.

Thursday, EBR Metro Councilman Darryl Hurst condemned the plan, saying of the mental facility's proposed location, "This is not the place for this."

The public meeting is currently scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Forest Heights Academy of Excellence.

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