Listening Sessions Set Regarding Visalia Wellness & Recovery Center

With the escrow closing on property at 1223 S. Lovers Lane, Tulare County now owns the building. Located at the corner of Tulare Ave., the intent is for the property to fill a need within the county’s Health and Human Services Agency’s (HHSA) Mental Health branch, as a Wellness and Recovery Center.

According to a recent HHSA press release, the facility follows mandates of the Mental Health Services Act, passed by voters in 2004, which requires wellness and recovery programs and provides funding for services and resources to promote wellness, recovery, and resiliency for adults, youth, children, and their family members based on five essential principles:

  • Consumer and Family Driven Services
  • Focus on Wellness, Recovery, and Resiliency
  • Community Collaboration
  • Cultural Competency
  • Integrated Service Experience

The county could offer support groups, educational classes and vocational training at the new facility. Clients could and will be advised to utilize budgeting workshops, cooking classes, arts and crafts for self-expression, library and computer stations for the promotion of education and employment, employment support services for job search, job readiness and retention, social and recreational engagement opportunities, and peer-to-peer and family groups to promote wellness, recovery, and resiliency skills.

Neighborhood concerns continue to surround the center, mostly in reference to the potential individuals who may utilize the center – be it those formerly convicted of a crime, or former drug users, or addicts. The property is located close to Pinkham Elementary School on E. Tulare Ave., as well as many private homeowners.

However, the county proposes the center “will operate from 10am – 7pm, to align with public transit schedules. Security officer(s), security cameras, and appropriate lighting will be placed at the exterior of the building to ensure compliance with the no loitering and no smoking outside designated smoking area signs.

Seven foot fencing will be added around the vacant lot just south of the building wherein a garden and outdoor space will be placed, as well as landscaping to beautify the area surrounding the building,” according to Tammie Weyker, HHSA public information officer.

It also should be noted that the center “will not be a treatment clinic, a methadone clinic, medication service provider, or a residential program. It will not serve individuals who are not yet within their wellness and recovery journey, or those just entering into or not yet engaged in mental health treatment.

It will not serve sex offenders or parolees. Nor will it offer mental health assessment or outpatient therapeutic treatment; such as diagnosis, therapy, and medication services.

It will serve individuals who are within or advanced in their wellness and recovery journey and will be an alcohol and drug-free environment.”

According to the county’s HHSA website, “mental health clinics provide services that help individuals with mental illness manage their symptoms and avoid crises. Our goal is to help you avoid hospitalization and help you live and thrive within your community. To do so we use a ‘whatever it takes’ approach to support the wellness and recovery process.”

The county received a Mental Health Services Act grant, covering the $1.2 million expense for the purchase of the property, for which escrow closed in January.

The county is going through the process of determining just how the facility will be utilized as well as addressing possible concerns of neighbors in the area, said Supervisor Board Chair Pete Vander Poel.

Assessing the county’s needs is being done over the upcoming weeks and months, he added.

“These were use it or lose it funds from the State of California,” he said.

The county chose to use it. Some neighbors to the new facility remain concerned.

“We understand their concerns and want to help them understand the intent on the part of the county and what the facility could be,” Vander Poel said.

To that end, the county is conducting two community listening sessions. Meetings will be held at 210 Café located at 210 W. Center St. in Visalia from 7-8:30pm on Tuesday, February 21 and Wednesday, February 22. Any concerned citizens are welcome to attend.

9 thoughts on “Listening Sessions Set Regarding Visalia Wellness & Recovery Center

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  1. Were told our community will be safe, were told there will be no loitering in our neighborhood. How will this be enforcing? The facility that poses no threat to our community will have security officers, security cameras, and appropriate lighting along with seven foot fencing! They are protecting themselves, what about us and the children of Pinkham Elementary school.

  2. These people are our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, and so on and so on. I know of no family who has not been touched in some way by mental illness, substance abuse, etc. When folks say clean up I worked at Tulare View Mental Health Hospital when it was located at Tulare District Hospital. Wonderful facility and was an asset in regards to hospital revenue and provided a much needed public service to the community….that is until some property owners complained about “security” issues (they apparently did not like seeing or knowing that mental health patients were housed close by their homes and were concerned about their personal safety, I guess). That seems to be happening again …..too bad. Your friends and relatives who need these services deserve and need your support. Open the much needed facility.

    • Sorry about the dropped thought “When folks say clean up”. I started out saying something else but missed deleting my words when I clearly went into another thought.

  3. There’s no questioning that a mental health facility would be beneficial to the public. No one has said anyone in need of mental health care is a bad person or doesn’t deserve treatment. We are questioning the location of this facility! Let’s be honest, if the facility has security officers onsite, special lighting and a seven foot fence, then it should be obvious there is the possibility for violence. What we are saying is it was a hastily made decision to purchase this property with no regard for the community or the children of Pinkham Elementary school. They needed to spend the money or lose it. And no pre-planning was done.

    • There is violence on our community streets and street corners every day. There has been violence on our local school grounds, public parks, hospital grounds, courthouse grounds, city hall meetings…. and yet society continues to exist and hope for the best and plan for the worst. Garden Elementary School and its grounds in Tulare was just adjacent South-West to Tulare View, an Acute Care Mental Health Facility. There was no fencing around that school as I recall. Perhaps the Valley Voice could take the time to find out if Garden was ever put into real (not imagined) jeopardy from the patients housed in Tulare View. Hastily made decision works both ways folks. Let’s be honest, there are security officers onsite all around most facilities in our towns. And lets remember that our schools are all fenced in as well.

  4. But WHY add the potential for more violence! Let’s not just say bad thing happen every day and there is nothing we can do about it. We can and should fight to minimize any potential dangers. We do need this facility, I agree. I’m certain a better suited location could be found.

    • I hear what you are saying. That said…..if I understand this article correctly escrow has closed and the County has purchased the land. I hope they stand by their word of making this facility failsafe to alieve the community’s concerns. That will more than likely be what the neighborhood will be fighting for….. a failsafe buttoned down facility where clients are rarely or never seen or heard. Good luck in your pursuits. Perhaps a neighborhood facility watch group should be formed if the facility is built. That would be a win-win for everyone….helps the facility maintain proper oversight on its grounds and clients comings and goings and empowers the neighborhood to insure that proper oversight is being met.

  5. Well, the “listening” sessions have occurred, so now the board can do what they will, ignoring anything that was said. Their paychecks will just keep rolling in for nothing.

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