Plans for a facility where police can bring people who are intoxicated, instead of placing them in jail, moved a step closer to fruition Monday when the Roseburg City Council agreed to spend $50,000 toward its startup costs.

The Sobering Center is slated to open this fall in a former warehouse located at 3005 NE Diamond Lake Blvd., about 3 miles east of downtown Roseburg. The property was purchased by Adapt, which runs two other programs nearby.

Adapt will also run the Sobering Center, which is being funded by a variety of sources in addition to the city. Plans call for the 2,400-square-foot center to open with six beds, each in an individual room, and eventually expand to 12 beds. There will also be laundry facilities on site.

The program is modeled after one in Grants Pass, which Roseburg officials said has proven successful.

Adapt CEO Greg Brigham told the city council that plans for the Sobering Center have been in the works for more than a year. The center is intended to ease crowding at the jail and get people with alcohol and substance abuse problems — especially those who are picked up by police repeatedly for public intoxication — services such as counseling, Brigham said.

The center is also intended to provide a safe place to sober up, help first-time offenders avoid a criminal record and offer peer counseling and referrals for treatment.

“To me, this is the first major city commitment to doing something about public intoxication that we’ve done,” City Councilor Brian Prawitz said. “It’s getting pretty close and I hope we can help get it over the hump and get it going.”

The center will be staffed by at least one person on site during all hours of operation. Those brought to the center will be screened for safety and appropriateness for services. The typical stay is expected to be between 4 to 8 hours, according to material provided to the city council by Adapt.

The center won’t come cheaply.

Brigham said Adapt paid $750,000 to buy the property and will need another $500,000 to $600,000 to retrofit it for the Sobering Center. The initial cost to run the center will be about $350,000 per year, Brigham said, money the agency is still trying to secure.

The center recently was awarded a $250,000 grant from the state, and also has financial commitments from Roseburg, Sutherlin, Myrtle Creek and Winston, Brigham said. Additionally, Umpqua Health Alliance has agreed to provide $100,000 toward the first year of operating costs, and the Cow Creek tribe has expressed an interest in donating, he said.

Whatever money is raised will go directly toward the center, Brigham said.

“There will be no surplus money going to the agency,” he said. “Everything will go toward the center.”

In a letter to the city council, Brigham said the progress of the center was delayed by COVID-19.

“As we came out of winter, we expected to hit the ground running this spring and have the center open for business this summer,” Brigham wrote. “Unfortunately, COVID-19 brought the project to a standstill as we waited to see the impact for our community and agency. Now that we are past the peak of the pandemic, we have restarted the project in earnest, with a plan to go operational by late fall.”

City Councilor Andrea Zielinski said she supports the center and is pleased to see the council doing “something concrete” to help those in need.

“I feel like this is an action item, that we’re taking action,” Zielinski said. “It’s finally something concrete that we’re doing to try to make a difference.”

Zielinski also said she hoped the center will help people who are repeatedly arrested for intoxication get the services they need.

“We’re dealing with same people over and over but we’re not doing anything to help them,” she said.

City Councilor Ashley Hicks cast the lone dissenting vote against the proposal. Hicks said it is not the role of the city council to help businesses like Adapt buy a building or get their businesses started.

Hicks also questioned whether Adapt had the resources needed to get the Sobering Center started and keep it going.

“You have a vision and you have a plan and you’ve secured a building, but you don’t have the money to pay for it or to start the programs,” Hicks said. “I support your vision and your idea, but not for us paying for it.”

IN OTHER ACTION

The city council on Monday also:

  • Adopted a budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year which calls for $76.6 million in appropriations, up slightly from the appropriation of $73.9 million for 2019-20. The budget calls for a city property tax rate of $8.4774 per $1, 000 in assessed value, which is unchanged from the current millage rate. The fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2021.
  • Extended the Declaration of Emergency to July 6. The initial Declaration of Emergency was adopted on March 23 and set to expire on May 12, but the city council extended it to June 9. Oregon recently extended its State of Emergency to July 6.
  • Recommended that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission approve an off-premises liquor license for Denny’s, located at 350 W Harvard Ave., in Roseburg. The license would allow customers to purchase beer, wine and cider in containers to go. Denny’s already has a full on-premises liquor license.

Applied for a $150,000 Community Development Block Grant to help small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Announced plans to hold three special city council meetings to discuss ways to address the area’s homeless population. The first meeting is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday at the Roseburg Public Safety Center, 700 SE Douglas Ave.

  • Went into a closed door session to discuss labor negotiations and the semi-annual review of City Manager Nikki Messenger.
  • Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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