LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — A town hall meeting was held today in Lafayette for residents to hear the proposal to rezone Poydras Street from residential to commercial and put a specialized medical facility.

In the townhall meeting held at Holy Family School, many residents shared their concerns with the location of a short-term in-and-out-patient mental health hospital.

“Community that already has so much drugs and action going on. It’s finally trying to calm down, and the location is probably because it’s cheap. But to put it in a place that’s accessible outside of a residential area that has been historically known to have a high crime rate,” said one woman.

There were questions about what would happen if a patient escaped and what would the security and the appearance of the building look like. Crystal Mitchell, the chief operation officer of the project, reminded the community of the need to have access to mental health facilities.

“Louisiana right now sits 11th worst in the nation for access to adolescent mental health services.
Patients are walking around. People are walking around every day, and they don’t have access to the care that they need,” said Mitchell.

Councilman Patrick Lewis says the former J. Wallace James Elementary School campus was owned by the sheriff’s office in the past but has been empty for a couple of years. Residents say there are other resources the community needs.

“Help our children, yeah, we can help mental health. That’s perfect, but we have other issues like getting the guns off the streets and maybe having a facility for kids to have a place to go,” said another woman.

Some mention building the facility would decrease the property value in the area.

“If you put that facility right there, it’s not going to increase, its going to decrease it. I’m not against mental facilities; I’m just against where they put it,” said a concerned property owner.

There will be a council meeting next Tuesday where the mental health facility will be on the agenda. Councilman Lewis encourages residents to show up and voice if they are for or against it.

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