Government

Johnson County looks anew for access center

Negotiations over site ended after comments in article

The Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting room is shown in the Jean Oxley Public Service Center on Friday, July 8, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
The Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting room is shown in the Jean Oxley Public Service Center on Friday, July 8, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is going back to the drawing board to pick the location of its future crisis intervention access center after the first site choice got too expensive.

Multiple supervisors said the property they were first considering purchasing, being hashed out in closed executive session, got too expensive when the owner figured the property was the main one the board was looking at and refused to negotiate a lower price.

Comments made to The Gazette for an article last December led the owner to conclude that, supervisors said.

There is “obviously only so much I can say about anything that might’ve happened in a closed session,” said Supervisor Kurt Friese. “The deal didn’t work out in part because some information from a previous closed session has come to attention to some of the parties involved.”

In December, The Gazette reported that county officials and employees were hoping to home in on an area near existing social services in Iowa City. While no street, address or owners were mentioned in the article, that general description was enough to make owners of the property the county was interested in no longer willing to negotiate, said board Chairman Mike Carberry.

“That’s unfortunate that those negotiations didn’t work out but that happens,” Carberry said. “It’s just really important that information that’s basically done in closed session kind of stays there.”

The county’s access center would provide services like a low-barrier winter shelter as well as sobering, detoxification and crisis stabilization units, among other features.

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The board often discusses the purchase of buildings or land in closed session when the disclosure of details may affect the price.

“In general, negotiations for real estate just have to be completely tight-lipped,” said Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglass.

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said while attendance in closed session to discuss such real estate purchases varies, it may include the supervisors, Jessica Peckover, jail alternative coordinator, Lance Clemsen with the University of Iowa, Tom Kriz, county treasurer and a secretary.

“All I think I can really say is we don’t have a site yet,” Sullivan said.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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