A community center with a variety of public health resources may soon be coming to the DuPage County complex in Wheaton.
Representatives from the DuPage County Health Department presented plans last Tuesday for the 33,000-square-foot building during a Wheaton planning and zoning board meeting.
The board unanimously approved the plans, with a few minor modifications. The city council is scheduled to vote on the proposal July 7.
"We are very excited about the possibility of our community center being built," said Karen Ayala, health department executive director.
"This facility will allow the department to expand public health services to provide, and really embrace, integrated care opportunities, including wellness and recovery for the residents of DuPage County."
Jason Dwyer, a project executive from Wight & Co., said large windows will offer guests a view of a courtyard area in the center of the one-story building, which would be built just east of the existing public health center at 111 N. County Farm Road.
"We wanted to create something that did not have a traditional, institutional feel to it, something that maybe was a little more inviting, kind of a little more fun," he said.
The center, expected to cost about $11 million, will include office space for the health department and the DuPage County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, now located across the street on Manchester Road.
It also will feature a reception and lounge area and various meeting rooms that can be used by staff members or for health and wellness programming for the public.
David Hass, public information officer for the health department, said the agency will have enough money to pay for the building with reserves and the sale of two existing facilities in Lombard and Wheaton.
Programming from those locations will be integrated into the new building, Hass said. In addition, a portion of the building will be dedicated to a short-term stay respite area that will run 24 hours a day.
While the health department has a license that allows up to 12 beds in a crisis unit, there is only space for 10. The new building will provide room for a dozen clients to stay overnight.
Ayala said the average stay in the unit will likely last three or four days.
"Our crisis unit provides an alternative for individuals who may have a type of behavioral health kind of crisis but not require hospitalization," she said. "It provides them with a very safe and secure voluntary space in which they could stabilize and then return into a setting of least restrictiveness."
A kitchen and multipurpose room will provide the clients with opportunities for physical activity, job training, meal preparation and other ways to expand their ability to live independently, Ayala said.
If plans for the building are approved next month, a groundbreaking may take place this summer, Hass said. Construction is expected to take about a year.