Naperville goals: Decrease mental health calls, fill business vacancies

  • The vacant former Dominick's store at Wheatland Marketplace, at the southeast corner of 95th Street and Route 59 in Naperville, is one space the city aims to fill as part of its new performance management goals.

      The vacant former Dominick's store at Wheatland Marketplace, at the southeast corner of 95th Street and Route 59 in Naperville, is one space the city aims to fill as part of its new performance management goals. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Filling vacant storefronts, such as these at Wheatland Marketplace at 95th Street and Route 59, is among seven performance management goals Naperville will begin to track progress toward when it launches an online open data portal.

      Filling vacant storefronts, such as these at Wheatland Marketplace at 95th Street and Route 59, is among seven performance management goals Naperville will begin to track progress toward when it launches an online open data portal. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Riverbrook Plaza at Ogden Avenue, North Aurora Road and Raymond Drive in Naperville is one site with retail vacancies the city aims to fill to meet one of its seven new performance management goals.

      Riverbrook Plaza at Ogden Avenue, North Aurora Road and Raymond Drive in Naperville is one site with retail vacancies the city aims to fill to meet one of its seven new performance management goals. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • While Albertsons, the parent company of Jewel-Osco, holds a lease on this and another former Dominick's store in Naperville, the stores remain empty. The city is aiming to decrease vacancies as part of its new performance management goals.

      While Albertsons, the parent company of Jewel-Osco, holds a lease on this and another former Dominick's store in Naperville, the stores remain empty. The city is aiming to decrease vacancies as part of its new performance management goals. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted1/23/2017 5:30 AM

As part of Naperville's push to release more data for public information and analysis, the city has set a series of goals:

• Fill vacant storefronts and office spaces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Reduce repeat 911 calls for help during mental health crises.

• Decrease city debt and build reserves.

• Improve customer convenience with online government features.

Starting at the end of March, on an open data portal on its website that is being set up with guidance from the What Works Cities initiative, Naperville plans to release progress toward what officials call performance management goals.

The goals include things the city already has been working toward and new initiatives just beginning, Deputy City Manager Marcie Schatz said.

Improving e-government functions, filling retail and commercial vacancies and achieving financial stability have been priorities for a few years, but the increased focus on mental health is new.

"We're trying to reduce the times we go out for mental health issues," said Amy Scheller, fire department bureau chief of support services. "We're looking at mental health from a totally different perspective and wrapping our arms around the community."

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New mental focus

The fire and police departments have similar statistics for the number of mental health calls they've responded to recently, with police numbers being slightly higher. Scheller said the fire department is called only when an individual is in "true crisis" and needs to be taken to a hospital for mental evaluation.

That happened 604 times in 2016, down from a high of 623 in 2015. In 2014, the fire department responded to 532 mental health calls, and in both 2013 and 2012, the number was about 460 each year. While the fire department keeps a list of "super users" who call repeatedly for mental crises, the police department doesn't yet track that "as precisely," Cmdr. Tom Kammerer said.

But repeat caller tracking is starting this year as part of one of the goals to reduce calls from the same people needing help because of mental illness. The police department aims to train 20 percent of its officers -- or 34 people -- through the Crisis Intervention Team program by 2019. With 15 trained, the department needs to put 19 more officers through the class.

The training, a 40-hour course known as the gold standard for police response to mental health calls, costs between $500 and $750 per attendee. Kammerer said the city partnered with Aurora to host a Crisis Intervention Team program, decreasing the cost and increasing the slots available for the two cities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Once more officers are trained, Kammerer said a second goal is to provide follow-up care to 75 percent of identified mental health callers within 30 days of their call. Follow-up could include connecting the individual with a police social worker or providing addresses, phone numbers and web links to support groups, treatment facilities or psychiatrists.

Filling business spots

Retail shopping centers across Naperville hover between 90 percent and 98 percent occupied -- except in a few cases where one big, empty anchor store brings the average down dramatically.

Christine Jeffries, president of the Naperville Development Partnership, says occupancy at four shopping areas is closer to 50 percent. At these locations -- Riverbrook Plaza at Raymond Drive, Aurora Avenue and North Aurora Road; Wheatland Marketplace at Route 59 and 95th Street; Iroquois Center at Ogden and Iroquois avenues; and Ogden Mall at Ogden Avenue and Naperville/Wheaton Road -- the city aims to increase total occupancy by 10 percent during the next three years.

Large former Dominick's stores at two of the sites and a former Kmart at a third are causing the lack of activity, and Jeffries said the city is working with landlords to find new tenants. In the case of the Dominick's stores, the leases are held by Albertsons, the parent company of Jewel-Osco. So Naperville joined with 10 other communities late last year to call for the company to do more to fill the spaces with businesses.

The city also plans to work on vacancies by promoting entrepreneurship through the NaperLaunch business center at the Naperville Public Library and incubators in the works at Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204.

Finances and more

To reach other goals, the city plans to release more data online, such as a fire incident map; add new online government features, such as bill payments, building permits and service requests; and continue efforts to reduce debt and increase reserves.

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