Parents protest mental health hospital planned near school - Fox 2 News Headlines

Parents protest mental health hospital planned near school

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GILBERT, Ariz. -

Some parents are upset about the opening of a mental health hospital in Gilbert. They say it's being built too close to an elementary school, and could put the students at risk.

Springstone Hospitals, a Kentucky-based company, wants to build a 72-bed facility at Greenfield and Baseline. It would treat people with behavioral health disorders and substance abuse problems.

With five schools within half a mile, parents believe it's only a matter of time before a patient could escape and potentially harm their child. They understand the need for this type of facility, but don't think this is the right place for it.  

"Put our shoes on," says dad Jeremiah Cliff. "If your children were going to this school I think you'd be doing the same thing we are."

"It's disturbing. I'm surprised it's even got to this point," says Leslie Hummel.

"It's the zoning, so they can build it there. But I'm kind of disappointed in our town leadership that they would allow this to happen without going through it and learning about all the potential problems," says Cliff.

Amy Peterson has police documents from Dublin, Ohio, where Springstone operates a different 72-bed hospital.

"This one has escaped, he's a paranoid schizophrenic who has homicidal and suicidal thoughts," she reads. "This one has escaped with suicidal thoughts and was holding a gun earlier in the day."

"I understand their challenges. Anywhere you try and put a mental health facility there's gonna be neighbors who are gonna try to turn down the idea, but with this particular location being so close to a school…" says Hummel.

Dan Beureline, a spokesman for Springstone Hospitals, said: "We have taken steps to design and update our site plan with their suggestions including a new 8 foot tall western boundary wall and landscaping to create additional privacy and screening for our property."

A school board meeting on the plan was held on Tuesday night. If approved, the facility would be open in 2014.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StopSaguaroSprings

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