The federal government wants to build a 12-acre multimillion-dollar clinic that would serve California's Native American population on D-QU land along County Road 31, seven miles west of Davis. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

Crime, Fire + Courts

Feds want D-QU land for rehab center

By March 8, 2011

The federal government wants to build a $17 million drug treatment facility west of Davis, one aimed at getting Native American teenagers clean.

The Indian Health Service, a federal agency, is negotiating with D-Q University to buy 12 acres of the tribal college’s 642-acre land grant. The desired land sits 7 miles west of Davis at the intersection of County Road 31 and the western boundary of D-QU land.

A division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the service wants to finish negotiatons with the university in four to six weeks, said Margo Kerrigan, director of the service’s California area. If the land deal goes through, design and construction would take 18 months to two years, with the center opening its doors in mid-2014,  added Steven Zerebecki, public affairs adviser.

The rehab center would serve Native Americans ages 12 to 17 with 32 beds and five family suites. Moreover, the facility would feature a garden, a sports field and an outdoor area for spiritual ceremonies. Federal law demands the construction of two drug treatment facilities in California, the state with the largest Native American population, Kerrigan said.

The project would cost $17.6 million to plan and finish. Once built, the facility would sport 70 full-time federal employees and an estimated $4.5 million budget.

“The big unknown here is the federal budget situation,” Zerebecki said. The center’s workforce would include a board-certified psychiatrist, 10 registered nurses, and 10 psychologists, therapists and counselors.

Kerrigan and her staff briefed the Yolo County Board of Supervisors on the rehab center at their March 1 meeting. She pitched the project as an environmentally friendly way to help an underserved population, offer jobs to locals and drive the local economy as employees pump their salaries back into the area. She balked at the idea that the center’s would-be patients — teenage addicts — would jeopardize public safety.

These drug treatment centers “are not detention centers. They have been misinterpreted,” Kerrigan told the Board of Supervisors. “These are voluntary treatment facilities where the kids decide they want to go to treatment. It’s not one where they’re sent to treatment. They go to treatment because they want to.”

“Our facility will be responsible to the neighborhood,” echoed Gary Ball, staff architect and project lead for the proposed center.

The service used The Healing Lodge of Seven Nations in Spokane, Wash., as an example of what they’re shooting for in California.

Kerrigan also offered the supervisors an olive branch, despite having the power to steamroll them. Board Chairman Matt Rexroad said the federal government doesn’t have to consult with local government, even if their project doesn’t jibe with the local government’s land-use policies.

“I think the federal government can zone whatever it wants,” Rexroad said.

“That’s true,” Kerrigan said. But “we don’t want to disrupt the zoning in any area. We want to be able to blend in and fit into what the zoning requirements are of the local governments.

“I realize we don’t have to do that,” she added. “We are doing it anyway.”

Supervisors seemed amenable to backing the project, but had not formally done so as of Tuesday, said county staffer Christopher Lee, county-tribe coordinator.

The D-QU site is the service’s top priority after it scoured California for a good site for 15 years. The service has investigated 80 properties in 17 counties, and the 12 acres at D-QU, Kerrigan said, are the most promising.

“We’ve come farther with this property … than anywhere else,” she added.

The service runs 12 area offices in 37 states across the country. National law requires that the service build a treatment facility in each of its 12 geographic service areas, including two in California. The service is working on a similar facility in Southern California.


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