PAOLA – Residents of Paola who live near the former Ursuline Sisters campus learned more details about a planned detox center in the area during a briefing on Monday, August 23.
About 20 local residents attended the meeting, which took place inside the city-owned Paola Community Center on the former Ursuline Sisters campus.
City officials including Paola City Manager Sid Fleming attended the meeting, but it was chaired by Robert Olivarez of Arista Recovery LLC.
Olivarez, who lives in Texas but spends several days every two weeks in Paola to work on the project, represented the largest GMF Capital ownership group. This group bought the entire 36-acre Ursulines campus in the spring for $ 6.5 million and recently announced plans to turn the parent house into a drug rehab center.
Olivarez said the total investment is closer to $ 10 million due to all the renovations going on at the parent company and throughout the park.
âOur ownership group is 100% committed to not only refurbishing it, but making it the crown jewel of all of our centers,â Olivarez said.
Olivarez said he has personally opened or transformed more than 50 treatment centers, but admitted it will be the first with the recently rebranded Arista group. Soon, however, he said, will be facilities in South Carolina and Virginia.
Olivarez was friendly and cordial throughout the meeting answering questions from neighbors, but he also said he realized the plan was an unwanted change for many residents who enjoyed the beauty of the grounds and the l ‘used to walk around and have fun. for their children.
âI know most of you don’t want me here now, but my goal is to prove you wrong,â Olivarez said. âMy goal is to make Paola a place of healing.
When asked why it took him so long to announce plans for the rehabilitation center and contact the neighbors, Olivarez said he and his team were caught up in all the planning from the start, and that he probably wouldn’t have been able to answer. questions as well as he could now. Still, he admitted it was wrong in judgment to wait so long, and he assured neighbors he wanted to be as transparent as possible.
âWe have absolutely nothing to hide and our intentions are 100% pure in your community,â Olivarez said.
Safety was a concern that was raised by several residents. Olivarez said the facility would not accept any clients with a criminal record related to sexual offenses or aggravated assault. He also mentioned the plan to close the main facility at the parent company and install 55 cameras with facial recognition software.
Oivarez said clients will not stay there against their will, but every effort will be made to encourage them to stay for treatment. If they were to leave, Olivarez said the Paola Police Department would be contacted to conduct a welfare check.
âWe’re going to do everything we can to contain this,â Olivarez said.
Some residents asked what type of treatment would take place at the facility.
Olivarez said the facility will focus on medical detox and residential treatment. Detoxification typically lasts 3 to 7 days, followed by 18 to 21 days of residential treatment. After that, Olivarez said they generally switch to outpatient services, which will take place at a new facility in Overland Park.
Olivarez said the company will be for profit and it is not a 501-c3. The facility accepts insurance and cash, but not Medicare or Medicaid. Olivarez said he would target blue collar workers who are neither poor nor rich, an often overlooked audience when it comes to drug treatment. Olivarez said there was a need for facilities like Paola’s.
âThis is one of the things that our processing industry is sorely lacking,â Olivarez said.
The plan, Olivarez said, is to have a smooth opening in November followed by a grand opening in December or January. At full capacity, the facility could provide 130 jobs and handle 80 customers. Due to the staff, however, Olivarez said he would likely be closer to 60 clients at a time.
Olivarez said there is a lot of work going on in the parent company to prepare it for the opening, including removing the carpet, redesigning the rotting steps, redesigning the plaster and ceiling, and closing the rotunda, because it is a safety issue for residents.
Olivarez said the front of the parent house must also be raised 6 inches to prevent water from spilling into the building.
Nearby, Monica Hall needs even more work, including a new roof and kitchen upgrades, but Olivarez said the focus is currently on the parent company. Monica Hall could be used to expand services in the future, he said.
âWe want to use it, but it’s not fit to use,â Olivarez said.
Regarding the grounds, Olivarez said the top priorities include the development of an area for the fence and a possible new parking lot for the Paola community center.
âWe are ready to work with the community and the city on anything,â he said.
Religious statues on the property, including those in the cave, have been removed.
Olivarez said St. James’s Academy in Lenexa will receive most of the religious statues for a walk of saints leading to a cave, and a new church being built by St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Olathe next summer will receive the altar, stained glass windows and other religious objects in the Ursuline Chapel.
Olivarez has said he hated to see the stained glass windows disappear, but he knows they will be safer in their new home.
“I’m afraid of what I would do if a client, in a fit of rage, crossed a basketball through that window,” he said.
The three-story brick building of the Ursuline motherhouse has been largely unused since 2008, when dwindling numbers and the need for infirmary care prompted the remaining aging nuns to upgrade their Ursuline campus to 36.5 acres in the market and to merge with another Ursuline community in Maple Mount, Ky.
This is not the first time that a group has considered using the old Ursuline campus for a new purpose.
In 2018, philanthropist Darol Rodrock of the Darol Rodrock Foundation announced plans to purchase the property and turn it into a home for foster children who have aged outside the system. These plans failed the following year.
In 2019, the property was purchased by Clareview LLC with reported plans to operate an assisted living facility, but that vision also failed to materialize.
Olivarez said he thinks the property is a perfect fit for what they want to do, and after spending quite a bit of time there, he can see why it is so special to the community.
âYou are really lucky to have this in your community,â he said.