LAPEL — Lapel Town Council voted unanimously to rezone 40 acres at County Road 650 West and State Road 13, paving the way for an organization to develop a treatment and research facility in Lapel for people with disabilities.
During the Thursday, Aug. 17, meeting, Joe Shetterley, the founder of The Giving Hope Foundation, and other board members sought the rezoning from agricultural to general industrial to build the Giving Family Hope Center. The facility would serve as a wellness center for children and adults with disabilities, including autism and cerebral palsy.
Partnering with Ball State University, the center would include services such as recreational activities, respite care and therapeutic services, sensory awareness and family support programs, Shetterly said.
He said this center will be the first of its kind in the world.
“This is going to change the way we look at autism and the non-verbal world,” he told council members and other residents. “We will be using technology and the environment instead of a doctor prescribing a pill every time.”
Shetterly previously said he is working with the Ball State University Architecture Department and St. Vincent Hospital on the design of a 125,000-square-foot facility. The $20 million facility could serve up to 500 people, with Shetterley hoping to begin the two-year construction project in 2018.
Giving Hope’s chief director for consumer services, Darren Green, said the idea is for a new kind of treatment of the consumer, which will be accompanied by research conducted by Ball State.
“We don’t want it to be a day program,” Green said. “We want it to be a place where every single thing is therapeutic in nature. You can maneuver throughout the entire campus setting, not just within four walls.”
Plans are for the 24-hour facility to have an aquatics center and offer pet therapy, for instance.
There were very few questions posed to the group regarding local impact or funding.
Proponents did tell concerned citizens that the center will accept both Medicaid and private insurance.
Green said funding for the proposed center, expected to cost about $20 million, would come from a variety of sources, including corporate and private donors.
“Cummins is responsible for donating $15 million a year to diversity funds,” Green said of the Columbus, Indiana-based manufacturer. “Through our affiliation, we would be eligible for some of that funding. Doing fundraisers with Eli Lilly, Anthem, Roche and some of the big corporations, those are other revenue streams we are looking into. We will also do camps throughout the year, not just during the summertime, which may not be convenient for all families.”
In other council business:
• The council unanimously approved an increase in trash removal charges from $12.25 to $12.75 per month based on the contracted rate with trash service provider CGS. President Michael Cates also said the town would be looking for a new provider when the current contract expires in June 2018.
• The council voted 3-1 in favor of pay increases for Deputy Clerk-Treasurer Paula Lee and utility workers Holly Kelly and Cameron Clausen. Lee will see an increase of $2 per hour to $21.15, while Kelly and Clausen will each receive an additional $1 per hour, Kelly to $13.50 and Clausen to $18.80.
“I would like to recognize the outstanding job done by (Lee, Kelly and Clausen),” Cates said. “I’ve seen (Lee) in there lots of times working on a Saturday, sometimes not even charging us.”