A proposed plan to renovate the Hastings Regional Center and demolish the vacant buildings on the 100-year-old campus is up for debate in the Nebraska Legislature.
The Hastings Juvenile Chemical Dependency Program, which operates on that campus, treats delinquent youth struggling with addictions.
Out of the 18 buildings on the campus, only five of them are currently being used.
The plan is to renovate the building that houses the youth, and consolidate all of the other services into one building.
Officials say the renovation – if approved – would have huge benefits for the program.
"First of all, it will reduce operating expenses by almost $2 million a year," Scot Adams, director of behavioral health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said. "Secondly, it will provide great focus to the Hastings Regional Center Juvenile Chemical Dependency Program as to its particular population and the person that it should serve, and that person is the person who has had difficulty in other community–based treatment services already."
Adams says the renovation would initially cost taxpayers a little over $8 million over the course of three years, but would save money in the long–run.
"At the end of three years, the operating costs will reduce by about $1.5 to $2 million per year," he said, "so in about four years time, this project will have paid for itself, and we will be saving taxpayers money going forward."
State Senator Les Seiler has also voiced his support for the project, saying that for many of the men in the program, this is their last chance at recovery, and those renovations are necessary for the program to continue being successful.
The finalized budget is expected to be presented at the capitol in the next month, and the unicameral will begin discussions at that time.