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Last week, the Polk Board of Commissioners took a step toward handing off control of the buildings that house the county’s two adult day care centers — currently closed — to local mental health agencies.

Commissioners unofficially agreed to cede the two adult day care centers in Haines City and Lakeland to the Peace River Center and Tri-County Human Services, respectively, but left the details of the agreements for staff to handle.

Earlier, the county had closed the two centers at the onset of the pandemic, but the facilities were suffering from lagging attendance even before the March lockdown, according to earlier reports.

Peace River Center will take over the facility at 751 Scenic Highway, in Haines City, and Tri-County will inhabit the facility at 1200 Southern Avenue in Lakeland. Both agencies made their pitch for the now-vacant facilities at the BoCC's agenda review session last Friday.

The two centers will be retrofitted to handle both residential and outpatient clients and focus on providing mental health care and substance abuse treatment.

Both deals are dependent on the results of community information meetings, which will gauge whether the change in facility use would be acceptable to nearby residents and property owners.

No dollar figures were attached to the tentative deals struck last week, but the county already supports both agencies with funding on a continuing basis. Both provide countywide mental health and disabled services to Polk residents.

No timetable for the community meetings or finalization of the agreements was discussed at the informal board session.

And on Nov. 3, the county governing board listened to nearly two hours of pleas from Kathleen area property owners to overturn the Planning Commission's approval of a residential development on about 80 acres of former dairy land.

The Walker Road property is being proposed for development from its pastureland designation to one that will accommodate some 170 homes, said Bart Allen, the developer's attorney.

Despite the repeated pleas, the commission agreed by a four-to-one vote to approve the development. Commissioner Martha Santiago cast the lone dissenting vote.