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Commissioners approve sobriety center recommendations

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 by Caleb Pritchard

Travis County Commissioners Court approved on Tuesday what County Judge Sarah Eckhardt described as an “agreement to work towards an agreement” with the city of Austin to establish a sobriety center that would take pressure off Travis County’s jail system. At their weekly voting session, the commissioners voted 4-0 to endorse a collection of recommendations offered by an interlocal working group that provides a baseline framework of where and how the center could be run (Commissioner Ron Davis was off the dais). As expected, the group is suggesting that a local government corporation be set up to operate the center at the current site of the Medical Examiner’s Office at 1213 Sabine St. The location, which will soon be vacated by the ME’s Office, has been the leading choice among advocates for the center, but possible problems emerged during Tuesday’s discussion when Roger Jefferies, county executive of justice and public safety, told the commissioners that it’s inside the boundaries of the city of Austin’s so-called Innovation Zone. Jefferies explained that principles of the Zone include “denser development, pedestrian-friendly, encouraging entrepreneurship, new startup businesses – that kind of thing. So that will be part of the calculus in determining whether the Medical Examiner’s (building) is appropriate.”

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