BY ANNE STANTON
— TRAVERSE CITY -- The Grand Traverse County Health Department started its move into a more spacious home but it will mean a temporary disruption in services for clients.
The Health Department is leaving its crammed, aging building on Garfield Road for a new $5.5 million, 35,000 square-foot building at 2600 LaFranier Road, said Grand Traverse County Financial Director Dean Bott.
Computers and phones were shut down yesterday. The Health Department will suspend its client services beginning Nov. 13 and open for business again on Monday, Nov. 19. A temporary phone number of 995-6045 is available for urgent needs only on Tuesday.
The Dental Clinics North, a separate entity that partners with the Health Department, will be open for normal operations Tuesday at the old 2325 Garfield location. The dental office will then shut down Wednesday for its own move to the new building. Full services will be restored Nov. 19.
To pay for the building the county issued a $5 million, 25-year bond at an average interest rate of 3.43 percent. The Health Department also contributed $500,000 toward the building. The bond will be paid back with rent money from the Health Department and Dental Clinics North, Bott said.
The county bought its current building from the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District in 1993. After the Health Department moves out, the county will mothball the building and try to sell it, Bott said.
There were multiple reasons for the new building. The overcrowding at the Health Department made it hard for clients to move around. The new building will be more accessible, said Jason Block, the county's emergency preparedness coordinator.
The new building will better accommodate an Emergency Operations Center to be used for training exercises and as a designated response center for police, fire, medical, public health, hospital, state and federal agencies.