Iowa City tackles mental health

Iowa City is taking a step toward offering better help for people dealing with mental health issues. The city says it wants to build a center for these people to go to for treatment, rather than send them to jail or the emergency room.

On Tuesday night, city council approved Johnson's County request to re-zone the area where the center would be located at South Gilbert Street and Southgate Avenue.

The city hopes the center will be a place where people with mental illness can get emergency care. The other idea is to bypass the judicial system and get people to help without sending them to jail.

The city's role in rezoning the piece of land will allow the county to actually use it.

Prior to Tuesday night, the land was zoned for commercial it will be in a neighborhood public zone which allows for uses such as schools, police stations and other civic buildings.

The county will close on the land on Dec. 14, and it hopes to start construction in the spring or fall of 2019.