Friendly Oaks staying open, for now

David Raines, Norman Powell, Lakesha Wilson and Nichole Franklin relax in front of Friendly Oaks clubhouse on Louisa Avenue in Mineral recently. Region Ten, the community services board that serves Louisa County, withdrew plans in late August to close the facility.

Under pressure from county officials, Region Ten backed off from its plans to close the Friendly Oaks clubhouse in Mineral and relocate developmentally disabled clients to other locations.

“After careful consideration,​ the agency has decided to maintain services at Friendly Oaks for the time being,” according to a statement the agency released on Aug. 30. “We will continue to focus our efforts on the construction of the new Louisa clinic, and are excited for the potential to expand our reach in the community and increase our capacity.”

The move to freeze plans to shut down the clubhouse and sell the building on Louisa Avenue in the town of Mineral came a day after an Aug. 28 meeting with county officials, organized by Supervisor Duane Adams (Mineral district).

“Once we found out about this, I reached out to [Region Ten] and expressed my dismay,” Adams said. “I said we are very interested in keeping this program in Louisa County, so let’s start talking about options.”

Region Ten staff did not inform county officials, including members of the board of supervisors, before making the decision to close Friendly Oaks.

“I feel like the lack of communication hurt the situation,” Adams said. “Our concern is not financial, but that someone has to be a voice for the clients. I’m very appreciative that they agreed to a meeting.”

Besides County Administrator Christian Goodwin and Marcia Becker, Region Ten rehabilitation director, the meeting also included representatives from Jefferson Area Board for Aging and the local chapter of The Arc, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

James Smith, who directs the county’s parks, recreation and tourism department, was also among the officials who attended the meeting. His department shares space at the Betty J. Queen Intergenerational Center with several nonprofit agencies, including JABA and The Arc. Region Ten does not currently lease space in the building, but does lease part of a county-owned building in the town of Louisa.

If Region Ten isn’t able to continue to provide a gathering place for its clients in Louisa County, Adams said, the county government will look for a way to fill the void. 

The agency recently unveiled plans to build a new Louisa headquarters on McDonald Street. Initially Region Ten staff discussed the potential to relocate Friendly Oaks clients to the new facility. But when those plans were shelved, staff told clients they would find room for them elsewhere, possibly at the Blue Ridge clubhouse in Charlottesville.

Region Ten intends to cooperate with county leaders to ensure a good outcome for Friendly Oaks clients, whether or not they continue to receive services at that location in the future, according to the agency's Aug. 30 statement.

“Region Ten is committed to serving the Louisa community and providing services that are welcoming and respectful,” the statement says.