Hospital building eyed for drug treatment

Dell says Springfield facility `logical choice'

April 20, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The county commissioners are looking at the Jones Building at Springfield Hospital Center for a residential drug treatment program, instead of the decrepit Henryton Hospital in Marriottsville.

Ralph Green, county director of permits and inspections, told the commissioners yesterday that the Jones Building, constructed in 1948, appeared to be the least costly option for a treatment center among three buildings under consideration - the others were Henryton and another building at Springfield.

"If we can concentrate on one site, we can get this done quicker," Green said.

Officials envision a 30-bed center for young adults, ages 18 to 25, and stressed that the need for such a facility is immediate. The vacant five-story Jones Building could be made available shortly, Green said. The state would most likely offer the county an inexpensive long-term lease.

"Let's pursue Jones," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said. "It seems the most logical choice with plenty of room for now and the future. This has a good possibility to work and fairly soon."

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said, "Let's let the other sites go and put our time and energies into the Jones Building."

A search committee initially considered Henryton Hospital, which the state abandoned in 1984 and has tried to unload for the past decade. Only Carroll has expressed interest in the 50-acre site along the Patapsco River.

But costs to renovate two of Henryton's dozen buildings into a treatment center probably would exceed the preliminary $3 million estimate, Green said. The county has budgeted $2 million for the project.

"We don't know if the engineering is sound or the status of the infrastructure," Green said, adding that an additional $1 million to $2 million could be needed for site work.

The 53-year-old Jones Building could prove to be a less costly option. With 32,000 square feet on five levels, the T-shaped brick building is "the more attractive from the standpoint of renovations and maintenance," Green said.

"All the windows and doors have been replaced and an elevator could be easily installed," he said. "The T-shape allows for separate programs with only minor renovations."

The Jones Building, which sits along the hospital's main roadway, most recently housed staff and has spaces for offices, visiting areas and communal activities. It has dormitories and private rooms and baths.

The building, which has been vacant for about a year, became an option a few weeks ago, and Green is waiting to receive floor plans so he can develop cost estimates.

"Our direction is to go with this until we find it won't work," Dell said.

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier was out of town.

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