Site search continues for drug center

Commissioners weigh renovation vs. new facility

Jones Building eyed

Construction chief takes tour of Springfield Hospital

October 24, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

After more than a year of searching for a location for its long-term drug treatment facility, Carroll commissioners still are unsure whether constructing a building or renovating an existing one would be more economical.

The county is looking at several parcels at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville as possible construction sites. Each has at least 5 acres with access to public utilities.

But no one has ruled out restoring one of Springfield's vacant buildings, if it can be done for a reasonable price.

"The question is, can we renovate or build cheaper?" said Commissioner Donald I. Dell.

The commissioners have allocated $2 million for a 30-bed facility that would treat patients ages 18 to 25 for up to 18 months. County health officials repeatedly have stressed the immediate need for a county treatment center.

"We have to puzzle out what is the best solution for the county and the least costly," Thomas R. Rio, chief of the Carroll bureau of building construction, said yesterday in a meeting with the commissioners.

Rio toured several parcels and two buildings at Springfield Hospital last week with Elizabeth G. Barnard, director of the office of planning and capital financing for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The state most likely would offer the county an inexpensive long-term lease for a building, but the commissioners have not addressed the arrangements they would make for a 5-acre plot.

Rio has asked several area contractors to determine costs for renovating the Jones Building, a 53-year-old structure on the hospital's Main Street. Renovation estimates should be ready for the commissioners' review by December, Rio said.

"Tell them to hurry up, the sooner the better," Dell said.

The five-story Jones Building emerged last spring as the most promising of several renovation options, but it would require new plumbing, electrical and heating systems and extensive interior remodeling. The initial renovation probably would involve three floors, each with about 8,000 square feet.

"My initial findings show that there is a lot more square footage than we actually need in the Jones Building," Rio said. "We might be able to scale down with a new building that would be reachable within our budget."

Health officials would like activity areas, a dining hall, private rooms and classrooms at the facility, but have yet to determine how much space is needed.

Whatever option the county chooses, the Springfield campus offers the most possibilities, Rio said.

"The state is being most accommodating to us throughout this process," he said.

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