Carroll officials to sign site lease

Board of Works expected to approve use of 7 acres for drug treatment facility

July 01, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County commissioners will sign a lease today for state-owned land in Sykesville, where the county will build a $3.2 million, long-term drug treatment facility.

The 24-bed residential center will be constructed on 7 acres at the southern end of Springfield Hospital Center, a state facility for the mentally ill. The land on Buttercup Road, which runs through the 500-acre hospital campus, adjoins the state Central Laundry Facility, a minimum-security prison for men.

County officials negotiated with the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which share ownership of the property. The state Board of Public Works is expected to approve the lease this month.

The commissioners' action is a "sign of good faith" that shows they are prepared to build the center, said Tom Rio, chief of the Carroll Bureau of Building Construction.

The county has met the state's few stipulations, including construction of a landscaped buffer between the center and the prison.

"We are ready to go out to bid," Rio said.

The county could advertise for design and engineering bids next month, Rio said. It could be nearly two years before the project is completed and accepting patients.

"We have nailed down the issues and can go to the state board without any loose ends," said Frank Johnson, special assistant to Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge. "If we couldn't go through with the project, a lease would have no meaning."

Plans call for a 15,000-square- foot center that would treat mostly 18- to 25-year-old patients. Carroll residents would be given priority for the beds, but surrounding counties and Baltimore City could send patients to the center if vacancies arise. The state and county would share the construction costs.

The center has been at least three years in the planning with much of the delay due to the lack of a suitable location. Officials rejected a site along Route 32 last year when neighbors complained about the proximity to their homes, and scrapped as too costly a proposal to renovate a vacant hospital building.

"This is a much-needed facility for the county," said Commissioner Perry L. Jones. "Drug addiction is a big problem here and long-term treatment is needed so patients can get back to leading normal lives."

Carroll County students are smoking, drinking and using drugs less than they did five years ago, according to a survey last year by the State Department of Education. But drug use is increasing among young adults.

Heroin-related admissions to the emergency department at Carroll Hospital Center in Westminster reached 422 last year and total 167 through May of this year, hospital officials said.

Junction, an outpatient treatment facility in Westminster, is at capacity with 220 clients. Patients seeking residential treatment have to find it outside the county and are often placed on waiting lists for beds.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.