Del. Krebs: Funds Available to Deal With Henryton Hospital
05/02/2012
Eldersburg Patch

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The Maryland Legislature approved about $3.5 million during the recent General Assemby session to remove asbestos and raze decaying buildings on the vacant Henryton Hospital property, said Del. Susan Krebs (R- District 9B). The property has been empty since 1985 when it closed.

An increase in fires, possibly caused by vagrants and delinquents over the last 10 years, has repeatedly risked the safety of responding firefighters at the Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department and others, Krebs said. The hospital caught fire again on April 14, a blaze that required the assistance of firefighters from four counties and took more than two hours to put out.

"I was successful this year in getting approval of $3.5 million in the state's capital budget," Krebs said in a recent interview. "It is the state's responsibility to take care of their own abandoned facilities."

The delegate said Sykesville Deputy Chief Brett Pearce incorrectly told the Baltimore Sun after the April 14 fire that funds to deal with the vacant property had been stripped out of the state's so-called "doomsday budget" that legislators passed on April 9.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene received $5.5 million for environmental restoration projects, including "the reclamation" of the Henryton Hospital property, according to Krebs and the fiscal year 2013 budget highlights provided by the Department of Budget and Management.

See the budget highlights as a PDF on the right. Henryton is mentioned on page 29. In the PDF of the proposed budget, it is mentioned on page 3.

Krebs said the facility has an unfortunate history since it closed more than 25 years ago. The state originally planned to redevelop it and received several bids, including one to build an equestrian condo complex for horse and trail enthusiasts, which would have capitalized on its location near Patapsco State Park, Krebs said. But that plan was never realized and the property has fallen victim to vandalism over the decades.

"This project is not a sexy project to do, but it's about safety," Krebs said.

It's unclear when the work will start and how it'll be done but Krebs said that she endorses utilizing labor provided by inmates at the Central Maryland Correctional Facility in Sykesville.

Inmates previously have contributed to large-scale projects in an effort to teach them job skills, and more than 100 help run the laundry facility at Springfield Hospital Center, Krebs said.

Krebs credited lobbying efforts by the state fire marshal and the Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department with helping to secure funding for the work.