The story has been updated to include response from state of Maryland officials.
Republican Delegate Susan Krebs has asked Gov. Martin O’Malley to take “immediate steps” to tear down an empty former tuberculosis hospital in Sykesville that has been a target of vandalism and arsons, most recently last month, according to a letter obtained by Patch.
Krebs, who represents Carroll County, said earlier this month that the had approved about $3.5 million during the recent General Assembly session to remove asbestos and raze what she called a “remote, abandoned and unsecured” vacant Henryton Hospital property, empty since 1985.
An increase in fires, possibly caused by vagrants and delinquents over the last 10 years, has repeatedly at the Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department and others, Krebs has said. The hospital on April 14 in a blaze that required the assistance of firefighters from four counties and took more than two hours to extinguish.
Krebs sent the letter to O’Malley this week (see attached), as well as to officials from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Planning, the Department of Natural Resources, as well as other state officials in corrections and general services.
State officials said they are in the process of evaluating the environmental hazards the buildings pose, including asbetos, a probe that must occur before they are taken down.
“In the past six or seven years, a couple of tests have been done on the buildings. They are going through all the tests to really understand what they are dealing with, and then they will be planning a course of action,” said Thomas Kim, deputy secretary for operations at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Krebs wrote: “In light of the most recent in a string of arsons at the abandoned state-owned Henryton Hospital, I respectfully request that immediate steps are taken to demolish and secure the Henryton Hospital complex.
“Fire officials say the facility is a potential death trap for firefighters and others because of collapsing floors, walls and ceilings in the 80-year-old buildings. Teenagers frequently hang out and vandalize the complex because of lack of security and tales that it is ‘haunted.’”
Krebs wrote that Henryton was built in the 1920s as a hospital for African-American tuberculosis patients.
She said in the letter that Henryton has been “surplused several times by the state, but never sold.”
According to Krebs, in December of 2004, the Board of Public Works put the 19-building complex on the market for the third time since 1992, but she said she didn’t know the outcome, which initially drew several proposals from different groups interested in using the “prime real estate, which overlooks the Patapsco River.”
It's unclear when the work will start and how it'll be done, but Krebs has 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 at Springfield Hospital Center, Krebs said.
“I hope that this possibility is considered,” she wrote to O’Malley.