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* This article first appeared in The Times Herald-Record on August 26, 1999. Used by permission.




Offices suggested for old psych site

MIDDLETOWN: Officials already talking about hopes for former Psych Center.

By April Hunt
The Times Herald-Record

Officials are already meeting to talk about potential plans for the former Middletown Psychiatric Center.

On Tuesday, just a day after it was announced that a key agency had accepted the city's bid for the 175-acre lot between Monhagen Avenue and County Route 78, Legislator Jeff Berkman met with city officials to again discuss his idea for a joint county-city park on some of the land.

Mayor Joe DeStefano said yesterday he hopes government can take a lead role in development of offices on the site, much like it has done downtown.

Still, he and other city officials said they are keeping open about possibilities. "It will probably be some open space and some commercial and office development," DeStefano said, adding he hopes to maintain the current non-profit and state agencies already on the site.

While they discuss plans, the city's bid, which was not revealed, is moving along. With the Empire State Development Corp.'s approval, the bid must go before the Public Authority Control Board. If that is OK'd, it goes before the Division of Budget and, finally, to the Attorney General's office for final say.

"Assemblyman (Jake) Gunther and I will go before the Control Board to represent the city," said State Senator Bill Larkin, R-C New Windsor, who negotiated the deal for the city.

"I think we stand a good chance because we have bipartisan support and friends on all levels," he added. "This is a golden opportunity to put some more ratables on behalf of residents in the City of Middletown."

The site could generate some $3 million in taxes, just by being on the tax rolls. That is in addition to the $300,000 annual lease payments by agencies already there.

DeStefano said he expects to have a tentative contract drawn up in the next 30 days, subject to the state approvals.

Closing on the land, put on the auction block by the state as surplus land, will likely come in about a year.


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