State: Middlesex mental health facility is a goBy PETER HIRSCHFELD
Vermont Press Bureau | December 04,2012MONTPELIER — Administration officials say they won’t let a dispute with a landowner postpone construction of a mental health facility in Middlesex.
The Shumlin administration has been racing since late 2011 to restore the in-patient capacity lost when Tropical Storm Irene rendered uninhabitable the 52-bed state psychiatric hospital in Waterbury. After false starts elsewhere, officials finally landed on a piece of state-owned land in Middlesex, where the town zoning board last month approved a secure facility on Route 2 near the state police barracks.
The facility will have six to eight beds, officials say.
But in an environmental court appeal, Brian Hannon, whose property abuts the site, has sought to quash the project, saying the noise, traffic and other issues associated with it will diminish his home’s value.
“If this happens, I will be forced to move,” he said at a Middlesex zoning board meeting this fall. “I will be forced to move from the house that I’ve been working on for 10 years.”
But administration officials say Hannon’s appeal is without merit and that they’ll move ahead with construction even with the appeal pending.
“When I have three or four different lawyers tell me we’re going to win, I don’t know what else you can do,” Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said last week. “It’s very rare that I get three or four telling me the same thing.”
Advocates, emergency room doctors and lawmakers all say the Middlesex facility will provide a relief valve for a mental health system still reeling from the 2011 flood. While additional psychiatric beds in Brattleboro and Burlington have accommodated some patients, hospital emergency rooms have been forced to take in acutely mentally ill people with nowhere else to go.
At a meeting of the Legislature’s Mental Health Oversight Committee on Monday, newly installed Commissioner of Mental Health Mary Moulton said the state submitted an emergency application for a certificate of need for the Middlesex facility. She said construction will last only six to eight weeks and that the first resident could be in the facility by January.
The Middlesex project is part of a plan approved by lawmakers last year that aims to decentralize the in-patient mental health system by replacing the Vermont State Hospital with smallerfacilities around the state.
In addition to adding capacity at existing hospitals in Brattleboro and Rutland, Vermont will construct a 25-bed in-patient hospital in Berlin near Central Vermont Medical Center. Spaulding said he expects to secure final permits for that project in the next few weeks. A groundbreaking in Berlin could come as early as this month, and Spaulding said the project is scheduled for completion in January 2014.
A temporary eight-bed facility in Morrisville will also come online soon, which advocates are also counting on to absorb some of the patients now being subjected to lengthy stays in emergency departments.
peter.hirschfeld @rutlandherald.comMORE IN Vermont NewsThe progress to get the historic Robinson Sawmill up and running again in Calais is slow going,... Full StoryMONTPELIER — A cold winter and trees still weary from last season’s massive apple crop have... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Vasco da Gama leaves Calicut, India, to begin his return voyage to Lisbon, becoming the first European to complete a voyage by sea from Europe to India; on this day in 1949, Soviet Union successfully detonates its first A-bomb.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Scientists call for more research on the temporal and lasting effects of nuclear fallout on plants and animals in proximity to Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station where changes at the molecular level were found.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 410 CE, Visigoths sack Rome and it isn't the first time, either; in 1859, Titusville, Pa., the first commercially viable oil well comes in; in 1918, the only World War I battle fought on U.S. soil in Nogales, Ariz.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Archaelogists uncover artifacts proving that late neolithic Egyptians, pre-dating the Pyramids of Giza, practiced mummification to prepare their dead for the afterlife, far earlier than presupposed.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE:Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing that pollute ground water and the air we breathe come under scrutiny by researchers who find at least eight fracking chemicals toxic to mammals.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: The craze for Omega-3 fatty acids as a dietary supplement in its most popular form, fish oil, has led to depletion of fish stocks in oceans throughout the world. Is this the beginning of the total collapse of global fisheries?