BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan joined the University of Maryland, Baltimore County to celebrate the ceremonial transfer of Spring Grove Hospital Center to the school Wednesday afternoon.

The Maryland Board of Public works approved the transfer of the hospital campus to the neighboring college last week. The acquisition has been a goal of UMBC for 30 years, said outgoing President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski.

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“UMBC has talked with public officials and community leaders for decades about our need for future expansion space at Spring Grove,” said President Hrabowksi. “UMBC students, faculty, staff, and future students will be grateful to Governor Hogan and other state leaders for years to come. This is a visionary collaboration for the future of Maryland.”

UMBC will purchase the complex, including 175 acres and 77 buildings, for $1 and lease it back to the Maryland Department of Health over the next 10 years so the agency can continue to operate Spring Grove while looking for excess bed capacity at other facilities in the region. The health department has two five-year options to renew the agreement.

The university said it doesn’t have a plan for the site, but it will engage with the state, the county and community leaders during its planning process “to envision a future for the Spring Grove property that supports the university’s long-term development and enhances both economic development and quality of life in the Baltimore region and Maryland.”

“UMBC is a model for undergraduate education, inclusive talent development, and innovation,” Hogan said. “I am excited that its footprint will now be able to grow even further into the future. Together, we are ensuring that UMBC will continue to play a meaningful role in advancing education, community development, and economic and workforce development in Baltimore County and the State of Maryland.”

Dating back to 1797, Spring Grove is the second-oldest continually operating psychiatric hospital in the country, according to the health department. The agency released its 2041 Master Plan last year and laid out a framework transitioning services at Spring Grove to other facilities in the state, starting in Fiscal Year 2032.

Hogan singled out Dr. Hrabowski for his role in the transfer. After three decades at UMBC, the longtime president is set to retire at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year.

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“I just want to thank and congratulate everyone who’s been involved in making this possible, but especially Dr. Freeman Hrabowski,” Hogan said. “No one has done more to put UMBC on the map and to put UMBC in a position to continue to push boundaries, to achieve significant breakthroughs and to compete as a national and global leader in innovation. So congratulations.”

Lori Doyle, the Public Policy Director for Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland, opposed the transfer at last week’s Board vote. Doyle wanted the property assessed and patients moved out of the deteriorated facility.

“We all agree the facility is dilapidated. It’s old. It either needs to be replaced or torn down and people moved to other settings,” Doyle said. “At the very least, it sounds like there could be another 10 years while we’re talking about it for people to live, really, in a substandard environment.”

Doyle expressed concerns over lack of beds available statewide.

“There just aren’t available placements in state facilities right now. So, I’m not sure what happens if they decide to make transfers from Spring Grove Hospital,” Doyle said.

Governor Hogan Wednesday said there is 10 years remaining for patients to stay at Spring Grove.

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“I would say that’s exactly why we’re taking this action. The state of the facility is horrendous. It should have been addressed 30 years ago and hasn’t been. It really can not be repaired in its current function,” Hogan said.

Paul Gessler