Sunday, November 13, 2011

$27 Million Plan Unveiled to Preserve Greystone

From The Daily Record.

It's a neat area, already home to the new Central Park of Morris County. This, obviously, would become an extension of that. 

PARSIPPANY — The abandoned Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital and surrounding land will be preserved and turned into parkland, Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday.

“This facility has been, unfortunately, an eyesore in this area, the way it’s been maintained and treated over time by the state,” Christie said at Central Park of Morris County, property that was once part of Greystone, a psychiatric facility shuttered in 2008.

Christie said the $27 million project preserving 165 acres would be financed in partnership with local governments, New Jersey Economic Development Authority bonds and open space funding.

While the state would own the site, the Morris County Park Commission would oversee it.
The governor said the first step will be to conduct an environmental assessment of the land before any remediation is done.

Christie noted the historic nature of Greystone, including the looming Kirkbride Building and said that building will be assessed to see if it has any income-generating uses.

Designed a few years after the Civil War by Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan, the former hospital is a French Renaissance Second Empire-style building that features marble pillars, a rotunda and a chapel. Upon its completion, it was christened in 1876 by President Ulysses S. Grant. The neo-Gothic building was the largest poured-concrete structure in the U.S. before the Pentagon was built. At one point, it housed as many as 5,000 patients.

The structure was turned over to the state Treasury Department after a new Greystone hospital opened in Parsippany in 2008 and the remaining patients — less than 500 — were transferred to the new facility.

Environmental assessment work is expected to be completed in 2012, while the demolition and remediation could occur in 2013.

Despite Christie’s pledge to tear down existing, vacant buildings, remediating the land and converting it to open space, Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, took aim at the plan.

“A day after revealing his plan to undermine public access to state parks through privatization, Governor Christie looked for green cover by announcing the grounds of Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany would be preserved as open space,” Tittel said in a statement. “Open space funding is down under Governor Christie and his administration has been implementing policies that weaken protections for our public lands and limit public access such as the DEP beach access rule.”

Christie was joined Thursday by Bob Martin, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, and state Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff.

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