City receives grant to tear down old hospital

Local officials including ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell recently visited the site of the old DeKalb General Hospital to review progress toward funding its demolition.

The process of demolishing the old DeKalb General Hospital is slowly making progress.

Fort Payne Mayor Brian Baine said the city received a $450,000 grant toward that goal. He was scheduled to meet today with Sara James, economic development and planning director with the Top of Alabama Regional Council on Governments (TARCOG), to determine what that money must be spent on as a requirement of receipt.

The hospital, located at the 1300 block of Forest Avenue in Fort Payne, has been cited as having multiple environmental hazards in addition to be generally regarded as an eyesore. It was built in 1950 and served as the county’s hospital until 1986, then as a retirement community until 2003. It has sat vacant since 2013.

TARCOG applied for the Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) three years in a row and to the Appalachian Regional Commission for $200,000 two years in a row to go with a city match of up to $700,000, according to past reports.

Baine met last week with Kenneth Boswell, Director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), and they were joined by Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) and Dist. 8 State Sen. Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro).

“[Boswell] was in town and wanted to see where the project was at,” Baine said. Ledbetter and Livingston obtained a Community Development Block Grant for the hospital project.

Baine said it may seem like a simple matter of bulldozing the dilapidated structure, but the city must be cautious before assuming liability in the process. Before purchasing the 3.6 acre property, they needed to know how much it will cost to clear it and haul away the debris.

“If it’s going to cost a million dollars, we don’t have it,” Baine said. “The asbestos removal could get pretty pricey. We are working as diligently as possible. We hope that by springtime or early summer, we’ll see considerable progress toward getting it torn down.”

Ledbetter and Livingston have previously stated they are anxious to complete the project to improve the downtown Fort Payne image and the environmental issues associated with the site.

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