Fort Payne applies for funding to demolish old hospital

Fort Payne is applying for funds to pay for the demolition of the former DeKalb County General Hospital, built 70 years ago on Forest Avenue and used in the 1990s for senior apartments. 

The Fort Payne City Council met briefly on June 2 to pass Resolution 2020-25, authorizing and approving an application to the State of Alabama for Community Development Block Grant and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funding for proceeding with demolition of the old DeKalb County General Hospital building at the 1300 block of Forest Avenue North.

A public hearing was held at the May 19 council meeting to receive comments. Mayor Larry Chesser told the council at that meeting that there was some momentum in Montgomery. The resolution’s passage formally launches that process.

The hospital was build in 1950 on land donated by the late Robert E. Davis, Sr. In 1983, the hospital sold and became Baptist Medical Center DeKalb, remaining there until a new facility was completed in 1986 on Highway 35 West, what’s now called DeKalb Regional Medical Center.

The building then served as a retirement home called The Fountains before closing in December 2003 due to rising costs and low occupancy. The space was adapted for apartments, but the corporation that bought the Fountains financed before declaring bankruptcy, according to past news reports. Funding was sought for a feasibility study for possible re-development in May 2013, but significant environmental issues like mold and asbestos led to stripping the building of materials that could be resold, such as metals, by October 2013. The old hospital building has remained empty and decaying for years. City leaders have referred to the vacant structure as “an eyesore”.

ARC funds investments in critical infrastructure in 13 Appalachian states. Community Development Block Grants provide annual federal grants to help states, cities and counties to develop viable urban communities.

The council also approved Resolution 2020-26, authorizing City Attorney Rocky Watson to obtain any easements necessary for a planned sewer project from the Airport Road pump station to the WZOB pump station.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the council authorized bids for a vactor truck for the Public Works department.

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