Northville to tear down shut­tered psych hos­pi­tal

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY JAMES DAVID DICK­SON The Detroit News jdick­son@de­troit­

Next year, the town­ship of Northville will raze the Northville Psy­chi­atric Hos­pi­tal, long viewed as a blight in the area.

The hos­pi­tal has been as much an at­trac­tion for tres­passers as a blight for passersby on Seven Mile. Since ac­quir­ing the prop­erty con­tain­ing the hos­pi­tal in 2009, the town­ship has had to spend about $100,000-ayear se­cur­ing the prop­erty, of­fi­cials said.

De­spite that demon­strated pub­lic in­ter­est, though, there will be no guided tours, for the pub­lic or the press, be­fore de­mo­li­tion be­gins. The en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns that made Northville’s town fa­thers want the build­ing torn down also make them vig­i­lant in keep­ing peo­ple away, ex­plained town­ship man­ager Chip Sny­der.

“Due to en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues at the site, not only in the build­ing but in the soils near it, there is no in­ten­tion” to wel­come the pub­lic to the site be­fore de­mo­li­tion be­gins, as is ex­pected in April, Sny­der told The News. “Those build­ings are com­pletely re­plete with as­bestos. ... I’m afraid that, while it’s of pub­lic in­ter­est, they’re go­ing to have to view it from afar.”

The site has been a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for thrill-seek­ers, tres­passers and scrap­pers.

Just last month, Northville Town­ship Po­lice Depart­ment, in an ef­fort to ward off tres­passers around Hal­loween, warned of its “zero tol­er­ance” pol­icy.

Northville po­lice pa­trol the grounds “all the time,” and have cited and ar­rested about 400 peo­ple this year for tres­pass­ing, said Lt. Mike Bur­rough.

Tres­passers get caught out­doors, Bur­rough said. Tres­passers are briefly de­tained and cited and have to show up for a court date for the mis­de­meanor of­fense.

Northville vot­ers ap­proved the ac­qui­si­tion of 350 acres around the prop­erty in 2009, at a cost of $23.5 mil­lion. Once it’s torn down the plan is to turn the prop­erty at Seven Mile, just west of Hag­gerty, into a park and an open space.

In a state­ment from the town­ship, su­per­vi­sor Robert Nix said that “for the past sev­eral years, scrap­pers and tres­passers have van­dal­ized the prop­erty, spread­ing as­bestos and (ac­cel­er­at­ing) the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the build­ings.” En­vi­ron­men­tal clean-up will now cost “mil­lions” more than once quoted, Nix wrote.

Build­ings on the site have been com­ing down for years. The power house, main­te­nance build­ing and the smoke­stacks nearby were torn down; the re­moval alone of as­bestos and waste cost $600,000.

But the nine-story hos­pi­tal, which has two sto­ries be­low ground, has been the draw of the site.

This month, the prop­erty will be fenced in, flood­lights will be set up, video sur­veil­lance in­stalled, and se­cu­rity will pa­trol out­side of work hours. A year from now the de­mo­li­tion is sched­uled to be com­plete.

The Detroit News

The long-closed Northville Psy­chi­atric Hos­pi­tal is sched­uled to be torn down in 2018.

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