Long-derelict psychiatric campus may see new life

Middletown. The property now belongs to the city of Middletown.

| 09 Jul 2024 | 10:26

Senator James Skoufis (D-42), Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-100), City of Middletown Mayor Joseph M. DeStefano, and local stakeholders on Monday gathered for a signing ceremony of property transfer documents, officially shifting ownership of the long-derelict portion of the Middletown Psychiatric Center Campus to the city. The transfer includes 33 acres and 13 buildings. According to an announcement through Skoufis’s office, the deal was more than 10 years in the making.

The Center was first opened in 1874 for homeopathic treatment of mental disorders. At one time it spanned more than 200 acres and housed and treated over 4,000 patients at its peak. In 2006, it was closed by the state. Since then, parts of the campus have fallen to the elements, with portions now considered safety hazards.

“Despite the clear need to improve safety, reduce strain on law enforcement, and — most of all — return this property to a state of productive and beneficial use, New York State dragged its feet for a decade,” said Senator Skoufis. “When my team and I began to understand the Mayor’s vision for what this site could and should be, its central position as a community hub, and just how long the Mayor had been stifled by the state’s inaction, we knew we had to step in. I’m thrilled this day has finally arrived and look forward to seeing what city leadership and stakeholders accomplish on this site in years to come.”

Over the years, some of the hospital’s buildings were sold off or rehabbed. Some portions now house health, education, social services, and other organizations, according to Skoufis, including Fei Tian College, which has renovated several buildings to date and offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs, owns the largest share of acreage on the site and has committed to continue its renovations and expansion once the transfer is complete. Assemblywoman Gunther, who served at Middletown Psychiatric earlier in her career as a nursing student, also helped secure a $1.2 million Restore NY grant in 2022, which led to the development of Fei Tian’s Student Center.

“It was depressing watching many of these beautiful buildings, our history, deteriorate almost to the point of no return,” said Mayor DeStefano. “We requested Senator Skoufis get involved; after all, it was 10 years of discussions, letter signings, and more discussions. He made it work and we are here today with a plan to expand this amazing college, add city police and fire services on this campus, and create other economic development opportunities for the city.”

“The importance of revitalizing areas like this one cannot be understated,” said Assemblywoman Gunther. “I’d like to thank Fei Tian, Northern Academy, Northern Medical, and the City of Middletown for collaborating on the reactivation of this campus. I look forward to seeing this campus become a hub for people of all ages, and I look forward to seeing a lasting impact that will serve future generations.”