- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 2004

CROWNSVILLE, Md. (AP) — A lawmaker from Anne Arundel County wants the state to determine whether the Crownsville Hospital Center, which closed this past summer, can be converted into a state veteran’s home.

Delegate David G. Boschert, a retired Marine Corps Reserve captain, has drafted a bill that would create a task force to study converting the old psychiatric hospital’s buildings into a long-term home for disabled and indigent veterans.

The panel also would look at developing a plan for establishing a clinic to provide outpatient and psychiatric care for veterans.

“I hope to make Crownsville a model for future sites around Maryland,” Mr. Boschert, a Republican, told the Annapolis Capital. “I have been in the legislature for seven years, and I have been talking about this for seven years. If you are a veteran and need a home, I want to make this a home you can be proud of.”

Mr. Boschert said he hopes to meet with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, to discuss the plan.

“The governor has proclaimed the year 2005 the year of the veteran, so this is a good place to start,” Mr. Boschert said.

Mr. Ehrlich’s secretary of Veterans Affairs, George W. Owings III, told the Capital that he supports the veterans home in Crownsville, adding that the state’s lone veterans home is not adequate to handle the rising numbers of aged veterans.

Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in St. Mary’s County has 100 domiciliary and 278 nursing home beds, and a new wing is under construction, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is home primarily to geriatric, chronically ill and handicapped veterans.

Crownsville is ideally located in the center of the state, Mr. Owings said.

Maryland closed the psychiatric hospital in June as a cost-saving measure, and transferred its patients to other facilities.

County Executive Janet S. Owens, a Democrat, said she would like to see the state grant the property to the county for operation of nonprofit public service groups and county facilities. She said Friday it was premature to comment on Mr. Boschert’s proposal.

His bill would prevent the state from transferring the site or disposing of it until after the task force completes its recommendations.

The proposed task force would have 12 members — including two senators and two members of the House of Delegates. It would be required to report its findings to the governor by Dec. 31, 2005.

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