75 patients at Kings Park to be moved

Building 93 is the tallest structure in the Building 93 is the tallest structure in the Kings Park Psychiatric Center's complex, with 11 floors, a two-story attic, a basement and a sub-basement. Standing just inches shorter, Building 7 is the second highest. (July 27, 2012) Photo Credit: Julie Cappiello

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Most patients remaining at the site of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center will soon be transferred, state officials said.

A spokesman for the state Office of Mental Health said Friday that 75 patients will leave the building they occupy in Kings Park by Nov. 1 and move to Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in west Brentwood. The remaining 48 patients will occupy two state-owned houses in Kings Park.

They would be the last residents of the property, which once housed as many as 10,000 people before the hospital closed in 1996. The spokesman declined to comment more on the transfer or the remaining patients.

Other officials said the state Department of Environmental Conservation is considering moving its Marine Resources Bureau from South Setauket to the vacated Kings Park building.

The announcements came as state parks officials said planning for future uses of the former hospital property will begin after a second round of building demolitions there.

Speaking to about 60 people Thursday at a meeting of the Kings Park Civic Association, deputy state parks regional director Brian X. Foley said demolition of 19 structures, among more than 60 at the 521-acre site, would be completed by spring, followed by the razing of additional buildings. He could not say how many buildings would be torn down in the second demolition or when it would begin.

Officials believe many remaining buildings could be refurbished for undetermined uses.

Foley said a master plan for the property would be discussed after the second demolition. Officials previously had not said when the plan would be developed. The state parks office in 1999 took control of 153 acres, now Nissequogue River State Park; the remaining 368 acres were transferred to parks officials in 2007.

Many residents, fearing deterioration of the site, want state officials to expedite development of a master plan. "I'm afraid that by the time a plan is created for this park, all or most of the buildings will have to be demolished," civic association president Sean Lehmann said Friday.

State parks regional director Ronald Foley -- no relation to Brian Foley -- said such plans must wait because the site requires further study. Surveys have revealed "surprises" such as tunnels not listed on site maps, he said.

"I don't know how you would look at a piece of land and say, 'We're going to put A, B and C there,' because you don't know what you're going to turn up," he said.

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