ND Senate passes bill that calls for demolition of State Hospital buildings

The bill would authorize the demolition of five buildings on the campus.

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This old administrative building at the North Dakota State Hospital, built in 1916, may be set for demolition if the state Legislature passes Senate Bill 2026.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

BISMARCK — The state Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday, Jan. 25, that would appropriate $5 million from the general fund to be used to demolish unused buildings on the North Dakota State Hospital campus and to declare it an emergency.

Senate Bill 2026 would provide an appropriation of funding to the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services related to the demolition of five North Dakota State Hospital buildings and to declare an emergency.

If the bill is passed by both chambers of the Legislature, it would authorize the demolition of the administrative building, employee building, associated tunnels, milk barn, pig barn, and water treatment plant.

The funding provided is considered a one-time funding item, and the demolition would need to be done by June 30, 2025.

Sen. Sean Cleary, R-Bismarck, said the demolition of the five buildings is necessary for the state to move forward with the architectural plans that have been proposed to build a new State Hospital.


Photo: Sean Cleary
Sean Cleary, a Bismarck-area Republican who is campaigning for the state Senate seat in District 35 in the 2022 election cycle. (Provided photo)

“We are unable to begin those until the demolition of the old buildings begins,” he said. “That’s also why this bill has an emergency clause attached to it.”

Legislators studying how to fill gaps in North Dakota’s mental health system want to consult with special architects to help plan a new State Hospital incorporating state-of-the-art technology and design, Forum News Service reported in December.

The buildings have been vacated, some for decades, Sen. Dick Dever, R-Bismarck, said during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Monday, Jan. 23.

In the last legislative session, the Legislature gave authority to the Department of Health and Human Services to demolish buildings on the State Hospital campus, said Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, during the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Monday.

“They did not proceed to the degree I had hoped,” he said. “That’s why the bill was introduced, to sort of say it’s just got to be done.”

Mathern confirmed that the buildings have been unused and will likely remain unused in the future.

The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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