Demolishing old Eastern ‘not the only viable option’ for a new psychiatric facility, Kost declares

Council member argues that U of M owns 9 acres of surface parking lot where It could go


FRIDAY, July 5 — Lansing City Council member Ryan Kost flatly rejected U of M Health-Sparrow’s contention that demolishing old Eastern High School is its only option for locating its proposed psychiatric facility.

Kost said the 18 acres of Eastern’s campus that Sparrow acquired in 2016 consists of nearly 50% surface parking lot with significant vacant areas.”

It is “evident that the small portion occupied by the historic Eastern High School is not the only viable option,” he contended.

U of Health-Sparrow confirmed Wednesday that it intends to tear down the landmark 1928 building because it is the best location for a proposed 120-bed psychiatric facility to help meet  a "mental health crisis."  It also said the old classroom building and auditorium are unsuited for conversion into the facility.

The health system’s statement reacted to Kost’s proposed resolution that asks the City Council to support preserving old Eastern and the mental-health facility. It says they are “not mutually exclusive.” The Council is expected to consider the resolution on Monday. Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said he supports its goal.

Kost said yesterday that he had anticipated that U of M Health-Sparrow’s plan was to demolish the school, based on its June 7 statement that confirmed its proposal for the new facility. That statement said old Eastern’s “dilapidated interior makes it unsafe and cost-prohibitive to locate any services there.” The Lansing School System vacated old Eastern in 2019.

“Lansing is a first-class city with our own history,  and we, like Ann Arbor, want to preserve it,” Kost said. “This battle is not over the 120-unit facility for mental health that is happening in Lansing, period.  It's over how Ann Arbor values the People of Lansing and our history.  Will it be the same value they have put into Ann Arbor or are we not worthy? I believe that is self-evident."

Kost said he is scheduled to talk by telephone Monday with Margaret Dimond, president of U of M Health-Sparrow, to discuss the issue and ask her to meet in person with members of the Committee to Preserve Historic Eastern and Promote Mental Health. Kost and City Pulse owner Berl Schwartz recruited more than a dozen Eastern alumni, preservationists and eastside residents to serve on the committee. 


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