Democratic legislator want API rebuilt at current site

Posted: Monday, October 23, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Rep. Sharon Cissna is drafting legislation to build a new state psychiatric hospital on the grounds of the existing Alaska Psychiatric Institute.

The Democratic legislator found some support for that idea at a Saturday summit she called to settle the decade-old question of what to do about the aging API.

But state officials say a new hospital would cost about $33 million above what has already been appropriated. Cissna is hoping the project can be put together for less.

So Karen Perdue, state health and social services commissioner, says the state continues to follow the course it set nearly two years ago, buying the Charter North Hospital building and preparing to move API there.

API, which opened in 1962, is the only public mental hospital in Alaska. The state decided in 1989 that it must be replaced because of aging mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.

The plan to move into Charter North has generated strong opposition from nearby residents who don't like the idea of putting the API patients at a site that borders an elementary school and busy DeBarr Road.

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