AMHERST COUNTY, Va. – The Central Virginia Training Center opened in 1910 to serve people with mental disabilities and relocated its last patients in 2020.
With a public road running through it, the seemingly eerie, vacant property includes 300 acres of land and nearly 100 buildings.
Amherst County Administrator Dean Rodgers says the land is controlled by Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
“DBHDS has to issue a letter to the Department of General Services saying this property is now excess to our needs,” said Rodgers.
That could turn it into an economic engine for the region.
“The reason why they haven’t done that is because [DBHDS] still has $18 million worth of bonds left to pay off,” said Rodgers.
That’s where Virginia State Senator Steve Newman comes in.
The Republican represents Amherst County as part of the 23rd District. He’s proposing to pay the state’s bonds through the General Assembly.
“If ever you had an opportunity, it would be years like this where we have one-time funding. So, hopefully we’re able to do that,” said Newman.
He already secured $4 million in 2021.
Newman’s also looking to pass another $2.6 million for a pilot program to turn part of the property into a temporary triage center.
It would allow mental health patients to get the help they need and free up law enforcement officers, who are currently required by the state to accompany patients while they wait for bed space.
“You can bring these mental-health patients to one location, they can get help; and then if they need a hospital setting, they can then be moved to that location,” said Newman.
Rodgers says the pilot program doesn’t have to be located at the old CVTC, but the property includes newer building for state-of-the-art medical facilities.
And they’re still at least a year from anyone else occupying the property.
“During that timeframe, this pilot could be useful to really solve problems across the entire state,” said Rodgers.
That depends if Newman can get the funding.