By Jason KUROSU
One of the current development proposals for the former Rockhaven Sanitarium property came before the Crescenta Valley Town Council and community Thursday, during which a partnership of mental health professionals and developers outlined their concept for a mental health facility at the Rockhaven site.
The group, represented by Dr. Timothy Pylko, Dr. Annette Ermshar, developer Dan Schwarz and developer David Houk, said that their plan for a private facility that would house around 60 patients and serve 60 additional patients on a temporary basis would hark back to the original rehabilitative and therapeutic intent of the sanitarium.
“Our proposal is to restore Rockhaven to what it was before,” Schwarz said, stating that their proposal would preserve almost all of the original buildings, while bringing them up to current ADA standards.
The facility would also feature a subterranean parking garage providing around 150 parking spaces for patients, staff and visitors and a landscaped area open to the public along Honolulu Avenue.
The $40 million project would be a self-sustaining facility, said Schwarz, and would also utilize a nonprofit resource to provide for patients who lack the proper insurance.
Pylko said he was “blown away” by the site during a Friends of Rockhaven tour taken earlier in the year.
He described his vision for patients who require treatment, yet seem to only have overly intensive hospitalization as an option.
“One of the things that I’ve seen is the lack of a good step-down treatment facility for people who no longer need acute care hospitalization,” said Pylko. “I think most of us know people who have suffered from depression and a variety of other conditions. This is not for people with serious mental illnesses who need to be locked up. [Our proposal is for] people who could benefit from intensive treatment but don’t need to be in the hospital.”
Pylko said their proposal has received endorsements from the CEOs of Glendale Adventist Hospital and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and believes the proposed facility could be a “resource for the community.”
“One of my passions is always to de-stigmatize mental illness and if we hermetically seal off people who are suffering from the rest of the community, they suffer and the community suffers,” he said.
The proposal comes on the heels of a recent series of closed door sessions held by the Glendale City Council regarding the sale of Rockhaven. Details on how the city plans to move forward with the property have been limited. Schwarz told the town council that their group has not been privy to any city direction or inclination regarding their or any other Rockhaven proposals.
The group previously presented their proposal to the Crescenta Valley Community Association in October, yielding a mixture of reactions from local residents, some who saw the idea as a good resource for those suffering from mental illnesses and others who held steadfast to the rejection of any development at Rockhaven, particularly one that was not primarily geared toward public access.
Friends of Rockhaven President Joanna Linkchorst reiterated the notion that residents were promised a park or similar public space that acknowledged Rockhaven’s historic significance.
Linkchorst said that a priority for the Friends of Rockhaven is the public’s ability to access the property.
“This is owned by the city. It’s owned by the public right now. We would really like to see that it remains open to the public and allow public access to the inside and the outside of the property,” said Linkchorst. “You just get people on the property and they fall in love with it. You don’t know that until you get behind those gates and we need to get people behind those gates.”
The City of Glendale has owned the property since 2008.