Bryce sale appropriate

Our View

On Dec. 30, the University got what it has wanted for some time: the 177 acres that make up the Bryce Hospital facility on the northeast corner of campus.

The University will pay $60 million – $50 million of it in cash – for the property as a part of its efforts to expand the landlocked campus. The state will dole out $82 million to build a new facility in Tuscaloosa, and $22 million will come from the sale of economic development bonds.

The agreement followed months of intense debate among members of the state mental health board and a now-dropped lawsuit from the city of Tuscaloosa, which was concerned at the notion of moving the state’s primary mental hospital to a site in Birmingham.

The deal appears to be a prudent one for all involved, from UA students to the patients who receive care from the state to the coffers of Tuscaloosa.

The University will benefit from the enhanced size of the campus when it takes over the property in about two years. As the institution’s enrollment has continued to grow – though UA President Robert Witt has said that we are nearing our maximum enrollment – we have developed a need for newer, larger facilities. The acquisition of the Bryce property will facilitate the necessary expansions for the University to handle its impressive growth.

The patients of the state mental health system will enjoy a state-of-the-art facility that will boast the latest advances in psychiatric care. When the new center opens a few years from now, it will be one of the most advanced in the nation, providing an exceptional level of care for some of Alabama’s most challenging and complex cases.

The city of Tuscaloosa is one of the biggest winners in the deal, which Gov. Bob Riley brokered over the last few months. Riley’s exceptional leadership kept the mental hospital in Tuscaloosa while allowing for the University’s growth, and we think that both will be positives for the city’s economic development. Tuscaloosa, like many other cities in Alabama, has felt the effects of the global recession, and we are pleased to see that the agreement will foster a new round of construction in the area.

The agreement is an example of what careful, sincere negotiation can bring. We think that a number of entities stand to greatly benefit from the accord, and we look forward to seeing the ensuing growth in the coming years.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.