Although according to Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society President Cecilia Bell, the society hopes that a new use can be found for the old Fort Bayard Medical Center structure, the society has provided the following statement:
"We, the Board Members of the Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society, support the efforts of Grant County and the state of New Mexico to demolish the 1921 Veteran's Hospital which is located within the Fort Bayard, New Mexico Historic District, if a bill to fund its demolition is passed in the 2013 New Mexico Legislative Session and approved by the Historic Preservation Division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. It is believed that this action will promote the future heritage and economic development of Fort Bayard National Historic Landmark."
Bell said she has also discussed the issue with the National Parks Service office in Denver, Colo., which oversees the national landmark. Personnel there, who have the same reservations about demolishing a historic structure, however, say that, because the state owns the property, it having been turned over to the state from the federal government in the 1960s, the NPS has no control over what happens.
The Legislative Interim Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee recently approved a bill to be presented at the next legislative session, which begins in January, to have the state of New Mexico pay to demolish the old Fort Bayard Medical Center.
Grant County, in which National Historic Landmark Fort Bayard is located, has expressed willingness to take over the fort from the state of New Mexico, but cannot do so with the old hospital structure in place. The costs of maintaining the electricity, water and natural gas to the old building are in the neighborhood of half a million dollars a year, which the county cannot afford.
The Fort Bayard Restoration and Development Coalition, a group of organizations, including the FBHPS, veterans groups, governmental agencies and individuals interested in the economic development potential of Fort Bayard, also has discussed the issue of the old hospital. Although most members agree they wish a use could be found for the structure, they concur that, with agreement from the Historic Preservation Division, the disappearance of the old hospital might facilitate more rapid restoration and development of the site and its historic buildings.
For more information on proposed uses for Fort Bayard, a National Historic Landmark and New Mexico Historic District, see http://www.grantcountybeat.com/editorial/8113-yes-fort-bayard-should-be-used-wisely.