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SPRINGFIELD - A shuttered state institution in Central Illinois faces another year of uncertainty.

The Lincoln Developmental Center, closed since 2002, is being marketed as a possible site for warehouses or office space, as well as a residential treatment center for youth programs or veterans with Alzheimer's disease.

But there remains no long-term plan for the facility, nor is Gov. Pat Quinn planning to budget enough money to keep the property maintained and secure.

The Illinois Department of Central Management Services didn't immediately release a list of groups or businesses that have toured the facility in recent months, but a spokeswoman said the agency is investigating what to do with the buildings and grounds.

"CMS is doing a comprehensive study to assess all possible options for the best use of Lincoln Developmental Center," spokeswoman Alka Nayyar said.

The more-than-century-old facility, at one time the largest employer in Logan County, includes numerous buildings that once housed, fed and educated developmentally disabled residents.

It was closed by former Gov. George Ryan amid concerns about the care being offered to residents.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich pledged to reopen the center in some form but never followed through before he was impeached and removed from office. Four new homes for developmentally disabled residents were built on the grounds, but those have never been used and now have mold problems.

Last summer, Quinn cut funding for the skeleton crew that had been maintaining the 100-acre grounds since it was shuttered.

Under Quinn's latest budget proposal, he again reduced the funding to bare-bones levels, and his aides are moving toward declaring the buildings and grounds as surplus state property.

Some private social service providers and state agencies have toured the grounds to see if they would be suitable for offices or residential treatment facilities.

Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder said the number of potential clients being shown the property is encouraging, but he hasn't seen any movement toward filling the facilities.

"I don't know if they have any definite hot prospects," Snyder said.

Illinois House Republicans sent a letter to Quinn last week, calling on him to sell the grounds. Although there was no price tag attached to their suggestion, the letter noted that getting rid of the center would save $1 million in maintenance and payroll costs.

State Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, who has fought to reopen all or a portion of the center, said he hasn't heard of any progress toward resolving what to do.

"I'm sure all options are open," Bomke said.


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