End Of The Road For Glenwood Resource Center

There’s no light at the end of the tunnel for the Glenwood Resource Center. The State Of Iowa will officially close the campus in Glenwood on Sunday, June 30. The facility provided care for thousands of Iowans with intellectual and physical disabilities. It originated as a Civil War home for orphans in the 1860s and later transitioned into an institution for mental health care.

The Girls Cottage - a visible building on the Glenwood Resource Center campus.

Property is being moved off the Glenwood Resource Center campus as the Iowa Department Of Human Services prepares for the June 30 closure.

The sun is setting on the Glenwood Resource Center.

The sprawling, 400-acre campus that’s been home to thousands of Iowans with profound intellectual and physical disabilities is officially closing Sunday. The last resident of the state-managed facility was moved off the campus last week and only a smattering of employees remain.

“The Department Of Human Services sent me a text Wednesday night saying the last patient there had been relocated,” said Larry Winum, a longtime GRC advocate and community member involved in developing a plan to repurpose the campus after its closure. “There are no longer any clients on the campus that are being served by GRC. They’ve all been relocated to community-based programs or other facilities.

“There is going to be at this point, a skeleton crew that continues to maintain the campus – The power plant and those types of things. Probably until at least the end of the year, and probably longer.”

The state-owned facility, which originated as a home for Civil War orphans in the 1860s and later transitioned to the Iowa Institution for Feeble-Minded Children, Glenwood State Hospital-School and finally the Glenwood Resource Center, is closing unceremoniously - without fanfare or formal recognition for the care and service employees provided to GRC residents for decades or the importance of the campus to the Glenwood community.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the GRC closure in April 2022. At the time of Reynolds’ announcement, the GRC was home to approximately 150 residents and 400 employees. The Iowa Department Of Health and Human Services promised to have all the residents relocated before July 1, 2024.

According to an Iowa Public Radio report published last week, 26 residents were moved to Woodward Resource Center, 83 were moved to home and community-based services, 8 residents went to immediate care facilities, 7 residents went to home and community-based services in host homes, 6 residents went to a nursing home, 7 residents went to hospice  and 5 residents died at GRC over the past two years. According to the report, 14 former GRC residents who transitioned out of the facility died within a year after moving. Causes of death included “cancer, respiratory conditions, cardiac arrest as well as cardiac conditions,” according to IDHS documents.

Winum said the state is now in the process of liquidating property from multiple buildings on the GRC campus.

“The process is the state has to have an inventory list and forward that on to all of the other facilities in the state and say, ‘If you have an interest in these items, you’re welcome to come get them.’  That’s the first process.”
No timeline is in place for the state to transfer the property over to the non-profit Glenwood Redevelopment Corporation, the entity in charge of repurposing the campus. A study conducted by engineering consultant HDR, Inc. in 2023 imagined a redeveloped GRC campus as a 900-unit multi-use and residential neighborhood.

Winum said the state has been receptive to the redevelopment plans, but the transfer of property is a long ways down the road.

“We submitted a proposal to them based on what HDR came up with, in terms of what we think has to take place up there and dollars that need to be spent to get that place shovel ready for some type of residential, mixed commercial type use. And they seem receptive to that.  All indications right now are they will work with us to accomplish that.”

The first order of business to any redevelopment of the campus is getting direct access from Highway 34.

“The first thing that’s being looked at is the Department of Transportation is looking at access off of (Highway) 34 so there’s a big archaeological feasibility study that’s needing to be done on the whole campus, not just the DNR ground where the road’s going, but even on the actual footprint of where all the buildings sit,” Winum said. “Because of that, it’s going to slow this process down considerably in terms of any kind of transfer to the entity if that happens.”
Winum said the Glenwood Redevelopment Corporation isn’t in a hurry for the property transfer to take place. He noted that the Glenwood Community School District will continue to occupy property on the GRC campus until its new building is constructed near the high school. The GRC building that houses the school district’s central office, THRIVE and Kids Place daycare gets its energy from the GRC’s antiquated power plant.

“From a school district standpoint, it would be advantageous for the state to stay involved as long as possible,” he said. “Looking for alternatives to hook up their building with temporary boiler and air conditioning would be expensive to run.”

Winum said the Glenwood Redevelopment Corporation is committed to keeping the Glen Haven skilled nursing facility on the campus.

“Glen Haven is a different issue,” he said. “We’re definitely committed to keeping them on campus. We’ve got estimates to put them on permanent power and get them off GRC’s Power Plant. Ultimately, that power plant is going to go away. It’s so antiquated, you can’t reuse it and the cost to refurbish makes no sense.”


The Opinion-Tribune

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