"No Timeline" for Southbury Training School Plans

Left to right: Commissioner Terrence Macy, Southbury First Selectman Ed Edelson, and Commissioner Steven Reviczky. Photo by Lorien Crow.
Left to right: Commissioner Terrence Macy, Southbury First Selectman Ed Edelson, and Commissioner Steven Reviczky. Photo by Lorien Crow.
The initial results of a state-funded study of the current Southbury Training School site were unveiled Wednesday night at an informational meeting.

A Task Force assigned by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was present to hear the findings, as the state currently operates the Southbury Training School site.

The study, presented by Dick Harrall of Milone & MacBroom, focused on the infrastructure and natural resources on the Main Campus, which spans 330 acres.

After examining the sanitary sewer system, electrical distribution, oil and gas systems,and other utilities, as well as building and bridge maintenance, the study concluded there are "no major deficiencies found of the existing site conditions."

Harrall, who served as the Project Manager on the Fairfield Hills Hospital site, pointed out that both state hospital sites shared similar topography, offsite sewage treatment, and proximity to Interstate 84.

However, the Fairfield Hills campus, though larger, had fewer total buildings. Those buildings also suffered significant damage, making it more difficult to re-purpose them.

Of the more than 70 buildings at Southbury Training School, dozens are still in use, and house approximately 350 residents. Harrall attributed the good-to-fair conditions of most STS buildings to "the quality of maintenance" performed by the staff over the years.

Since a federal court order mandates that families of Southbury Training School residents get to decide where to relocate their loved ones, the transition "has no timeline," according to DDS Commissioner Terrence May.

After hearing the results of the study, residents made suggestions as to what they thought the future of the Southbury Training School site might hold.

Selectman Jennifer Buchanan O'Neill relayed a suggestion of a Veterinary and Agricultural Trade College, that would house large animal veterinary services, train future veterinarians and farmers, and "remain consistent with Southbury's rural character."

Several residents supported this idea, saying it might help keep top local students in-state, generating revenue.

Other suggestions included: community arts buildings: an assisted care facility, and other services to support the senior population, including physical therapy and social services; cemetery space; a disaster services shelter; and an occupational therapy facility for returning veterans, suggested by Dave DeWitt of neighboring Roxbury.

State Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management Benjamin Barnes discouraged rumors that the state might turn the current site into a college campus. "It's been suggested," he said, but due to declining enrollments, it is "unclear whether the state could support that."

First Selectman Ed Edelson thanked Gov. Malloy, saying Southbury owes him a "debt of gratitude for assisting with the study, as well as the preservation of the site's farmland by the State Department of Agriculture.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's Task Force includes Department of Developmental Services Commissioner Terrence Macy; Commissioner of Agriculture Steven Reviczky; Southbury First Selectman Ed Edelson; and Secretary Office of Policy and Management Benjamin Barnes.  

Thad Burr December 05, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Like the issues Newtown faced with the closure of Fairfield Hills, I believe that it is unlikely that Southbury will be able to come up with one overarching purpose for this huge tract of land. I would suggest looking at integrating a number of worthy programs that would complement each other. Members on the committee might also consider looking at military base closures, such as the Presidio in San Francisco, to come up with realistic alternatives, taking into account all the factors that the committee believes are relevant to this conversion. Hundreds of bases have closed over the past 30 years across the country, and many lessons learned could be shared with our Town leaders.


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