A new tenant is in place on the Fairfield Hills campus.
August 14 marked the launch of Newtown’s six-member Recovery and Resiliency Team, which is poised to work in partnership with local recovery providers, community organizations, and town employees in response to continued needs in our community post-12/14. Through grant funds, Newtown will lease the space for $1,000 a month for 18 months.
First Selectman Pat Llodra told the Fairfield Hills Authority members this week, “We will now have a place that is an appropriate setting.” Repairs have taken place already, and Mrs Llodra said she hopes for the authority’s approval to allow the team to use the space. The normal process to negotiate lease agreements, which would have included the authority’s approval prior to a tenant occupying space, did not take place, in part because the authority cancelled a meeting last month, according to the first selectman.
Mrs Llodra explained the tenancy to authority members during their regular meeting on Monday, August 25, well after the team took its place at 28 Trades Lane. The address is also referred to as the guardhouse or the engineer’s house — a small, two-story brick structure at the entrance to the campus.
Apologizing for being “out of sync,” Mrs Llodra said her judgment prevailed “to do what is right and best at the time.” Although she was “reluctant to go outside the process,” she said, “It’s a benefit to the town” that the team is in place and available for the town’s citizens.
FHA member Michael Holmes said he understood that Mrs Llodra did what she needed to do.
A public hearing on the occupancy is also part of the process, which will have to be postponed until the authority can call a special meeting to approve the lease.
Making the space and team possible is $18,000 in grant through the Department of Justice (DOJ). In past months as Mrs Llodra worked with members of DOJ, she had considered other spaces for rent, including 19 Church Hill Road. She soon realized that “we could not put the whole team there,” and felt that it was “undesirable to have the clinical social workers and team leader in separate locations.”
The engineer’s house offered a suitable location. Explaining repairs to the site, which have already taken place, Mrs Llodra said, “I had to make sure it was a workable space.” The DOJ will fund the project for 18 months, she said. Some of the lease funds paid for repairs to the building. She noted that at the end of 18 months, there would be no more funding, and at that time the authority would have an improved building.
Past plans to convert the space for use as a police substation to create a heightened security presence at Fairfield Hills have not yet taken place.
The Recovery and Resilience Team specialists are in place to build community relationships, provide resources, as well as facilitate and foster collaboration between service providers and funding sources while assisting in the ongoing assessment of community needs and strategically planning for present and future needs.
The Legislative Council was positioned in mid-August to approve the 18-month, $18,000 lease for the team’s offices, which along with funding payroll and other programs and expenses, is drawn from a multimillion-dollar federal Department of Justice grant.