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Date: Fri 08-Dec-1995



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Date: Fri 08-Dec-1995

Publication: Bee

Author: ANDYG

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State Hospital At Fairfield Hills Set To Close Dec. 15


Fairfield Hills Hospital, the state psychiatric institution which once housed

about 3,000 patients, is set to close on December 15.

Implementing Gov John Rowland's decision to close the facility, the state

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services' (DMHAS) will transfer the

fewer than 100 patients remaining at Fairfield Hills to community settings or

to Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown.

Some patients from Norwich Hospital also will be sent to Middletown in the

future, combining the three major state psychiatric institutions into one

facility. Norwich Hospital is planned to close in the first half of 1997.

Governor John Rowland decided to consolidate the three psychiatric

institutions as a cost savings measure.

About 485 workers at Fairfield Hills received layoff notices this fall,

informing them that their jobs were being eliminated. While a majority of

those state workers have been able to find new positions with the state,

roughly 150 Fairfield Hills workers serving in the areas of food service,

maintenance, janitorial, secretarial, and health care will see their state

employment come to an end when Fairfield Hills closes.

An elaborate system of employee job reassignments based on the terms of

collective bargaining agreements between various labor unions and the state is

the means by which most Fairfield Hills employees will retain their state

employment in some capacity. A major factor in such job reassignments is

worker seniority.

Some 17 employees, mostly operating and stationary engineers, are expected to

remain at Fairfield Hills to run the physical plant there.

Although the psychiatric hospital at Fairfield Hills will be closing, other

state and private agencies will continue using portions of the facilities.

Richard Nuclo, head of the state Office of Policy and Management's (OPM)

policy, development and planning unit, said December 6 some state agencies

based at Fairfield Hills will continue their work there for unspecified


The western district administrative offices of DMHAS, however, will probably

remain at Fairfield Hills for the forseeable future, as will the Governor's

Horse Guard, he said.

The Merryhill Child Care Center, a private organization, will be allowed to

stay at Fairfield Hills until the end of the school year, he added.

Mr Nuclo said he expects that Berkshire Woods, a voluntary substance abuse

treatment center, will be moving out of Fairfield Hills in the future.

After the DMHAS patients leave, the department will hand over the keys for

Fairfield Hills to the state Department of Public Works (DPW) on December 15,

Mr Nuclo said, noting that the DPW will assume responsibility for the hospital

grounds then.

State employees under DPW supervision will handle vital tasks such as running

the Fairfield Hills Fire Department, the power plant, and the sewage treatment

plant. Most of the people who have handled such tasks in the past for the

DMHAS will continue to do so for the DPW, he said.

The state has been seeking a single tenant or several tenants to occupy

Fairfield Hills on a long-term lease basis.

"I think it's going to be difficult to get a single tenant," Mr Nuclo said of

the size of the sprawling Fairfield Hills property.

The OPM is working with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center in marketing

the property to potential tenants, he said.

There have been a number of inquiries from parties interested in leasing

sections of Fairfield Hills from the state, Mr Nuclo said. However, he

declined to elaborate on who has inquired about using the property or what

uses those parties have in mind.

There is no particular "timeline" or schedule for getting the Fairfield Hills

property leased out, he said.

A planning report preapared by the Fairfield Hills Task Force last year

created a "very sound base" from which to plan future Fairfield Hills uses, he

said. The task force recommneded keeping as much land as possible as

agricultural open space, reusing existing buildings for offices, encouraging

the presence of educational institutions at Fairfield Hills, promoting

affordable housing for the elderly there, creating an industrial area, and

allowing recreational uses of the property, among others.

"We want to do this right," Mr Nuclo said of future uses for Fairfield Hills.

The state has never been in a position before to market so much of its

property to private users, he noted. Transforming Fairfield Hills from a state

facility to a facility used by private parties will take some time, probably

years, he said.

A crew for the upcoming feature film "Sleepers" used the hospital campus for

location filming during the month of November.

Comments are open. Be civil.

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