Date: Fri 08-Dec-1995
Date: Fri 08-Dec-1995
State Hospital At Fairfield Hills Set To Close Dec. 15
B Y A NDREW G OROSKO
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
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
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.