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Why Did the Town Only Learn of the Detention Center Plans Last Month?

Officials have earned the public's trust on the issue but are still besought by the question: why didn't we know about this?

 

Local officials have successfully galvanized public support through the actions they are taking to fight the state's proposed detainee facility on West Street.

Senator Paul Doyle and Representative Tony Guererra fulfilled their promise Friday to introduce legislation into the General Assembly to try to prevent the center from opening. Their bill would prohibit the state from releasing incarcerated or institutionalized persons into a private convalescent residence without municipal consent.

Meanwhile, Mayor LaRosa and the rest of the town government are forging ahead with a lawsuit against the site owners, iCare Management of Manchester. Attorneys for the town made initial appearances in Superior Court on Friday, Monday, and Wednesday.

But, although they have gained residents' confidence on the issue, leaders are repeatedly confronted with the same question in public forums: why did the town learn of the planned facility only two months before its scheduled opening in February?

According to the CT Mirror, the process began in 2011 when the state issued an RFP for "clients under state care who are difficult to place." Eventually, iCare secured the bid.

At this point, officials say, the state made the unusual move of tasking the vendor to find a location for the facility. Had the state been responsible for site selection, the plan would have been revealed months earlier, and it would have been subject to public hearings, zoning board review, and other, required procedures.

Charging iCare with the responsibility of site procurement allowed the state to make an end-run around channels that would normally have to be followed, officials maintain.

The vendor did not settle on the West Street location until October, and the purchase was not completed until November. But, even then, it appeared on land transfer records merely as an innocuous LLC transaction.

Only in December did the state publish a press release about its plans—after a reporter from the Hartford Courant broke the story.

LaRosa explained the state's additional incentive to operate through a private owner. If the intended facility is located on state-owned land, it would be classified as a correctional center, not a nursing home. This would render the state ineligible to recoup the $6 M from Medicare and Medicaid that it hopes to save on treatment of the facility's convalescent population. 

Labeling the facility a nursing home also allows the state to circumvent Rocky Hill's regular zoning process. West Street is not zoned to accommodate a correctional institution.

LaRosa disagrees with the classification of the facility as a nursing center.

"This is not your typical nursing home. They're going to be locked down, and if they're locked down, to me, that's a prison."

The mayor also contends that iCare should still have to go through normal zoning procedures in order to open, even if the facility is deemed a nursing home, because the nursing home permit for Haven Health Care Center, which formerly occupied the site, expired in 2011. This claim represents one of the central arguments of the town's lawsuit.

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WINEGUY51 January 17, 2013 at 11:47 AM
i have read a number of these news bits..but..never see a name of this state political hack who allowed this whole thing to go forward! we live near this place {as does most of rocky hill residents!}..i still say lets find the goober who thinks this is a great idea....and have them drop all these wacked out criminals..."right next door to their home"...let them deal with this every day! meanwhile..."leave my little town alone!"
Mike M January 17, 2013 at 12:59 PM
I couldn't make the town meeting last night and wish I could have. This article is a great point - who was the bozo that knew this was happening. I wasn't thrilled when the biohazard/infectious diease "Public Health Laboratory" center went in on West St. and now this is literally hundreds of feet from my children.
Mike M January 17, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Also - thanks to our governement officials who are fighting this.
Harry January 17, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Really? Is this really a question none of us don't already know the answer to? We know why, this didn't go down the way it by accident. Once announced icare ( who really dont care, unless its $$$$ ) and Malloy ( same goes ) holding there breath hoping we would all just be sheep and let this happen. Thank you for the legislation , when does it go up for vote? When does Malloy veto the bill?
Jaclyn Farnham January 17, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Thanks for covering this story. I also wondered if someone was just asleep on the job or if a Town official did know about this ahead of the purchase of the facility. We may never know the answer because (speaking from experience working against the Town to save the West Street portion of Elm Ridge Park), I have noticed that as these things are happening there is no paper trail left on purpose.
George Smith January 17, 2013 at 07:03 PM
The deal is that this developer is a big financial support of Malloy's. Malloy and the developer approved this deal prior to the developer purchasing the property. Once Malloy gave his blessing, the developer purchased the property without going before the town for approvals first. Guerrera and Doyle were not notified because this deal was authorized from the top. By the way, since Guerrera didn't support Malloy in the primary, this is also an intentional slap in the face from the Gov. Nice, right?

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