The verb prostitute, according to Collins Thesaurus, means to “cheapen, sell out, pervert, devalue, squander, demean, debase, profane, or misapply.”
This is exactly what seems to be evolving at Fairfield Hills. Our first selectman told the Board of Selectman at their most recent meeting that “those interested in projects at Fairfield Hills have said retail or commercial enterprises cannot survive without a residential component.”
About a decade ago, Connecticut started getting serious about reclaiming and reusing former and abandoned, environmentally tainted industrial sites known as brownfields. Around that same time, Newtown’s Director of Economic and Community Development Elizabeth Stocker began compiling an informal list of local brownfield sites.
Like many Newtown residents, I've enjoyed taking walks through our Fairfield Hills campus. I've also been saddened to see so many beautifully crafted buildings fall slowly into ruin. How can we rescue, restore and reuse these architectural assets? I recently discovered an excellent website developed by Newtown resident Michael Taylor: www.RedevelopmentInstitute.org
With its brick façade going up, the six-bay garage slab in, and interior drywall giving the structure shape, Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Association’s new headquarters is moving forward and starting to look like a new building. It is still several months away from completion, however. Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps member Stuart Rieve said that mid-August will “hopefully” see the project, which broke ground last July, primarily finished.
Thanks to $200,000 in grant funds, hazardous materials abatement in the single-family houses at Fairfield Hills has begun, with abatement and demolition of Danbury Hall to follow. An additional $200,000 in Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) funds through the town will cover any additional costs incurred when Danbury is demolished.
Newtown was notified April 16 that it is the recipient of a $200,000 grant, which Director of Economic and Community Development Director Elizabeth Stocker said will be applied to assessing nine remaining buildings at Fairfield Hills for hazardous materials. The assessments will help the town estimate the cost of eventual hazmat remediation whether the building in question is slated for possible reuse or for demolition.
What will the Fairfield Hills Authority’s role be in the future? This and other topics including building upkeep and prospective tenants to occupy the nearly 80-year-old former state hospital buildings topped the list for conversation at the first authority meeting this year.