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.
At 18 degrees and sunny, carpenters with Nosal Builders worked steadily Wednesday to get the roof structure in place. Clerk of the Works Brian Feeney said the progress on the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corp’s new ambulance garage is “going really well.” So far, the roughly $4.5 million project that broke ground in mid-2013, is on schedule, he said.
Roofing trusses were going into place this week and that phase of the roof should be completed in a few weeks, Mr Feeney said.
Preserved as open space, the High Meadow in Fairfield Hills will also be protected by a management plan, which the Conservation Commission members are finalizing, according to commission Chairman Mary Gaudet-Wilson.
“Meadows habitat is what we have the least of in Connecticut and it’s valuable for certain species and biodiversity,” she said. The plan being drafted, which must then be approved by other town officials, will be based on a habitat management plan already written for both the High and West Meadows at Fairfield Hills.
More than once Andrea Zimmermann said she was surprised by what she learned recently while researching Fairfield Hills. Author, researcher and Newtown resident, Ms Zimmermann in October submitted to the town a preliminary 39-page report of narrative and photographs documenting the property history and specific buildings at the former state hospital.
“You could always keep talking about Fairfield Hills because it’s fascinating,” she observed.
The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) has designated as permanent open space an undeveloped area at Fairfield Hills near Wasserman Way.
Following discussion at a recent session, P&Z members unanimously decided to protect as designated open space the areas known as the High Meadow and the East Meadow. The area sometimes is known only as the High Meadow.