Rep. Chris Caruso, D-Bridgeport, and other opponents to the $20 million girls’ treatment and detention center on Virginia Avenue in Bridgeport, have apparently won the war. Rell has withdrawn the new facility from the March 16 State Bond Commission agenda and is issuing a new request for proposal. Here’s the governor’s news release:
” Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that – in view of united legislative opposition from both Bridgeport and Hamden – she has directed the state Department of Public Works to issue a new Request for Proposals (RFP) for a planned secure juvenile treatment center for girls, soliciting offers along three different pathways.
The treatment center – a home- and school-like facility for girls age 18 and under – would have 16 secure beds and eight beds for girls transitioning from the secure center back to community residential facilities. Governor Rell originally proposed locating the facility on state-owned land in Bridgeport, a plan that drew opposition from Bridgeport-area lawmakers and city officials. The Bridgeport officials suggested instead that the treatment center be placed at the now-closed High Meadows Residential Facility in Hamden – a plan that the Hamden delegation, in turn, also opposed.
“This treatment center is already long overdue – the state has been without a secure facility for young girls since the Long Lane School in Middletown was closed in 2003,” Governor Rell said. “Sadly for the young girls in need, efforts to site this facility have encountered one obstacle after another. However, I believe that through the RFP process we can quickly identify a community that will welcome the project and move ahead in a timely fashion.
“My goal with this project has always been to do what is best for the girls who desperately need treatment in a secure location,” Governor Rell said. “I know that, with help, these girls can turn their lives around. By structuring this RFP around three different scenarios, we can entertain a wide range of potential locations and operating plans, which should also help complete this project at the lowest possible cost to Connecticut’s taxpayers.”
The three construction and operation scenarios outlined in the RFP are:
- A private entity would buy land, build and operate the facility for the state
- A private entity would buy land, build and own the facility, which would be operated by the Department of Children and Families (DCF)
- A municipality would donate land or sell it at nominal cost in exchange for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) funding, while DCF would build and operate the facility
The RFP calls for responses within 60 days.
The treatment center will include classrooms, meeting areas, a dining room and kitchen, sleeping quarters and recreational areas. The RFP stresses that the design should be home- and school-like, noting that the goal is to provide treatment in the least restrictive setting possible.
The RFP requires that potential locations have direct, easy access to state highways and be located on or near bus routes – so that family members will be able to visit girls who are receiving treatment – and have adequate, on-site parking. These requirements were among Governor Rell’s original reasons for proposing that the facility be located on state-owned land on Virginia Avenue in Bridgeport.”