The owner of the former West Hill Nursing Home wants to reopen and admit prisoners from the Department of Correction who need long-term care at the facility. However on Wednesday night, residents banded together to try to keep the plan from going through.
The proposed plan for the West Street facility would reduce it from 120 beds to just 95, but what has residents so upset is that it would be used to treat seriously ill patients from the mental health and addiction services as well as prisoners form the Department of Correction.
The facility would be placed in a highly residential area, and many of the folks at the rally told Eyewitness News that they weren't politically active but are coming together for an old-fashioned grassroots campaign.
"I just want to feel safe," said Rocky Hill resident Jennifer Roberts.
Town officials are hoping for a temporary restraining order because the town believes the nursing home will start to put prisoners inside very soon.
Roberts recently purchased a home in Rocky Hill with hopes of raising children in town.
"It's big enough for us to start the family, but (the facility is) close enough for us to be concerned for their safety," she said.
State officials said the change could save it about $6 million per year, and the property owner added it believes this is not a switch that requires the town's permission.
Mayor Anthony LaRosa said he is hoping that 5,000-signature petition will get the state's attention and ultimately reverse their decision.
"I hate to say it, but it's a group of people who have never been involved in doing this before and we're trying to get people organized," LaRosa said. "It's working. It's starting to gel."
"I don't want to have to worry that they can't go to the playground and that someone who is not supposed to be there is there, doing things they shouldn't be doing," Roberts said.
The state has always maintained it has the power to make the move without the town's permission. And state officials believe the law is on its side.
The judge said he wants to review the facts before making a decision, even on the temporary restraining order requested by the town. The final decision should be presented on Friday.
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