People in Rocky Hill are talking about a proposal for a nursing home that would house convicts and the mentally ill and they held a protest Wednesday morning at the state Capitol.
The proposed plan is to have a 95-bed facility on West Street to treat seriously ill patients from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services as well as prisoners from the Department of Correction.
The building has been closed for two years and is located in a residential neighborhood.
"I'm very concerned that Rocky Hill could be another Newtown. Be on the world map and I don't want that to happen," said Susan Gagnon, who lives a mile away from the facility. "No matter what security they say they want to put in place, where there's a will there's a way, especially for people that don't want to be there."
Town officials have requested a temporary restraining order because the town believes the nursing home will start to put prisoners inside very soon.
Undersecretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Michael Lawlor stresses "these people are extremely disabled, extremely sick people" with some of them in wheelchairs, on dialysis, hospice, or suffering from severe dementia.
"The state says, 'Well, it's end of life prisoners.' Does that make you feel better? Not really," said Tony Bee, who lives next to the proposed facility. "I mean they're still prisoners though."
Lawlor said housing them in a home could save Connecticut $6 million per year because of federal Medicaid reimbursements.
The property owner, iCare Management LLC., previously said it believes this is not a switch that requires the town's permission or approval by the town's planning and zoning commission and its zoning board of appeals.
Close to 100 people attended a rally at the state Capitol in Hartford Wednesday morning.
"It is a 'not in my backyard,'" said Mayor Anthony LaRosa on the nursing home. "It is a 'not in anyone's backyard.'"
The group also delivered a 5,000-signature petition to the governor's office.
Eyewitness News told Lawlor that U-Haul trucks were spotted outside the facility recently and he confirmed staff are being hired. The facility is on schedule to begin accepting patients March 1.
Currently, there are three lawsuits against the property owners to stop the move.
A judge is currently reviewing a request by the town for a temporary restraining order to be placed on the nursing home.
iCare Management LLC. did not want to comment because of the pending litigation.
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