P&Z: Members discuss using Batcheller School building for public safety complex, but currently no formal plans

WINSTED — During the Planning and Zoning Commission’s regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 11, the commission discussed the possibility of using the Batcheller School, located at 201 Pratt Street, as a public safety complex, which would include the town’s police station.
However, according to Winchester Police Chief William Fitzgerald, no formal plans are currently being created to move the town’s police station from its location at Town Hall on Main Street.
According to an email to The Winsted Phoenix by Chief Fitzgerald, he was asked by town officials to look at existing town properties that could be repurposed for a public safety complex and an emergency shelter.
While he wrote that the school building would be an excellent location, no formal research has been conducted on any plans.
The school currently educates Pre-Kindergarten to second-grade students.
Back in September 2019, residents at a special referendum approved funding to renovate and reopen Hinsdale School.
The original plans for Hinsdale’s reopening included moving classes from Batcheller to Hinsdale.
However, the town is still waiting to hear from the state on grants to fund the project.
At the commission’s meeting, members reviewed a letter written by Chief Fitzgerald which identified and analyzed the possibilities and shortcomings for reusing the school building.
In the letter, Chief Fitzgerald wrote about the school building’s various problems, including no space for storage, limited office space, mold and sewer backups, an outdated ventilation system, and water leaks.
At the meeting, commission members seemed to agree with Chief Fitzgerald and that other locations should be considered instead of Batcheller.
“Having been on various school building committees, I am familiar with that building,” commission member Peter Marchand said. “It contains a lot of asbestos. There are many structural issues with the building. There’s an underground oil tank that’s over 30 years old that has to be removed. There presently is no gas service up there. I think there are better facilities.”
“I agree with that,” Chairman George Closson said. “I don’t personally see us putting a location there that would satisfy what is needed.”
Closson suggested the possibility of putting a new public safety complex at the old Connecticut Light and Power property right behind the True Value of Winchester store, located at 276 Main Street.
“That location is centrally located and you have utility services,” Closson said. “It’s a better location for a public safety complex.”
In an email to The Winsted Phoenix, Winchester School District Superintendent Melony Brady-Shanley said that she was unaware of any discussions about turning Batcheller into a public safety complex.

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