Danbury could donate the Mallory Hat site to the Women's Center for a new transitional housing center. A City Council Committee met Monday night to review the donation of city owned property at 89 Rose Hill Avenue.
Mayor Mark Boughton says the property does contain a level of environmental contamination, but wants the City to work with the Women's Center to seek grants and other funding opportunities to make the project happen.
The Women's Center hired an environmental engineer to assess the property, and it was determined that the clean up will cost $700,00 to $800,000. Boughton told them that the City doesn't have that kind of money on hand, and that it wouldn't be appropriate for the City to foot the bill for a non-profit. He noted that if the City did that for one, they would have to do it for all. But if the Women's Center can get the property cleaned up, Boughton says it would be appropriate for Danbury to sell the land to the Women's Center for $1.
The Women's Center hired a lobbyist who has spoken with Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, and others at the Office of Policy and Management, about a special grant fund they have to clean properties. They don't have a final committment yet, but Boughton says if a grant can be secured Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola will oversee and manage the clean up. Once it's certified for use, and the City Council gives the ok, they can transfer the property to the Women's Center.
Another challenge is that there is a viaduct under the property, which Boughton believes is near 100 years old. He says no business is likely to be interested in the land because they wouldn't be able to build over that structure. The viaduct limits the build-ability to about 2.5 acres. Danbury issued several requests for proposals from businesses over the years, but there weren't any takers. At one point, the owner of nearby Fairfield Processing asked the City to hold off on looking into bids because they were thinking about expanding. Those plans have since changed because their business changed.
The Women's Center raised $4 million in capital fund to build the transitional housing.
The Women's Center has provided a safe haven to victims of domestic and sexual violence since its founding in 1975. The Center serves 20,000 people in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield Counties each year.