Borough schools eye VNA building

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School officials have a plan to repurpose the former Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association building on Rubber Avenue into an educational facility. –RA ARCHIVE
School officials have a plan to repurpose the former Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association building on Rubber Avenue into an educational facility. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — School officials have a plan to repurpose the largely vacant former Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association building on Rubber Avenue into an educational facility.

Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said Thursday she wants to turn the building at 600 Rubber Ave. into a home for alternative programming for students who cannot attend traditional school for a variety of reasons.

The board is still working out details and has not yet accepted the plan. Locke said she believes the building will need little renovation to fit the school district’s needs, and her plan is to use furniture from the former General DataComm headquarters that the borough now owns to place in the new building. She said fewer than 50 students use the program.

School board member Diana Malone brought the idea to Locke’s attention.

“I thought it was just a great idea and something we should look into,” Locke said.

Per state law, the borough offers educational opportunities to students who have been expelled from school, need a change of setting or cannot attend due to health problems or other issues. Currently, those students are tutored at Town Hall, the public library and other locations scattered around the borough. This plan would enable them to be tutored in one location.

The Naugatuck VNA vacated the building last year after the borough decided to privatize that service. The private company currently serving many of the Naugatuck VNA’s former patients and others locally is the Visiting Nurse Association of South Central Connecticut. As of last October, that organization began using the building at 600 Rubber Ave. as its local headquarters.

Mayor Robert Mezzo said that company hardly uses the office space because its nurses work remotely. He said he spoke with representatives from the company and that they had no problem with vacating the space.

“The plan was never to let that building sit vacant,” he said.

In 2001, Naugatuck first received a grant to move the Naugatuck VNA, then a town department, from its former headquarters on Barnum Court in Naugatuck’s downtown to a vacant building at 600 Rubber Ave. But after years of setbacks, the building deteriorated and became infested with mold. The borough thought it was best to tear the building down and start from scratch.

The grant approval process took a while and Naugatuck did not receive permission from the state to rebuild until 2007. The new building was constructed for $394,000.