Town renews Day Kimball lease; Youth Center will stay put

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Nov. 18, 2013
Town officials have renewed a two-year lease with Day Kimball HomeCare to occupy this Ashland Street structure, the last remnant of the former Ashland Mill. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.
Town officials have renewed a two-year lease with Day Kimball HomeCare to occupy this Ashland Street structure, the last remnant of the former Ashland Mill. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.

Both Day Kimball HomeCare and the Griswold Youth Center will stay in their current Jewett City digs for at least another year. The Griswold Board of Selectmen voted 2-0 to renew Day Kimball’s contract with the town for the lease of its Ashland Street building at a special Nov. 13 meeting.

Both current First Selectman Philip Anthony and Second Selectman Steven Mikutel voted to approve the move at the 10-minute-long meeting; Third Selectman Donald Hill was absent from the meeting.

Griswold Youth Services Director Ryan Aubin had presented a proposal to the selectmen prior to the meeting, asking that the space be used instead as a new home for the Griswold Youth Center. The youth center, which has long occupied space at the Slater Mill Mall, moved last summer to a more spacious storefront in the mall.

Aubin said that moving into a town-owned building would save the town the $11,400 in rent each year. The Ashland Street structure, the only remaining fragment of the former Ashland Mill, would provide more usable floor space on the first floor, along with considerably more storage space upstairs. “That’s important when you have three departments out of one building,” he said. Aubin heads the town’s Youth and Family Services, the Youth Center and the Parks and Recreation Department.

In addition, he said, the Ashland Street site would provide “access to open space and parks for kids to let out their energy,” something that’s currently missing from the Slater Mill Mall site.

Day Kimball operates its home skilled nursing services out of the building. The Putnam-based hospital took over home health care nursing duties in the town when the town’s own home nursing service was discontinued.

Anthony, presiding over his last meeting as first selectman, said that the board did not open the issue to public comment at the meeting because only the lease was up for vote. “The meeting was strictly for the rental of the real estate,” he said. The services provided by Day Kimball to town residents are covered by a separate contract, which was unanimously approved at a selectmen’s meeting in May with no opposition.

The new lease is good for two years, with an option for Day Kimball to be released during the second year if it gives the town sufficient notice, said Anthony. The previous five-year lease expired in September, he said. “They’ve been there two months without a contract,” he said. “They knew they wanted to take it, but they didn’t know the terms.”

While Anthony said that he thought moving the youth center to the town-owned building “makes all the sense in the world,” doing so now would break the center’s lease with Slater Mill Mall. “If you break that contract, the owner of record can and probably would sue for the length of the lease,” he said. “That’s a liability I could not allow as first selectman.”

Anthony said that he negotiated with the mall’s owners to reduce the rent for the youth center from $ 1,250 to $950 monthly, and that the center had “spent a lot of money doing a lot of retrofitting.” They, too, have a two-year lease agreement for the space, he said.

Incoming First Selectman Kevin Skulczyck said that he thought relocating the Youth Center to the Ashland Street site was “a really smart approach. That location is a perfect scenario to be operated for town services.” But, he added, “we’re not in the business of going against a contract.” He said he would research the issue further, once he takes office Nov. 19.

Aubin said he still hoped that eventually the Youth Center would be able to take over town-owned space. “I wasn’t expecting to move in tomorrow,” he said. “We’d have to work on the inside of the building, and that takes time. It’s going to be a transition.”


 


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