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HomeNewsHaddam Town GovernmentWhat You Want to Know for the HES Sale Referendum

What You Want to Know for the HES Sale Referendum

By Bob McGarry, Haddam First Selectman

(June 5, 2024) — I will recommend to the Board of Selectmen, at its June 10, 2024 meeting, that we hold a referendum on the sale of the former Haddam Elementary School on July 23, 2024. Absentee ballots are available for referendums.

Not surprisingly there’s been a lot of misinformation spread about the proposed sale. Let me address some of it. Just as a reminder, we were awarded a $4.5 million grant to convert HES into affordable senior housing, a senior center, a community center and municipal offices. We are required to have a private partner working with us to carry this out.

We asked for proposals from developers to partner with us; three developers responded and we selected the proposal from Rak Realty as the best. They proposed buying HES from us for $350,000, renovating to our specifications the multi-purpose room and classrooms in the old section of the school (the saw-toothed section) for a community wing and building thirty-six one- and two-bedroom affordable senior living apartments in the rest of the building. All of this would be at no cost to us. The grounds around the school would be available for public and recreational use. (For more details, please refer to my article in HK News, What to Do with HES?, and the HES project page on our website.)

The community wing will include:

  • A new Community Center. The existing multi-purpose room and attached warming kitchen would become our Community Center. The stage will remain and the kitchen will be enlarged. Some ten meetings each month are held at the Community Center. The new Community Center will be more than one-third larger than the existing one on Candlewood Hill Road.
  • A new Senior Center. Our existing one isn’t large enough to serve our needs; nor is there enough parking. Seniors often have to park at the library and cross Saybrook Road. There’s no room to expand the Center or parking at the current location.
  • Offices for the Registrars of Voters and our resident State Troopers.

The grounds will be available for public recreational use including:

  • We are installing a new playscape in the playground area in front of the school. (This was funded by a grant and does not depend on the results of the referendum.)
  • A walking/exercise track around the perimeter of the property.
  • Refurbishing the existing basketball court.
  • Pickle ball courts.
  • Horseshoe pits and a bocce court.

Parking Lots

  • A new parking lot will be built behind the existing gymnasium for the senior housing residents
  • The existing parking lots will remain available for parking for the community wing. They will also be available for special events such as the Higganum Farmers Market, paper shredding, household hazardous waste collection, etc.

All of this will be financed with the grant money and private funds. No town funds are required.

The uses residents have suggested for HES range from “Tear it down and make it a park,” to “Just keep it in good condition; RSD17 will want it back” and everything in between. Obviously, no proposal can meet them all, but the proposed sale addresses the uses that have the most support. It creates a multi-generational space that benefits all of us and brings activity to Higganum Center.

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