Montville - Officials here are pleased with the passage of an amendment to a bill that will require more consideration given to how and where to locate a sexual offender treatment facility in the state, but they are not ready to give up their fight yet to keep one out of town.
"Until we hear, 'No, it is not coming to Montville,' this ball is still in play," Town Council Chairwoman Donna Jacobson said Thursday evening.
Wednesday night the state House of Representative unanimously approved the amendment, which requires that five locations be considered and that the proximity to schools, roads, day cares, businesses and other facilities is part of the assessment. It was part of a larger bill that clarifies the ability to strip assets from those convicted of sex-related crimes or possession of child pornography.
The Senate unanimously approved the measure on Tuesday.
Jacobson thanked the three representatives and two senators that represent Montville, and who drafted the amendment, for their effort, but said she remains wary.
"I know that bureaucracy, once it is set in motion, is a very difficult thing to take out of motion," she said.
And Thursday, despite the change to the legislation, which requires the state to identify at least five potential locations for such a facility and lists several criteria to be considered, it remained unclear whether the amendment would affect the proposal that could site a treatment center in Montville.
Brian Garnett, director of external affairs for the state Department of Correction, said the department has asked its attorney to review the amendment to determine whether it would apply retroactively.
If it does, it may change a proposal that could involve developing a 24-bed facility for sexual offender prisoners just about to complete their sentence and those who are on adult-probation on the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center property on Norwich-New London Turnpike (Route 32).
If it does not apply, negotiations with The Connection Inc., a nonprofit organization that currently runs a halfway house on the property, the only bidder for the project, will begin.
The DOC and the judicial branch's Court Support Services Division are teaming up to fund and oversee the facility.
Hearing that the DOC is asking for a legal opinion on the amendment angered Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz, who said that it made comments by the department that it asked The Connection to consider other locations for the facility seem disingenuous.