The Day – Defaced old school building stripped of hate symbols

STAFFORD – The swastikas and a number associated with white supremacy painted on the former Borough Elementary School at 36 Prospect St. last week have finally been removed by the nonprofit that owns the building.

The city’s land records show that the defaced property was purchased in 2015 by the city of CT Retirement Colony Inc., a non-profit organization based in West Hartford, with no monetary contribution.

The nonprofit was renamed the Connecticut Retirement Community in 2018, company president Harvey Corson said.

Corson said Thursday afternoon that the graffiti, which was on the back of the building, was painted over with black paint on Tuesday. Offensive scratches on the front door were also painted over on Wednesday, he said. “It was a terrible anti-Semitic statement,” Corson said.

State police said Thursday they were investigating the incident.

The Connecticut Retirement Community’s plans for the building call for the construction of 22 affordable housing units in the former school that would be accessible to low-income deaf and deaf-blind people.

The plans, which originally called for 24 units, were first presented at a March 2012 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting by then-First Selectman Richard Shuck.

The Board of Selectmen approved the purchase agreement to transfer the property to the nonprofit for $1 in July 2012, which voters approved the following month.

The nonprofit organization then submitted a site plan to the city’s planning and zoning commission in December 2012, which unanimously approved the application in January 2013 after a public hearing.

Shuck said at the time that the planned renovations would cost the developers $5 million and be completed in 2015.

However, assistant city surveyor Tracy Rummel said Thursday that the building has remained vacant since the nonprofit organization took ownership.

Corson said the previously proposed senior housing project is still ongoing, but the nonprofit is struggling to secure funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“We applied for it back in 2020, and then we didn’t quite make it,” Corson said of the federal funding.

Corson said the nonprofit plans to reapply sometime in 2022. After funding is secured, the organization anticipates a 18-month renovation.

“We’ve got the blueprints done, the design, everything is done,” Corson said.

Corson clarified that the building will have a mix of studio, one-, and two-bedroom units. While the apartments are intended for deaf and deaf-blind people, older residents can also apply without hearing or visual impairments.

“We want people of all types to apply,” Corson said.

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