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Archive for September, 2012

State’s decision to lease Glavin land for $1 raises questions

September 30, 2012 1 comment

For years we’ve heard from the administration that it’s necessary to close the Glavin Regional Center and three other developmental centers in Massachusetts because the centers have become too expensive to operate.

But if these closures are about saving money, why has the administration agreed to essentially give away 69 acres of state land at Glavin to the Town of Shrewsbury?  In agreeing in August to lease the land to the town for $1 a year for the next 25 years, the state will forego potentially millions of dollars it would have gotten from the sale of that land.

Our main question really is this: Why has the administration reached this deal with the town outside of what would normally be a formal and deliberative process to determine the best options for reuse of the land?  The 69 acres, which include soccer fields and farmland surrounding the Glavin Center, comprise at least 62 percent of the total Glavin campus.

For the past eight years, the state has been involved in a painstaking and often contentious reuse process with the City of Waltham over the 200 acres at the site of the Fernald Developmental Center, which has also been targeted for closure.  That process has brought parties from all sides to the table, and has involved public hearings and a report by a planning consultant. 

No such reuse process has yet occurred at Glavin, and yet a decision has already effectively been made about the disposition of a majority of the acreage at that site.  It’s a decision, moreover, that is a great financial deal for the Town of Shrewsbury, but not for the state, which is supposedly so strapped for cash that it has had to evict what were hundreds of longtime residents of the developmental centers from their homes.

Here by the way, is what Governor Patrick had to say this past May about the reuse process at Fernald:

Everybody’s on it (the Fernald reuse process).  All the interests, all the factions, and that’s how it should be. I know the city has expressed interest in buying it (a portion of the Fernald land).  I don’t think the state’s in a position to give it away. But I think selling to the city, some or all of it, is certainly an option.

So, the state is not in a position to give away any of the Fernald land, yet it is in a position to give away the Glavin land?  And why, in the case of Fernald, are all the interests at the table whereas, in the case of Glavin, the only interests at the table were the state and the town?

Both Glavin and Fernald have been targeted by the administration for closure, over the objections of most of the family members and guardians of the residents of those facilities.   The administration has repeatedly claimed to the Legislature that it would save up to $40 million a year in closing the Fernald, Glavin, Monson, and Templeton developmental centers.   Yet the administration and other opponents of the centers have repeatedly opposed an independent study of the cost of closing those facilities. 

The $1 lease arrangement at Glavin stems from a home rule petition that was presented by Shrewsbury to the state Legislature in May.  The lease involves both a 15-acre tract that has housed town soccer fields for many years and a 54-acre tract of farmland.  The Legislature approved the lease and the governor signed the bill in August.

We’re not opposed to preserving the land at Glavin as farmland or as soccer fields.  But we question why this lease arrangement for 69 acres of land was done outside of a formal disposition process for the land and why it was done in such a seeming hurry. 

We’ve filed Public Records requests with the state for records concerning plans for the reuse of the Glavin property.  We’d like to know what’s going on.

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Rep. Haddad endorses independent study for Glavin Center

September 12, 2012 8 comments

House Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, who just spearheaded a successful effort  to block the immediate closure of Taunton State Hospital, supports undertaking an independent study prior to the closure of the state-run Glavin Regional Center in Shrewsbury for persons with intellectual disabilities.

Speaking at a meeting Tuesday at the State House attended by Glavin family members,  legislators and their staffs, and officials of the Department of Developmental Services, Haddad said the independent study should cover “the entire DMH (Department of Mental Health) and DDS system.”

“Someone has to be the first to say we’re not afraid to have an outside study done to tell us what’s wrong and what’s right,” Haddad said.  She maintained that internal studies done by the administration that showed a savings in closing Glavin and other developmental centers in Massachusetts “are asking people to trust the results.”

The Tuesday meeting was organized by Republican Representative Matthew Beaton, whose Shrewsbury-based district is home to Glavin.  In 2008, the Patrick administration targeted the Glavin, Fernald, Monson, and Templeton developmental centers for closure as of the end of the current fiscal year.

Fernald has remained open pending the outcome of appeals filed by the guardians of 14 remaining residents.  The Monson center was officially closed last month.

During the Tuesday meeting, I pointed out on behalf of COFAR that the planned closures of the four developmental centers will leave only two locations in Massachusetts for federally regulated Intermediate Level Facility (ICF) care.  Those remaining facilities are located in Danvers in the northeastern corner of the state, and Wrentham in southeastern Massachusetts.  The administration has deferred a decision on whether to close the Danvers facility.

During the meeting, Will Dumont of Brookfield, the father of a resident of the centrally located Glavin Center, said it would be much more difficult to regularly visit his son if he were transferred hours away to Wrentham.

Sheila Bailey, another family member, said her brother had suffered abuse in a facility that he had lived in prior to coming to Glavin.  “It was like a cloud was lifted when he got to Glavin,” Bailey said.  “He finally had a life there.”

Beaton maintained that Al Bacotti, a former director of the Glavin Center, who has taken an active role in opposing its closure, maintained to him that in the next 10 to 15 years, the loss of the ICF-level care provided by facilities such as Glavin will force the state to rebuild them.

DDS Deputy Commissioner Larry Tummino said he did not dispute that the services at Glavin are excellent.  He contended that “we can structure that clinical expertise in the community.”   Tummino also maintained that guardians of some 31 residents at Glavin have agreed thus far to move those residents to other locations.

That latter claim from Tummino brought a sharp rebuke from Roland Charpentier, the president of the Glavin family association.  Charpentier said  the guardians who agreed to leave Glavin did so “because they were scared to death that Glavin is going to close.”

Haddad also was critical of the administration’s contention that the services provided by facilities such as Glavin and Taunton state can be replicated in the community system.   “There are more horror stories than good stories in the private sector,” Haddad said.  “You’re asking people to trust a system that has a lot of flaws,” she said to Tummino and a second DDS official who attended the Tuesday meeting.

“This is not something you can just say ‘it’s going to be okay,” Haddad added. 

Haddad said she was nervous about what the independent study approved for Taunton State Hospital might conclude, but that she believes the outcome will be support for “a continuum of care” in the mental health system that would include Taunton State.

Speaking specifically about the plan to close Glavin, Haddad maintained that it is harmful to remove intellectually disabled people from their longtime homes.  “People cling to the people and things that they know,” she said.