Lives have been saved and health care made accessible by the efforts of the Winsted Health Center Foundation. Since 1997, after Winsted Memorial Hospital closed, the Foundation initiated hospital-level services at the Center, including emergency room and LifeStar resources with its partner Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and physical therapy with its partner Saint Francis Hospital, primary care for veterans with its Veterans Administration partner, and senior residences at the Susan Perry facility.
Community Health and Wellness of Greater Torrington is a recent member of the Winsted Health Center community. In 2015, it received a $1.2 million federal grant to expand services at the Winsted Health Center, as stated in its application for the grant.
But now, Community Health and Wellness wants to convert space on Main Street in the center of downtown Winsted into a non-profit health clinic. It will pay no taxes and it will be next door to another non-tax paying entity, Faith Bible Church. This is a mistake.
Winsted needs a thriving commercial downtown. An underlying objective of the Plan of Conservation and Development and the Planning and Zoning Regulations is to keep the town center commercial district intact and occupied with taxpaying, commercial and retail entities. This encourages shopping, dining and other entertainment and commercial activities and generates tax dollars for the town.
Winsted has multiple health services conveniently located at the Winsted Health Center, which has space for expansion and has recently increased local bus service to ensure adequate transportation to the Spencer Street facility, which has been the location of health care in Winsted for over 115 years.
Finally, some suggest that nothing should interfere with the private transaction between John Dwan and Community Health and Wellness. Certainly, Dwan has been a supportive community member and friend and everyone agrees that he deserves his comfortable retirement in Litchfield. But residents and officials in Winsted must act responsibly and consider the economic and other impacts of losing more of the valuable commercial Town Center to nontaxpaying expansions. This is not personal. The future of our town is at stake.
Community Health and Wellness has applied for a special change of use permit for the current IGA Super Saver location. The required public hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 27 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. Please attend the meeting to protect the town center.