HEADLINES

Educational and Living Facility Proposed for St. Stephen's South Hall in Ridgefield

Ability Beyond, a nonprofit organization that serves people with intellectual disabilities and their families, together with Ridgefield Affordable Housing Committee, and with the support of First Selectman Rudy Marconi, have proposed the use of St. Stephen's South Hall. This would benefit the church, the community of people with disabilities, and the Town of Ridgefield. 

Ability Beyond proposes to renovate South Hall and operate a residential facility and educational program for 8 young adults with disabilities who require limited support needs. The home and its program services are designed to empower them to live fulfilling lives, with the aim of enabling them to move on to independent living after several years. 

* Ability Beyond proposes to lease South Hall for 50 years for the sum of $1 per year. (i.e. ACT Theatre lease with Town) 

In return: 

* Ability Beyond will invest approximately $1.8 million to fully renovate South Hall. 

* Ability Beyond will manage South Hall completely. St Stephens will not have to act as landlord. 

* Ability Beyond will preserve the unique historic charm and character of South Hall, providing an enduring asset to the downtown streetscape. SH’s facade and footprint will remain. 

* Ability Beyond will assume all responsibility for interior and exterior SH building and grounds maintenance and upkeep, and any other associated costs including, but not limited to: cleaning, utilities, landscaping, plowing and insurance. 

* Ability Beyond will require only 5 parking spots for staff at most, as the residents will not drive. (SH’s central location is ideal for them to walk to work in town and integrate into a community that will surely welcome them.) 

* St. Stephens’ current Parking configurations and usage for church activities could remain. * St. Stephens’ current Driveway entrance and exit could remain in use by church.
To facilitate this: 

Ability Beyond would like to option South Hall immediately - for up to one year - by assuming and covering all expenses required to operate and maintain the building in its current condition. During that time, Ability Beyond will thoroughly inspect SH to finalize facility and program plans. (Ability Beyond’s preliminary evaluations show that the envisioned program will be viable, but in the event it proves otherwise, at the end of one year the option would expire.) 

Additional Benefits:
* St. Stephens will keep its asset – South Hall and its lot.
* The asset will greatly increase in value – at NO cost to the church!
* All liabilities, responsibilities and financial burdens will be immediately lifted from the church. * The more valuable asset will still be there in the future to sell if a time of real need arises. We believe that with this program:
* Not only will Ability Beyond be able to meet the needs of a greatly underserved community... * St. Stephen’s will advance its missions of Outreach and Service to the Community! 

ABILITY BEYOND - was founded in 1953. It operates more than 200 facilities throughout the region, including two in Ridgefield - Sunrise Cottage, on Sunset Lane and a group home on Ritch Drive. 

 

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