Boys and Girls Village adds building, improves campus

Expansion plans are moving ahead at Boys and Girls Village, 528 Wheelers Farms Road, following unanimous Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) on Feb. 21.

The P&Z approved a minor amendment to a special permit to expand the administration building and student center, and construct a new maintenance garage.

Steven M. Kant, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the agency, said it has expanded with offices in Bridgeport and Norwalk. With 250 staff members, Kant said the additional administrative space would provide training and meeting space.

“We could match the services we have to a facility of equal quality,” said Kant. “This would be a crowning achievement of the years I have been there.”

Attorney John Knuff said the agency is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2017, but has facilities that are “terribly outdated.” Knuff said the improvements would result in 13,210 square feet of additional space. This will allow the number of children served to increase from 90 to 110.

“A tremendously robust landscaping plan,” including the addition of dozens of trees and hundreds of shrubs, is part of the project, said Knuff.

Architect John Wicko said the school currently has temporary classrooms, which he said are functional, but desperately need to be replaced with a permanent structure. As part of the new plans the house-like building adjacent to the classrooms would be removed, as it is “awkward and not code compliant,” said Wicko.

Wicko said the new two-story classroom building would be set back further from the road to reduce the non-conformity of the required front yard setback, as compared to the current buildings. The student center would also be expanded.

The various storage sheds on the property would be removed and replaced with one maintenance building the size of a three-car garage, said Wicko. The dumpsters would be enclosed and all exterior light fixtures would be replaced.

The project would be constructed in phases with the administration building being Phase 1A, the maintenance building being Phase 1B, and the expansion of the upper school Phase 2, said Wicko.

Engineer Joseph Wren said the parking lot would be expanded from 169 to 191 parking spaces, which he said would provide for adequate parking when staff training is taking place.

Wren said the septic system was replaced in 2014-15, and has more than enough capacity to handle the expansion. An underground stormwater detention system would decrease runoff in a 25-year storm.

In August 2016, the board unanimously approved a four-year time frame for the school to place two portable classrooms on an existing basketball court adjacent to the Wilbur Cross Parkway.

At that meeting, Wicko said the portable classrooms would be used to house the expanding upper school, which serves high school students. He said the basketball court is not used, saying students play basketball in the school gymnasium. When the temporary classrooms are no longer needed, Wicko said they would be removed, and the area would be probably be landscaped.