Make that two community organizations that will occupy the former building on Grove Street. Mayor Mark A. Lauretti and the Board of Aldermen recently approved the 's (VUW) request to rent out part of the facility, a move from their current location nestled in Scinto Corporate Towers.
After signing a lease with the city for the space, Fred Ortoli, Board Chairman at VUW said, "We are excited about this new location being made available to us by the City of Shelton. It provides us with an economical option for our offices as well as for the communal space that we will share with other nonprofits in the Valley. This is a creative adaptation of the former school that will benefit the entire community."
Lauretti said he is pleased VUW will be the first agency to move into the second floor space, and he anticipates others will be following soon. The space will contain the United Way offices as well as conference rooms for nonprofit meetings and events.
"This will bring new life into a building that has been a cornerstone of our community since the first wing was opened 100 years ago this year," he said.
Jack Walsh, President and C.O.O. of VUW, said the move should take place during the next two months. The city's aldermen did not have specific information on which additional organizations were interested in leasing space, but John "Jack" Finn said he would like to see the building used as a safe haven for non-profits.
"It would be great if we could use the school as a community center for children downtown," Finn said. Currently, the only after-school place downtown designated specifically for children is the on Brook Street. Because Lafayette has ample space and sports fields, many residents are behind the idea.
"I see kids--young kids--walking the streets alone along Howe Avenue and it's really just not that safe," said Lauren DiCenzo, a lifelong Shelton resident. "It's great that they are finally doing something with the building but I think the best use would be something to help out children."
Finn said part of Lafayette could also be used as an extension of . "There are a lot of crowded spaces in our current City Hall, and to move some departments to Lafayette would be a good fix."
Lafayette School closed after 99 years in June 2010 as part of a city-wide redistricting plan. In October of this year, the community theater group moved from their location on Center Street to the first floor of Lafayette. They have since built a production stage in the gymnasium with box office seating and use the first floor rooms as dance studios, prop and wardrobe storage space.
"There are still additional spaces that could be filled, and that's revenue coming into the city," Finn said. "We have to wait and see how much revenue it is at the end of the fiscal year so we can look at it in relation to the budget, see what the expenses are."