State looks to replace Woodside with adult mental health facility

Published: Jan. 31, 2020 at 4:58 PM EST
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The state is planning to demolish the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in Colchester and replace it with a $14.5 million mental health facility for adults.

The new psychiatric hospital would replace the temporary one in Middlesex which was built after Hurricane Irene and is considered woefully inadequate.

Right now, state mental health leaders say there's a critical need for a "step down" facility where people still receive services but aren't in a restrictive setting.

The plan is to demolish most of the buildings at Woodside and build new residential buildings that don't resemble a jail. State leaders say Woodside is designed like a prison and has outlived its use.

"It's essential that it's a trauma informer space that supports the treatment and recovery of individuals. The current Woodside facility which was created to be a juvenile detention center does not have the therapeutic attributes that we would want for our vulnerable Vermonters," said Sarah Squirrell, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Mental health.

The state, however, is still getting pushback on the plan to close Woodside. Many still question where the state's most violent young offenders will go and how best to treat them.

If the Legislature decides not to close Woodside, the state will have to buy another plot of land to build a new mental health facility.