What's next for the former Windsor prison?
Army veteran Bernie Shaban, who also had a 30-year career as a corrections officer, has big plans for the Southeast State Correctional Facility.
"We could make that a hell of a nice place. A beautiful place, too," Shaban said.
The state prison closed Oct. 31 after it was determined it was too costly to run. Shaban, who graduated from Windsor High many decades ago, wants the facility to become a retirement home for homeless veterans.
"It could be the number one in the country. Also close to the VA hospital," he said.
He also says it could house veterans who are going through rehab or receiving long-term medical care.
The property sits on a 100-acre parcel. The town has begun accepting proposals on what to do with the buildings which include greenhouses and the sprawling land. Possibilities include some sort of partnership with the agriculture program at the University of Vermont and additional housing for mental health patients.
"There is room there for mental health if they need another building for mental health which is good. If they want to work with UVM Extension or agriculture, that's good with me, too," Shaban said.
"We have the land, we might as well use it," said Christopher Todd of Windsor.
Todd says while he would prefer it be used as a home for veterans, especially those suffering from PTSD, he’s open to exploring all ideas. This could also include transitional housing for inmates.
"Transitional housing, I like that idea," he said. "If we just let people go, then they are going to go right back to what they are doing, I've seen."
Ultimately, the future of the property will likely come down to funding.
Shaban says when it comes to supporting veterans, the money will come. He points to a war memorial in downtown Windsor that he helped raise $50,000 to build. But a home for veterans, he says, is an even more important tribute.
"A veteran has served his country and should get some kind of reward," Shaban said.
The town will be accepting proposals for the next two weeks. Ultimately, it will be up to the Legislature to decide how this property will be repurposed for the years to come.