By JAMES MOSHER
Montville - At least five Montville leaders are planning to attend a hearing next week on a bill that would turn all Connecticut senior citizens centers into “safety zones,” making them off limits to registered sex offenders.
The General Assembly’s Aging Committee is holding a hearing beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
Montville Senior Center Director Kathleen Doherty-Peck said she will be submitting written testimony to the committee and traveling to Hartford with Mayor Ron McDaniel and town councilors Billy Caron and Joseph Jaskiewicz. Doherty-Peck said she hopes to testify before the committee.
Several members of a group of 12 Eastern Connecticut senior center administrators are planning to write to the committee, said Doherty-Peck, who is one of the 12.
“There’s a lot of support for this in the state of Connecticut,” she said Friday during a meeting of the Montville Seniors Organization at the Montville Senior Center. “Anything we can do help all of you.”
Seniors Organization President Sandra Stauffer has written a letter to the committee, citing the fact that Montville is the site of a sex offender facility as a reason the law would be particularly useful to Montville’s elderly.
“Violent sex offenders usually don’t get rehabilitated,” Doherty-Peck said.
The Montville Town Council last month repealed the ordinance that the state legislation, Senate Bill 517 (PDF), is based on. Councilors were concerned about a possible lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union absent a state law. The vote was 7-0. State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, is sponsoring the bill.
Town Councilor Rosetta Jones lead a 537-signature petition drive that called upon the Town Council to have a repeal vote or have a special town meeting. Jones is supporting the state bill and said Friday she will likely attend Tuesday’s hearing.
A majority of members of the town’s Commission on Aging supported repeal until a state law could be enacted. The Commission on Aging, which is chaired by Doherty-Peck, plans to hold a meeting Thursday, Feb. 7, with a vote on a commission position on safety zones among the agenda items.
There has never been a sexual assault at the Montville Senior Center, Doherty-Peck said, but she reports several “incidents” with sex offenders.