Christine Cohen

State Senator

Christine Cohen

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Listening, Advocating & Getting Results

March 24, 2022

Senator Cohen and Representative Parker Welcome $4.1 Million in State Bonding for Madison Projects

MADISON – State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) and State Representative John-Michael Parker (D-Madison) announced today that the State Bond Commission is expected to approve $4 million for the conversion of the former Academy School into a new community center, and another $150,000 for the local American Legion post to renovate its meeting hall, when the Commission meets next week in Hartford. 

Sen. Cohen and Rep. Parker worked with local officials over recent months to make the state bonding a priority for Madison residents.

“The Academy building is an iconic structure in downtown Madison, adding to the town’s beauty and charm. I had family fortunate enough to attend school at Academy, but over the past many years, it has laid dormant. I am thrilled that the voices of Madison residents voted in favor of Academy’s conversion to a space that the entire community can visit, congregate and recreate,” Sen. Cohen said. “And while this referendum resulted in a significant financial undertaking, I am so glad that we were able to secure about 25% of the project with state funding. This is an incredibly exciting development for Madison and will truly represent an epicenter of the community. Additionally, I am grateful that we will be securing $150,000 to award to the veterans of the American Legion Post 79. With the exterior renovation all but complete and fundraised within the town, there was a gap in funding necessary to fill in order to revive the interior. The online fundraiser of the American Legion has secured additional funds of $1,000 in recent months, but the state funding will supercharge those donations and enable our veterans to have a beautiful facility once again. ”

“Since my days as a third-grader at Academy School in 1996, I’ve known how important this building—and what it symbolizes for our community—has been to the town of Madison,” said Rep. Parker. ”The journey of preserving this extraordinary historic resource and turning it into a community center has been a labor of love over many years by countless citizens, town leaders, and volunteer advocates, and I’m so proud to see that work come to fruition. With resounding support from the voters at referendum just last month, the Academy Community Center will offer important resources to our town, not only through artistic, creative, and recreational space and amenities, but through critical expanded capacity for our thriving municipal government. Also, the American Legion Post 79 building is an important resource not only for the heroes who have bravely served our country, but for our entire community. Located in the heart of Madison, the Legion hosts a number of important community events—and provides continued support to our servicemen and women. I’m so grateful that Governor Lamont has recognized the special value of these projects in our community and has chosen to make an historic investment in Madison.”

“These state funds we are approving for Madison will help ensure that infrastructure for several valued resources in the town remain modernized and in a good state of repair, and I am glad that we can partner with them on these projects,” said Governor Ned Lamont, who serves as chairman of the State Bond Commission.

“We are very grateful and excited to see that the state will be approving bond funding support for Madison’s Academy Community Center project and the renovation of the American Legion Hall,” Madison First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons said. “Last month, Madison voters overwhelmingly  approved the repurposing of the Academy building from a former school into a center for arts, education, recreation and culture. State funding will help us achieve that goal while also reducing the cost burden on local taxpayers.  This historic building, which lies in the heart of our community, is a treasured town asset that has played an important role in our history, and will be transformational for our downtown after sitting vacant for many years. The American Legion facility is an important lifeline for our veterans and these funds will help make some necessary improvements. Thank you Governor Lamont for your incredible support for Madison and these important community driven projects. Thank you Senator Cohen for your leadership and guidance in advocating for our veterans and for supporting the landmark Academy project. And thank you to Representative John-Michael Parker for your dedicated work on the development of the Academy project and continued assistance in ushering it from concept to approval.”

“The American Legion is very grateful for Senator Cohen’s and Representative Parker’s initiative to secure state bonding, and we look forward to its approval next week,” said Charlie Corso, commander of the American Legion Griswold Post 79. “The building was built in 1936 and it hasn’t had any renovations since 1952, when an addition was put on to serve veterans returning from World War Two. The interior of the building is going to need major surgery – open it up, new bathrooms, and more. We’ve been keeping our fingers crossed for more funding.”

The former Academy School, built in 1921, was closed by the Board of Education in 2004 and handed over to the town in 2011. The idea for a community center came from a public opinion poll completed in 2018. However, the building is not ADA compliant; it needs to be made fully handicapped accessible, and for asbestos and environmental hazards in the building to be removed. When compete, the new community center is expected to feature a large gymnasium with a stage, social lobby/lounge with a cafe, various community spaces, and an auditorium/meeting room. The Beach and Recreation and Youth and Family Services offices would be moved to the building, and additional parking would be added. 

The American Legion Griswold Post 79, which has been located at the corner of Bradley Road and Academy Street since 1936, launched a fundraiser last year to renovate the facility. The 130 Post members will expand the front porch, move the handicapped ramp, remove all the siding and window trim, and upgrade the interior.