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What was once the home for 1,500 mentally handicapped individuals in Exeter, now may become a center for innovation and technological growth, for job development, and the site of a community school.
At its peak the Ladd School in Exeter accounted for more than half of the town's population with 1,500 patients and a staff of more than 1,000.
That was almost two decades ago. After years of downsizing, the state facility for the disabled officially closed in 1994 leaving the 331-acre area off Route 2, with a dozen abandoned buildings.
A proposal for a new research and technology park designed by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation in conjunction with the town of Exeter could bring the site back to life by creating 3,000 new jobs and result in a 33 percent reduction in the' town's tax rate.
Rehabilitating the site became a priority for EDC three years ago, when under the direction of the state, EDC started to explore redevelopment possibilities for the land …