Details about Utopia Studios’ plans for the former Norwich Hospital site (above), which encompasses 470 acres, have been released by local officials.

Residents of Preston have more of an idea about what to expect if a movie studio and theme park come to their community. The municipal government in the town recently released documents that detail how New York-based Utopia Studios’ security and traffic would be handled, and what the huge complex’s landscaping would look like.

Town officials are still combing through the 1,500 pages of information given to them last week by Utopia’s development company, according to Preston First Selectman Robert Congdon. Utopia’s chairwoman is actress Cathy Moriarty. Her husband, Joseph Gentile, is the developer’s chief financial officer.

The state owns the hospital site, but wants to sell it to Preston for $1. The town government has been looking for a company to develop that site for more than a year, and Utopia’s proposal was deemed the most promising.

But there is still work to be done before the final decision is made, Congdon said. The town and Utopia are still working on a memorandum of understanding. A majority of townsfolk are in favor of the development; Preston residents voted 1,508 to 256 in April to allow the town to move ahead with negotiations for a development deal with Utopia. Once the development deal is complete, the town government will go back to the voters with another referendum.

And the town will have to do further research into the environmental condition of the site. The state recently finished the second phase of a study that aimed to figure out the cost of any environmental remediation at the site. It could be as high as $38 million, according to the Associated Press. But there is more research to be done, and the state has said that is the town’s responsibility.

“We would have liked to have a more comprehensive Phase 2,” Congdon said. Utopia officials, however, plan to clean up the area before developing.

‘Pretty Monumental’

The developers also told Preston’s government that they expect more than half of their business to come from the area’s nearby gambling establishments, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, according to the Associated Press.

They predict 24 million visitors a year, and say that 51 percent will be from the casinos, a scenario that would result in heavy traffic. A study projected that it could take up to 20 minutes for motorists to enter or exit the complex when they are within a two-mile radius of the site, according to the AP.

The development’s many visitors also would require a security force of 150 police officers. A former New York police chief who has coordinated security with the FBI, CIA and Secret Service would oversee security operations, Gentile told the AP. He did not identify the police official.

The project, which includes 10,000 hotel rooms, is to be built in three phases over 12 years.

Several nearby developments could impact the project, according to the AP. If casinos are built in Rhode Island, New York or Massachusetts, or if there is a long economic downtown, the project could be adversely affected.

Congdon last Thursday signed the state’s letter of intent for the property after nine months of uncertainty, according to the AP. The letter calls on the state to give Preston a three-year option to buy the land.

“It’s pretty monumental,” Congdon told the AP. “That is important from a developer’s standpoint, to know that the property is for sale … Now we’re not backed into making a decision in haste with any developer. It gives us time to make sure that we’ve dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s.”

The land on which the project would be developed is a 470-acre site located mostly in Preston, but with some of the acreage spilling over into Norwich. The boarded-up buildings that made up Norwich Hospital – a state mental health facility that closed about 10 years ago – still dot the land.

The state tried for years to find a developer, but decided to offer it to the town instead.

Two other developers offered proposals to the state late last year – before it decided to sell the land – but neither was deemed detailed enough and both lacked specific financial information. The Office of Policy and Management most recently put out a request for proposals a year ago, hoping to attract a developer that would be right for the area. Some developers showed interest, but in the end none of the proposals were considered thorough enough and none met the requirements set forth in the request, so the state decided to sell the land.