A week into her new job, Harriet Polansky, interim executive director of Stern Village, received a generally positive response from residents, coupled with a long to-do list.
Polansky invited residents of the subsidized housing complex to have coffee with her Tuesday in the community room, to discuss her plans and their concerns. About 50 residents came to listen or give their opinions to the new acting director, who replaced Harry Wise.
A lot of the discussion focused on emergencies and storm response, especially snow removal after the Blizzard Nemo.
“I couldn’t open my front door for five days, I have a handicap apartment,” one resident said of the snow.
“That will not happen again,” Polansky said.
Polansky said there is now someone on call to help maintenance clear areas of the village in case of a major snowstorm. She focused on her plans for improving storm response and procedures, saying she will get a generator for the Stern Village community room so that when a storm hits, the space would serve as an emergency center. Some residents were disappointed to hear that units couldn’t be outfitted with generators, but Polansky said doing so would be cost-prohibitive.
She is also working on a safety handbook to be given out to all residents and will ask that everyone keep their personal medical information accessible for emergency responders.
“These are things to make your life better and safer,” Polansky said. “And if you feel safer and more comfortable, you will be happier.”
She also gave residents her cell number and encouraged them to call her in case of emergencies.
“I also want to start a neighborhood watch,” she said. “I know many of you already look out for your neighbors, but I’d like to formalize that.”
Polansky said she has been walking around Stern Village, identifying safety issues and things that need to be fixed, and is compiling projects into a capital improvement plan.
“The paths, in my opinion, are not well-lit,” she said.
She also wants to put up street signs so getting around the village is easier.
Residents had a laundry list of concerns and things they said needed to be fixed in their units and around the village — some saying their complaints had been ignored in the past. Polansky asked them all to fill out a work order, which she said will be computerized, so staff can better keep track and make sure it gets done.
Residents also asked her to talk to Charter Communications, as many said they are unhappy with phone and cable service.
Activities and partnerships
Getting Trumbull High students involved in Stern Village and working with the Trumbull Senior Center, among other organizations, is one of Polansky’s priorities.
“I’m even considering doing a senior prom at the high school,” she said, eliciting some laughs from the residents.
Polansky passed around a survey asking for residents’ interests and hobbies, so more classes can be offered.
“I want to see this room filled with people and activities,” she said.
The recent changes in Stern Village and Trumbull Housing Authority leadership have caused controversy , but several residents Tuesday applauded when one woman called Polansky a “breath of fresh air” and said that those who are “moaning and groaning” should give her a chance.
Polansky said she will hold monthly get-togethers with residents, to get their input.
The Trumbull Housing Authority has said searching for a permanent director will take a few months and at that time Polansky may apply.