Political plans often hit proverbial bumps in the road, but a political dispute over actual speed bumps is less common.
The town’s Traffic Division is investigating the possibility of installing speed bumps on Bonnie View Drive. The road is an inverted “L” shape and connects Ochsner Place with Main Street. During peak shopping times some motorists use the road as a way to bypass the northbound traffic light in front of Westfield Trumbull Mall.
The request came from a Bonnie View resident who expressed concern over potential parking and traffic problems if a proposed 8,500-square-foot medical office is built on Main Street at the end of Ochsner Drive.
“As it stands now, many people speed down our street to cut the mall traffic,” the resident wrote. “It is definitely a problem. My concern for this medical building on Oshner/Main is parking and more people speeding down my street.”
Many families with children live in the neighborhood, she wrote.
“It would be great if we could have speed bumps installed on our street and Oshner to make the neighborhood safe for children. I think that would make a huge difference and our neighbors would approve this decision. I think we only need a few on Bonnie View and Oshner. You also might want to think about no parking signs at the foot of each street. It would make a big difference. Please let me know if you need signatures. I am happy to go around the neighborhood to get them. We need to keep the neighborhood safe for the children!” she wrote.
The letter was addressed to First Selectman Tim Herbst and Planning & Zoning Chairman Fred Garrity. Herbst replied first, thanking her for her concern and promising to forward her information to the public works and police departments. But he also took the opportunity to take some political jabs at Garrity and the other P&Z Democrats.
“As a former Chairman and 11-year member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, whenever we were faced with a controversial change or issue that impacted abutting property owners, I always strived to find and forge consensus,” he wrote. “Consequential zoning decisions should not be made on 3-2 party line votes.”
Herbst also criticized the commission for what he called a failure to consult with town staff before amending the town’s Planned Office Overlay Zone, which allows limited professional development in the southernmost parts Main Street.
“Had they been properly consulted, staff would have had enough opportunity to determine if the proposed changes achieved the desired outcome,” Herbst wrote.
Garrity, in his own response, agreed that traffic safety in neighborhoods was of paramount importance and affirmed that public works and the police department would determine if speed bumps were appropriate. He also expressed regret that Herbst had taken the opportunity to spread political attacks and false claims in response to a residential safety concern.
“I can not understand Mr. Herbst’ blatant comments to the contrary, claiming no staff involvement. In the over two-and-a-half-year period since the initial application for this zone change, leading up to the July 20, 2016 decision, the town’s professional staff at Planning and Zoning, town attorneys, commissioners, and town consultants have been deeply involved with research, communication and guidance,” Garrity wrote.
Garrity said he also tried to personally find common ground with Herbst, only to be rebuffed.
“I find a most shocking and disturbing fact that I personally reached out three separate times within the month before this final meeting to ask our First Selectman Tim Herbst his opinions and concerns leading up to the Lower Main St hearing. He had none. He chose not to respond,” Garrity wrote. “Now, it seems he is choosing to voice commentary for his own political advantage, irrelevant of any factual basis, with no forethought or concern for Trumbull residents.”