Proposal for aquatics, community center on Hardy Lane rankles some in Trumbull

A site plan for a potential Trumbull Senior/Community Center in the Hardy Lane area of Trumbull.

A site plan for a potential Trumbull Senior/Community Center in the Hardy Lane area of Trumbull.


TRUMBULL — Mary Murdoch loves her home on Hardy Lane, and the idyllic neighborhood it provides for her family.

“My kids play in the street. They ride bikes,” she said. “It’s everything you’d hope for growing up in the town of Trumbull.”

So she’s concerned that the town is considering building a combination senior, community and aquatics center on a 25-acre town-owned parcel of land on Hardy Lane, not far from where she lives.

“It is completely disrupting every single part of my life if that is built there,” Murdoch said during last week’s combined meeting of the community facilities building committee and aquatics facilities building committee. “It is so awful to think about it being taken away.”

The meeting provided an opportunity for members of both building committees to hear a presentation from Thomas Arcari, principal with Farmington-based QA+M Architecture, the firm charged with drafting a preliminary plan for the center. The preliminary design for the facility estimates its size will be between 55,000 and 60,00 square feet.

Dropping a facility of that size close to a residential neighborhood is a concern for many, including not just Murdoch but others who spoke at the meeting.

One speaker, Patricia Kelly said she doesn’t live far from the proposed site and is worried about its impact on the surrounding area.

“I have a real big problem when I go to someone’s house ... and I sit in her backyard and I just look in her backyard and her yard is going to be your community center,” she said.

Another speaker, Cindy Penkoff, said she’s spoken to at least 75 people who live near the Hardy Lane site and most of them weren’t aware of the project.

“What we know is you are planning on recommending that this project will be dropped in the middle of a residential neighborhood — one that none of you live anywhere near, one that will not disturb you, or your family with no consideration of the residents, their peace and quiet, their investment, their safety and will do so on a piece of property that was purchased to save not develop,” Penkoff said.

The town has considered multiple potential sites for the center, including ones on Church Hill Road and at Islandbrook Park.

In 2020, the town authorized the purchase of 25 acres of land on Hardy Lane. The land sits roughly between Church Hill Road and the Pequonnock River. Since its acquisition, town officials had been weighing whether the Hardy Lane site would be a good fit for the project.

During his presentation, Arcari said Hardy was one of 12 sites that had been evaluated for its fitness for the project based on a variety of criteria, including whether it was town owned, whether it was centrally located and whether it was large enough to accommodate the senior center and parking.

The Hardy Lane site scored the best of all the properties looked at. Before the site’s acquisition by the town, Arcari said, the Church Hill Road site scored the best.

Hardy Lane was deemed better, Arcari said because it “has less topography to deal with and provides direct access to the nature corridor.”

He presented a preliminary design for the center which includes a pool and a gymnasium, as well as space for the senior center, the human services department and other amenities.

Arcari did not have a final cost on the project, but said the going rate for public construction of this sort is roughly $450 per square foot.

He said nothing about the plan is set in stone. “This is by no means a final design,” Arcari said. “This is a placeholder to start a conversation regarding a joint center and regarding the site.”

Public Works Director George Estrada echoed that thought when reached by phone after the meeting. He said, before a site is selected, other steps would have to take place, including traffic and environmental studies.

Estrada said he understood the neighbors’ concerns about Hardy Lane, but pointed out that any potential site would likely have its own problems.

“There is no perfect site in the town of Trumbull,” he said. “You’re never going to find a location that’s perfect. If the activity doesn’t exist at that location currently, it’s going to be a change in activity.”