Here are Trumbull's biggest stories of 2022

TRUMBULL — A local teen moved America with her singing voice and her story of overcoming adversity. A beloved former band director died. And lots of people had opinions on some potential development projects in town.

For Trumbull, 2022 was an active year, marked by ups and downs, and tales both triumphant and tragic.

Here are some of the town's biggest news stories of this past year:

SeaQuest

The SeaQuest Trumbull for-profit aquarium located inside Westfield Trumbull mall has been contentious ever since it opened in 2019, and 2022 was another rough year for the business. 

In February, a kinkajou, which is a small mammal, reportedly scratched a young child who was visiting the establishment,  according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Then, in May, an official from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection sent a letter to SeaQuest representatives calling out the facility for a string of alleged violations — including not adequately controlling its animals — and declaring that SeaQuest was in danger of losing its status as an exhibitor in Connecticut. That would mean the SeaQuest could no longer possess wild animals.

Eventually, DEEP and SeaQuest Trumbull developed a “memorandum of understanding” stating that the two entities had “worked together to clarify husbandry standards, enhance animal welfare, and set expectations for ensuring public safety for animal interactions at SeaQuest.”

As part of the agreement, SeaQuest had to remove the kinkajous and porcupines from the facility.

TikTok/Starbucks

Everyone in town has seen the line stretching out of the drive-thru window at the Starbucks on White Plains Road.

But a viral TikTok video about the problem caused a stir when the poster claimed that a Trumbull commission had ordered the store's employees to work faster, although that wasn't the case.

The video, posted on Nov. 5 by a user with the screen name Everyday Engineering, shows the poster standing outside the Starbucks on White Plains Road in Trumbull and complaining about the long line of cars at the drive-thru as a way to draw attention to the problem that has caused traffic issues on the busy road.

The poster, whose name is Adam Weber, claimed that the town of Trumbull — specifically the Planning and Zoning Commission — had passed a resolution ordering the Starbucks employees to work faster.

But Trumbull's first selectman and a member of Trumbull Planning and Zoning Commission both said no such resolution was made nor would the commission have the authority to do so, despite one member of the panel raising the question.

Trumbull Center

A plan to revitalize the Trumbull Center shopping plaza on White Plains Road moved closer to reality, with the approval of an amendment that would  allow mixed-use developments on properties meeting specific criteria in town. 

On Nov. 30, the Trumbull Planning and Zoning Commission voted to approve the amendment, which would permit such developments on "properties greater than five acres with road frontage and direct traffic access to both White Plains Road and Daniels Farm Road."

The change seemed to pave the way for a long-discussed project to remove two buildings — an old professional building and the building that used to house Starbucks and other businesses — at 900 White Plains Road, which is part of the Trumbull Center corridor. These buildings would be replaced with the mixed use property, that would include about 50 apartments.

Though the zoning change was approved, officials were quick to point out that no actual redevelopment plan has been approved yet.

Beloved band director dies

The Trumbull community lost a beloved figure over the summer when Peter Horton, former director of the Trumbull High School Golden Eagle Marching Band, died. Horton had retired in 2020 after more than 30 years as a music teacher.

During Horton’s tenure, the band marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and two inaugural parades in Washington, D.C. 

In September, the Trumbull Board of Education threw its support behind a plan to rename the Trumbull High School band room in Horton's honor.

Community centers

Throughout the year, there was much discussion about a plan to build a new senior center on town-owned property on Hardy Lane.

Initially, the plan was to have it be a combination senior, community and aquatics center, but First Selectman Vicki Tesoro recommended against that saying it was more financially feasible to pursue separate building projects for the senior center and the aquatics center.

Even after the projects were separated, the idea of building the senior center on the Hardy Lane property continued to create controversy, particularly among neighbors, who worried the project would disrupt the surrounding neighborhood, create traffic problems and potentially cause a financial hardship to the town.

In September, the Community Facilities Building Committee issued a traffic study and environmental, architectural and engineering analysis at the proposed location on Hardy Lane, but made clear that this didn't mean the project would absolutely be built there.

Local singing star

Trumbull resident and Christian Heritage School graduate Amanda Mammana moved television viewers nationwide with both her singing voice and her personal story when she appeared for several weeks as a contestant on the NBC reality show "America's Got Talent."

Mammana has had a stutter since age 10, and during her audition for “America’s Got Talent,” she talked about how she doesn’t stutter when she sings. However, after staying on the show for more than a month, Mammana was eliminated from the competition during the Aug. 24 episode of the show.

Election recount

Though there was no municipal election in Trumbull in 2022, there were several statewide races that affected Trumbull residents. Perhaps the most controversial was the race for state representative for the 134th district, which includes parts of Trumbull and Fairfield.

Initially, early results showed Republican Meghan McCloat leading Democrat Sarah Keitt by 113 votes. But, when absentee votes were counted, Keitt inched ahead and, by two days after the election, results showed Keitt ahead by a single vote. This led to recounts in both Fairfield and Trumbull.

Eventually, after both recounts were done, Keitt appeared to have won by 10 votes. However, the Fairfield side of the recount was called into question by McCloat's campaign, which filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.