UPDATED: Trumbull could get its 40 acres

Trumbull is poised to add about 40 acres of parkland to its inventory for the princely sum of $1, the payoff in a border shift that saw the state place land for a magnet school inside Bridgeport's borders. The Town Council is expected to approve the transaction at a special meeting tonight.

According to First Selectman Timothy Herbst, the state will lease more than 40 acres of land on Quarry Road to the town, about double the acreage originally discussed. Lease terms include Trumbull having the right to renew the 25-year lease twice, meaning the town will get use of the land for up to 75 years for its $1 payment. Herbst already has a use in mind for the property.

"Once this lease agreement is finalized, Trumbull will be in a stronger position to expand and enhance our trail system, which is used by almost 6,000 residents on a weekly basis," Herbst said. The trail system currently extends north to Monroe but ends short of the Bridgeport line. Acquiring the land, which runs along the Pequonnock River, would allow hikers and bicyclists to travel the length of the town.

The deal, if approved, would complete a land transfer more than two years in the making. The state originally approved Bridgeport building a science-based magnet school on state property located within Trumbull. But town officials requested compensation for the additional liability and traffic in town and for the costs associated with potentially having to provide police and fire service to an additional high school.

Negotiations among the state, city and town snagged over such items as emergency communications upgrades and road improvements. Last year Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill shifting the border between the two communities, placing the magnet school property inside Bridgeport and giving Trumbull the right to negotiate for state-owned land nearby that Bridgeport had been using as a vehicle maintenance facility.

As time passed, Herbst came under fire over the fact that the original deal called for Trumbull to get about 20 acres, less than half of what Bridgeport received. The city also progressed quickly in building the new school, while negotiations for Trumbull's parcel dragged on for more than a year.

On Tuesday, Herbst said the wait was worth it for the payoff.

"In 1989, the town of Trumbull had the foresight and the vision to acquire the Pequonnock River Valley," Herbst said. "Every other morning, as I run through the valley, I see thousands of other residents who take full advantage of our trail system. They often stop me to comment that our trail system was such a prudent investment."

The lease agreement becomes an extension of the 1989 investment and creates a prime natural resource, he said.

The land itself is mostly wooded, with the Pequonnock River running the length of the property. There is a stone footbridge over the river and Herbst said that with some cleanup and litter removal, the property would soon be a treasured part of Trumbull's park system.

"Our parks and our natural resources truly define us as a community," he said.