Herbst talks Trumbull Center, growth and more in 'State of the Town'
First Selectman Tim Herbst gave his State of the Town address Tuesday, sharing plans for the town’s future and economic growth expected in Trumbull.
The Trumbull Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of The Bridgeport Regional Business Council, hosted the lunch and address at Tashua Knolls. It was sponsored by Aquarion Water Company, Anthem and BL Companies.
Herbst gave an overview of his administration’s work in the last five years and discussed the proposed budget, which goes before the Town Council next Thursday night for a vote.
He spoke on education, public safety, seniors and economic growth. Read his full address here.
“While we have had tremendous success on the economic development front, there remains one challenge — Trumbull Center,” Herbst said.
Herbst said he wants residents to know that there isn’t much government can do to bring tenants to the center, but the town has taken steps to encourage business growth there. The town is working with regional planning committee to extend the Pequonnock Trail through the center, leading to more pedestrian traffic, which can be a draw for business. A new cell tower at the police station will also improve cell service in that area of town. There is also an effort to rehabilitate the trail’s visitor center at the trailhead.
“You can’t cure a problem without diagnosing it,” Herbst said of Trumbull Center.
His administration has commissioned an analysis of commercial rental rates in Trumbull.
“If private commercial land owners in town are charging outrageous rents that deny businesses the opportunity to invest and grow, then it needs to be called to the light of day,” he said.
However, Long Hill Green has potential to become a new center for the town, Herbst said.
A 7,200 square-foot retail development is under construction in Long Hill, next to Marisa’s Ristorante.
“Half the space is already leased,” Herbst said.
The former Luigi’s location is undergoing revitalization, Herbst said and will reopen in the fall. Overall, there is about $3 million in private investment on the horizon in Long Hill Green.
“The town is responding in kind by planning a complete facelift, so it’s a dynamic space for town events,” he said.
Elsewhere in town, Herbst said he is excited about the expansion of Cooper Surgical on Corporate Drive, R.D. Scinto is renovating office space on the east side of town, Yale’s cancer center is also underway on Park Avenue. Herbst said he is excited that Madison Village, a retail center, will be opening in the fall. Sitting Duck Tavern, owned by State Rep. David Rutigliano’s SBC Restaurant Group, will be opening in Madison Village. Sitting Duck Tavern currently has a location in Stratford.
Westfield Trumbull Mall is also entering a second phase of expansion, according to Herbst. Growth so far has led to the mall attracting high-quality retailers and restaurants.
Parks and Recreation
Herbst also spoke on his efforts to reorganize Trumbull’s Parks and Recreation Department, which includes hiring a new director to oversee the department.
Herbst said the reorganization is necessary this year, and likened it to changes that needed to be made in the past in other town departments, like Trumbull EMS.
“Political posturing in an election year will not prevent us from doing what needs to be done,” he said.
He has been criticized for adding a new director to the department.
Herbst said a stronger Parks and Recreation must aim to be self-sustaining and increase offerings to residents.
“Independent studies have concluded that quality parks and recreation programs improve the tax base, increase property values and generate money that is spent in the local economy,” he said. “Quality programming provides places for health and well-being that are accessible for all people, especially those with disabilities.”
Herbst also said his budget has added money for counselors at the Mary J. Sherlach Counseling Center. Named after the school psychologist and Trumbull resident who was killed in the Newtown school shooting.
During the address, Herbst named this year’s recipients of his Clarence Heimann Leadership Award.
Theresa Doonan, co-founder of the Connecticut Heroin Task Force, was given the award for her work to raise awareness about the growing heroin epidemic in the area. Doonan lost a child to a heroin overdose.
“She is my hero,” Herbst said.
Doonan will be co-chairing the new First Selectman’s Drug Prevention Task Force.
Herbst said Trumbull has not been immune to the growing drug problem nationwide, and has lost three young residents in the past year. Trumbull first responders will now be carrying Narcan, which can reverse the effects of a drug overdose.
Trumbull High junior Ian Maloney is the youngest residents to receive the leadership award, according to Herbst. Maloney is an honor student at Trumbull High School, a member of the THS Thespian Society, a Cadet Sergeant with the Trumbull Police Explorers Post 659 and belongs to Connecticut Yankee Council Pomperaug District Troop 67, recently achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.
As his Eagle Scout project he organized a Public Safety Day at Westfield Mall that was popular and educational.
The final leadership award was given to Trumbull’s delegation in Hartford. Herbst thanked them for working together to get the state involved in fixing traffic issues in town, specifically on Route 111.
“Because of their commitment to the Town of Trumbull I would like to present the Clarence F. Heimann Award to State Senator Marilyn Moore; State Representative Laura Devlin; State Representative Ben McGorty; and State Representative David Rutigliano,” Herbst said.