Letter: Island Brook Park – safe, for now?

To the Editor:

Residents packed the council chamber last Monday to ask that Island Brook Park be removed from the top of the list for construction of a new Senior/Community Center. Cheers greeted the news that the park would no longer be considered as it was part of a 100 year floodplain. Given this surprisingly good news, I had decided not to speak but still left feeling I should have commented anyway. Why? The Study Committee never seemed to really understand why we were all there.

As the Times reported, they chose to read their entire hour-long quarterly update first, then lectured us on the misuse of social media, chastising hundreds of adults for voicing their opinions. Only then were we allowed to know the entire issue had already been decided before the meeting ever began.

If the committee couldn’t understand our concerns Monday night with a standing room only crowd, a disconnect made even clearer by Mr Pifko’s letter last week, how can we safely assume they won’t embrace the next “big idea” for Island Brook? We would like the committee and Town Council to understand that our outcry was in no way anti-senior nor was it ever political. And it was not an indictment of anyone’s work to improve services for our fellow townspeople. By reducing our concerns to the cause of blocking a senior center, the committee seems to have entirely missed why the public came out in such numbers.

We were asking them to reconsider the park as the location for a new Center, not to altogether deny seniors a new or improved facility. Our concerns were in fact about home values and the quality of life for an entire section of Trumbull.

Island Brook currently serves several neighborhoods; a safe destination for children riding bikes to the open fields, play set, tennis and basketball courts and through the trails to connecting neighborhoods. Seniors and families with strollers and pets frequent the park daily. Building on this open land may have appeared to be the easiest choice but it certainly was not the best choice. Ripping up newer ball fields or clear-cutting forest are definitely counter-intuitive options when communities all around us are investing in open space.

For most Americans, our largest asset is usually our homes. Long Hill is an older section of town and lots typically have smaller acreage than elsewhere in Trumbull. We therefore bought our homes with this park in mind. Adding an enormous “campus style” complex would have greatly diminished a beautiful, natural asset, adding a 20,000 square foot building, increased traffic and an abundance of pavement and fluorescent lighting.

It’s important that the committee and council understand that our concerns were not just about a Senior Center or “pitting grandparent against grandchild”, so that next year when a new building or cell tower is proposed for Island Brook or any other town park, we want you to consider not just the easiest or least expensive solution. With the next project, we trust that you will first ask the question, “What site will have the most positive impact for all of Trumbull’s residents, including those closest to the sites under consideration?”

The best answer, this year or next, is clearly not in one of Trumbull’s parks.
Kevin Downs