Letter: The importance of a community center
To the Editor:
When I took office in December, I discussed at great length the importance of a community center. I even spoke about this in December of 2013 when I was sworn into a third term. Our neighbors in Newtown, Shelton, Stratford and Fairfield have all recognized a need to invest in community centers and senior centers. In 2012, the Town updated its Plan of Conservation and Development — a blueprint of where Trumbull should go over the course of the next decade. Fourteen months of workshops, public hearings and surveys were undertaken. The end result? The first recommendation was for the construction of a community center. The second recommendation was for the construction of a new senior center.
Trumbull’s senior citizen population is growing at rates that outpace the rest of Fairfield County. By 2019, 27%, roughly 9,000 residents will be over the age of 65. In that same year, 37% or 13,300 residents will be over the age of 55. While our population is growing older, our community at large, our youth groups, civic organizations and town boards are in desperate need of space. The availability of meeting space is compounded by a Town Hall that has outgrown its original purpose when erected in 1951. The current senior center is housed in a building that was erected in 1920 — almost 100 years ago. The building is not secure, not handicapped friendly and does not have the necessary space to meet the programming needs of our senior population. The air quality is poor and just recently, the building had to be evacuated because of a problem with gas emanating from defective piping.
To prove the point of how antiquated this center has become, we have recently learned that there are currently more senior citizens in Trumbull who use outside senior centers in other communities than use our own. Seventeen years ago, First Selectman Kenneth Halaby had the vision of a multigenerational community center that would serve our senior citizens by day and our community at large in the evening and on weekends. The community was surveyed, a building committee was impaneled, a site was selected and money was raised to fund this project. Despite the support from the community at the time, subsequent decision makers shelved the plan. Between efforts undertaken by First Selectman Halaby from 1999-2001, the 2012 Plan of Conservation and Development and the recent efforts of the current building committee, the Trumbull community has been surveyed and resurveyed on this issue more than they were when we pursued the $73 million like new renovation of Trumbull High School.
The people of Trumbull know that my administration has worked hard these last six years to keep taxes stable and reign in spending. I wouldn’t recommend an expenditure if I didn’t feel it was absolutely necessary. I will not allow politics to subvert this good and noble goal and I will not allow this process to pit seniors against parents with school aged children. We are one community of shared values, young and old alike and we should be committed to being one community that works for the betterment of all our citizens.
Timothy M. Herbst
Town of Trumbull