Letter: What does ‘the path forward’ look like for proposed community?
To the Editor:
The First Selectman on Sunday posted a notification that he will include in homeowner’s tax bills a letter concerning the proposed Trumbull Community Center.
He adds "This letter will in great detail explain the history of this process and the path forward.”
First, one wonders why the letter was posted on a Sunday, and on a closed Facebook page controlled by the Trumbull Republican Town Committee rather than on the town’s website or on a site with open access.
His posting informs the few hundred, mostly Republicans, who can access the page that they will be given the opportunity to "respond to the letter by sending an email with your suggestions, opinions and thoughts about what you would like to see integrated in a community center. This is more than simply checking "yes" or "no." Residents will be asked to take the time to email the Town with constructive thoughts and suggestions.”
Clearly one cannot prejudge the First Selectman’s letter, but it seems strange that rather than holding a public meeting(s), even a charette similar to the one former Town Planner Jamie Bratt held for the recently completed Town Plan of Conservation and Development, homeowners (and homeowners only) will receive something of a summary of a project as an add-in to their tax bills. Ms. Bratt’s approach offered residents the opportunity to gather to weigh a well considered plan, discuss it, question her and the consultant who worked with her, and to offer input.
Will we have similar opportunities with the Community Center?
As to the substance of the issue, it appears the First Selectman will tell us what the Community Center will be. Is it a fait accompli we can trim around the edges (the birthday cake is baked and iced, you can choose the candles — red or white), or will there be real opportunities to complete the equivalent of a zero based budgeting exercise?
Further, as of today I’ve not heard word one about the First Selectman's vision for the Community Center, or what it's mission and function are. Is this the new name for the Senior Center? Will it supplement the proposed Library upgrade and the new Senior Center, or even be a part of either?
Or will we be asked to comment on a standalone facility at an unknown location that will cost an indeterminate amount and will be designed for a still unrevealed purpose to serve an as yet unquantified number of users?
Even if the FS doesn't want stand in front of his fellow citizens and describe and explain (and defend?) the Community Center, nor hold public meetings on it, the least he could do is prepare a complete presentation or brochure we can look at and discuss with our friends before we see his summary and offer “constructive thoughts and suggestions."
And as we contemplate the FS’s approach, suppose only five percent of Trumbull’s households submit serious comments. That’s an easy 600 e-mails — and all residents should be encouraged to weigh in. Who and how many people in Town Hall will be needed to read, organize, catalog, digest, summarize the community’s responses?
Worst case, taxpayers (and voters) will be limited to viewing a brief description in which he will ask for (preliminary) approval for what could be a multi-million dollar bonding expenditure by a town teetering on the edge of credit rating downgrade.