A senior center that combines the features of a traditional community center to create programs and space for all ages — that was the consensus amongst 30 residents who attended a public hearing hosted by the Trumbull Senior/Community and Library Study Building Committee at the Trumbull Library Monday, Sept. 28.

Jamie Bratt, the town’s director of economic development, moderated the discussion which heard 15 speakers voice their ideas and concerns about the proposed project.  While the library is part of the study to create a new, multi-purpose building in town, public speakers and town officials rejected the idea that the project needed to combine all three facilities.

Comments from Town Council members Vicki Tesoro and Cindy Penkoff and Board of Finance member Lainie McHugh mirrored the suggestions made from the public that a combined senior-community center was a good idea.

Some residents were concerned that seniors might prefer to have a place restricted to their age group, but most of the opinions on this subject advocated that seniors would benefit from the proximity to children and that separate space within the building would suffice, as opposed to an entirely different building.

Joe Pifko and Dan Marconi, the committee’s co-chairmen, told the Times Tuesday that the bi-partisan group has visited many of the senior centers in the nearby towns of Monroe, Shelton, Fairfield, and Greenwich, as well as Summit, N.J. and Jupiter, FL.

The committee often spent five to six hours per visit, Pifko said. He added that the group now needs input from the people of Trumbull.

“Now we are seeking input from the people of Trumbull,” he reiterated in a recent letter to the editor.  “What are your needs and where and how should these needs be met? We hope to gather that information in a number of ways. The first is that we have two surveys available online,” he explained. “One is for those over 55 and is focused on the senior center. The other online survey is for all Trumbull residents and gathers information on the needs of the community.

The two surveys are available online until Oct. 19, and the attendees of this week’s meeting were strongly encouraged to complete them and spread the word to others to offer their input.

The surveys will help gather information on some of the topics discussed in the meeting including as the pros and cons of a central location, parking, hours of operation and accessibility to public transportation.

A few speakers expressed some concern that because the meeting was held at 7 p.m. and that many seniors refrain from driving at night, hosting future meetings earlier in the day would allow for more seniors who currently use the existing center to attend meetings.

The next meeting, which had been scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, will be re-scheduled to avoid the conflict with the Trumbull debate. Pifko and Marconi added that a daytime meeting at the Trumbull Senior Center to make sure seniors will have a chance to add their input.

The surveys are available at surveymonkey.com.

Here's the link to the senior center survey.

Here's the link to the community center survey.