Town Council members voted to disband the Trumbull Day Commission Monday night, effectively turning over all responsibility for future Trumbull Day or Fall Festival activities to the Trumbull Parks and Recreation Department under the leadership of Director Stuart McCarthy.

The official resolution that passed on a 15-4 vote, with two Democratic abstentions and Republican Matt Caron voting against it, reads, “Be it resolved, that the Trumbull Day Commission is hereby disbanded.”

The debate over the resolution included a 15-6 vote that defeat of a proposed amendment from Democratic Town Councilman Jason Marsh, who asked that the resolution to instead read, “Be it resolved that the Trumbull Day Commission is hereby disbanded and reconstituted as a committee comprised of community and civic volunteers under the direction of the Parks and Recreation Department so as to maintain the longstanding tradition of community involvement in the Trumbull Day festivities.”

Several Republican members of the Town Council spoke against the proposed amendment, including Majority Leader Rick Constantini, Mark LeClair, and Joe Pifko, and said that it lacked specificity on what the committee would be asked to do, how many members the committee would have and how people would become members.

The Democrats were united in asking that the resolution be amended to make it clear that although the administration of future events would be handled by the town, and not a commission, volunteers were still needed and were welcome to be an integral part of the event.  

Concerns about needing the specifics of the role of the committee were rejected, despite  Minority Leader Mary Beth Thornton arguing in favor of Marsh’s resolution.

“I don’t think it needs to be so complicated,” she told the council.

Democrat and Republican alike?

In correspondence after the meeting, both sides of the political spectrum in Trumbull offered statements to clarify their positions.

Constantini said, “The important point is that the Town Council was unanimous in shifting the planning and promoting of the event from the Trumbull Day Commission to the Recreation Department due to the extensive involvement of many town departments and the need for professional money management of the event.

“This was the salient issue before the Town Council, and it was also unanimously agreed upon that a volunteer force is essential to conduct the event,” he added. “While there may have been some disagreement on how best to motivate a volunteer force, and reasonable people can disagree on that point, nobody disagreed that professional oversight is needed.”

The Republican leader acknowledged that it was quite clear from Monday night’s discussion that every council member — red or blue — wanted the event to be successful.

“I very much look forward to working with them all, Democrat and Republican alike, in doing our part to help promote and ensure a successful event,” he said.

Marsh, who abstained from the final resolution vote after his amendment was shot down, said the parties were in agreement that liability and other concerns warranted that Trumbull Day be administered under a more formal structure.

“Our preference would have been to form a non-profit entity to organize and run the event,” he told The Times Tuesday. “Among other things, we feel this could have facilitated corporate and community sponsorship to help reduce the amount of taxpayer money needed to fund the event.

“However, the administration feels it’s best to place Trumbull Day under the control of the Parks and Recreation Department, and we will fully support Mr. McCarthy in his efforts to make the event a success,” he said.

Vote explanation  

With respect to the resolution to disband the Trumbull Day Commission, Marsh said the Democratic council members felt the language of the resolution that was initially presented could be misconstrued by the public, and wanted to make certain that the council’s actions did not serve to discourage community participation in planning the event.  

“Based on the discussion that followed the proposal of our amendment, it is clear that both sides of the aisle are in agreement that maintaining a strong community and volunteer presence is needed and wanted,” he said. “While the amendment ultimately did not pass, we are encouraged by the support shown by some Republican members of the council and appreciative of offers to work collaboratively on a more detailed proposal. We hope to put that together in time for the March meeting.”

June or September?

The debate on the Trumbull Day Commission consumed a large part of the meeting, but did not cover the timing of the next event.

It was clearly stated that no decisions about a future Trumbull Day in June or a Fall Festival in September had yet been made.

Director McCarthy assured the council that he would be working on the issue immediately and would provide updates as soon as possible.