Editor's Note: This is a response, sent by Stern Village resident Joyce Aquino, signed "Concerned residents of Stern Village" to comments made Tuesday in a first selectman debate.

Dear Mrs. Mark,

We witnessed your malign of Stern Village during your debate with First Selectman Timothy Herbst.

The information you cited was totally inaccurate and wrong! Here are the facts.

Our Executive Director, Harriet Polansky walked into a rat’s nest. She found several improprieties, including a financial mess. Neil Gerhardt was hired, part time, to assist Harriet in rectifying the situation, as well as helping Harriet to procure the needed funding for Capital Improvement Projects. Neil and Harriet make a wonderful team and they work closely together to make and plan for much needed improvements.

Stratification

CHFA allows housing authorities to increase their base rent for new tenants, and to grandfather in current tenants, to assure no current tenants are displaced. And, CHFA has approved the Stratification Plan for Stern Village. The purpose of the stratification plan is to increase the base rent for incoming or new tenants to the village. This will not affect or apply to the current tenants living at Stern Village.

Base rent is the minimum fixed, periodic payment made by a tenant to the owner of the property. The base rent should cover THA expenses. The expenses at Stern Village include but are not limited to maintenance, electricity, water, salaries, benefits, insurance, use of outside contractors and Charter cable.

The current residents of Stern Village are paying $110 for an efficiency and $125 for a one-bedroom apartment. The base rent for tenants living in Stern Village can only increase up to $25 a year, up to three years.

Harriet Polansky

Harriet is available to us at any time of day! She has an open door policy and we can reach her on her cell phone. One of the first things she did was make sure she had a cell phone and gave the residents her cell phone number. Harriet keeps us informed and has monthly “Tuesday Teas” to discuss issues, happenings and address any concerns. In fact, at one of her “Teas” earlier this year, she had First Selectman Timothy Herbst as a guest speaker to provide us with updates on Trumbull. Unbeknownst to Harriet and First Selectman Herbst, we provided him with a packet of petitions to make Harriet the Executive Director of Stern Village.

Harriet is very concerned about our welfare and safety. She made sure we had a generator for our community room and she has implemented the town approved emergency management plan. She got residents to work together and form a Stern Village Watch. She works closely with EMS, the Office of Emergency Management the Fire Marshal and the Police. She has had the directors from these town services visit and discuss how to prepare for an emergency, avoid a fire and the like.

Prior to Harriet, apartments had been vacant for approximately seven years. Harriet identified all instances in which apartments appeared to have been not used as the tenant’s sole place of residence, for a significant period of time and she addressed the lease agreement occupancy obligations with those tenants.

Prior to Harriet, there were inconsistencies in how residents were treated. Harriet treats everyone the same. Prior to Harriet, there was no accountability for people parking at Stern Village. Now residents are given a special parking sticker as long as they have their car registration. Prior to Harriet, we did not have activities or computers or a pool table in the Community Room. Now our Community Room is alive with residents enjoying activities.

Mrs. Mark, you do not know Stern Village. Neither does Jon Greene, Kathy McGannon or Tom Kelly. However, these individuals continue to write nonsensical things on the Trumbull Patch about Stern Village. It’s despicable how you and your cronies have tried to pollute the minds of Trumbull residents, whose tax dollars do not support Stern Village. Mrs. Mark, it’s time you got the facts right. If you are going to cite inaccurate information, we will call you on it.

Sincerely,

Joyce Aquino, on behalf of concerned residents of Stern Village