Herbst on Trumbull Center: Redevelopment doesn't happen overnight

To the Editor:

Like many Trumbullites, I am a McKenzie's loyalist who has used the pharmacy for many years. I am pleased that the owners of McKenzie's Pharmacy have chosen to remain engaged in the community as part of the merger they have reached with CVS. Trumbull residents should be confident in knowing that the same staff and faces we have grown to respect and admire over the years will continue to serve the Trumbull community.

Like every other Trumbull resident, I was disappointed to see Marie’s close its doors. Marie’s was one of my favorite lunch spots in Trumbull. I respect the owners and I understand that these challenging economic times have made things difficult for them. In speaking to my counterparts in other Fairfield County communities, they are seeing the same things happen to small businesses. As part of a broader discussion, I hope our elected leaders in Hartford will look at the small businesses that are struggling across our state as proof positive that higher taxes, new taxes and more regulation does not spurn economic development or small business creation — especially during an economic downturn.  That being said, we need to look to what we are doing here in Trumbull and find ways to build upon all that has been accomplished to date.

Large scale redevelopment does not happen overnight. It takes time, especially when the redevelopment requires millions of dollars of capital investment, comes in phases and attempts to improve facilities while allowing businesses to continue to operate simultaneously. Trumbull Center is in the midst of the most expansive and expensive redevelopment we have ever seen in the Town's history. I am sure many residents have already seen that the owners of Trumbull Center have already begun Phase 3 of the redevelopment, on the northerly side of the property adjacent to the Pequonnock River.

I’ve had the opportunity to be briefed on the site plan of what is contemplated for the building that currently houses Starbucks Coffee and formerly Marie’s, which will be known as Phase 4. While these plans are in the preliminary phase, Trumbull residents should be encouraged by the fact that the owners of Trumbull Center are investing millions of dollars in this redevelopment. This investment is intended to attract the best possible tenants to come to Trumbull Center. We are beginning to see the fruits of this investment.

As announced a month ago, a new steakhouse, Parker Steak and Scotch will be opening in the spring, as Part of the Phase 2 redevelopment. The Town’s economic development team is meeting with the owners of Trumbull Center on a weekly basis to facilitate meetings with prospective businesses and tenants that have expressed an interest in the center. While the owners of Trumbull Center are aggressively pursuing new tenants, the Town's economic development team is doing the same and referring prospective tenants to the owners of Trumbull Center.

Our Planning Director and Economic Development Director are working with the property owners on a weekly basis to review the proposed architecture of renovations and the design schematics. The Town of Trumbull is also spending considerable time working with regional and state agencies to obtain grant funding to improve Trumbull Center. Working with the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council and the Connecticut Department of Transportation, we have applied for and secured in excess of $1 million dollars to extend the Pequonnock River Trail through Trumbull Center, as part of a collaborative planning process. The State of Connecticut and the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council recognize the monumental significance of integrating the Town's greatest natural resource with an area of Town that serves as a linchpin for our commerce. The Town has secured this funding with the intent of creating a river walk at the rear of the property.  Doing so will encourage more pedestrian traffic and more citizens to come to Trumbull Center. With more pedestrian traffic, we will further enhance the marketability of the center to potential tenants that are looking to invest in Trumbull.

Change is never easy and monumental change takes time. I welcome the feedback of the community. We want your ideas and feedback regarding Trumbull Center. We want to hear from you regarding everything from architecture, possible tenants, integrating the Pequonnock River Trail with the center and also what types of businesses you believe the Town is lacking. Please email me at firstselectman@trumbull-ct.gov with your thoughts and suggestions. I thank you for taking the time to read my letter and the Town welcomes your feedback and collaboration.

Timothy M. Herbst

First Selectman