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The original item was published from 3/6/2007 12:00:00 AM to 10/30/2019 12:49:43 PM.

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Town News

Posted on: March 6, 2007

[ARCHIVED] 3/6/2007 - First Selectman's State of the Town Address

Building Value:

Positioning Trumbull for Today
While Encouraging
Structured Growth for Tomorrow.

Good Morning, ladies and gentlemen, residents, friends and honored guests. It gives me great pleasure to stand here this morning to report to you on the health and welfare of our great town, Trumbull. 

I’d like to thank the Executive Director of the Trumbull Chamber of Commerce Karen DelVecchio and Board Chairwoman Alice Ferrara for hosting today’s address, and I would like to thank Health Net and Aquarian for their sponsorship. 

Before I begin the formal portion, I’d like to relate a little story to you I heard from a friend of mine who went to the Super Bowl in Miami just a few weeks ago.

A man had 50 yard line tickets for the Super Bowl. As he sits down, another fellow comes down and asks if anyone is sitting in the seat next to him. “No,” he says, “The seat is empty.” “This is incredible,” said the man. “Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the world and not use it?” He says, “Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to come with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Super Bowl we haven’t been to together since we got married in 1987.” “Oh…I’m sorry to hear that. That’s terrible. But couldn’t you find someone else, a friend or relative, or even a neighbor to take the seat?” The man shakes his head. “No, they’re all at the funeral.”

Many of you here today knew that I was in the Marines, and that my feeling for the Corps is right behind my family and Trumbull. But here is a little story that an Air Force friend told me.

Having just moved into his new office, a pompous, new colonel was sitting at his desk when an airman knocked on the door. Conscious of his new position, the colonel quickly picked up the phone, called the airman, then said into the phone, “Yes, General. I’ll be seeing him this afternoon, and I’ll pass along your message. In the meantime, thanks for your good wishes, sir.”

Feeling as though he had sufficiently impressed the young enlisted man, he asked “What do you want?” “Nothing important, sir,” the airman replied. “I’m just here to hook up your telephone.”

Both of these stories are similar to what goes on in a town like ours...there are always seats waiting to be filled, and there are always a few individuals making empty statements. But it is those individuals who deliver in a meaningful way, that deserve our trust.

My topic for today’s report to you is “Building Value. Positioning Trumbull for today while encouraging structured growth for tomorrow.”

Many of you who attend these annual breakfasts and other events at which I speak, have very often heard me equate the managing of Trumbull as being similar to running a business. And, realistically, every business today, from GE to the Westfield Mall, to many of you who are business owners in the audience…YOU are all concerned with building value. It’s all about building value for your company and for your customers…so they are happy and continue to use your products and services.

Well, here in Trumbull, we have a similar situation. Here in Trumbull, I want to build value for our town, so people will continue to want to move here…I want to build value for you, our residents and taxpayers; I want to build value for our business owners and operators; and, I firmly believe we should build value for those who will come after us. And, in the next few minutes I will review not only some of our accomplishments, but what we plan to do in order to make this value building process successful.


Thanks to the efforts of our Superintendent and Board of Education, we have an excellent education system. No question about this. But, ladies and gentlemen, simply stated, our high school is broken and needs to be fixed. We began the process last year with the addition of 13 classrooms, 3 learning labs and an expanded “Commons” area; but, apart from that, there has been no meaningful renovation at Trumbull High School since it was built 36 years ago. 

Everyday our children compete not only with their peers in towns like Greenwich, Westport and Fairfield but with children in countries throughout the world. It is imperative that they receive the quality education required to be prepared in this global arena as they enter colleges and universities.

Governor Rell’s budget address last month left out one very important item…her cut in the State’s reimbursement to towns and cities for like-new renovations such as Trumbull High School. Under her proposed Capital Budget Plan, Trumbull’s reimbursement from the State would drop from 31% to 17%, a loss of over $11 million if we do not meet our filing deadline of June 30, 2007.

Please understand that I am firmly committed to creating educational programs and a superb learning environment for our children. The Trumbull High School renovation is not an issue of “should we” or “should we not.” This is a “must do.” It is as important a commitment to our community as it is a commitment to our children.

I will again remind you that an excellent school system creates a fertile environment for young families to move into and which, quite honestly, helps keep all of our residential property values strong. In the last five years alone, over 800 new students have entered our school system, and we must be responsive to the challenges these new students present to our system.

As we look to fixing the high school, the collective thinking is that we would also like to turn the school into more of a community center or community focal point. When communities are brought into our schools, the community gets stronger. To help achieve this, we have commissioned a survey to be undertaken. This survey will elicit input from all segments of our population within the Town. We want to receive feedback from residents concerning what they would like to have included within the school to address their individual needs or the needs of organizations they belong to.

And, we want your comments so your town government can be responsive to those needs. This survey will begin in about two to three weeks. It will be online on the town website, and paper copies will be available in key locations throughout the town. You will be hearing more about this as we move forward.

This survey is extremely important, since it will help set the guideposts for how we move forward with the high school renovation.

Emergency Service

In the area of Emergency Services, Chief Tom Kiely has completed another outstanding year in leading the Trumbull Police Department. With a total staff of 75 officers, they responded to over 20,000 calls last year.

We are currently in the process of hiring 4 replacement officers to assist with a continuously growing call volume and ……

through the initiative of our officers, over $470,000 in grant money has been received for public safety programs and enforcement.

Four of our officers recently became the first policemen in Fairfield County to complete an extensive Crisis Intervention Training Program which prepares them to interact with individuals with mental-health issues.

Vi Watson has again done a very fine job of leading our Emergency Medical Service. Several months ago, the EMS organization applied for a state training grant which was approved. Consequently, on March 21, a six-week, 9 hour class will begin on the topic of “Improving Medical Treatment for Individuals with Special Needs.” This program will be the first of its kind in the entire state, and we are very proud of the EMS organization’s initiative.

Our three fire volunteer departments continue to do an outstanding job under the leadership of Chiefs Pete Russo, Shawn Rice and Wayne Schalich.

I hope none of you in the audience tire of hearing this, but I believe I must continue to remind residents and business owners that nearly all of our EMS personnel and all our three fire departments are volunteer organizations – so not only are these folks our heroes – but they are uncompensated heroes. And, as I have said before, we all owe this unique group of volunteers an enormous thanks for performing in many dangerous circumstances.

New Web Site

We were very excited to launch our new town web site last year, which will ultimately allow better interaction between residents and the town government. 

This new site will have an online polling capability to easily track resident feedback; a citizen complaint management system so residents can easily report issues; calendars to review town events; and email lists so residents can receive information on subjects which interest them about the town.

Land Acquisition

I am very proud that Trumbull has the highest amount of open space per capita in the state. The benefit of this for all of us is that we have removed some beautiful parcels of land from the hands of developers…allowing us to maintain these parcels for the enjoyment of future generations of Trumbull residents. In this vein, we have either acquired or are in the process of negotiating the purchase of 7.5 acres from Trinity Church on Shelton Road, 7.5 acres on Shelton Terrace which abuts the Pequonnock Valley as well as 24 acres (the Bill property) on lower Huntington Turnpike. And, we will continue to promote this initiative for the benefit of all townspeople. I thank Dan Kryzanski and the members of the Land Acquisition Committee for their good work.

Our Highway Department under the very capable leadership of John DelVecchio, has been, and will continue to be, extremely busy with a wide range of projects and programs. 

These include:

Continuing to upgrade our town infrastructure by allocating almost $2 million for highway improvements, drainage and road paving.

 Renovating and expanding the animal shelter.

Resurfacing and reconstructing all of the Town’s 18 tennis courts

We’ll be opening Twin Brooks Park for swimming this summer and we’ve constructed a new Tot Park there which is already immensely popular.

We’re completely renovating Island Brook Park—adding new ballfields, resurfacing the basketball court and tennis courts and constructing a new Tot Park.

With a combination of State Grant money and Town funding, we have installed bathrooms, sheetrock and heating at the Teen Center at Indian Ledge Park. Our intent is to run an expanded series of Recreation programs there for the entire community.

And lastly,

At the direction of our Senior Citizen Commission, our Senior Center is in the process of being renovated with the assistance of State and Federal Grant money and Town funds.

Bond Rating

From a financial perspective, we continue to maintain an AAbond rating from Fitch, Standard and Poors and Moodys which helps us when we seek long-term financing. This did not come about by mere happenstance, it’s the result of sound and prudent fiscal planning not only for today and tomorrow, but for the next generation of Trumbull residents as well.

I want to thank our Finance Director Lynn Heim for her excellent financial stewardship. I also want to publicly thank John Malfetone, Anthony Musto and Matt Spoerndle for the outstanding work on the Capital Improvement Planning Committee and for their guidance and support.

On a lighter note, the Irish Festival was such a great success the last two years that it will again be coming back to Indian Ledge Park.

And, what is fast becoming a Trumbull tradition, following the Beach Boys, Creedance Clearwater Revisited and Chicago, we will once again have our Trumbull concert, which last year hosted over 5,000 people. Who would have ever thought Trumbull would play host to this type of event on a regular basis? As I move around town during the course of a week, I am pleasantly surprised at how many people regularly ask about this event, as they explain how they look forward to it. They also provide unsolicited suggestions for who should be invited to play.

Hawley Lane Mall & Westfield Mall

One of the business turn-a-rounds I am most proud of is the Hawley Lane Mall. To briefly review, the mall was originally constructed in 1971 with its anchor stores of Caldors, Sage Allen and Waldbaums. 

In 1995, National Realty Development Corporation purchased the mall property for 8 million dollars. In January of 1999, Waldbaum’s closed, followed by the departure of Caldors and Steinbachs one month later.

Things looked very bleak when I first took Office in December 2001, but then with the vision of National Realty Development and the support of the Town, things turned around. 

In March of 2004, ground breaking ceremonies for Target took place, followed by Best Buy and the rest is history. Today we have a contemporary shopping area that caters to a broad segment of our population, with something for everyone. It has really become a family destination shopping center.

This year the Hawley Lane Mall, including Best Buy, paid taxes totaling $245,000, and the free- standing Target paid $213,000.

So this mall has become a win-win situation for Trumbull and all taxpayers.

Westfield Mall

Our largest Mall at the Trumbull Shopping Park continues to distance itself from the old EJ Korvettes mall, as many old timers used to know it.

This is another exciting success story for our town. Target has been recently approved, and will move into the old Macy’s location. The work to make this happen has already begun and completion is targeted for the fall of 2008.

The owners of this complex want to turn it into a first-class regional shopping destination, and have a planned interior and exterior renovation which will cost close to $200 million. New stores such as Nine West and Banana Republic have already moved in, and major changes will take place to the food court and on the 19 acres acquired by Westfield abutting Main Street.

Westfield has proven to be a good neighbor…They are the largest taxpayer in town, and help support many of our community based programs.

What does all of this mean? Well, it is a very positive story. So positive, in fact, that in the 24 Connecticut towns with a population between 25,000 and 50,000, Connecticut Magazine ranked Trumbull #6 overall and #2 in economic development. The criteria included an assessment of crime, our educational system, cost and leisure activities. And it is for these reasons that Trumbull continues to be a choice community for families with young children…once again, helping to maintain our real estate values.

Other Initiatives

There are a number of initiatives, that perhaps by them themselves do not seem significant, but when placed in the context of the wide range of town improvements, they are emblematic of a vibrant and vigorous town environment.

Here are some of those initiatives:

We are dredging ponds on Pondview Avenue and Island Brook Park to promote better flood retention and to make them healthier and more visually pleasing.

As part of our rails to trails program, in the section from Trumbull Center to Whitney Avenue, we are putting in new drainage and resurfacing the trail with cinder. The section from Whitney to Old Mine Park will become asphalt to allow for handicap accessibility..

In the interest of improving safety, the State of Connecticut, at the Town’s request and urging, will be installing two traffic lights and doing other road improvements at the corners of Main and Spring Hill and Main and Tashua roads. We hope that, besides assisting with safety, this will also help traffic flow.

At the Nature and Art Center, the old Wagner Tree Farm on upper Main Street, with an enormous assist from the Public Works Department and a cadre of volunteers, we have begun renovating this building for public use while at the same time preserving open space


No State of the Town Address would be complete unless we discussed taxes.

Last year our town went through a state-mandated physical re-evaluation…the first one in 15 years. Many people were hit very hard when their appraisals came in and the property tax burden was shifted from commercial to residential property owners.

Neither I or anyone else had control over the re-evaluation process or its consequences last year.

I did, however, have control over this year’s budget proposal, and my message to all Town Departments was very clear…there will be no new positions added. In fact, we cut previously budgeted positions, and we will hold-the-line on discretionary spending for items that do not directly affect health, safety and education. 

The Board of Education and our Town Department Heads responded with what I believe are reasonable and justifiable budget requests. In fact, the Board of Education’s newly-hired Business Agent, Stephen Sirico, conducted an audit of their insurance account and turned back nearly $1.7 million to the Town and more is expected at the end of this fiscal year. 

They were also able to reduce this year’s budget request by $750 thousand by using further insurance savings to offset non-recurring capital expenditures such as the purchase of books, remediation of an oil leak at Trumbull High School and other Plant repairs.

The net result is that my Proposed Budget increase is 3.25%...far less than any other town or city in the state. 

As you know, there are many factors that can influence taxes: wide differences in taxable commercial and residential property, teachers’ salaries, state aid, energy costs and other issues. However, over the past six years on average, property values in Trumbull have increased by over 75%, while taxes during the same period of time including the re-val year have gone up 44%.

My point is that comparably speaking, given the extent of the Town services we provide, our property taxes offer us a great value.

It is an understatement to tell you that we live in a complex world. But, when each of you return home every evening to Trumbull, I want you to think to yourself, “I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad my family is here.” I want you to think that you are receiving great value from the experience of living and working in Trumbull. As the leader of your town government, my commitment to you is that we will work tirelessly to meet and exceed your expectations.

So, ladies and gentlemen, this has been Trumbull’s value story. We want value in education so our children can compete at a high level on the global stage. We want value from our municipal services so our residents continue to enjoy an outstanding lifestyle.

And, we want excellence from our town government so we can capably, effectively and efficiently lead the town forward to levels of improved productivity…adding value every step of the way.

Our future is bright. I’m here today to tell you that your town of Trumbull is in excellent shape, and together, we will maintain this stewardship to uphold our commitments for today and well into the future.

Thank you very much.

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