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Trumbull 2012: The Year of Sandy, Michael Bolton, Redistricting, a Reval and Sewers

The year saw an election, more major changes in the structure of government, the dawn of all-day kindergarten and another Halloween storm. But topping it all was semi-local: one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history in neighboring Newtown on Dec

In Trumbull, 2012 was the year of continuing projects, the end of a 30-year-old voting district system, the beginning of all-day kindergarten and a time of construction.

But on Dec. 14, it became the year of a massacre at neighboring Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

A Halloween hurricane was to top off the year in review, but a gunman who killed 26 people (including himself), most of them students, in a Newtown elementary school has made everything else pale in comparison.

President Barack Obama visited the small town, which neighbors Monroe (which neighbors Trumbull), on Dec. 16. People from all over the world have expressed their grief and shock to Patch. The shooter killed himself afterward.

Tragedy almost struck closer to home in May when Frenchtown School was locked down following shots fired near Old Town Road (neighboring with Bridgeport). No one was hit. The incident started with a warrant sweep by Bridgeport and State Police and the FBI.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Sandy blew in Oct. 29 and 11,500 UI customers in Trumbull, or about 83 percent, were in the dark the next day. Trees were down on all of Trumbull's main roads. Trumbull was particularly hard hit because of its elevation and number of trees, which took down wires as they fell.

One person died in the storm's aftermath when he fell from his roof. Another person died in Stern Village, home to seniors and the disabled, but police aren't sure if that death is related to the storm.

Power remained out to some for a nearly a week. Again Halloween was postponed. Crowds flocked to wherever they could find power. Charging stations were set up and libraries were jammed as people sought Wifi.

But let's jump back to the beginning of the year.

Redistricting and the WPCA

The year started with discussions of redistricting Trumbull's voting borders from seven to four, which passed the Town Council in April by party lines. There were fears that the new arrangement would lead to massive voter confusion and consternation, but reports after November's election were mixed.

Full-day kindergarten was approved with the Trumbull education budget and in its fourth month is doing well, school officials say.

The Trumbull Water Pollution Control Authority had a lot on its plate this year between changing its billing system and the ongoing sewer construction in north Nichols.

The new billing system makes users pay for what they use rather than the past practice of working on estimates. That system led to low-use consumers paying for the high-use consumers, WPCA officials said. Critics of the new system say some users' bills will drastically increase.

Regarding the sewers, Mark IV Construction of Bridgeport remains on the job but was almost booted off the job because it suspended work briefly. Assessments for north Nichols sewer work are estimated on average to be about $22,600 per home. The bills will be mailed in July 2013.

THS and the Senior Center

Trumbull High School opened as scheduled in September but remains under construction, with an estimated end time of June 2013. More construction work is planned to make the school an emergency shelter as required by state law.

The Trumbull Senior Center went through some pains of its own and those will continue until the issues of rebuilding its snack bar and kitchen are resolved. The center needs new, up-to-code equipment and people need to be trained to use it.

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Without the snack bar, which charges low prices and features a large-screen television, some seniors don't bother coming to the center, officials there said.

Trumbull High School's Drama Club again did well with its production of "The Wiz."

Construction Galore

In the summer, Trumbull residents and First Selectman Tim Herbst took the state Department of Transportation to task for plans to widen White Plains Road near Reservoir Avenue. That construction has not yet begun.

But construction did begin on the Route 25/8 Connector between Trumbull and the Merritt Parkway. Construction cones were a permanent fixture and the speed limit was slowed to 45 mph in the one or two lanes that were usually open.

Construction is scheduled to continue through September 2013, but after it's complete the highway should last for several more decades. It was the first refurbishing the Connector had since it was built, according to the DOT.

Construction also closed Hillcrest Pool for most of the year but the result is a refurbished pool that is expected to last for several more decades. Construction at St. Joseph High School concluded with the December opening ceremony of the O'Keefe Academic Center. The private school turned 50 years old in 2012.

Trumbull Traditions

Meanwhile, two Trumbull traditions, Trumbull Day and the summer concert, did not happen. The town cancelled the concert after ticket sales were estimated at 700, well below the break-even goal of 5,000. The town faced a loss of $190,000 if the concert proceeded, Herbst said.

Bolton was also paid about $70,000, in part defrayed by funds from previous successful concerts, according to Herbst. Others disagree with the first selectman's assessment.

Some Trumbull residents took issue with Herbst for choosing Michael Bolton and with the Town Council for approving funding without knowing the name of the act. But new members are being placed on a new commission for an event that combines aspects of Trumbull Day and the concert.

More Good and Bad

Trumbull police helped break a burglary ring striking lower Fairfield County and a civilian gave police a break they needed in a gas station robbery in November. The civilian followed the gunman's car and reported its details to police. Two suspects have been charged with the crime.

Economically, many residents saw a smaller tax bill as residential property value tumbled 20 percent around town and about 16 percent on commercial property, thanks to a revaluation. But the tax rate increased by 23 percent to 30.71 mills (or $30.71 per $1,000 of assessed value).

And , closed its doors for good, while P.J.'s Garden Center plans on closing before the new year.

But there is bright news for Trumbull's economic development with the approval of an assisted living center on Reservoir Avenue and an outpatient cancer treatment center at 5520 Park Ave. The outpatient center is being challenged by a neighbor.

The Planning and Zoning Commission also approved several other office buildings this year.

All the developments together could bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes.

louis December 26, 2012 at 10:06 PM
And for the first time in a hundred years, a third party candidate made it on the ballot for the 123rd legislative district, and the majority of voters who are of neither party, just stayed home, so you guys chose Dave Rutigliano. So give the guy a chance, its not his fault he works for you.
Jim Flynn December 30, 2012 at 02:01 PM
What about the fiasco going on at Stern Village? Herbst firing competent people on the Board to replace them with his loyal cronies. Outrageous conduct from this young and immature man.
Aaron Leo (Editor) December 31, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Yes, this happened after I published the story, but thank you for pointing it out Mr. Flynn. Happy New Year!

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