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2 Votes in Trumbull, Different Tones

The Trumbull Town Council narrowly allowed First Selectman Tim Herbst to seek a $1.8 million grant to finish up the remaining sections of the Rails-to-Trails system in Trumbull, while unanimously passing an alarm ordinance.

In what is normally a quiet time for the Trumbull Town Council and town business, two resolutions have passed, one after a heated debate.

The council allowed First Selectman Tim Herbst to apply for a grant to complete the Rails-to-Trails system leading to Bridgeport by a vote of 9-7, with one abstention by member Michael London.

A long-awaited Alarm Ordinance passed unanimously with applause.

To Ask or Not to Ask

The $1.8-million question boiled down to whether the money would be better spent on emergency relief or put toward the national debt, for example.

But supporters argued that it is taxpayer money and should be reused if offered back to the taxpayers. If not, another municipality will use it, some council members said.

The money is earmarked for the project, to connect the trail to Bridgeport via Quarry Road and the River Road. The whole project, from Newtown to Bridgeport, has been in design since 1991.

Three critics were council members Kristy Waizenegger, Chadwick Ciocci and John DelVecchio.

DelVecchio said he doubted people would bike to the Bridgeport Train Station.

"I wish I was there to see it," he said.

Ten years ago, when money was more plentiful, would have been better for the proposal. "The time is not now," DelVecchio said.

"We have a long way to go [to economic recovery], and it's going to be an arduous process," he said.

Waizenegger added, "We need to be paying our bills." Trumbull has many parks as it is, she noted.

She likened spending the money on the trail to going on vacation instead of paying bills. "It's a pet project," she said.

London suggested sending a letter to Congress telling senators and representatives to put the money toward the national debt. 

"Municipalities have to say enough is enough," London said.

Gregg Basbagill defended the resolution. "The money is there to be had and it is our money," he said. "Somebody is going to get the money and it is a really, really really good project."

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Herbst urged the council to vote out pork-barrel spending politicians in Washington D.C., adding the council's role is to consider what is best for the town. He said the council was looking at the issue "myopically."

Federal and state aid helps the town run schools and pave roads, according to Herbst. 

"This trail is integral to our economic development priorities. We have to think about the town of Trumbull," he said.

Further, he later added that some of the opponents have supported Chris Shays, who Herbst said has a history of voting for tax increases and pork.

David Pia, an opponent, noted that he supports Linda McMahon. A primary for McMahon and Shays is scheduled for Aug. 14.

Martha Mark, a supporter, drew criticism after suggested that there was an undercurrent of not wanting the trails connected to Bridgeport.

Opponents Pia and Waizenegger were insulted at the notion. Pia called the remark "a little disrespectful."

"This is really about watching taxpayer money. This has little to do with connecting to Bridgeport," Pia said.

Waizenegger later said Mark should be "ashamed."

At Last, an Alarm Ordinance

The had been seeking an e to handle false alarms. Chief Thomas Kiely said the amount of false alarms in a year totals up to two officers responding to only false alarms for a year.

Registration will be free and the first false alarm penalty will be waived. After that, the penalty starts at $100 and increases after each incident. Registrants may take a course that nullifies another false alarm incident.

Town properties are exempt from the fines. Eventually, the town will upgrade all of its alarm systems so they can be centrally monitored, Kiely said.

Council Chairman Carl Massaro Jr. introduced an amendment that passed, making the registration list confidential, with which Town Attorney Ed Walsh agreed. It also complies with the Freedom of Information Act, Walsh added.

Kiely added, "This facilitates us so can move everything along, get the car back in service."

The ordinance starts Jan. 1, 2013. Many other towns already have such a rule, according to the chief. Police will hold several educational programs regarding the ordinance, Kiely added.

Joan August 08, 2012 at 12:55 PM
So Ms. Waizenegger thinks Ms. Mark should be "ashamed?" Perhaps Ms Waizenegger should be a bit ashamed of her desire to put her partisan national political views ahead of what is best for Trumbull. Herbst is right in this case--the Town Council is elected to do what is best for the town, not to make some grand symbolic gesture and reject grant money that will serve Trumbull well in so many ways.
JR August 08, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Will we be able to register online?
Aaron Leo (Editor) August 08, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I'll have to get back to you. It hasn't been determined yet.
Ronnie August 09, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Thankfully this is moving forward. It will be an asset to be able to connect Trumbull Center, Twin Brooks, and Unity Park via the rail-trail. I am perplexed that those who voted against this couldn't automatically see the benefits. Projects like this can not only provide economic benefits, but also connects neighborhoods and different parts of the town fragmented by major roadways such as the Merritt and Route 25.

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