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As Hillcrest Pool Opens Saturday, Politics Surfacing [Updated]

The pool has been mostly closed since April.

Update, Friday, 4:20 p.m.

The town announced the opening Friday afternoon:

"All regularly scheduled programs will commence as of Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012."

Original Story:

After a drought of swimming at Hillcrest pool, the sounds of splashing will be returning Monday.

Now the political waters are churning.

The pool repairs were paid for with state grants obtained by State Sen. Anthony Musto, D-Trumbull. However, both Musto and Nancy DiNardo, the state and Trumbull democratic chair, say First Selectman Tim Herbst isn't giving credit where it's due.

In a press release, Herbst thanked "all parties involved who helped to complete the project."

"We are fortunate that our leaders at the local and state level work collaboratively and creatively to find the money to renovate this pool without placing a negative financial burden on the Trumbull taxpayers," Herbst said.

But Musto and DiNardo said Herbst never mentioned Musto specifically.

Musto commented on Patch that he was glad the pool was recognized as a priority, but added:

"It is unfortunate that he [Herbst] has chosen to say that he worked collaboratively with legislators to get this money when, put simply, he did not. I respect Mr. Rowe and Mr. Hwang, and when we do work together (paving Church Hill Road, relocating the Nichols Power Plant, etc.) we recognize each other's efforts and give each other the credit for our collaborative efforts. In this case, neither of them claimed they had any role in obtaining these funds. The reason is they did not work on it, and I respect them enough to know that they would not falsely claim they did. But Mr. Herbst claims that he worked with other to receive state funds. This is false. It is an attempt to claim he did something important, but that he did not do. Simply put: he did not work with me to get this $500,000 to support a valuable asset for our Town. For Mr. Herbst to claim he had anything to do with it is disingenuous."

Herbst responded Thursday night.

"Perhaps Senator Musto would like to see all of the correspondence sent between my office and other entities, including from my Chief of Staff to work collaboratively to get this done.  I guess Senator Musto has amnesia.  Once again, politics ahead of people.  Given his poor voting record of voting for the largest tax increase in Connecticut history and voting to repeal the death penalty in the wake of theCheshire home invasion- one of the most brutal crimes in our state's history, perhaps that would explain the angry and hostile post from Senator Musto. He engages in petulant behavior that is beneath the office he holds," Herbst said.

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The first selectman said $869,890 on the renovation, and $498,000 came from the state.

"Our recreational and Town programs will be able to take advantage of a renovated pool that will continue to serve the needs of our community," he said.

Recreation Director Mary Markham said the updated pool will have a new paint job and ventilation system. 

Anthony Musto October 12, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Perhaps Mr. Herbst will stick to this issue in future posts instead of attempting to deflect attention from his apparent misstatements with unrelated political attacks. But for now, I do think he should release whatever emails he claims to have. I have not seen them, but having done this for a while I know what they will show: they will show that money granted by the state was received by Trumbull officials and likely contain bureaucratic details like bank account numbers, timing issues, what town official to contact, etc. I also know what they will not show: they will not show any proactive steps by the Herbst Administration to get this money in the first place. They will not show any "collaboration" with legislators. They will not show how getting this money kept another $500,000 from having to be picked up by taxpayers. I look forward to seeing these emails and letting people decide for themselves. Cutting ribbons and announcing openings is benefit of being the chief executive. But it is no substitute for leadership in actually doing the work to get the funds needed to build the things that are opened in the first place. Anthony Musto
Tom Kelly October 12, 2012 at 12:06 PM
First Selectman Herbst needs to find a better word to use in his political spin than "amnesia." Because that's a word that would not want to be applied to him, when we review his poor record of leadership on issues such as this over the past three years. First of all, let's remind Tim Herbst how OFTEN the Hillcrest Pool has been CLOSED since he started mismanaging this town. The Hillcrest Pool serves no purpose whatsoever if it's not OPEN so that Trumbull residents can use it. And under this administration, it's been shut down at least three times for EXTENDED periods, and there is still more work that needs to be done in order to continue the band-aid approach which he is employing. Herbst has poured almost $900,000 into a pool that is 44 years old. At the last Board of Education meeting, we heard facilities manager Al Barbarotta tell us that the total tab for repairs would be considerably higher than this figure. But let's recall that Herbst and his fellow Republicans removed the funding for a brand new pool without ever allowing bids to be received to determine how much it would cost to build it. The decision was made to pour taxpayer funds into the aging Hillcrest Pool without doing a cost-benefit analysis as to what it would cost to build new. This decision was made after $250,000 was spent on the design of the new pool. That sunken cost was lost. Use your common sense. Who among us would run our household finances this way?
Tom Kelly October 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM
The answer is that no one in their right financial mind would make a decision to spend significant personal funds to repair a 44 year old pool if it was in their back yard without knowing how much it would cost to replace the pool entirely. So, we now move forward under Mr. Herbst's poor management of this not knowing the next time the pool will have to close for more repairs, and the real possibility that the pool will turn out to be a true money pit with Trumbull taxpayers throwing good money after bad, and at the end of the day, we will still have to build a new pool. Now beyond all this, Mr. Herbst points to a few letters that were written as the reason this grant was obtained? That's a bunch of nonsense. State Senator Musto is our sitting elected leader in Hartford, and he worked diligently, person-to-person, with the right people, to get these funds for Trumbull. State Senator Musto has stood by Trumbull consistently during his entire four years on issues such as fighting the location of the fuel cell in Nichols, the Hillcrest Pool, obtaining other grants for Trumbull, the Senior Center, the Nichols Fire Department, and the list goes on and on. State Senator Anthony Musto is a tireless advocate for our town, and an elected leader who is able to work collaboratively with others. That is a quality that Mr. Herbst simply does not have. He has not demonstrated that he knows how to work effectively with anyone, including people in his own party.
Tom Kelly October 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Look at the Magnet School debacle. Tim Herbst cost Trumbull tens of millions of dollars on that project because he didn't know how to work effectively with others. Now, the magnet school is being built in the exact same place, but Trumbull received NONE of the benefits. Mr. Herbst has not even been able to obtain the lease yet so that Trumbull can start using the land across the street, which is the site of the City of Bridgeport maintenance garage. And we also saw how Mr. Herbst did with the failed Michael Bolton concert, which cost Trumbull taxpayers almost $77,000. Anthony Musto has done an outstanding job for Trumbull in the Connecticut State Senate. If you get the chance to speak to him, you will find a real person who speaks to you directly, calmly, and without political spin. I will be voting for Anthony on November 6, and I hope my fellow Trumbull residents who want better for our town will, too.
Jim Flynn October 12, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Only Herbst would manage to invoke the horrible Cheshire home invasion case in a criticism of Senator Musto's actions concerning the funding of the Hillcrest pool renovation. As was once asked Senator McCarthy, "Mr. Herbst have you no shame?"
Tom Kelly October 12, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Tim Herbst is so used to talking the conservative Republican line that he inappropriately discussing the death penalty in a discussion about the Hillcrest Pool. That's just the type of thing people who care about this pool want to hear from their elected leader....NOT. A bit of factual information for Mr. Herbst....this is not Texas....Connecticut has executed ONE person in the last FIFTY years, and he (Michael Ross) asked to be executed and refused all appeals or attempts to stop it. Let's raise the level of the political discourse, Tim, and if the subject is the Hillcrest pool, talk about the Hillcrest pool. Trumbull voters expect more from you.
HL October 12, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Good work, Mr. Musto. Some of us independents are mainly worried about the town and citizens, all of which benefit from facilities like the pool, and we appreciate your efforts to make it happen for us. I am disappointed in Mr. Herbst's reply. It started off alright as he tried to defend his stance on the issue, but then he went into bringing up random political attacks that are totally unrelated to the issue at hand, going as far as to bring something like the death penalty into a discussion about a pool for kids in town. Really, Mr. Herbst?
HL October 12, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Agreed. Some of us actually think the death penalty isn't the best solution. Call us crazy ...
JR October 12, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Mr. Musto, Does this use of state funds place any restrictions/regulations on the town regarding the pool?
Sad Dem October 12, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Hey Musto, Dont break your arm patting yourself on the back. You did your job. Congrats,
Tom Kelly October 12, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Trumbull residents: Use your instincts and intuition, and disregard the political bluster coming from Town Hall. Think about this rationally. How can it possibly serve the best interests of Trumbull for our First Selectman to continue to attack Trumbull's State Senator on purely political grounds? He is so politcally wanton that he attacks our State Senator on the death penalty when the discussion is surrounding the repair of a community pool. Here are the facts: State Senator Anthony Musto personally worked to get a $25,000 state grant to refurbish the kitchen in the Senior Center. He personally worked to get a $94,000 grant to install a necessary generator at the Nichols Fire Station. He personally worked on obtaining a total of $500,000 in state grants to fix the Hillcrest Pool, which under the Herbst administration has fallen into a condition where it has been often closed. State Senator Anthony Musto worked in bipartisan fashion with Representatives Rowe and Hwang to gain approval for the repaving of Churchill Road. This type of roadwork costs $1 million per mile! Mr. Herbst should also take notice that I acknowledge the efforts of T.R. Rowe and Tony Hwang even though they are Republicans because it's more important to give credit where it's due than to just tout the partisan line. State Senator Musto also worked in bipartisan fashion on relocating the Nichols power plant and he advocated to get an increase in education funds for Trumbull.
Kathleen McGannon October 12, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I cannot say it any more eloquently than Tom Kelly has said it. Senator Musto has worked tirelessly, BEHIND THE SCENES, for Trumbull. I do not blame him for being annoyed at what was clearly a snub by the FS when assigning "credit" for this grant. Mr. Musto obtained the money for the money pit, er, pool. Thank you, Mr. Musto, for helping us to keep open a questionable pool. What the future holds for swimming in Trumbull remains to be seen, but I know your efforts will continue. And so will Mr. Herbst's childish refusals to thank people, regardless of party affiliation, when someone does the right thing for Trumbull. I am grateful for Mr. Musto, and for Mr. Rowe and Mr. Hwang, for their efforts, in a bipartisan fashion, for all of us in Trumbull.
Richard October 12, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Somehow his tactic is to throw up distorted facts just to see what sticks in the minds of distracted voters. Clearly it works and I would suggest you shorten and sharpen your message. Otherwise, you won't reach anyone other than those who are already informed.
louis October 13, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I'm excited to see the idea that myself and other residents presented to Senator Musto and the first selectman come to fruition. We remember when they placed stucco on the ceiling in the early 1980's....we fashioned the same in our home study in solidarity with the people of Trumbull, a monument to poor design. I look forward to seeing the schematics. As I mentioned in my earlier letters which were published, our renovated pool can be the envy of even the upper crust communities of Fairfield County, whether it be club like facilities, and a place for state meets, we should improve access to the average people of town and make sure the design is the best it can be, lets try and rival the baths of diocletian....why not? Our folks, our aspiring olympians deserve no less than that...if we are wise about costs, it will be a recreation facility to enjoy for decades
Richard October 14, 2012 at 12:16 AM
It will never he a place of envy or have the capacity to hold state wide meets, which could have benefitted our kids, community, and benn a source of revenue. We had to throw money into an outdated and dilapidated facility that might have been the envy of other communities 30 or 40 years ago. Another sign that this community can't look forward because it's too stuck in the past.
louis October 14, 2012 at 12:23 AM
I would say, at the time, they were going to allow the place to fall into ruin or rook us into an entirely new one at the High School, where they were busy selecting the front door and spending ten million on lockers. It can be a place of envy, but you have to think outside the box. Structurally the building is sound. New tiles, new rooms for changing, lighting etc are asthetic changes which could give a new look and confidence to the people who enjoy the facility. Perhaps some throw backs to antiquity, statuary, logo'ed merchandise, new entrance and parking arrangements, this is one way to update the place to make it last for generations. People were seriously talking of tearing it down because the railings were coming unscrewed. I'm working on getting details on where the $300,000 will be spent
JR October 14, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I'd really like to see the invoice for the ten million dollar lockers you often mention. That's over $4k per locker.

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