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Gov. Approves Land Swap

The approval puts the Fairchild Memorial Park site for an interdistrict magnet school in Bridgeport.

After six months and hours of hearings, the $126 million interdistrict magnet school proposed for Fairchild Memorial Park is off Trumbull's table with the governor's approval of a land swap.

Gov. Dannel Malloy signed the swap, giving Bridgeport the park land. Trumbull will get the land occupied by the Bridgeport Parks and Recreation Department.

The city has withdrawn its application from the Trumbull Planning and Zoning Commission, Chairman Tony Chory added Monday. 

Trumbull would get land adjacent to the Pequonnock River and connects the Trumbull Pequonnock River Valley and Bridgeport's Beardsley Park, First Selectman Tim Herbst has said.

"The Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency is currently evaluating a plan to extend the Trumbull Pequonnock trail to Beardsley Park. While serving as an extension piece for this regional planning initiative, the parcel is also situated in close proximity to a Trumbull Corporate Park and could be utilized by the town as a future municipal use," Herbst has said.

State Sen. Anthony Musto, a democrat whose district includes parts of Trumbull and Bridgeport, applauded the signing. 

"I'm glad the school will be able to go forward quickly and open on time. I expect I will stay involved in this process until Trumbull gets the land it requested, and I hope we can put that to some good use," he said.

State Rep. T. R. Rowe, R-Trumbull, said while he was not enthusiastic about the boundary change, "Trumbull was put in a challenging position vis-a-vis the magnet school, and the first selectman negotiated the best deal he could given the circumstances."

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch did not immediately comment Monday, but the swap saves Bridgeport fees for using Trumbull land. The state will pay the $126 million construction cost. About 50 to 150 Trumbull residents may be able to attend.

The 1,500-student school will educate 500 students each in three magnets: aerospace, natural science and information technology. About 70 percent of students will be from Bridgeport. Students from around the region, in addition to Trumbull, will also attend.

During the zoning hearings, educators, parents and local contractors favored the school while park neighbors opposed it, citing construction noise and traffic congestion. Forty-four neighbors signed a petition opposing it.

Gary Thoma of neighboring Wilson Avenue maintained his opposition. "I am a Trumbull citizen and I pay Trumbull taxes. I do not live in Bridgeport and Bridgeport can do whatever it wants to," he said.

"It may be a good thing, it may be a bad thing," he added. One possible benefit is land could be set aside as park land.

"They better not mess up anybody's foundations over here. They want to build it right on a stream and they want to have a parking lot right under the school which is a big fire hazard," Thoma said.

The resident has raised two kids and bought his home in 1978. He said the school will worsen existing problems. "This area is full of kids now. You should see the speeding on Wilson Avenue."

The zoning panel had discussed a list of 13 conditions for approval. Herbst also wanted synchronize Bridgeport's and Trumbull's emergency radio systems if Trumbull was to be a secondary responder.

Thoma noted that the park first belonged to Bridgeport and a 99-year open-space agreement was signed in 1922. But Bridgeport turned the park over to the state and eventually Trumbull inherited it. The relatives of the Fairchild family have expressed their support for the school in a letter.

Thomas Tesoro April 19, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Trumbull's bad deal is now a fait accompli...a done deal. No millions from Bridgeport, no $700,000 for building permits, no Trumbull P&Z oversight of the project, a loss of seats in the new school and potential savings for our community, changed boundries with little in return. What a mess. Note to T.R Rowe, you have been a credible Representative of our Town, the less you say on this terrible deal the better because that credibility will disappear very fast. The magnet school is a great idea. It could have been a real coup for Trumbull. It is still a good idea but Trumbull now gets a bad deal. Sad indeed.
Charley Pitcher April 20, 2011 at 08:04 PM
This was truly a loss for the town of Trumbull and even a bigger loss for the neighborhood that will suffer the greatest impact from this project. The school would have been a victory for the town, and we could have had total control over construction to lessen any impact on the residents in the area. I can only hope that local officials from both Trumbull and Bridgeport will work together to make this a project that we can all be proud of.

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