Proposal for water sports, Hardy Lane community center bothers some in Trumbull

TRUMBULL – Mary Murdoch loves her home on Hardy Lane and the idyllic neighborhood it offers her family.

“My children play in the street. They ride bikes,” she said. “That’s all you hope for growing up in the town of Trumbull.”

She is therefore concerned that the city is planning to build a combined seniors, community and aquatic center on a 25-acre plot of city-owned land on Hardy Lane, not far from her home.

“It completely disrupts every part of my life if it’s built there,” Murdoch said at last week’s combined meeting of the community facilities construction committee and the aquatics facilities construction committee. “It’s so horrible to think of it being taken away.”

The meeting allowed members of the two construction committees to hear a presentation from Thomas Arcari, director of Farmington-based QA+M Architecture, the firm responsible for drafting a preliminary plan for the center. The preliminary design for the facility estimates that it will be between 55,000 and 60,000 square feet in size.

Dropping a facility of this size near a residential neighborhood is a concern for many, including not only Murdoch but others who spoke at the meeting.

A speaker, Patricia Kelly, said she does not live far from the proposed site and is concerned about its impact on the surrounding area.

“I have a really big problem when I go to someone’s house…and I sit in their backyard and just look into their backyard and their backyard is going to be your community center,” she said.

Another speaker, Cindy Penkoff, said she spoke to at least 75 people who live near the Hardy Lane site and most of them were unaware of the project.

“What we do know is that you plan to recommend that this project be abandoned in the middle of a residential neighborhood – a neighborhood where none of you live nearby, one that won’t bother you or your family. , without consideration for the residents, their peace and quiet, their investment, their security and will do so on a property that was purchased to save and not to expand,” Penkoff said.

The city considered several potential sites for the centre, including those on Church Hill Road and at Islandbrook Park.

In 2020 the city authorized the purchase of 25 acres of land on Hardy Lane. The land lies roughly between Church Hill Road and the Pequonnock River. Since its acquisition, city officials had been evaluating whether the Hardy Lane site would be a good fit for the project.

During his presentation, Arcari said Hardy was one of 12 sites that were assessed for suitability for the project based on various criteria, including whether it was city-owned, centrally located, and if it was big enough to accommodate the senior center and parking lot.

The Hardy Lane site got the best of all the properties reviewed. Prior to the city’s acquisition of the site, Arcari said, the Church Hill Road site was the best.

Hardy Lane was deemed better, Arcari said, because it “has less topography to deal with and provides direct access to the natural corridor.”

He presented a preliminary design for the center which includes a swimming pool and gymnasium, as well as space for the senior center, social services department and other amenities.

Arcari did not have a final cost for the project, but said the going rate for such public construction is about $450 per square foot.

He said nothing about the plan that’s set in stone. “This is by no means a final design,” Arcari said. “This is a placeholder to start a conversation about a common center and about the site.”

Director of Public Works George Estrada echoed that thought when reached by phone after the meeting. He said that before a site is selected, other steps should take place, including traffic and environmental studies.

Estrada said he understood neighbors’ concerns about Hardy Lane, but stressed that any potential site would likely have its own issues.

“There is no perfect site in the town of Trumbull,” he said. “You will never find a perfect place. If the activity does not currently exist at that location, there will be a change of activity. »

Jill E. Washington