Center of Controversy

Center School Development

By Barbara Heimlich
Editor Stratford Crier

The Stratford Town Council published a notice of a public meeting scheduled for December 12th with a Public Forum at 6 p.m. Followed by a regularly scheduled meeting at 7:00 p.m.  On the agenda for the regularly scheduled Town Council meeting under unfinished business and/or Old Business was an item that had been tabled by the Town Council on July 11th, 2022 was:

“To consider and act upon the favorable recommendation of the Planning Commission for the potential sale of parcel 4009050008 (1000 East Broadway, Center School property) pursuant to the 8-24 Review.”

This move, done during the usual “political lame duck” season, went forward.  The vote (not unexpectedly) was approved.

“Mr. Connor moved; seconded by Mr. O’Brien to take Item 5.1 from the table.  The motion passed 7 TO 3: Ms. Shake, Ms. Franchesi, Ms Rice opposed.

Mr. Connor moved, seconded by Mr. O’Brien to approve the sale of Parcel 4009050008 (1000 East Broadway) to Romano Brothers Builders LLC or Spirit Investment Partners, in such form as approved by the town attorney and in accordance with it’s proposal.  Discussion followed. Ms. Shake moved to table Item 5.1; Seconded by Ms. Rice.  The motion failed 6 To 4: with all Republicans opposed.

The sale was then approved: Via roll call, the vote was as follows: Ms. Shake-NO, Ms. Franceshi-NO, Ms. Rice-NO, Mr. Cann-NO, Mr. Poisson-YES to Romano Brothers, Ms. Sutton-YES to Romano Brothers, Mr. Connor-YES to Romano Brothers, Mr. O’Brien-YES to Romano Brothers, Ms. Dancho-YES to Romano Brothers, Chairman Pia-YES to Romano Brothers.”  The parcel was approved for sale to Romano Brothers Builders LLC for $1.69 million.

This, despite strong opposition from town residents, not engaging in additional discussions (or residents being able to question developers during a public meeting) with concerned citizens, an outpouring of citizen feedback at recent Public Forums, and a strong showing in a petition (

Only the developers, representing attorneys, the chairperson of the Stratford Redevelopment Agency, George Perham, and James Millward of the Stratford Architectural Review Board, speaking positively of the Center School development plans.

Impassioned residents decried the proposals as “ridiculous” and “outrageous,” while others chastised Town leadership for anointing developments that would not pass muster in the North End.

There is a perception that the Town is disregarding the neighborhood, which is designated as being in a Historic District, a designation that some thought was not factual.

Roughly the Historic District, according to Town codes, are bounded by East Broadway, Ferry Blvd., Housatonic River, Connecticut Turnpike, Birdseye and Main Streets.  To read all about our historic district designation you can go to :

The Town is able to locate new developments in the historic district due to the Transit Oriented District (TOD) overlay, created in 2015.   Existing traffic and environmental issues have not been addressed, but will be going before the Stratford Zoning Commission.

Needless to say, the public forum was well attended, to the extent that Town Council Chairman Pia felt that in fairness to all who signed up to speak the time would be extended.

Stepping up to express their opinions were the following residents, and their comments on the development:

Thomas Yates:  No to private developer, no tax abatements.  No ,traffic study? Should be senior housing like Garden School.

Sandy Leslie:  This is a historic district – has there been environmental study? Issues with parking and personal privacy.  TOD designation targets millennials, how long will they stay in Stratford?  We should think more about from forest to shore and look at elderly housing, keep our town cute and charming.

Shirley Myers:  I want senior housing and playgrounds.

Calvin Robertson:  Patronizing comes to mind when the Town Council thinks they can tell the residents what to do with our town land, this is vastly overdevelopment; some development there possible, town owned but town against wishes of residents.

Marie Avren:  There is nothing in the proposal that improves Stratford.  We can and should demand that developers be community based and develop green spaces, and be proactive in housing of the future, not housing that looks like storage units.

Karen Burke:  Not one resident/taxpayer is in favor of this, a historic district entrenched by development, listen to the residents, not exaggerating benefits.

Paula Sweeley:  In every development proposal we are told we don’t own the land and if they own it they are able to do what they want as long as it meets town requirements.  For Center School we do own the land — build a playground, tennis courts, town denied charging stations, table a bad idea and build a better town.

Mark Hannon:  A study on parking indicated that for each apartment build there would be 1 ½ cars, that would mean that there would be close to 200 cars brought into a multifamily neighborhood.  There is no parking now, and our streets are already narrowed by cars on both sides.

Norah Christianson:  There is a growing sense of hopelessness, as the whole center of town is changing, which is why I moved here; vertical spread seems to fit us; the center right now sweet with character and beauty. Pretty just means having something that fits our character.  Townspeople do not want this.

Marca Leigh:  Once again, residents have to scramble to make the meeting scheduled during a holiday at the last minute on the agenda. This is going to ruin the area. Seems you are not listening to us, seems purposeful to schedule when people are on vacation.

Tyler Bunch:  Since March of 2000 people from the entertainment industry in New York City, even Stamford, want to spread their wings seeking homes, not apartments.  If millennials are the target, what are they going to do here?  Who is going to live here, are we just going to create a wood and brick hole that they will live in for several years?

Christopher Cormier:  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  District 2 impacted, show smart land management.

Rebecca L. Miller:  I’m directly impacted by this development.  Having a meeting the week before Christmas with little notice is similar to the most sleaziest of mobsters. I wanted that Main Street feeling of small town, with doctors, dentists, café’s, people invested in community living here.  I will move out if this project goes through.

Tucker Chase:  What’s most significant is the land, developers make money by controlling the land.

Orna Rawls:  Reminded Town Council Members that their own Councilwoman Laura Dancho stated in April during a Zoining meeting  opposing a Broadbridge development, “Laura Dancho, who represents the tenth district on the town council, said she hopes to see section 5.3 revised by the Zoning Commission “as intended” in the POCD and not specifically to Broadbridge. Dancho also said she has spoken out in opposition of the text change, citing traffic and safety concerns.”

Bob Dowler:  We are already overdeveloped with apartments, building in flood zones, What’s the rush?

Linda Palermo:  No towering building in center of town, we don’t need it, want it.

Thomas Yemm:  This is a travesty of good government.  The council member that represents us stands opposed, TOD is outdated, it was developed in the early 2000s, traffic flow studies makes a bad situation worse, open space in center needed.  Pandemic era work habits have changed.  This influences East Broadway to Main. Market rate apartments makes us more at risk for densely packed buildings.

Melissa Burke Fahy:  We have been fighting this development since 2018, we want a school, we want a playground, we bought a historical house, you are impacting our home value.

Trevor Jones:  There are things more important in life than financial gain.

Susan M. Becker:  I am here to talk about the neighborhood – Sutton Place/Warwick Avenue/Blakeman Place.  We have endured over decades poor decisions made by the town council; in the 50s they took land resulted in the streets dead ending for I95; in the 60s we lost houses, 6 family homes, to building Center School by eminent domain, and now they want 43 yards of toxic waste dumped at the Morgan Francis property, trucked, dumped, and consolidated property which they feel would be used for  recreational reuse.  Morgan Francis is an EPA a superfund site. Who wants their children to play there?  We have been through enough.

Editor’s Note: Jame Millward and Geroge Perham are the only people that spoke in favor of the Center School redevelopment plan.  FYI Mr. Perham served as chairman on the Redevelopment Commission that made developer recommendations.  Mr. Millward is a member of the Stratford Architectural Review Board.

James Millward:  I am an architect.  I think this is the right thing to do.  This site is identified as TOD, and it is adjacent to the historic district, not the historic district.  Development could spur development in town, the committee spent years studying this.

George Perham:  I am chair of the Redevelopment Commission that looked at the property use to get as much as possible on tax rolls.  Our first choice was not selected, as when a tax abetment was added to the proposals apparently there was another choice made.  I would like to hire a financial analyst to make sure that this developer is in the best choice.

There is also precedent to back up several issues raised by residents voiced by Mayor Laura Hoydick and Town Councilwoman and now State Representative Laura Dancho:.

In January the mayor and some residents opposed the push for more multifamily units, saying increased density in the area between Barnum Ave. and Emerald Place (Gold Coast Broadbridge Development) would alter the character of the neighborhood and worsen quality of life.

Mayor Hoydick: “As a community we have spent significant time, money and resources outlining our housing issues and setting a process to improve these issues,” she said. “When the Housing Partnership surveyed Stratford residents about revising housing for multi-families criteria, the townwide results showed 41 percent were in agreement. This is hardly a sentiment of rousing support.”

Gold Coast is seeking a zone change to a Planned Residential District that would allow up to 35 units per acre along both sides of the road between Barnum Ave. and Emerald Place. And according to Dancho, such a proposal won’t work. Specifically, she cited traffic concerns.

Dancho: “Adding multifamily housing into an area, particularly an area that is not TOD (Transit Oriented Development) will bring in additional vehicles,” she said. “This will only add to the already overloaded traffic and documented speeding on Broadbridge Avenue that will contribute to unsafe conditions.”

Dancho said speeding isn’t the only concern. There isn’t much in the way of sidewalks or crosswalks, making the location particularly dangerous to pedestrians. But she also said if these apartments are built, it would hurt homeowners.

Dancho: “You on this commission are all homeowners. So you recognize that this is usually a resident’s largest investment,” she said. “When a home is purchased in an area, buyers consider the current zoning and trust that the regulations of that zone is one way to protect that investment and retain the parameters of a chosen lifestyle. To make a sweeping change from single family to multifamily is drastic.”

Homeowners in this historic district find themselves surrounded by 3 multifamily, apartment buildings, and Ferry Blvd. The area where the developer wants to build already suffers from traffic and residents fear the project would overburden the neighborhood.

Dancho, who represents the Tenth District on the town council, said she hopes to see section 5.3 revised by the Zoning Commission “as intended” in the POCD and not specifically to Broadbridge. Dancho also said she has spoken out in opposition of the text change, citing traffic and safety concerns.  Traffic concerns are not in the future, they are already here.  Try Stratford Center at rush hours some time.

What Can I Do?

As a reminder, this is Town owned property.  Reach out to your Councilman/Councilwoman and let them know what you think.

First District: Christopher Pia (R)

(203) 385-4035


Second District:  Kaitlyn Shake (D)

(203) 385-4035


Third District: Lesette Franceshi (D)

(203) 385-4035


Fourth District: Kimberly Rice (D)

(203) 385-4035


Fifth District:  Gregory Cann (D)



Sixth District:  Ken Poisson (R)

(203) 385-4035


Seventh District:  Jean Marie Sutton (R)

(203) 385-4035


Eighth District:  James Connor (R)

(203) 385-4035


Ninth District:  William O’Brien (R)

(203) 385-4035


Tenth District:  Laura Dancho (R)

(203) 385-4035


New Year, New Look

Mark Your Calendar

CTRides: Free Bus Service thru March 31st. See Connecticut free. Plan your trip.


Saturday, January 28th, Safe Sitter Course: at Sterling House Community Center: from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. for ages 11 and up. The course covers safety skills, child care skills, first aid, and life skills.

Wednesday, January 25th to February 15th, Pickle Ball, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m., Birdseye Complex Gym: Drop-ins welcome! Stratford Seniors join the latest exercise craze – 4 week courses on Pickle Ball. In partnership with Stratford Recreation and the Baldwin Center, SHCC will be conducting Pickle Ball classes that teach the basic rules, skills, and techniques. There will be short drills, practice time and friendly scrimmages.

Save The Date Stratford Events:

March 25th: Boogie at the Brewery to benefit Sterling House Community Center.

May 20th the Goody Bassett Ball fundraiser for the Stratford Historical Society.

Celebrate Stratford 2023 Events

Are you a Military Veteran? or have a loved one who served our country during the holidays? Did your family save any letters or memorabilia? The Stratford Veterans Museum would like to display Christmas cards, letters, pictures and any communications between a veteran and family or friends during the Christmas season.We would like to create a display in our Museum during the month of December. All materials will be returned to you. Contact Bob Mastroni

Make A Difference!

Be a Citizen Reporter for the Stratford Crier
We are a volunteer group, providing fact-based nonpartisan reporting,
and we want YOUR help in keeping our community informed.

We need Citizen Reporters to cover:
• Town Government
• Education
• Environment and Climate Resilience
Please join us! Reach out to

Parents SEE (Supporting Educational Excellence)

10th Parents SEE Cohort in Stratford

Starting in February

Parents SEE is a 13 week training program focused on parent leadership in education. It was created by the Partners for Educational Leadership and the Connecticut Commission on Children to provide parents, grandparents, and guardians with the skills, tools, and understandings they need to become leaders, change agents, and active participants in education.

Parents SEE facilitates partnerships with district and school personnel to address inequities, improve schools and community engagement, and increase student achievement.

Want to be a part of the 10th Parents SEE cohort in Stratford, starting February 2023?

Call 203-381-6992 for more information.

Topics include:

  • Equity in education,
  • What effective schools look like,
  • How and why schools change,
  • How a school district functions,
  • Parents’ role in addressing equity
  • High quality teaching and learning,
  • What improvements are needed in schools,
  • What it means to be a parent leader in education.

To date, over 160 parents, grandparents or guardians have graduated Parents SEE in Stratford. After graduating, participants use their training in many different ways; some report a better comfort level communicating with school/district leaders, some pursue advocacy efforts in schools/the district, some have taken on leadership roles within the district/community. Most credit Parents SEE for assisting with their success.

Some examples:

  • Youth Sports Coach
  • Girl Scout Troop Leader
  • Strategic Planning Committee
  • SSRACCAC (Stratford School Readiness & Child Care Advisory Council)
  • BOE Plant and Planning subcommittee
  • Stratford Democratic Town Committee
  • Sterling House Youth Development Committee
  • PTA Board Member
  • Elected BOE Member
  • Teacher of the Year Selection Committee
  • A.R.E. Board of Directors

Chair Yoga & Guided Mediation Classes

Instructor: Laurie Trupp
Thursdays, February 2nd-March 2nd
11 – Noon Lovell Room FREE!

This unique one hour class will combine gentle chair yoga poses with relaxing guided meditation at the beginning and end of class. The yoga poses will be done seated, as well as standing with the chair used as a prop for balance. The postures will focus on strength, flexibility and balance, while the guided meditations will increase mindfulness to relax and renew body, mind and spirit.

Registration is required for each session:

Each class limited to 25 participants

The Stratford Library is offering Chair Yoga & Guided Meditation classes for area residents running Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. for four sessions, February 2nd-March 2nd (No class on 2.16).  Instructor Laurie Trupp returns to the Library with unique one-hour classes for anyone looking to heal, grow in strength, flexibility and stamina—no matter what the fitness level.  The classes are free and open to the public.

Chair Yoga & Guided Meditation is guided by Laurie Trupp, a Stratford resident, an artist and a certified Kripalu Yoga and Meditation Teacher. For over 18 years, Laurie has been teaching gentle yoga, chair yoga and guided meditation in Stratford, Trumbull and Milford.  Laurie graduated with a Bachelor Fine Arts from the University of Bridgeport, and received her 200 hour Yoga Teacher certification from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Besides a lifelong passion for yoga and meditation, she also enjoys oil painting, hiking and organic gardening. Her love of nature is a theme often woven throughout her teachings. 

Chair Yoga & Guided Mediation will be held in the Stratford Library’s Lovell Room.  Participants should wear comfortable clothes. Space is limited to 25 participants and registration is required for each session:  This program is funded by the Guillaine Dale Memorial.

For further information call: 203.385.4162.


Books Needed For Annual Booksale

Stratford Library Seeks Book Donations

Beginning Wednesday, February 1st – May 21st

The Stratford Library Board is currently requesting donations for its annual book sale.  Contributors are urged to recycle their good books to share with others and help the Stratford Library increase their book purchase fund at the same time.  The book sale fund-raiser is being organized this year by the SLA Board of Trustees under co-chairmen Shelley Hall and Doreen Jaekle.

Donations of good hard cover books and paperbacks, fiction or non-fiction as well as sound and video recordings, can be brought to the library.   A special book collection bin is on site in the Main Lobby.  The book sale workers encourage residents to donate their biographies, cookbooks, poetry, plays, travel, mystery, science fiction, children’s books, etc.  Premium condition books and children’s materials are especially appreciated this year.

No magazines, Readers Digest condensed books or text books of any kind can be accepted. Patrons requiring help to unload cars must call 203.385-4166 prior to their delivery in order for the library to arrange assistance. Donations will be accepted beginning Wednesday, February 1st through May 21st.

Current library hours are Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.;  Friday – Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday: 1 p.m.-5 p.m..  The book donation bin is located in the library’s Main Lobby adjacent to the Main Street entrance.

For further information, call 203.385-4161 or check the library website at:

Watercolor for Beginners

Saturdays February 4th – March 4th
Sterling House Community Center
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Learn how to master the skills for painting in watercolor from color theory to painting your own fantasy, floral, still life, or beach scene.

The 5 week hands on course starts on Saturday February 4th.  The course will take place at the Sterling House Community Center and is for Ages: 16+.

The instructor is Stratford based artist Donna Osterby-Brien, who has had a love affair with watercolor since studying at Parsons School of Design.

Strength In Colors: Our Differences Make Us Stronger show will run to Friday, February 10th.  Artists who submitted work were encouraged to show us what unites us, rather than what divides us.

The Arts Alliance Writers Group is coming soon.  The class will begin on Tuesday, February 7th and will be from 11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.


Stratford Library Children’s Department is hosting “Welcome Week”

January 30th to February 4th, 2023 to welcome all families, new and returning to the Library

Games, Art, Scavenger Hunts, Hands on Science Projects

Children’s Department staff Sara Livoti (left) and Emily Hubbell invite patrons to the Stratford Library’s “Welcome Week”.

The Stratford Library Children’s Department is hosting “Welcome Week” January 30th  to February 4th, 2023 to welcome all families, new and returning to the Library.  Realizing that many families moved into Stratford during the pandemic, the Children’s Department wants all Stratford families to be aware of the Library’s various programs, resources, and activities.  All events are free and open to the public

Families are invited to stop by the Library during “Welcome Week” to participate in an “I Spy Stratford” game and to cast their votes for favorite Stratford restaurants, pizza, parks, and other important town destinations.   Storytimes for various ages meet throughout the week at 10:30 am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.   Register on the website

“Welcome Week” also includes the following special events:

  • January 30: ART Day. Stop by any time to add art to the Welcome Banner.
  • January 31: SCIENCE Day.  Register for Coding Class (ages 7-12) at 4 pm. Treehouse Science activity stations from 4-7 pm (ages 7-12).  Astronomy Activity at 6:30 pm (ages 7-12).
  • February 1: SCHOOL Day.  Activity stations for school age kids available 4-7 pm.
  • February 2: PRESCHOOL Day. Create a Valentine craft (all ages).
  • February 3: Welcome Grab and Go to pick up today.


“Welcome Week” concludes on Saturday, February 4 with “Take Your Child to the Library Day”.  Patrons are invited to stop by all day to receive a free book and a goody bag (while supplies last).   Additionally, families can register to attend several special events:

10 am:  Preschool activity station.

11 am:  Children (ages 5-12) play Bingo for prizes.

1 pm:  Children (ages 8-10) learn to make Dragons Love Tacos Snacks.

2:30 pm:  Children (ages 4-7) learn to make Pete the Cat Snacks.

3:30 pm:  Children can help construct and sit under a Reading Fort in the Children’s Department. There will also be a drop-in art project from 12pm-4pm while supplies last and children can play I Spy from 10 am-4 pm.

“Welcome Week” is made possible by the generosity of the Carol Pieper Memorial Fund. For more information or to register for events, call the Children’s Department at 203.385.4165 or visit its website at: page.

Calling All Thespians

SpongeBob Musical Auditions

Co-Ed for 7th and 8th Graders
Sponsored by Stratford Recreation and Flood and Wooster Middle Schools

Auditions at Wooster Middles School will be on Monday, January 30th and Tuesday the 31st from 2:45 p.m. – 4 p.m.  Auditions will be in the Wooster Auditorium.

Flood Middle School auditions will be on Wednesday February 1st and Thursday February 2nd from 2:45 p.m. – 4 p.m. in the Flood Auditorium.

All audition materials will be provided.  Rehearsals will be twice a week at Wooster.

Callbacks will be on Monday February 6th at Wooster and Flood.

Stratford Hispanic Heritage Gala Fundraiser

Date: Saturday, February 11th from 7-11 p.m.
Location: Marriott Hotel, Trumbull, Connecticut

Our friends at the Stratford Hispanic Committee cordially invites you to “Una Noche de Maravilla y Esperanza” Scholarship Fundraiser Gala.

Our goal is to increase cultural sensitivity, foster understanding and celebrate the literacy, music, and artistic expression of Hispanic cultures. We will have a live band, DJ, dinner, raffles, and a cash bar for your enjoyment.

All proceeds benefit the Scholarship Fund! Please consider being a part of this event as a guest, sponsoring a table or advertising your business in our Program Booklet.

For Ticket Purchases contact Olga Peña at 203-820-3658.

Ticket Presale: 2 for $150

At the Door: $85 each