Trumbull has a unique chance to reinvent itself as something more than a postwar suburb by following through on its 2014 Plan of Conservation and Development and building a people-focused, walkable center. Trumbull is a beautiful town with a wonderful quality of life, but it’s also a collection of homes in search of a place. With the strip malls in the “town center” currently emptying out, we have a chance to replace the sea of underutilized surface parking with a place that prioritizes people and walking.
Trumbull lacks what sociologist Ray Oldenburg termed “third places.” Writing in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Oldenburg defined third places as the informal gathering points in a community, contrasting them with first places (our homes) and second places (work). Third places can be beer gardens, walkable main streets, coffee shops, cafes or parks — anywhere that allows for the kinds of spontaneous social contact with friends and neighbors that’s so essential to our emotional well-being. Unfortunately, auto-centric suburban development tends to diminish these spaces. Writing in 1997, Oldenburg said: