Why would a Bridgeport democrat endorse Trumbull's GOP First Selectman Tim Herbst? It depends on who you ask.
According to Trumbull's and the state's Democratic Chair, Nancy DiNardo, Fabrizi hopes to gain favor for a construction proposal on the former P.J.'s Garden Center site. She also noted Herbst has publicly criticized Bridgeport.
Not so, Herbst said.
"They are supporting our campaign because I firmly believe that they recognize that this campaign is about putting Trumbull first and moving Trumbull forward. Our ticket is not about labels. It’s all about results and I am proud to be having such a dynamic group of people running with me this Nov. 5," Herbst responded.
"Nancy [DiNardo], John and my mother [Deborah Herbst] were employees together in the Bridgeport Public School System for many years. His endorsement was not sought. In fact, John and I did not even have a conversation about his endorsement. The first time I learned of it was as I was standing with 150 people in the Southport Brewing Company when John gave his speech and made the endorsement.
DiNardo had a different idea.
"Fabrizi has a good reason to express his gratitude toward Herbst. Here’s what you find out when you connect the dots:
· There are preliminary plans to convert the former P.J.’s Garden Exchange, a florist and landmark on lower Madison Avenue, into a strip mall with more than a dozen apartments on the upper levels.
· The owner of the P.J.’s site is Pablo Jiminez.
· Pablo Jimenez is John Fabrizi’s brother in law.
· Jiminez wants Herbst’s support to convert P.J.’s Garden Exchange into a strip mall with 16 apartments."
"No wonder Fabrizi and Herbst are new best friends," DiNardo said.
She said the proposal, which is in its conceptual stage, calls for putting a "high-density mixed-use complex on a small lot on busy lower Madison Avenue—near the tricky intersection at Chestnut Hill Road and across the street from a firehouse."
She called it questionable and said the "proximity to Sacred Heart University makes it likely that the 16 apartments will be used by students, whose late-night partying behavior will disrupt the neighborhood."
No official plans have been filed regarding the site. The Trumbull Planning and Zoning Commission had some concerns about the idea, as did neighbors.
Herbst said DiNardo is "throw[ing] a longtime friend and colleague like John Fabrizi under the bus."
He also called the Trumbull democrats' campaign "the most disorganized and dysfunctional campaign ever waged by Trumbull Democrats."
"The late Richard Aiello would be embarrassed if he saw the type of campaign being waged by a party he spent so many years to build," Herbst said.
Herbst said he believes the owner of the property, the developer, the neighbors and town officials "can work together to develop a reuse of the property that provides our residents with the type of commerce they desire without compromising property values."
"Ms. DiNardo seems to forget that I live in this neighborhood and have as much of a vested interest as every other property owner to ensure that what is done on the PJ Garden Exchange property is sensible and in keeping with the Town’s overall land use plan."