Louis Annino: A Life of Service
As a fourth-generation resident of Killingworth and having successfully raised the fifth generation, Louis Annino has dedicated his life to making his hometown the best it can be. Lou has served for decades on both the Board of Selectman and the Planning and Zoning Commission, and as he steps away from those duties, his remarkable tenure as a steward for his hometown is certainly “Killingworthy” of note.
Lou began his career with an interesting educational endeavor in marine engineering, having attended the U.S. Merchant Maritime Academy and having worked for Electric Boat.
“From there, I eventually went into marine engineering in a consulting capacity. That is where I really got my feet wet as far as shoreside engineering and actually ended up working for Miles Pharmaceuticals, which became Bayer, as a facilities engineer,” says Lou.
“I really grew through that position, and that led to other opportunities when Bayer closed their site. Eventually, Yale offered, and I accepted a position as executive director of all of Yale’s facilities operations, which I did enjoy, but it was a huge responsibility,” he adds. “Almost 13 million square feet of space, three different power plants at the three different campuses, the med school, New Haven main campus, and then the new Yale West campus. I have nothing but good things to say about Yale…but ultimately, it really wasn’t the right fit for me.”
His skills landed him a position as associate vice president of facilities at the University of New Haven, where Lou says he has found the right fit and has remained for the last 13 years.
“I’ve been there ever since, and I am proud to be part of the team that really changed the facilities there and to help in the construction of several buildings and hundreds of millions in capital improvements,” recalls Lou.
With all of those responsibilities, one might imagine how he could find time for anything else, but Lou was a member of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission for more than two decades, a position that he really felt drawn to.
“I was first on the commission way back when I was only 26, I think, as an alternate,” he says. “A full position came up, and I was appointed to that. I worked with some really great people on the board. I learned so much during my tenure there. What I found very interesting was that not only was the commission speaking to protecting the town and its character and natural resources, but in an interesting way, it also served me professionally,” says Lou.
“As I got to be in more senior roles in facilities management, it’s all about site plan development and zoning approvals, so I was very comfortable in doing all that. That experience really kind of served me on two plains.”
Lou says that his public service is very personal to him and follows a family tradition of giving back to the community.
“The things I might be most proud of are some of the best in class zoning regulations, like our soil-based zoning, which basically takes advantage of soil mapping and the soil’s ability to support subsurface sewage systems. A lot of Killingworth’s soils necessitate that lot size be slightly larger to accommodate for the proper location of not only the sewage system but also the reserve area as well,” says Lou. “It also makes the developments much more creative. So, rather than these cookie-cutter two-acre sites, the developers had to work with topography and the wetlands, and so I think it really is the best in class regulations. My father was always preaching to us, I’m one of seven, that you always have to give 10% back. He certainly lived that way, and he is alive today and still doing that. This was my opportunity to give back in that way.”
Lou spent more than two decades on the Zoning Commission but was coaxed into running for the Board of Selectman and further his commitment to Killingworth for another 12 years as a member of the board.
“I thought it was time for me to consider some other way of serving the town. I think my first love still is land use,” says Lou.
Lou just completed his last term as a board member but says that while he still wants to remain active in Killingworth town policy crafting, now is simply the right time to step back and pursue other opportunities.
“While I’ve enjoyed my 12 years on the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Selectmen is a little bit more administrative, a little more transactional. You are approving RFPs [Request for Proposal] and trucks, and road sand, whereas land use was a little more strategic in its thinking,” Lou says. “Again, I worked with some great people on the Board of Selectmen, too. There is a whole group of very dedicated people who I have served with. For the most part, the focus of the volunteers that served the town of Killingworth is really on serving the people. I think it was just time for me to step away.”
According to Lou, he feels his tenure on the board had a positive impact on the town and is proud of the work they were able to accomplish.
“I think we’ve done some great things, but I think the thing I am most proud of is helping to bring some structure to our capital plan. In my early years, it appeared to me that the town kind of lived hand-to-mouth in terms of capital planning. And here is where my planning and zoning experience served me well. I saw a lot of subdivisions being built with new roads, but I knew that these roads were starting to approach their end of life, which meant that we were going to be faced with the milling and paving of these roads. And that was going to cost millions,” Lou says. “So, I advocated hard that we inventory our roads and then we use the town engineer help us to rate the roads so that we could put together a rolling 10-year capital plan. That way, we would know when these roads were coming of age and so that we could start to level out our spending on that. And that led to doing the same for capital equipment, like town trucks, fire equipment, and emergency apparatus. So, I think that we now have a very, very good handle on our capital needs. It really gives a fantastic forecasting tool and a predictable budget requirement. In my 12 years, I think we’ve kept the budget basically flat.”
Lou says despite his retirement from elected town service, he still sees challenges ahead for communities like Killingworth.
“I don’t think that I’m done. It is time for me to think about what the next contribution I can make for the town,” he says. “I do think about the future of Killingworth, and while growth is inevitable, it’s just the way things are; I do hope that we collectively, as a town, manage our growth in a way that we will continue to preserve the rural character of the town. We have several things I believe we have to keep a close eye on. One is Route 81 because it’s become such a main artery through town, and if we don’t get out in front in doing some appropriate planning for our business district, it’s going to get planned for us. And that could be the difference in having a nice main street, maybe like the Guilford Green or Main Street in Old Saybrook, or it could end up being another Route 1. Also of concern is the PFAS situation and the direction we are going. I have been quite vocal and have advocated with our state and national representatives to get them to