NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy painted a picture for Common Council members Thursday night concerning the driest of topics: Norwalk’s Cranbury section.
The lack of a fire station in Cranbury came up early in the council Finance Committee’s hearing on the capital budget, which also touched upon snow removal at Norwalk Police headquarters, anticipated sidewalk repairs and improved lighting near the Maritime Aquarium.
McCarthy talked of the progress made on the new Norwalk fire headquarters, then progressed to the $400,000 worth of improvements planned for the Westport Avenue fire station, which services Cranbury from afar.
Councilmen Bruce Kimmel (D-District D) and Matt Miklave (D-District A) wanted to know about the feasibility of a fire station in Cranbury. Kimmel said it is dry in Cranbury, meaning there’s a fire risk, and there also isn’t any water to draw upon. But McCarthy said firefighters stationed in Cranbury would have little to do, as there aren’t many calls there.
The department recently replaced four-inch hoses with five-inch hoses, he said.
“Every rate payer pays less in fire insurance because we have the ability to essentially lay a water main for close to a mile with all of our apparatus,” he said. “It does take a little bit longer but we have the ability to overcome the problems with water supply.”
The council members’ interest also was peaked by Norwalk’s Deputy Police Chief Wrinn’s comment that an outside vendor removes snow from the police headquarters parking lot.
Finance Director Thomas Hamilton has recommended $32,000 in the capital budget for a new pickup truck for the police department; Wrinn said it would assist in snow removal.
“Officers in the past have done plowing in the middle of the night,” Wrinn said. “They pull cars out, and rejigger; we can’t do that with a private vendor.”
Miklave thought that odd.
“I’m a little baffled at how we have a department that plows snow, and we’ve bought a lot of equipment for them, yet you have an incredibly important city department and you still have to go out and get it done,” he said.
Wrinn said large DPW trucks didn’t do well in the parking lot, and given the 24/7 nature of the department, the work needed to get done ASAP.
“It’s just more efficient for a small lot like ours that gets used all the time, it’s more efficient to do something like that than to try to pull somebody off the street,” he said. “You want those guys to clear the roads.”
The department also is slated to get $60,000 for a new prisoner transport van. The old one is about 20 years old, Wrinn said, with not a lot of miles on it, but a lot of rust.
The Norwalk Redevelopment Agency plans to make it easier for pedestrians to get to the eastbound side of the South Norwalk train station, Executive Director Tim Sheehan said. The stairs to Flax Hill will also be improved, he said.
Hamilton has also recommended $200,000 to improve lighting on North Water Street.
The Planning and Zoning Department is slated to get $100,000 in capital budget funds to improve sidewalks, part of the recently approved Master Plan of Development.
“The council made a big decision last year,” Director Mike Greene said. The plan is to fill in the gaps on routes 1 and 7 where there are no sidewalks. “This is something, in years’ past, we said ‘wait and let the state do it.’ Now we’re saying we should fill the gaps because it’s not a safe situation.”