Milligan seeks to block Council vote on revised ‘POKO’ plan

The partially completed Wall Street Place development, referred colloquially to as “POKO,” as seen from the former Leonard Street municipal parking lot, now owned by real estate broker Jason Milligan. Milligan’s purchase of the lot inspired the City and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency to sue him and former owner Richard Olson of POKO Partners, charging that the sale violated the Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) for the property. The plaintiffs seek to reverse the sale.

Updated, 2:20 p.m.: Comments from Mario Coppola and Jason Milligan, story edited.

NORWALK, Conn. — A Superior Court judge has been asked to stop the Norwalk Common Council from voting Tuesday to clear the way for the revised “POKO” development.

Real estate broker Jason Milligan is seeking an emergency injunction to prevent the changes to the Land Disposition Agreement needed by JHM group to move forward with its revised plan for the mixed use development on the corner of Wall and Issacs Streets, formally called Wall Street Place. The City argues that Milligan does not have legal “standing” to request such an injunction because he is not party to the LDA, and states that his action is premature. Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola charged that Milligan is trying to force the City to include him in the deal, so he can make a profit. Continue reading Milligan seeks to block Council vote on revised ‘POKO’ plan


Is the COVID-19 pandemic cure really worse than the disease? Here’s what our research found

The economic impact of coronavirus restrictions can also take a human toll. (mladenbalinovac via Getty Images)

The big idea

The coronavirus pandemic catapulted the country into one of the deepest recessions in U.S. history, leaving millions of Americans without jobs or health insurance. There is a lot of evidence that economic hardship is associated with poor health and can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, mental health problems, cognitive dysfunction and early death.

All of that raises a question: Is the U.S. better off with the public health interventions being used to keep the coronavirus from spreading or without them?

In a new working paper, I and a team of health economists from U.S. universities set out to answer that question from a humanitarian perspective. To do that, we reviewed the latest data and scientific research about the virus to evaluate the number of lives saved if public health measures remain in place. We also reviewed economic studies looking at deaths caused by past restrictions of economic activity to assess the number of lives that could be lost if those measures trigger an extended economic recession.

We estimate that by the end of 2020, public health measures to mitigate COVID-19, including shelter-in-place orders, school and business closures, social distancing and face mask recommendations, would save between 500,000 and 2.7 million lives in the U.S. The economic downturn and loss of income from shelter-in-place measures and other restrictions on economic activity could contribute to between 50,400 and 323,000 deaths, based on an economic decline of 8%-14%.

Counting lives alone, we conclude that the public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 are justified and in the best interest of our society.

Why it matters

President Donald Trump likes to say that the cure must not be worse than the disease when it comes to coronavirus interventions that affect the economy. The public health approach works, but it can also hurt. Determining the “right dose” of a medicine always requires careful consideration of unintended consequences.

Several cost-benefit calculations of the COVID-19 economic shutdown measures have recently appeared in the popular press. They determined that saving the life of a COVID-19 patient could come at a price of up to US$6.7 million per year of life saved in terms of economic losses. These calculations stirred up a heated debate, with one side advocating for a save-lives-not-dollars approach and the other doubting its wisdom. The debate fell along party lines, further contributing to misinformation and even some willful resistance to public health recommendations.

By acknowledging and fully exploring the possible ramifications of the economic recession in lives saved or lost, our hope is that we will create a more “apples-to-apples” comparison. Most comparisons of the costs of interventions being discussed put a dollar figure on lives saved or lost. If an analysis finds, for example, that the U.S. pays $1.5 million for every life saved, that raises a value question: Is that a reasonable cost or not? The answer can lead people and policymakers to resist public health measures. Our analysis instead compares the number of lives likely to be saved to the number of lives likely to be lost, keeping judgments about the value of a human life out of the equation.

The results are clear – the public health measures save more lives than they may jeopardize in the long run.

What still isn’t known

The current economic downturn is unusual in that it wasn’t caused by a structural economic problem, like a war or a housing bubble, but rather by a pandemic – a severe but temporary external factor. Therefore, it is unclear how long it will take for the economy to recover. It is also unclear how the pandemic may change over time.

The June and July jobs reports showed higher-than-expected jobs growth following the easing of economic restrictions. This seeded much-needed optimism for a quick economic recovery and suggested that the impact on the economy might be not as severe as people expected. At the same time, a recent study shows that many COVID-19 survivors may lose immunity to the virus within a matter of months, adding to reinfection concerns, which means public health measures may actually be saving more lives than once thought. Many of these uncertainties can impact our calculations.

Our team is continuously tracking these developments and updating our analyses.

What other research is being done

An important question that we have not explored yet is how the benefits and the costs of COVID-19 measures are distributed. We know the virus disproportionately affects older people and people of color. We also know that lower-income people are most likely to suffer health consequences from loss of employment or income.

If policymakers have the information to better understand these effects, they can find ways to anticipate public sentiment during public health crises.The Conversation

Olga Yakusheva, Associate Professor in Nursing and Public Health, University of Michigan

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


A look at Norwalk’s Planning Commission

Norwalk Planning Commissioners consider the 2020-21 capital budget, Jan. 29 in City Hall. (Paul Lanning)

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk’s eight Planning Commissioners don’t draw much attention but wield power in City government.

Any project that would cost Norwalk $10,000 or more can neither be started nor contracted for without prior consideration by the Planning Commission.  Even if Norwalk’s Board of Estimate and Taxation has approved a project’s funding, that project must still be scrutinized by the Planners.

Continue reading A look at Norwalk’s Planning Commission



Plans to address flooding in Friendly Pond area move forward

Joe Kirby, technical manager at Woodard and Curran, speaks to the Norwalk Common Council Public Works Committee on Tuesday.

NORWALK, Conn. — About 50 homes and buildings along Saddle Road, Surrey Drive, and other streets in the Friendly Pond area could see some relief soon from flooding issues that have affected that section of Norwalk.

Woodard and Curran, an engineering consultant firm, presented its final executive summary on the “Dreamy Hollow Estates (Friendly Pond Area) Drainage Study” to the Common Council’s Public Works Committee on Tuesday.  Continue reading Plans to address flooding in Friendly Pond area move forward


Public Works notes: Cesar Ramirez drive moves forward; Grasso contract approved; NRVT takes next steps

The Norwalk Common Council Public Works Committee meeting, held Tuesday on Zoom.

NORWALK, Conn. — The Public Works Committee unanimously approved the request for honorary naming of the portion of Chestnut Street from Monroe Street to Merritt Place to Officer Cesar Ramirez Drive.

Cesar Ramirez served a Norwalk police officer for 32 years and had served on the Norwalk Housing Authority since 1992. He died in January, less than two months after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Continue reading Public Works notes: Cesar Ramirez drive moves forward; Grasso contract approved; NRVT takes next steps


Norwalk promises to sell ‘abandoned boat’ to the highest bidder

Swany, being moored near Sheffield Island in early May. (Contributed)

NORWALK, Conn. – James Harding’s boat remains anchored off Sheffield Island, more than a month after he was told it would become City property if he didn’t claim it.

Harding was given a reprieve – the State granted him another 30 days to find it a new home. But Harding isn’t opening his certified mail, according to Norwalk Police Officer Mike Silva. Continue reading Norwalk promises to sell ‘abandoned boat’ to the highest bidder


Real estate agents describe ‘hot market’ in Norwalk, surrounding areas

A screengrab of Zillow, taken Saturday.

NORWALK, Conn. — When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the Northeast in March, Casey Lange, an agent with Halstead Real Estate in Darien, began noticing the short-term rental market picking up.

“A lot of New York residents very quickly wanted to get short-term rentals, so our rental market went from very slow to insanely busy on short-term rentals, and the prices…almost doubled in some cases for what we usually saw in short-term rentals,” she said. “That was probably in the first four weeks.” Continue reading Real estate agents describe ‘hot market’ in Norwalk, surrounding areas


‘POKO’ Q&As include thoughts about tax revenue, Milligan’s objections

Real estate broker Jason Milligan has a drink on Isaacs Street, outside his newly renovated Treasure House, after Thursday’s Common Council Planning Committee meeting. (Contributed)

Updated, 1:56 p.m.: Comment from Richard Freedman.

NORWALK, Conn. — Wall Street stakeholders aren’t speaking with one voice when it comes to Wall Street Place, commonly referred to as “POKO,” Marc Alan said.

“There are various opinions being held by various members of the (Wall Street) Neighborhood Association. So, I can’t say that there’s one unified opinion there,” Alan said to the Common Council Planning Committee last week. Continue reading ‘POKO’ Q&As include thoughts about tax revenue, Milligan’s objections


Breaking news: Chapman takes a (mostly) vacation

No, that’s not a plane to Hawaii… just a common sight in South Jersey.

For the first time since anyone can recall, Nancy Chapman is taking a week off. Sort of.

Chapman, who is the primary reporter, editor, administrator and general driving force behind NancyOnNorwalk.com, will be taking as much time off as she can this coming week. Continue reading Breaking news: Chapman takes a (mostly) vacation


Some Norwalk photos: Taxpayers in line


Norwalk taxpayers discard social distancing concerns during a rainstorm at City Hall. “There are markings outside City Hall for people to space out, and staff routinely checks to encourage social distancing,” Norwalk Communications Manager Josh Morgan wrote. (Contributed)

NORWALK, Conn. — The City Hall walk-up window has been getting plenty of use recently, as evidenced in a set of photos submitted to NancyOnNorwalk.

Although taxpayers were granted an extension to Oct. 1, many people are instead heading to City Hall to pay their taxes as soon as possible. Lines have formed, reportedly all day. Continue reading Some Norwalk photos: Taxpayers in line


The ‘new norm’ — permanent or temporary? — a reality check

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The “new norm” implies both that it is here (and indeed it is) and that it is permanent. However, let us examine what it is, its consequences and what should not be, the “new norm.”

We all know the COVID-19 virus “pandemic” by the growth of illness and deaths attributed to it in the U.S. and other countries. Reportedly, it occurs more likely among individuals and “senior citizens” with preexisting medical conditions. Effects of the illness have been reported as asymptomatic, mild among most healthy individuals, serious among others, and sometimes confused with the common cold or other strains of influenza. Tragically, death “has happened” (to quote the warnings for many prescription drugs advertised in the media today) to an alarming extent. Continue reading The ‘new norm’ — permanent or temporary? — a reality check


Density: Where’s Norwalk headed?

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Governments across national, state and local levels have called into focus health and to a lesser degree economic issues associated with COVID-19.  Policies have varied, impacting budgets, education, different socio-economic groups and the economy.  Amidst the pandemic, city officials have also faced protests over instances of racism and symbols of inequality from government institutions.  We’ve seen it in Norwalk.  With events like these dominating headlines, we can’t lose sight of the one constant in Norwalk – this Administration’s pursuit of density at the expense of everything else.  Injustice manifests itself in many forms.  It’s time to reflect on what’s happening in the place we call home. Continue reading Density: Where’s Norwalk headed?