(Update Nov. 3: After being apprised by Jim Anderson in a comment on this story that he had come up with this idea a few years ago, Ms. Goldstein did some research and found that, indeed, Mr. Anderson discussed the idea at the 2010 TTD meeting. This was before sh moved to Norwalk. Ms. Goldstein says she had not heard about the idea before, but wanted to acknowledge that Mr. Anderson did present it three years ago.)
NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Democrats think they have a great idea – more parking for the East Norwalk train station and electric car chargers that will draw people in to local business as well as make life better for commuters.
Debora Goldstein, Democratic candidate for Third Taxing District commissioner, wants to turn over a little-used piece of Third Taxing District property to the city to allow the house on the property to be demolished and make room to expand the train station parking lot, eliminating the steep ramp there and moving the existing bus stop to a better location.
Republican Jim Anderson, Goldstein’s opponent, seemed surprised to hear the proposal, and said he had brought up that idea at least twice to the previous commissioners.
He said he hadn’t thought of electric car chargers for the parking lot. But he happens to be the person who installed electric chargers at the South Norwalk train station in 2011, he said.
Goldstein was joined by state Sen. Bob Duff, state Rep. Chris Perone, TTD treasurer candidate Taber Hamilton, other Democratic candidates for office and Democratic supporters for a Thursday morning press conference to unveil the idea. The group stood in front of the house at 215 East Ave., which is owned by TTD but not used for anything at this point other than the occasional meeting, Goldstein said.
“We would like to propose that this house be turned over to the city of Norwalk,” she said. “That would be done through an equitable lease, sale or land swap. Then the house can be removed and the parking lot expanded, providing additional spots that are much needed in this area. The ramp and the bus stop can be re-situated for safety and access into East Norwalk. The access (from the parking lot) into Fort Point Street would be more direct. The traffic flow would be great for everybody.”
Anderson said a line foreman lived in that house for free 25 to 30 years ago. Both candidates said the house is in poor repair and not worth fixing.
Anderson, an engineer, said he has drawn up sketches of the possible transformation of the property.
“I’ll take credit for that (idea); goes back three or four years ago. I brought it up at a Third Taxing District meeting prior to my interest in becoming a tax commissioner,” he said. “It fell on either deaf ears or there was conflict.”
A commissioner objected that knocking down the house would allow the public to see the ugly transformer equipment at the substation on Fitch Street, he said. “Well, put up trees or something on this side,” he said.
Democratic TTD Commissioner David Brown said he had heard Anderson was making that claim.
“We looked through minutes a year or more,” he said. “We never saw where he came to a meeting, and we could not see where he said this was an idea.”
“This idea was brought to me by a member of my team and it was independently developed,” Goldstein said. “It was already in motion before I had any conversations with (Anderson) about it.”
As part of “good governance by thinking ahead,” some of the parking spots would be reserved for electric charging stations, she said. Those would be paid for by grants and corporate sponsorship and would be tied into the existing TTD electrical infrastructure, she said. Revenue from the parking spots would go to the city, she said.
Duff, chairman of the Senate’s Energy Committee, said this could be a great example of local and state governments working together to make life better for citizens. The state has been encouraging electric vehicle use, he said.
“We are seeing more and more electric vehicles being registered around the state,” he said. “We have, I think, a third more than we did a year ago. We have many more car charger stations around the state than we did a year ago, so we’re really investing heavily in that. So having more of this right by a train station makes complete sense.”
Duff said the latest generation of car chargers can charge a car in 20 minutes. That would make it possible for people to park their car at the train station and go get food at nearby restaurants like Penny’s Diner or East Avenue Pizza and come back to a charged vehicle.
“This is not only for commuters,” he said. “It’s also for the economic livelihood of this area.”