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Dem Third District candidate: Knock down house, make room for East Norwalk train station parking

Norwalk Third Taxing District commissioner candidate Debora Goldstein, center, said she thinks TTD property should be turned over to the city to allow for the expansion of the East Norwalk train station parking lot. The house behind her in this photo was once used for a caretaker but is vacant now, she said.

(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.”

 

8 comments

Jim Anderson October 25, 2013 at 9:29 am

Sorry you picked the wrong topic and using my idea. I had brought this up at least twice at the Annual Electors meeting before my very nice opponent even moved into East Norwalk. I had spoke to use the monies from the sale of the house to go directly to fund underground services (of which there are only a few, again I know because I walked it out). I have been inside the house many years even and saw it was dilapidated.
I was directly involved with the design of the underground electrical system at West Avenue in South Norwalk and even offered to use my many years of electrical utility experience free of charge in coordinating the underground services and lighting layout. This is clearly my idea and if it had been pursued years ago when I spoke about it, perhaps the gentlemen’s home might not have been taken by the State after all. Did anyone think of that or are you to busy thinking the electric chargers are being used daily? I guess no one has gone to the South Norwalk Station to research that, the one I installed (oh sorry that was mention already).
Not good.

EveT October 25, 2013 at 11:37 am

Good idea, and glad Goldstein is bringing attention to it, regardless of who first proposed it. Why tear down houses people are living in on the other side of East Avenue when this house is sitting vacant, right next to the existing too-small parking lot?

Pat Thomas October 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I remember Jim Anderson proposing this at the electors meeting in 2010, and I thought it was a great idea. Of course, that meeting would have been before Ms. Goldstein moved to Norwalk, three years ago. However, I am a little concerned that Mr. Duff and Mr. Perone, who have represented this area for a long time, didn’t know of this proposal. I am happy to see that Ms. Goldstein, even as a newcomer to Norwalk, supports Jim Anderson’s vision and ideas.

David Park October 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Good to see this idea is being brought up once again at a press conference. Many of us heard Jim Anderson present this idea at the 2010 Third Taxing District annual meeting at the East Norwalk Library (not a monthly commission meeting), so it is not new. And, FYI, the electric car chargers at the South Norwalk train station have never been used.

Osgood Schlater October 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Kudos to Ms Goldstein for advocating a change that would be a win-win for East Norwalkers, for Metro North Commuters, and for the octagenarian who was threatened with eviction under eminent domain. The desired widening of the railroad underpass can now be planned with advantages all around.

Too bad that Jim Anderson did not speak up if it was really his idea, although proof of his claim does not seem to be forthcoming. It is such a good idea that he should have been hammering away at the Moccia administration night and day. It is not too late for him to join Ms Goldstein and get behind the reconfiguration of the station area. What is mystifying is that if he really had something to do with installing electrical charging stations in South Norwalk, why didn’t he insist that they be part of the idea of replacing the unused house with a parking lot? Why doesn’t he insist that Mayor Moccia join him and push for that vital reconfiguration, especially if he claims that it was his idea in the first place?

Osgood Schlater October 25, 2013 at 5:48 pm

If it is such a good idea, why don’t you all support it? The electric cars are coming, and people will buy them if they can charge them as easily as Deb Goldstein and Bob Duff point out. If the Moccia administration, at Jim Anderson’s behest,placed an electric charger unit in South Norwalk RR station, why haven’t they publicized it?
Let’s face it, the whole Goldstein proposal is extremely sound and long overdue. Too bad Jim wasn’t a better advocate, otherwise this project would have been finished by this time.

McKeen Shanogg October 25, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Great to see a new face and fresh start. Voters who are sick of the same old politicos should be really happy to vote for a young newcomer like Deb Goldstein.

kmokeefe October 25, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Ms Goldstein may be a relative newcomer to Norwalk but she is obviously not a newcomer to getting things done. Already she is fully engaged in working for her community and has done the research to understand the practicality and economy of the train station project she proposes. By reaching out to our legislators and engaging the public she has demonstrated the commitment and energy Norwalk needs for its future growth.

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