NORWALK, Conn. – The party appears to be over, but two Rowayton residents have taken a step to protest a $2.8 million road construction project that was recently given its final approval by the Common Council.
Lisa Thomson and Carolyn Chiodo have put up a sign at Witch Lane Park — where signs are routinely hung on a fence — that bears the words “STOP WASTING TAX $$$” beneath an image of a train. This is in reference to the expected project to lower Rowayton Avenue in the area of the railroad bridge.
“It’s about protesting what we consider wasted tax dollars and the faceless bureaucracy of not being bothered to stop something once started or the excuses made between government agencies in a bankrupt state!” Thomson wrote in an email. “We’d like to get … Malloy’s attention to the matter.”
The council approved a construction contract for the project on Jan. 28. This followed years of discussions; the project itself was approved two years ago with little public comment.
The road alterations will follow recommendations worked out between Norwalk’s Department of Public Works and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT). The bridge was rebuilt using thicker steel to support a wider expanse, resulting in less clearance underneath. The work was paid for with federal and state money. Now, the state would require Norwalk to repay $500,000 if the road project is not completed, DPW Director Hal Alvord said.
The project is supported by Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E). Asked about the protest sign, he said, “People put signs up there all the time.”
Chiodo declined comment.
“We don’t think people in the area know what is going to happen to that country road in a few months and we wanted to increase awareness. The fence has historically provided that public venue.
“We think the project is a waste of money.
“In light of two other bridge underpasses in the area, with considerably more traffic — the Post Road in Darien with its flooding or the Washington Street bridge in SoNo — we think that state tax dollars could be better spent. This project looks way over-engineered and is a waste of money. We just wanted to express that opinion.
“It seems the biggest reason Norwalk officials caved in on this was because it would have had to pay back $500k to the state in work previously needed and done. But this latest phase of work isn’t needed or at best way over-engineered. It’s like we’re being held hostage. Somebody is making money on the taxpayer’s dime.
“Our bankrupt state government is the largest employer in Connecticut and it pretty much does at it pleases — with little to no accountability. The loss of businesses and employment in the state and in Norwalk pretty much ensures that the average residential taxpayer has no say in how our tax dollars are spent and government bureaucrats do as they like.
“It just makes us mad and we wanted to express our dissatisfaction and increase awareness, so that other boondoggles like this don’t occur. Hopefully, it’s not too late for the folks in East Norwalk.”
That last comment is a reference to the plans to widen East Avenue, and lower the roadway under the railroad bridge there.