NORWALK, Conn. – Work on the South Norwalk Community Center will begin by the end of the month, SoNoCC board Chairman Ed Camacho said.
The construction work, which is planned to make classrooms for children and new bathrooms, is being paid for with Community Block Grant Development (CDBG) funding. The Common Council authorized $100,000 in 2013, but that work has not yet begun. The Council authorized another $100,000 this spring, and center officials said that Phase I and Phase II of the reconstruction would be done together.
Camacho said the contract had been signed on the second $100,000 in CDBG funding. “We’re are waiting on the contractor to make sure he is still on board, that nothing has changed,” Camacho said.
Norwalk Public Schools has been planning to use the center for an After the Bell afterschool program next fall. Despite a tumultuous few days two weeks ago, a week in which the board fired volunteer Executive Director Pat Ferrandino and wthat featured parents protesting for the removal of then-board Chairman Warren Peña, Norwalk Superintendent Manny Rivera said that plan is still on.
“It’s still our intention to operate an After the Bell program in South Norwalk, and we plan to continue working with leaders at SoNoCC and other community organizations to make it happen,” Rivera said in an email. “That said, there are a number of steps that need to take place before we can open the doors in a location, including inspections, state licensing, staffing, etc. We hope to keep any potential delays to a minimum so that this program can open sometime this fall.”
“We’re hoping that it’s going to be done before the end of next month, but at least the first phase, because there are three phases and we’re going to do the first two,” Camacho said. “But at a minimum before the end of September so that we’ll be able to get the kids in there by October by the latest.”
Before departing, Ferrandino said the bids for the construction work came in higher than expected. That meant the bells and whistles were being scrapped, he said.
“The work wasn’t scaled back but rather put out to bid over three phases,” Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan said in an email. “SoNoCC is proceeding with Phases I and II, which includes classrooms, bathrooms, lobby area, etc. — almost everything except renovations to the office space. The contract between the contractor, FV Construction, and SoNoCC is being drawn up now so that work can commence and be completed ASAP.”
Camacho said there is a deal with The Home Depot to provide some, if not all, of the supplies at cost. “We’re going to leave that up to contractor to see if he can close that deal,” he said.