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Norwalk political notes: Full steam ahead on traffic, family improvements

The view Friday from the driver's seat at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive.

The view Friday from the driver’s seat at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive.

Emily Rose Giandurco was born April 28.

Emily Rose Giandurco was born April 28.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s what we have for you in political notes this Monday:

  • There’s a new Giandurco
  • Cat tracks and wrongful right turns onto Fairfield
  • Traffic improvements planned in Rowayton
  • Wall Street Theater’s $1.6 million ‘paperwork’ in order
  • GGP’s tab is $44 million

 

It’s a girl

Common Councilwoman Shannon O’Toole Giandurco (R-District D) won’t be attending any more Council meetings in a “very pregnant” condition – at 1:04 a.m. April 28, she gave birth to her first child.

That’s according to Giandurco’s husband, Norwalk Federation of Teachers (NFT) Vice President Joe Giandurco, who said the baby – a girl – weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was 20.5 inches long.

Her name is Emily Rose, he said. Rose is his grandmother’s name and the couple liked the name Emily, he said.

“The nurses and staff at Norwalk Hospital were awesome,” he said Friday. “Everybody is doing great so far.”

 

DPW whittling away at intersection woes

The Golden Hill Association has been asking for quite some time for “cat tracks” to help eastbound Washington Street drivers stay in their lane while crossing Martin Luther King Drive. Because the intersection doesn’t quite line up, some drivers in the left lane were cutting off others in the right lane and it would be helpful if the hash marks that delineate lanes went all the way across, member Mike Mushak said in multiple public meetings, but was ignored under the previous administration.

Well, guess what? Sometime in the last few weeks the lines were painted.

And they work, Association member Jim Clark said Sunday. But he wants more.

The view from the center of Washington Street, where it meets Flax Hill  Road, Fairfield Avenue and Couch Street. (Photo by Jim Clark.)

The view from the center of Washington Street, where it meets Flax Hill Road, Fairfield Avenue and Couch Street. (Photo by Jim Clark.)

There’s a problem coming the other way, as some drivers on Washington make a right turn from the left lane to go up Fairfield Avenue, he said.

“My daughters were in an accident at this light after dusk,” Clark wrote to the Department of Public Works on April 28. “They were on Washington Street in the right lane (CAR 1) preparing to turn right onto Fairfield Avenue and a car in the left lane (CAR 2) turned into them, also trying to turn right onto Fairfield Avenue.  At night when there was significant traffic, the signage to the right was not as visible, and, as I mentioned, drivers get mixed messages, as there are three lights at the intersection, with two pointing right. This implies two lanes of traffic are allowed to turn right, despite signage to the contrary.”

The light conforms to the national standard for signals and signage, Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), Senior Civil Engineer Mike Yeosock said in an email to Clark.

“However, I (would) still like to see if there is something we could do to help make the situation less confusing,” Yeosock wrote.

DPW has already improved life for drivers using this intersection by changing the timing of the light and lessening congestion.

Stay tuned to see if more happens.

 

Rowayton traffic calming on the way

Someone is going to get run over on Rowayton Avenue, a resident said Thursday.

The man said he sits outside the market with a friend in the morning, and the behavior of drivers blows them away. People are speeding to get to the train and, with cars parked along the street, vehicles are going over the line, so there’s a face off and “I’ve literally seen cars go on the sidewalk,” he said at a meeting called to discuss possible changes to the Zoning regulations.

“It’s crazy,” Sixth Taxing District Commissioner Mike Barbis replied, telling a similar story of early morning hi-jinks: “The person hadn’t stopped for three seconds and the person behind them floored it and passed them, in front of the market.”

Help is on the way, Sixth Taxing District Commissioner Tammy Langalis said.

Norwalk Traffic Engineer Fred Eshragi has designed traffic calming measures, and 6TD will split their cost with the city, she said. But the whole thing has to go through the state, so everyone is waiting, she said.

“We have to follow the procedures, as frustrating as it is – its government at its best,” Langalis said. “I have a neighbor going through the back door to get in touch with the state, try to push it through on the other end. We don’t want anybody to get hurt, but we are trying very diligently.”

“Might be done by Memorial Day; don’t hold your breath,” she said.

Barbis had a related comment, explaining that the truck ban that was won a few years ago is moot.

“Norwalk can’t really enforce it, Darien has no interest in enforcing it, so the trucks are back,” Barbis said.

 

Globe still a go

Frank Farricker nailed it – the Common Council is set to vote Tuesday on the Wall Street Theater’s United States Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 108 loan guarantee, which in some people’s eyes is long overdue.

Farricker said in March that he expected the Council to vote on the $1.6 million loan guarantee in May. This was in response to a NancyOnNorwalk inquiry inspired by a comment on this website asserting a “stalled effort of the Globe theater.”

Not true, Farricker said, predicting a September opening.

This 108-thing has been hanging around for quite some time. From the Council packet:

“In June 2013, the Common Council approved the Redevelopment Agency to advance to HUD an application for a Section 108 loan guarantee for the redevelopment of the old Globe Theater on Wall Street. In September 2015, HUD approved the City of Norwalk’s request for loan guarantee assistance under Section 108 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 for the Globe Theater Redevelopment Project to be named the Wall Street Theater in the amount of $1,666,000.”

“Upon receipt of funds, the NRA will underwrite a twenty-year leasehold mortgage with the Wall Street Theater Company Inc., the operator of the theater, in the amount of $1,666,000,” the email from Director of Community Development Planning Tami Strauss to the Council states.

The Council is set to authorize RDA as the entity on the hook for the loan, according to Strauss’ email.

The Council agenda also lists the financing for Farricker’s theater:

  • Patriot Bank construction loan: $8.2 million
  • State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) grant for acquisition: $1.5 million
  • Federal Historic Tax Credits: $1.8 million
  • State of Connecticut Historic Tax Credits: $1.6 million
  • State of Connecticut Infrastructure Tax Credits: $2 million
  • Private grants and donations: $260,000

 

GGP has spent $44 million on The SoNo Collection

There’s plenty of financial information out there on General Growth Properties (GGP) for those who are looking for it, from shareholder sessions to forecasts of growth.

NancyOnNorwalk recently tripped over a tidbit of information in all of that: GGP has spent $44 million on The SoNo Collection to date. The projected cost is $285 million, with an 8 to 10 percent return on investment expected. GGP expects The SoNo Collection to be “stabilized” in 2020.

That’s from the May 4 financial report, as found on Yahoo Finance. It was confirmed Friday by GGP Associate Developer Rob Jakubik.

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