Norwalk political notes: Parents win another one; charter revision looks doubtful

A picture of Jefferson Elementary School, posted March 16 on Facebook.

A picture of Jefferson Elementary School, posted March 15 on Facebook.

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

  • A plan for improved snow removal at schools
  • Two opinions on charter revision
  • Norwalk looking for ‘innovative’ parking ideas
  • SUN is set

Norwalk looks to improve snow efforts

The cries of frustrated parents have been heard: Norwalk has developed a plan to coordinate efforts to remove the snow from school sidewalks.

This information comes to you from Barbara Meyer-Mitchell, founder of the Facebook group Norwalk Parents for Education, who forwarded a list from Assistant to the Mayor Laoise King.

This list is a follow up to a meeting:

Coordination of Operations
  1. DPW & Parks will have a follow-up meeting about combining operations during significant snow events.  This would allow for combining both personnel and equipment to enable more coordinated timing of snow removal and a more efficient deployment of resources.
  1. Superintendent’s Office, DPW and Parks will participate in a conference call either the night before or early morning of snow events to discuss need for delayed opening or cancellation.
Community Engagement
  1. All will participate in a Public Education Campaign at beginning of snow season to include information on sidewalk / footpaths, no parking in school parking lots or city hall during snow emergencies, etc.  DPW has existing brochures.  Will send info home in backpacks, do press and potentially other campaign.
  2. BOE will reach out to PTOs and School Administrators to identify bus stops along busy streets which need to be prioritized.
  3. BOE and Mayor’s Office will engage PTOs to find parents & local business to “Adopt-a-Stop” to help clear high need bus stops after significant storms.
  4. Mayor’s office will recruit volunteer Snow Shovelers and Compile list of elderly / disabled individuals who need assistance shoveling sidewalks, and will supply shovels, salt, etc.


Not at all?

So, what’s going on with that alleged charter revision effort? Mayor Harry Rilling has not answered an email asking that question, and NoN has not had the chance to ask him about it in person.

So, on Tuesday, NoN sent an email to all Common Council members asking, “Is there any possibility that the charter revision effort will continue this year?”

There were two replies.

“We have been mainly focused on the budget,” Majority Leader John Kydes (D-District C) said. “As soon as we have worked that out, we we can focus our attention on other things. There is a major investment into our schools on the table and it deserves our full attention.”

“I do not think it will,” Council member Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) said. “I also don’t think there would be enough time to get it done for the November election.”

The charter revision proposals on last November’s ballot were fought by a Political Action Committee formed by Deb Goldstein, Lisa Brinton Thomson and Diane Cece, who promoted their thoughts with a slogan: “Do it right or not at all.”


Norwalk to do parking study

The Common Council on March 20 approved spending $200,000 on a parking study, without saying a word, as part of the “consent calendar.” A Request for Proposals went out the next day.

The RFP states:

“The Norwalk Parking Authority seeks the development of a Parking Capacity Study and Strategic Parking Plan (the Plan) to provide a comprehensive, city-wide framework that helps to articulate and clarify a vision and approach for parking in the city of Norwalk … The goal of the study is the development of a citywide in depth parking capacity and strategic parking plan to provide the Norwalk Parking Authority with a framework that helps articulate and clarify a vision and approach for parking in Norwalk. The aim is to come out of the planning process with a plan that will serve to align policy-makers, city staff, residents, business and property owners so that parking goals outlined in the plan are shared and reflect a common vision for the city as a whole. The plan will explore innovative strategies and parking values from a variety of user’s perspectives so that the implementation tools outlined in the plan can be used by all stakeholders to achieve the best parking plan possible.

“The City is concurrently in the process of updating its current Plan of Conservation and Development. The POCD will define future areas of development citywide and the parking plan will assist this effort. The Parking Plan will help inform the POCD as well as the redevelopment plan areas in which they are located including Wall Street, West Avenue, South Norwalk TOD Area, Webster Lot and the Washington-South Main area.”


Council stands up, keeps promise

Also on March 20, members of Stand Up Norwalk (SUN), which seeks to have Norwalk officially “refuse to participate in efforts by the Federal government to deport law-abiding undocumented workers or discriminate in any manner against city residents because of their immigrant status, religion, skin color, sex or sexual orientation,” a show by attempting to speak to the Common Council although they knew immigration was not on the agenda.

“We have been trying to put the issue for Stand Up Norwalk on the agenda since the beginning of December and nothing has happened,” Yvonne Lopaur said. “… We have approached a number of Council people and have not received any positive action on that.”

“Thank you,” Rilling replied. “I think we are all willing to have that discussion.”

SUN founder Paul Cantor said that promise is being kept. A meeting is set for April 4 with Rilling, Council President John Igneri (D-District E), Majority Leader John Kydes (D-District C) and Minority Leader Michelle Maggio (R-District C), Cantor said.


tony dandrea March 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

“DPW & Parks will have a follow-up meeting about combining operations… allowing more efficient deployment of resources.”

Seem like a wonderful idea. I applaud the outside the box thinking here.

I suggest we explore a permanent realignment of both departments under the DPW umbrella. The ability to have engineering over-site of Rec and Parks projects, grounds, and facilities would be invaluable and the cost savings would be significant.

Unless streamlining the departments, the process, and improving overall safety is not viewed as positive.

Paul Persius March 31, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Sounds good on paper but would never work, and has been proven not to work in other towns, including stamford. DPW is so busy now to handle the projects they have they wouldnt handle the additional workload. Not too mention the 2 departments are night and day operationaly. How about suggesting to add an engineer for Parks and rec only if that is your goal?? Methinks you have a beef with the director : )

Bryan Meek March 31, 2017 at 7:58 pm

@Tony Deandrea. It would be good to see what DPW could afford now to run parking in house again possibly. I’ve always been a fan of looking at insourcing where it is most efficient.

That said, by the last forecast I saw a few years ago, it would have cost several million more on top of the current $6 million, or roughly 1.5% of the city’s budget.

Also keep in mind that the last time DPW ran the show, the average $25 ticket used to cost the city $55 to process and they didn’t exactly make it up on volume.

No, instead those operational inefficiencies forced bad decisions…….within their line item they decided to not keep up with the repairs which almost saw Yankee Doodle and Haviland condemned.

fastforward….the NPA has a vendor who returns capital to the city that has been maintaining the structures to ensure safety and maximum benefit to the city.

I don’t like paying for parking either, but I’d rather keep my tax bill down where I can and this one makes sense.

Non partisan April 2, 2017 at 10:09 am

@ Brian Meek

It only makes sense if you aren’t in buisiness and rely on customers.

We eat out 3-5 times a week.
When we first moved to Norwalk We would frequent the local restaurants and use the garage in Sono daily to get To work.

After several encounters with the predatory parking authority, having my car booted for bad tickets that I didn’t have the chance to fight, i take my buisiness else where.

I park in Stamford ($8 vs 12) and dine in darian or Westport.

Maybe- just maybe I’d comeback to eating/ shopping and commuting from Norwalk if the parking authority was less predatory.

And please- do not think I’m alone in this thinking.

Oh- and the lack of stable buisiness holds down real estate values- and raises your taxes. Please review the formulas used by our otherwise predatory tax assessor.

But what do I know?

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