I am confused and disturbed by the Mayor’s published reaction to the state DOT’s “Finding of No Significant Impact” on the Walk Bridge project.
Last fall, under the direction of the City Corporation Counsel, a major effort was made to prevent such a conclusion from being reached. It involved many city departments testifying at a public hearing, followed by a 109 page report to the DOT Commissioner asking the state transportation officials to study the project further before moving forward with the next step in the review process. At the time, he wrote:
“while the city understands the importance of this project, its significance should not overshadow the magnitude of the temporary and permanent impacts and losses. Given the multi-year construction window and all the projects proposed, the city will bear the burden of the impacts disproportionately. More work needs to be done and answers provided during this EA/EIE stage before that could reasonably be a basis to render a Finding of No Significant Impact.”
The purpose of the report was to prevent the DOT from issuing a “Finding of No Significant Impact.” Yet when the state issued that Finding last week, Mayor Rilling was quoted as brushing it off by saying:
“This determination is only the first phase of the Walk Bridge replacement project. While the FTA uses the term ‘Finding of No Significant Impact’ to describe the end of the first phase, the finding does not mean that Norwalk will not be impacted by the project — it is a term that means that working together there are things that can be done to mitigate the short and long term effects of the project.”
So which is it???
Is it something worthy of a 109 page report compiled by our city departments over several weeks through intensive work OR just a meaningless step in the project timetable???
I believe that the Corporation Counsel was correct last fall in being deeply concerned that a “Finding of No Significant Impact” would weaken the city’s position in the future. The Mayor’s brushing it off in his comments afterwards is just another indication of a failure to protect the City and its citizens.