NORWALK, Conn. — The Common Council has a few items on its plate:
- Mushak among a slew of appointments, but not for the Bike/Walk Commission
- Grasso slated for additional $1 million in paving work
- Council set to award school architectural contracts
- Committee considering Enterprise Zone tax incentives
Council to consider 10 appointments, seven reappointments
The agenda for Tuesday’s Common Council meeting includes seven appointments for what is now an official governmental body, the Bike/Walk Advisory Commission; the appointments of Eric Rains to the Parking Authority, John Crespo to the Norwalk Harbor Management Commission and former Zoning Commissioner Mike Mushak to the Planning Commission; and the reappointments of members of the Human Relations Commission and the Fair Rent Commission.
Rains, a South Norwalk landscape architect who is a member of the SoNo Comeback Task Force and is on the Board of Directors for the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, would serve a Parking Authority term that ends March 31.
Crespo is an environmental scientist certified in hazardous materials management, according to his resume. He would serve a term that ends Dec. 31.
Mushak, a landscape architect and business owner, is known as a lightning rod former Zoning Commissioner, well versed in the many plans and studies that have been commissioned by Norwalk. He would serve a term that ends July 1.
“Mr. Mushak has in-depth knowledge of the city and the various plans commissioned over the years. He would be a significant benefit to the process we have in place for developing our POCD,” Mayor Harry Rilling said Monday in an email.
The Council on Aug. 8 unanimously approved a new ordinance to create a Bike/Walk Advisory Commission out of what was the Bike/Walk Task Force, created by Rilling in 2014, with Mushak and Peter Libre as co-chairmen.
The seven appointments to the new Commission:
- Nancy Rosett, former Task Force chairwoman (term ending June 30)
- Peter Libre (term ending June 30)
- Michael Heslin (term ending June 30, 2019)
- Peter Franz (term ending June 30, 2019)
- Kevin Kane (term ending June 30, 2019)
- Jud Aley (term ending June 30, 2020)
- Colin Grotheer (term ending June 30, 2020)
- Timothy Buzzee, Human Relations Commission
- Rahoul Duperville, Human Relations Commission
- Carol Gavriliedes, Human Relations Commission
- Yvonne Rodriguez, Human Relations Commission
- Mary Geake, Fair Rent Commission
- Brenda Penn-Williams, Fair Rent Commission
- Sonja Oliver, Fair Rent Commission
Grasso lined up for $1 million in additional paving
The Grasso Companies LLC, the controversial recipient of $3.4 million paving contract in April and a $826,618 sidewalk and curbing contract in June, is set to be awarded a $1 million “change order” to pave 11 streets this summer:
- Arrowhead Court
- Buckthorn Road
- Cindy Lane
- Knob Hill Road
- Noah’s Lane (from the extension to the cul-de-sac)
- Ox Yoke Lane
- Scott Street
- Sherwood Street
- Tulip Tree Road
- Wake Robin Road
- Wayfaring Road
Some Council members objected to awarding Grasso the prior contract because Grasso companies historically have been accused of Zoning violations, with many noise complaints from nearby residential neighbors. But Grasso Companies LLC is owned by Joe Grasso, Jr., and a majority of Council members said they had no grounds to deny the son a contract because of things the father had done.
When the Council awarded the paving contract, it said it would be monitoring the work.
“The paving they have done is very good,” Department of Public Works Director Bruce Chimento told the Council Public Works Committee last week.
It’s customary to amend the contract this way, adding streets after the paving contract is complete, Chimento said, after Council member Michael Corsello (D-At Large) protested that it seemed like, “a whole new project.”
The contract is awarded in advance of bonds being issued for the current year’s capital budget, DPW Principal Engineer Lisa Burns explained.
“We used to wait to we got the funds but it was the worst time to bid the project, in July,” she said.
Contractors know that if they complete the contract they have been awarded in a timely fashion then they are likely to get additional work, Burns and Chimento said.
“It’s not an entitlement, not a guarantee… It’s an incentive,” Chimento said, responding to comments from Council member Rich Bonenfant (R-At Large).
As for Zoning violations, the Committee was informed by Assistant Planning and Zoning Director Mike Wrinn that Grasso had an application in for a berm in the back of its Wilson Avenue property, but, “As far as we are concerned there’s no violation,” Chimento said.
Wrinn, in a Monday email, explained:
“Crystal LLC, the owner of the property at 314 Wilson Avenue, has a request in with the Zoning Commission to install a berm across the rear of the property to screen and also to better control runoff into the creek. It is part of a DEEP permit.
“There is also a public hearing on a auto restoration business on the Crystal LLC property Wednesday night, which should resolve Crystals issue of a tenant without a permit.
“I am not aware of any zoning violations issued to any Grasso Company. We issue violations to property owners, which is Crystal LLC in the case of the 314 Wilson Avenue property.”
NancyOnNorwalk did not attend the Public Works Committee meeting, but was given a recording.
School architects chosen
Perkins Eastman Architects has been selected to design the addition to Ponus Ridge Middle School in a $2.3 million contract to be voted on Tuesday.
“The Committee was very impressed with Perkins Eastman’s qualifications and presentation, specifically their concept for the addition and their understanding of the Office of School Construction Grants and Review’s requirements,” Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo wrote to the Council.
JCJ Architecture has been selected for a $850,000 contract for design services on the South Norwalk school, with the scope of services limited as the city pursues state and federal approval for the required open land swap, Lo wrote.
“The Committee was very impressed with JCJ’s qualifications and presentation, specifically their desire to engage the school community in the development of education and building program requirements and their understanding of the ‘Bank Street Education Model,’” Lo wrote. “In addition, they are familiar with Office of School Construction Grants and Review’s process.”
He predicted that the approval on the open land swap would take another six to nine months.
Interview committee members were Land Use and Building Management Committee Chairman Thomas Livingston (D-District E), Council Finance Committee Chairman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large), Board of Education Vice Chairman Mike Barbis, Norwalk Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton, Ponus Ridge Middle School Principal Damon Lewis, Jefferson Elementary School Principal Nick Brophy, Columbus Magnet School Principal Medard Thomas, Purchasing Agent Ben Luce, Purchasing Officer Sharon Conners, consultant Jim Guiliano, and Lo.
Planning Committee moving ahead on tax incentives
Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan provided the Council Planning Committee with statistics for Census Tract 437, as the Committee considered Enterprise Zone tax incentives last week, Committee Chairman John Kydes (D-District C) said Monday.
“Now we will begin evaluating our options,” he said in an email. “The consensus of the committee is not to blanket the area with an Enterprise Zone but rather look at each project individually.”
Pinnacle at Waypointe is in the middle of Census Tract 437; developer Paxton Kinol reportedly is looking for a tax incentive for the project, which is up for a vote Wednesday by the Zoning Commission.
Kydes said, “The tax incentive discussion did not begin because of anyone development.”