In recent weeks, our Mayor has mentioned that there are discussions about bringing a new YMCA to Norwalk. It seems as if the Mayor and his team have had four years to address the issue of expanding youth activity services in Norwalk. When he first ran, one of his opponents in the primary was suggesting that we pursue a Big Brothers/Big Sisters chapter here in Norwalk.
Since the existing YMCA facility closed in 2012, our local YMCA has had to do without a building. Why is it only now, when re-election is on the table, that the Mayor is first seeking to address the issue?
In addition, the Norwalk Parks & Recreation department, their staff and budget, have been decimated over the past 10 years. Mayor Riling has done little to improve these areas. Parks & Rec is run in an outdated manner and uses no advances in technology to engage the community and drive improvements. Although some positive work has been done at Calf Pasture Beach, the mayor’s office needs to expand the resources provided for Parks & Rec to focus on providing safer, improved playing fields for the many youth sports programs in the city, especially Broad River Park, Veterans Park, and the middle school and elementary school sports fields. The city barely touches these fields. Right now, private sports programs and volunteers maintain many of these fields on an ad hoc basis.
Although the investment in turf fields at Nathan Hale and Brien Mcmahon are OK, I am not a fan of artificial turf. It was a convenient choice to avoid giving Parks & Rec operational dollars, and instead invest only in capital projects.
Youth programs, like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and youth sports, require significant investment in new facilities, new technology, new operational services and new security. This requires a much larger operational budget and better management. Good youth programs draw young families, which drive property values and invigorate our city.
Having stronger planning and professional management will help us to do better, and that is why I am voting for Lisa Brinton (Row D) on Nov. 7th