NORWALK, Conn. — Here are some items of note:
- Rilling supports son, slams ‘hiding’ critics
- Crosswalks installed near hospital
- Wall Street development updates
Rilling congratulates son on sobriety, hits anonymous critics
Mayor Harry Rilling declined comment to NancyOnNorwalk recently when his son, Stephen Rilling, avoided jail time by accepting a plea deal on drug charges, but the Mayor made a public statement Thursday on Facebook.
Stephen Rilling was on the Fairfield Police Department for 19 years before being accused of stealing drugs from an evidence locker. Nearly one year ago, he said on a blog post that he suffered a severe back injury after a car collision during a police pursuit and became addicted to narcotic pain medication after surgery.
Mayor Rilling on Facebook said Thursday that his son has been clean for a year. He wrote to his son:
“We are so very proud of the commitment, courage and strength you have shown over the past year.
“You stood tall in the face of those who would criticize and say terrible things about your situation. They did not have the courage to use their own names rather choosing to hide behind anonymous fictitious names. They have no meaningful impact on your life.
“Perhaps if they knew the true details of your situation, they would think and act differently and with compassion. We should hope and pray for their sake, they never have to endure what you did.
“So my son, continue to hold your head high and be proud of who you are. Remember your family and TRUE friends, who have stood by your side, will always be here to support and encourage you.
❤️ ❤️ ❤️””
Stephen Rilling thanked his father and wrote, “You have been there for me from the start and continue to support me in every way. I could not ask for a better father/friend. I am also proud of you and your ability to handle it all with the utmost compassion. Love you.”
Norwalk Republican Town Committee District D Chairman John Romano wrote, “All the best in the future Stephen, you come from resilient stock.”
State Rep. Terri Wood (R-141) also offered best wishes.
Maple Street paint job
Travel lanes on Maple Street have been narrowed and crosswalks installed on two side streets, in response to concerns about pedestrian safety.
Dr. Eunice Kang of Norwalk Hospital reached out to the city in October to request changes because 90 medical students need to cross Maple Street for their medical residencies, and their “safety was in jeopardy” due to a lack of crosswalks or signage, according to the Bike/Walk Commission.
The Commission, under the leadership of Chairwoman Nancy Rosett, looked into installing two crosswalks on Maple Street, one at Prospect Street and one at Fairview Avenue, but found in discussions with the Department of Public Works that regulations do not allow for an ADA (American Disabilities Act)-compliant crosswalk because the of Maple Street’s steep hill. Instead, crosswalks were installed across Prospect and Fairview, parallel to Maple Street.
The Commission also recommended that DPW put in a stop sign or other signage to slow Maple Street traffic, or install an island at the intersection so pedestrians would have a refuge and traffic would slow down. Those remedies weren’t implemented but the Commission’s suggestion that the travel lanes be narrowed was, with the 15-foot lanes now reduced to 10-foot lanes via new striping.
“The Commission appreciates how quickly DPW responded to the needs of pedestrians and believes these changes to Maple St. will improve pedestrian safety for all,” the Commission said in a statement. “The Commission invites all members of the public to contact the Commission at [email protected] with any concerns related to pedestrian and bicycle safety in Norwalk.”
Don’t look for an apartment at Head of the Harbor
Head of the Harbor South is fully rented out, developer Jason Enters said Sunday.
The development came up at a recent Planning Committee meeting, with Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan using it as an example of progress in the Wall Street area.
M.F. DiScala’s long-delayed Smith Street mixed-use apartment complex moved forward in 2014 after an agreement was worked out with the Norwalk Historical Commission; in exchange for public property totaling .5 acres, DiScala agreed to provide a minimum of $660,000 of public improvements on the site, a public easement over Smith Street and 15 on-site parking spaces for the city’s exclusive use, all assigned to the Historical Commission. It was approved by the Zoning Commission in August 2015 with plans for 5,000 square feet of office space, landscaping, pedestrian sidewalks, a waterfront boardwalk, a public plaza, a gazebo and pedestrian connections.
DiScala has been working out of the complex’s new office space for some time now. Enters said on March 10 that 90 percent of the 60 apartments were rented, with some tenants already living in the smaller of the two buildings. Both buildings have their temporary Certificates of Occupancy (TCOs), he said Sunday.
City, Developer Still Negotiating on Head of Harbor North
Regarding Head of the Harbor North, a development proposal that involves a city-owned parking lot, Sheehan on March 1 said, “There is a draft agreement that still is being negotiated between the city and the developer.”
M. F. DiScala said more than a year ago that it was looking to build an 80-apartment building over the city-owned Main Street parking lot, proposing to make the lot more level and replace its 91 public parking spaces with 93 spaces, in exchange for being allowed to build above the lot. The project drew criticism during the 2017 mayoral campaign with unaffiliated candidate Lisa Brinton Thomson charging that the city was planning to “give away” valuable land for a dollar. Sheehan responded that “a conditioned Option Agreement” was being discussed, which would have a deadline for DiScala to buy the property and an associated fee, with the value of the land determined by an appraiser. City approvals would be factored into the appraisal.
Enters in March said the company hopes to get an agreement by the spring.
“We have done a schematic design and we have an as-of-right building to go there and we are working with Redevelopment to get an agreement in place,” he said.