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Good news about Norwalk

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Updated Feb. 21: Copy edits.

Someone once said bad news travels faster than good, so I’d like to share a lot of good news out there about Norwalk, including a lot we don’t often hear about:

  • Grand list is up and taxes are stabilized and even going down for the majority of residents as reported (thanks Mayor Rilling and city staff).
  • Schools are getting better with more investment and renovations (thanks BoE).
  • A new school will be built in South Norwalk, Columbus school will be renovated, and Norwalk is poised to be first district in the state with K-12 International Baccalaureate (IB) Program (thanks BoE, Common Council, Mayor Rilling).

  • Streets are getting repaved and being made safer (thanks DPW).
  • New sidewalks and crosswalks are going in (although we can always use more, but again thanks to DPW for doing the best they can with existing resources).
  • Parks and ballfields are getting better (thanks Parks and Rec).
  • Social services and healthcare are continually improving and expanding to serve Norwalk’s diverse community, including Norwalk Hospital, Carver Center, Open Door Shelter, SoNo Community Center, Community Health Center, Star, Inc., Person-to-Person, etc.
  • Walk Bridge replacement, along with replacement of other obsolete rail bridges in Norwalk on nation’s busiest rail line, are moving forward with planned disruptions decreasing with good planning (Fort Point St. won’t be closed as once expected, and other detours being improved. Thanks DOT and DPW).
  • East Avenue south of 95 (including exit 16) will become a much more attractive and safer Complete Street soon with street trees, historic lights, buried utilities, renovated train station, and better traffic flow for all users. And big trucks won’t disrupt local neighborhoods anymore as they currently seek shortcuts around the low East Ave bridge.  (thanks DOT, DPW, and Third Taxing District).
  • Norwalk’s amazing list of world-class cultural institutions are always improving and expanding, including the Maritime Aquarium, Stepping Stones, Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Mill Hill, Norwalk Historical Society Museum, Norwalk Symphony, and the Wall Street Theater (thanks to all the volunteer boards and staff.)
  • Obsolete Washington Village is being replaced with a beautiful new mixed-income project, and surrounding streets rebuilt as a national model Choice Neighborhoods project (thanks HUD, Redevelopment, Housing Authority, DPW, and private investors.)
  • Ryan Park is being rebuilt with community input (thanks Redevelopment).
  • SoNo Collection will open in October bringing 2500 new jobs and increased tax revenue, and a world-class shopping experience (thanks Redevelopment, Brookfield Properties).
  • Libraries are improving and expanding (thanks to the Library boards and staff).
  • Norwalk’s downtown and transit-oriented areas are being redeveloped with new businesses bringing new jobs,  and more housing choices including more affordable housing for our expanding population, quite an accomplishment in a state with an overall shrinking population (thanks Redevelopment, private investors).

I’m sure I can go on with this list of positive things about Norwalk, but let me just summarize and say what a lot of folks already know, that Norwalk is a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family, and only getting better!

 

Is it perfect? Of course not, as no place on the planet is.  But it is a lot better, and more beautiful including its rich history and natural setting, than a lot of similar small cities I have been to which is why I chose to move here over 20 years ago, and invest my life savings in opening a new business, and saving two blighted historic houses from demolition by buying and restoring them. I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t know in my heart this was an awesome place to spend my life with my husband and so many dear friends.  That’s why David and I, both landscape architects by profession,  have rolled up our sleeves as volunteers to work hard to make our neighborhood and our city a better place for everyone, as it is a city with so much potential for the future.

Full disclosure: I currently serve as a volunteer on the Planning Commission, and am optimistic for Norwalk’s future, as so many are who serve on our volunteer boards and commissions. My husband David Westmoreland serves on the Redevelopment Commission. I just wanted to give a different and more positive perspective than the usual dozen or so commenters here on NoN, many who hide behind fake names or who have political aspirations, and who lean towards a “glass half-empty” worldview as they obsessively trash-talk our city, where even good news is met with predictable negativity often to the point of absurdity. There is plenty to be grateful for here in our beautiful city of Norwalk, and plenty of great things to look forward to as we reinvent ourselves for the 21st century and for future generations.

Mike Mushak

 

Mike Mushak is a member of the Planning Commission.

21 comments

Mike Mushak February 16, 2019 at 9:19 am

Oops. As I was concentrating on local issues when writing my letter, I made one glaring omission: I want to thank all the elected state and federal senators and representatives past and present and on both sides of the aisle who worked and continue to work so hard to make many of the above positive achievements in Norwalk possible. It truly is a group effort on all levels to meet our challenges and solve serious problems. We don’t always agree on every approach but we always try to move forward and make Norwalk a better place for everyone.

Jason Milligan February 16, 2019 at 9:43 am

I agree Norwalk is a great city that has a bright future.

It should be noted that most or all of tje things you mentioned are things that might happen and might go well. They are far from completed, so lets not celebrate too early.

I have seen plenty of politicians drinking champaign over POKO’s potential success.

Even the taxes you claim will go down is a wait and see. There was an attempt to shift the burden from residents who vote to commercial properties that may not vote.

Stay tuned because there are going to be a lot of commercial tax appeals that knock the grandlist down and homeowners taxes up.

Mitch Adis February 16, 2019 at 9:55 am

Property taxes are going down? I gues this is a true statement, but only for mayor Rilling’s properties.

Bruce Kimmel February 16, 2019 at 10:19 am

Mike, excellent column. The median tax bill in three of the five taxing districts will indeed go down in July. Most importantly, the median tax bill in the 4th taxing district, by far the largest in the city, will go down. There are lots of really good things happening in our city right now, especially in our schools, which are improving at an unprecedented pace.

Karen February 16, 2019 at 10:22 am

Thanks for the positive message, Mike! The beach! Did you mention our beach? Lovely place to sit, walk, swing or eat! I’ve lived here for almost 40 years, and it’s getting better and better.

Matt February 16, 2019 at 10:53 am

Thank you Mike for taking time to highlight all the positives about Norwalk. As a resident of the city for just under five years, my family and I truly appreciate all the recent improvements around town as well as everything the city has to offer. We remain optimistic about its future growth in the right direction. It’s an exciting time to take part in Norwalk’s transformation!

Lisa Brinton February 16, 2019 at 11:17 am

Mike,

This is truly your Bohemian Rhapsody of love letters to Harry – reminding of me the first six lines of that epic ballad:

“Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see…”

It also reminds me the first sentence, in Dickens’ ‘Tale of Two Cities,’

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only…”

I guess it all just depends…
Have a fabulous day!

Patrick Cooper February 16, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Ah, the eternal sunshine from the spotless mind. Don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain, everything is just dandy here in Harry-ville.

The theme is bizarre: “if” you have a critical take on how the city is managed, you simply don’t “love it”.

Mr. Kimmel – are you willing to bet your future political career on that prediction? Did everyone on the D side attend a veritable Jonestown kegger where the cool aide was injected? This re-val is the biggest con in 20 years – maybe more. I smell referendum. Bruce – you might start to figure the commercial guys will challenge and win every ridiculous assessment. Last time it was minus 30 million. Care to guess what this go around will trim off the top?

But one thing is for certain: Mike has a real crush on Norwalk. Oo hoo I got a crush on you.

Maybe true love is wanting it to be better?

Kay Anderson February 16, 2019 at 2:29 pm

Mike, what a beautiful piece. And courageous to point out what we have in this city … when complaining about what isn’t done or disparaging what is, is sooooo much easier. You can add to your accomplishments ‘consistent promotion of Norwalk’. Nobody does it better… thanks for the belated Valentine for our City.

Gordon Tully February 16, 2019 at 3:26 pm

One of the most important upgrades to the city has been the outstanding contributions of Mike and David. We really miss them and Norwalk, even though Charlottesville VA is a nice town (and we are across the street from our daughter and grandchildren, which is why we moved). And Nancy, keep up your good work!

Donna King February 16, 2019 at 3:48 pm

Thanks Mike Mushak and thank you to all the people who work in service to this city. It grows and prospers because of city employees and volunteers alike who believe that Norwalk is the small city with all the potential. We are fortunate indeed to live, work and raise our families here. The best is yet to come with such great leadership.

Adam blank February 16, 2019 at 3:52 pm

Lots of positives in Norwalk. Don’t forget all the new “pathways/academies” the BOE has been rolling out setting Norwalk apart

Non Partisan February 16, 2019 at 4:42 pm

Mike
Nice column- and I agree it’s great to point out the positives – but maybe you need to take your rose colored glasses off

I live in an alternative universe in which my house was overvalued ( according to 2 appraisers) by at least 20%

And my neighborhood was overvalued by at least 14 percent on average.

Add to that the reval was totally botched and will wind up in litigation. This years budget is filled with one time savings- and next years 10% increase is inevitable. The exodus to lower tax locations will gather more steam.

Our schools will remain a challenge as long as we don’t have effective enforcement of zoning and end our sanctuary city policies.

LadyDrivr February 17, 2019 at 4:09 pm

“I live in an alternative universe in which my house was overvalued (according to 2 appraisers) by at least 20%.” Us too! Ridiculous. We had two appraisals that valued our home at nearly $50k less. I. Can’t. Even.

Otto Delupe February 17, 2019 at 4:22 pm

Anyone aware if something happened to vocal commentor “Rick” or was he also banned from the Forum?

Claire Schoen February 18, 2019 at 5:59 pm

I can’t resist but to add that we are all lucky to have NancyOnNorwalk covering (and uncovering) many of these local issues. At a time when local newspapers are few and far between, Norwalk has not one, but two local news outlets. Love her or hate her, Nancy continues to give us the news!

Jason March 5, 2019 at 4:19 pm

Hope those homeowners who feel aggrieved by the latest assessments on their properties made an appointment to appeal the new values through the assessor’s office.

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