Norwalk political notes: Columbus, NPD incident info and Duff bill

Columbus Magnet School.

NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk news for you:

  • Meek makes pitch to demolish Columbus
  • Number-less police incident reports to continue indefinitely
  • Duff’s bill to protect  big six African species moves forward



Only one Board of Education member, Barbara Meyer-Mitchell, was present on May 1 when the Common Council Land Use and Building Management Committee voted to stick with the proposal to renovate the current Columbus Magnet School building instead of ripping it down to create a new building at a reported additional expense of $3 million ­– cheap for a new school, in the BoE’s eyes.

“I want to applaud the Council subcommittee …for being cost conscious about the future projects,
Board of Education Finance Committee Chairman Bryan Meek said Tuesday to the full Council. “I would also like you to think at the same time about what a $3 million additional investment might mean over the life of a new school building, which is depreciable over 40 years. That represents a cash flow of about $75,000 a year, about 2/10 of 1% of the city’s operating spend.”

He continued, “Yes, it’s more money but when you look at what you get for it, versus running into these problems that we’ve been running into at the old schools.”

The Council had on its agenda proposals to approve funding for $51,000 of work at Kendall Elementary, approval of schematic designs for miscellaneous Norwalk High School renovations and approval of schematic designs for Rowayton Elementary School asbestos abatement.

The West Rocks Middle School windows project was estimated to cost $2.5 million but escalated to a $5 million cost due to remediation concerns, Meek said.

“You have a project in front of you tonight for Norwalk High veneer, was originally going to cost about $50,000, turns out it’s about $500,000,” Meek said. “So, when you think about going into an 80-year-old building (Columbus), what could possibly go wrong? Well, a lot could. So I would just like you to consider that in the next few weeks as you contemplate these decisions.”

Land Use Committee Chairman Thomas Livingston (D-District E) on May 2 said the Committee’s primary reason for turning down the BoE’s request for $1.5 million to build a new school “financial.”

“The renovation as new approach will save approximately $3.1 million, which can then be applied to other school building priorities,” Livingston said.

A new school doesn’t cost much more than a renovated school, because of state reimbursement formulas, Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo and Jim Giuliano of Construction Solutions Group have explained.

BoE Chairman Mike Barbis said he was in City Hall on May 1 for the Facilities Construction Commission meeting but it did not have a quorum so he did not stay for the Council Land Use Committee meeting that followed.



Maybe later

Norwalk Police incident reports are online but that won’t do you much good if you want to know which of your neighbors was burglarized.

The reports became available to the public via the Internet within the last few years.

Within the last few months, the house numbers of locations have been removed from the reports.

“This was done to avoid any victim’s addresses being publicly released,” Lt. Terry Blake wrote to NancyOnNorwalk in February.

Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik and Deputy Norwalk Police Chief Susan Zecca on Monday said it’s not possible to have the dispatching/reporting system automatically display a full address for some calls and just a street name for other, victim-sensitive calls, due to programming limitations. They’re considering how to fix this is the future, they said.



‘It’s not sporting or acceptable’

Legislation that would prohibit the importation and trade of big six African species in Connecticut passed the State Senate on Friday by a 32-4 vote, a Tuesday press release said

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) introduced the bill.

“Elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceroses and giraffes are beautiful animals,” Duff is quoted as saying. “It is not sporting or acceptable in today’s society to ambush and murder these amazing creatures. African nations are working to protect these species from extinction and this bill is a small step we can take to help them. As long as people are willing to pay large sums of money for the experience of killing one of these beautiful creatures there is little they can do to put a complete stop to it. With this bill we are trying to do our part to put any end to these activities.”

Specifically, Senate Bill 20 would ban any person from importing, possessing, selling, offering for sale or transporting any big six African species, alive or dead:

  • African elephant (loxodonta africana)
  • African lion (panthera leo)
  • African leopard (panthera pardus pardus)
  • black rhinoceros (diceros bicornis)
  • white rhinoceros (ceratotherium simum cottoni)
  • African giraffe (giraffa camelopardalis)



Anyone who violates the bill would be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more $2,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both, the press release said.

“The bill was proposed after an outcry after an American dentist paid a significant amount of money for the experience of killing an endangered lion. The lion, Cecil, was a beloved {icon} and local favorite who lived on a wildlife refuge in Zimbabwe,” the release said.

It explained:

“According to Friends of Animals, from 2005-2015, 59 trophy hunting permits were issued to Connecticut residents by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so people could hunt and kill leopards for their trophies. Six additional permits were provided to Connecticut residents to kill African elephants in Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. And from 2005-2016, Connecticut residents killed 39 lions and one giraffe and imported their trophies.

“If passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the Governor, the law would not apply to ivory and would not apply to the importing, transporting or possessing of a live big six African species by any zoological institution accredited by the Zoological Association of America or circus approved by the Department of Consumer Protection.

“The bill now awaits a vote by the House of Representatives.”


Bryan Meek May 15, 2019 at 6:42 am

Glad to see everything is just rosy in Hartford, but what about endangered gorillas and vultures? Nice that some still have time to play in the sandbox.

DrewT May 15, 2019 at 7:44 am

Typical Norwalk Backwards Thinking!! Demolish the building which would be the smart and prudent thing to do. But we can’t have any of that here. Let’s waste millions and millions into an 80 year old building that will NEVER Be able to get up to code where in less then 5 years we will be back here having the same discussion.

Scott Vetare May 15, 2019 at 8:23 am

Enough of Duff! Let’s worry about Norwalk not Africa! Just another step to control people’s life!

Hank May 15, 2019 at 10:11 am

How does Duff look at himself in the mirror each morning? The stuff he cares about, and the stuff he doesn’t care about…….baffling.

EnoPride May 15, 2019 at 11:42 am

Earth to Bob! Earth to Bob!!! Our infrastructure is crumbling and our roads are congested, you have taxed us to the gills, you have not advocated aggressively for Norwalk in Hartford on budgetary issues, our schools are busting at the seams, you announced that you could not budget toilet paper at NHS, there appears to be no concrete plan of action from you to catalyze economic commerce in our city let alone state, our tree canopy is going bye-bye because City Hall and RDA have run amuck and are selling out our open land at fever pitch, our two mayors at a shamelessly bloated City Hall are adding more layers of spending to what was supposed to be a cost neutral reorg, but really should have been a cost slashing reorg (check out the Norwalk City Jobs List from 2015 and compare it to the 2018 list… your head will explode at the layers of ever growing six figure salaries and HUGE increases “certain individuals” received!), and you are saving bunnies and now exotic African animals? What exactly is your job description? Out of touch…

Bob Duff, Standing up for African Leopards…

john flynn May 15, 2019 at 11:51 am

The addresses are important. Saying West Ave? That’s 1,000 people. Taylor Ave that’s 1,000 people. The fact is the police are going to 13 Day Street all the time.

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