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Sheehan exiting Norwalk Redevelopment Agency, heading for Massachusetts

Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan has resigned, effective June 30.

Sheehan has been hired as the new Springfield, Mass., chief development officer. This was announced in a Wednesday afternoon press conference, according to a news story on MassLive. Sheehan and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno worked together years ago, the story reports.

Redevelopment Agency Chairman Felix Serrano said in a Wednesday morning statement that there would be no comment on Sheehan’s resignation, beyond a statement touting development during his nearly 17 years with the agency.

“During Tim’s tenure as the Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency Norwalk’s urban environment witnessed significant new growth totaling over 5.5 million square feet with an estimated value of nearly $700,000,000 inclusive of the SoNo Collection mall scheduled to open this fall,” Serrano said in a statement.

“It was a period of transformative change and Tim had a direct role in over 40 development projects since 2002 that have either been built, are currently in construction or in the process of being approved.”

“{T}he time has come to seek out new opportunities and challenges,” Sheehan said in his resignation letter.

The Redevelopment Agency Commission will appoint an Acting Executive Director at its July Meeting, advertise the Executive Director position through July, and make a permanent appointment to the position as soon as possible, an Agency press release said.

Serrano’s statement included a list of the Agency’s accomplishments since 2002:

Urban Core Projects 2002-present

Mayor Harry Rilling did not immediately return a request for comment.

Sheehan’s letter said:

“For almost seventeen years it has been my privilege to serve as the Executive Director of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency. I have worked with three commission chairs, three mayors and eight Common Councils who collectively have all had the city of Norwalk’ s best interests at heart. In this time Norwalk’s urban environment witnessed extraordinary growth that complimented the existing urban context with new mixed use housing development, retail and entertainment uses.  We invested millions of dollars into urban infrastructure creating new streets, improved lighting, new sidewalks and under grounding utilities. We revitalized public open spaces, remediated brownfields, defined public realm within private developments and introduced walkability as the model for urban street design.  The Agency advanced significant zoning modifications to advance transit oriented development in South Norwalk and we are now days away from new zoning for the West Avenue and Wall Street area. We were the critical partner in realizing a HUD Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant and the necessary state funding to ensure the redevelopment of the oldest public housing development in the state of Connecticut. These developments and public investments have established a real estate investment market in Norwalk’s urban core the degree of which did not previously exist and that investment will have a lasting positive impact on Norwalk’s Grand List.

“For my part the time has come to seek out new opportunities and challenges. Therefore, I am providing you with my notice of resignation effective June 30, 2019. I will remain available to the Agency through July 7, 2019 as the Agency determines necessary.

“In closing, I thank you and the entire Commission for this amazing opportunity. It has been an incredible professional journey for me. The Redevelopment Agency Commission has been wonderful to work with and for. I am confident that upon my departure the Agency will continue to reach for new heights in urban planning and design and I will watch for such with interest. The future of Norwalk and its urban environment is bright.”

 

Sheehan’s father recently passed away; a source said he has family in Massachusetts.

Sheehan’s resignation comes as a lawsuit filed by the Agency against real estate broker Jason Milligan wears on, with mounting legal bills reaching $500,000, at last count. A Tyvek-covered stalled development commonly referred to as “POKO” looms over Wall Street and while City officials have been in negotiations with owner Citibank, no deal has been announced.

“The work of the City and Redevelopment Agency will move forward,” Norwalk Communications Manager Joshua Morgan wrote Wednesday afternoon. “We wish Tim the best of luck in the future. We will have no further comment at this time.”

18 comments

Piberman June 5, 2019 at 1:02 pm

Will City Hall secure a Prof. Search firm to secure Top Talent replacement ?

Or do it the “City Hall friendly approach” ?

Jason Milligan June 5, 2019 at 1:14 pm

Mario please also resign.

#Mariomustgo!!

As frustrating as Tim can be he is a smart guy and he is very heavily relied upon by Harry. You might say that Tim provided a rudder for this administration. With Tim leaving it will not be surprising if an old campaign nickname resurfaces…

#Winning

Ken June 5, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Piberman
Maybe you are not aware but all Norwalk city appointments are hired via a professional search firm. The only exception was the police and fire chief,which should have been a hired from outside the ranks.

Tommy June 5, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Hey Piberman-

The Redevelopment Agency/Commisioners appoint the Executive Director, not “City Hall”.

Patrick Cooper June 5, 2019 at 4:08 pm

One wonders what’s behind this exit. It could be that it was just his time, and if so good for you Mr. Sheehan. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t parrot the hip-hip hooray testimony of Mr. Serrano. I’m glad he’s done.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist – but I tell ya, Norwalk can turn you. I get curious about any major change in City Agency leadership 160 days away from an election. Does this suggest his overall negative profile related to POKO became too much? The wizard behind the “Innovation District” remade as the “West Avenue/Wall Street” opportunity zone. For a city that just love’s NDA’s and executive sessions – the very public lawsuit with Milligan (tooth pulling testimony – um, the LDA is expired) had to be embarrassing – and going into this fall – quite possibly a liability. Not now.

It could be other things, too. Seems Ned’s frequent trips to Norwalk are possibly related to bigger objectives than parades. This whole “government as urban developer” by using the financial soup made from disparate taxpayer subsidies – Federal & State – to create such prized gem’s as Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, and Waterbury – now has loving eye’s on us. The TOD buzzword is the metro-north TOD gold coast corridor. Norwalk is in the cross-eye.

If NoN will allow – a recent piece in the CT Mirror:

https://ctmirror.org/2019/06/03/lawmakers-press-for-new-redevelopment-agency-in-state-budget/

Tim Sheehan was a Rook on the chess board of Norwalk politics. Good players know – you always sacrifice a Rook to protect a check-mate. When will Norwalk stop this insider baseball? You want historic? Disband the Redevelopment Agency. Fix planning & zoning.

David McCarthy June 5, 2019 at 8:36 pm

Ken, not sure where you get your facts, but this is not true.

One only need to look at the previous PW Director (friend of former mayor and union officials) and the Economic Development Director (from small town Newtown as Mr B puts it and friend of high ranking administration member) the Zoning Director, from New Canaan (who seems qualified, don’t get me wrong), and lastly the mayor’s assistant or assistant mayor, who was a political transplant from New Haven with neither Norwalk nor much municipal experience, to know that our senior folks are hired more through patronage than professional search.

David McCarthy June 5, 2019 at 8:37 pm

And “Tommy” in that all the Redevelopment Agency Members are appointed by the mayor, the mayor will be picking this replacement without any doubt.

Piberman June 6, 2019 at 9:37 am

The City’s latest operating Budget shows a stagnant Grand List for an entire decade. That ought suggest its “time” Norwalk follow cities with reputations for good government and use professional search to secure Top Talent. “Top Talent” doesn’t respond to local advertisements for well known reasons.

Rusty Guardrail June 6, 2019 at 12:34 pm

I look forward to seeing the final Grand List result after all the appeals have been settled.

EnoPride June 6, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Interesting and informative article, Patrick Cooper. Thanks for including. Sounds like there is no intention of being rid of RDA in Norwalk, under this administration anyway, according to Mr. Morgan in his statement. Now we have to decipher this proposed CT MRA incarnation, which reads as a bigger, badder, multi municipality, multi tentacled, more government controlled, RDA, that our politicians are cooking up? Stop the insanity.

Found this article about CA’s history of RDAs run amuck and why the state got rid of some in 2011. Lots of unaccountability for huge amounts of wasted taxpayer money, education funding suffering as a result of inappropriately allocated, squandered taxpayer money, poor oversight, false declarations of blight, special interests, conflicts of interest, preferred developers who donate campaign money, the whole nine yards. Sound like Norwalk? Well, now CA is trying to resurrect the RDAs they got rid of! Bad idea 2.0?!! Kind of like this impending MRA will be for CT as a whole?

Interesting read for anyone trying to educate themselves and understand this issue of how RDAs can cost communities big time. Here’s the article:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/scottbeyer/2019/02/13/californias-redevelopment-agencies-the-bad-idea-that-wont-die/amp/

Adolph Neaderland June 6, 2019 at 5:47 pm

Our stagnant Grand List speaks for itself, calling for a raid on the rainy day fund to minimize land tax increases.

Norwalk should thank Mr. Sheehan for his contributions and take Mr Sheehan’s resignation as an opportunity to rethink RDA.

Keep in mind, in Stantec’s original draft of POCD was a recommendation that Norwalk rethink RDA and merge that function into a redesigned, contemporary P&Z.

We need a function that represents a creative architectural future for Norwalk, staffed with creative personnel, not continually proposing a rehash of cookie cutter building designs.

Rusty Guardrail June 6, 2019 at 9:27 pm

“stagnant Grand List…” No surprise if it is, but this year’s results haven’t been published yet have they?

Michael McGuire June 7, 2019 at 9:51 am

I agree with Mr. Neaderland, this is a good opportunity to take stock and ask some pointed questions such as:

1. Mr. Neaderland’s most important question – Do we need an RDA? After all the goal of an RDA is to put themselves out of business by removing all the blighted areas. Except for a spot or two in SoNo you can check that box. Consider that an RDA can only be mandated to operate in a blighted area. The Wall-West Ave area is anything but blighted. Baring that attempted landgrab and few isolated spots in SoNo is there truly anywhere in Norwalk that RDA is needed?

2. If we don’t need an RDA (and I believe we don’t) how should we re-organize the Norwalk’s varous land use/housing departments to assimilate the many roles RDA assumed for itself over the years?

3. This is a very good time for a thorough forensic accounting/option exploration on POKO and all its machinations since. Questions could include – Is this the appropriate time to tear up the LDA? If we do tear up the LDA what are the repercussions? What is Citibank’s most likely course of action (that’s pretty clear)? And is it in Norwalk’s best interest to have a 100% affordable project in the midst of it’s rapidly revitalizing Wall Street area? Does the City need to pursue the Milligan law suit? What happens if it’s dropped (besides saving Norwalk taxpayers a whole lot of money)? Same questions for the Diaz’s law-suit? What needs to be done to restore Isaac’s Street as a two way with full parking?

These are heady questions that need to be addressed. Consider that historically the majority of the really heavy/costly issues Norwalk faced, and faces now, are Land Use related.

This past year I have been contending that our City leadership has been deliberately mislead. Now is the time to clear up the process that allowed that to happen.

Ken June 8, 2019 at 7:25 pm

David
I was referring to all the new hires under the reorganization plan. I was not looking back 5 years to pull out 1 hire that was done without a
professional search. Also considering that you live in Florida don’t you think that your time would be better spent posting fake news in those sites?

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