NORWALK, Conn. — On Tuesday, the Norwalk Common Council:
- Agreed to spend up to $429,000 to begin working on flooding issues
- Banned Styrofoam
- Accepted a $320,805 rebate from Eversource
- Agreed to spend up to $58,225 to restore the Nathan Hale Memorial Fountain
- And some other little things, about $2.6 million worth
Priority Landscaping will remove and dispose of deposited sediment in the areas of Friendly Pond, Lloyd Road, Hunter’s Lane, Kellee Drive and June Avenue, under a $389,500 contract with a contingency of $38,995.
“Over the years, we’ve heard many of our residents complaining about the flooding during the heavy rains,” Public Works Committee Chairman John Igneri (D-District E) said. “And we talked about doing something about it and investigated. This is our first effort to start to cure some of the flooding problems, we will be going through pipes and removing all this sediment” in those areas.
“Norwalk schools use 1.3 million single-use polystyrene meal trays for meals each year, exposing the youngest, most vulnerable people to the chemical’s toxic effects,” Betty Ball of Skip the Plastic Norwalk said as a public speaker, advocating for the well-publicized move to ban Styrofoam in Norwalk. “Dunkin Donuts alone serves 2.7 million polystyrene coffee cups every day. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ranks polystyrene manufacturing is the fifth worst global industry in terms of hazardous waste creation.”
Skip the Plastic Norwalk found “a significant number of polystyrene particles mixed in with sand” at Oyster Shell Park during a January cleanup, “making it impossible to remediate,” she said. “Polystyrene, like other plastics, doesn’t biodegrade nor is it recyclable. It must be thrown in the trash where it’s incinerated.”
The Council went on to unanimously ban Styrofoam in Norwalk. Ordinance Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez (D-District A) called the drafted ordinance “just right” and thanked Council President Tom Livingston (D-District E) for his efforts. Livingston thanked Melendez back for her work.
Council members are hearing that they’re “just kind of in the mood of banning things,” Melendez said. “I would like to counter that and say that we’re really just trying to make Norwalk better and we can’t just say that we want to make it better and that we care about our environment, we actually have to mean it. And I think this is another step in that direction.”
The Connecticut General Assembly considered banning Styrofoam this year, and while it didn’t make it through the Senate, “it just shows that this has the attention of the state as well,” Livingston said.
“We’re joining Westport, Westchester County, Nantucket, New York City, Maine – over 100 other jurisdictions across the country,” Livingston said. “… There are a lot of readily available alternatives to the Styrofoam here, it’s not that this is going to put anybody out of business, there are existing products that will fill the void created by this ban.”
The Council had planned to enact its ordinance in six months; Livingston moved to make it April 20, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Council member Barbara Smyth (D-At Large) arrived late to the meeting and said she had been at the Norwalk High School open house; the Styrofoam trays can leech “leach toxins into their food. But I think we’re sending a really important message to them about our environment, about the future of this planet.”
The Ponus Ridge Middle School renovation and addition project has exceeded the energy efficiency requirements and inspired Eversource to project that Norwalk may receive an incentive rebate of up to $320,805, Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo wrote in an Aug. 27 memo to the Council.
“Because of a lot of work by the design team, we’ve been able to go beyond the building code standards for …energy efficiency,” Livingston said Tuesday. “…I just really want to highlight this as as evidence of the work that is going on behind the scenes. Mr. Lo and others are working to increase the energy efficiency of our buildings, in this case it really is paying concrete dividends.”
Nathan Hale Memorial Fountain
A memorial for American Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale is set to be renovated and moved from an inconspicuous spot off the Fodor Farm parking area to the Fodor Farm herb garden, as the Council agreed to a $58,225 contract with Conserve ART LLC.
“The fountain was created by the DAR in the early 1900s,” David Westmoreland said, explaining that it had once been in front of the Norwalk armory, then located where the YMCA building is on West Avenue.
“The fountain was along the trail Nathan Hale took on his spy mission during the American Revolution,” Lisa Wilson Grant wrote on a GoFundMe page. “There was a bronze tablet on the back which was given by the children of Norwalk which included the famous quote he said before he was to be hanged by the British in New York, ‘I only regret that I have one life to lose for my country’.”
It wound up in Wilton and for 20-25 years, Norwalk residents worked to get it back, Westmoreland said to the Council. Grant couldn’t attend because of another obligation but “spearheaded most doggedly the putting together the plans and the restoration” of the fountain and received an in-kind donation worth about $20,000, got a landscaping plan done and “raised other funding to get to this phase.”
The fountain was designed by then-noted architects McKim, Mead, and White and will give the historic community with “another point to talk about Norwalk’s role in the legendary Nathan Hale story.”
- The Council also authorized $432,200 toward the design of a replacement for the West Cedar Bridge over the Five Mile River, hiring Alfred Benesch & Co. for the project. The federal government will pony up 80% of the bridge replacement cost.
- Also, the Council added Cove Avenue and First Street to the sidewalk program at a cost of $600,000 and approved installing lighting on Betmarlea Road, the north end of Center Avenue Extension and Earl Street, where there have never been street lights.
- Newfield Construction was hired to manage construction at Norwalk High School, for $40,000 plus 2.5% of trade bids and 2% of contingency on the trade bids. Newfield will mange the doors and paneling replacement project and the black box theater/media pathway, learning commons and main entrance.
- Antinozzi Associates was hired to provide architectural services for the Jefferson Elementary School renovate-as-new project, for $1,565,500.
Finally, the Council advanced the PY44 CAPER (Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report), a review of the 2018-2019 Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) program, to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The $887,467 in CDBG funds benefitted 643 people, renovating one public facility and nine homes, giving 32 businesses technical assistance and cleaning up 2 acres of land, Director of Business Development & Tourism Sabrina Church wrote in a memo to the Council.
“The Planning Committee has been working hard on this for over a year. This is a long process,” Planning Committee Chairman John Kydes (D-District C) said, explaining that HUD has a five year plan and Norwalk has achieved 100% of the goals for “brownfield remediation, employment training, health (and) mental health services, homeless prevention, a bunch of other good things.”