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Norwalk plans nationwide search for tax assessors as ‘uncertain’ appeal processes wear on

Then-Norwalk Tax Assessor Michael Stewart speaks to the Board of Estimate and Taxation in March. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. — Given the historically low salaries and small pool of potential applicants, Norwalk faces an uphill battle in its search for qualified tax assessors to fill the vacancies left by Michael Stewart and Bill O’Brien, according to a pair of local professionals familiar with the field.

Successful candidates will also have their work cut out for them, due in large part to the number of property owners looking to challenge their new valuations within the narrow window of time the state provides, they said. In addition, there are deadlines looming for the new Grand List.

“When you’re down two of your senior people, obviously, that’s a blow,” Chief Financial Officer Henry Dachowitz said. “So, we’re doing the best we can, which is ‘let’s get good qualified people who could give us part time here-part time there’ to get us to the Grand List. And at the same time, we’re expanding the search for permanent replacements.”

 

‘Double whammy’

Mayor Harry Rilling announced in late August the resignations of Norwalk Tax Assessor Stewart and Assistant Tax Assessor O’Brien.

Real estate appraiser Nora King said she applauded the move, as the “assessor’s office needs total transformation.”

“We have a city that relies too heavily on the residential homeowners for their revenue,” she wrote earlier this month. “The commercial has been offset for decades in Norwalk.  So, the tax assessor they hire needs to really understand how to through mass appraisal really value commercial and residential fairly. I also think the next assessor needs to be a strong communicator.”

Attorney Adam Blank, who estimates he spends half his professional life in assessment appeals, added, “Clients are a bit more frustrated with this process currently because Norwalk is trying to slow down the resolution of these appeals until they have at least a temporary assessor in place (and I don’t fault the City for that).”

In March, Stewart told Rilling and the Board of Estimate and Taxation that the Board of Assessment Appeals had refused to hear the pleas of 260 commercial property owners whose properties are assessed at more than $1 million, on the results of the 2018 revaluation. Rilling ordered Stewart to inform the owners that they could file lawsuits and the City would go through pre-trial conference to try to informally settle the issues.

Norwalk Communications Manager Joshua Morgan said last month it was actually about 280 commercial properties assessed at more than $1 million. “To date, 380 appeals have been filed with the Superior Court and some pre-trial hearings scheduled. Approximately 25 appeals have been filed on one- and two-family homes and residential land.”

The process, Blank said, is the same in every community: “an informal hearing, a formal hearing at the Board of Assessment Appeals, an appeal to Court, a settlement conference in New Britain, and then a settlement or trial.”

Without a temporary assessor in place, “it’s a double whammy,” Blank said, because “these cases are almost always settled in a pretrial with Judge Levine in New Britain. However, that judge just retired and that has both slowed, and created uncertainty, as to how smoothly and quickly tax appeal cases will be resolved.”

Blank wrote:

“My clients, and my sense from other taxpayers whom I don’t represent, is that there is a lot of resentment over massive assessment increases, particularly to commercial properties in South Norwalk, Wall/West and for apartment buildings Citywide. It’s not clear yet whether those increases were generally accurate with just some outliers or whether it was just generally too high. Even if the new values are reflective of market value, when you double or triple a building’s taxes in a single year it makes it very difficult to lease vacant space or hold on to existing tenants (if taxes are passed on to the tenant) and it creates issues for property owners with their lenders because they can’t absorb or pass on to tenants such massive increases in a single year and they can start to default on mortgage covenants. I think many of my clients would have liked it if the City had phased in the reval and given people a chance to adapt to the higher taxes.”

 

‘The economy is rebounding’

This week, Rilling wrote:

“We are currently accepting applications for the positions of Tax Assessor and Assistant Tax Assessor. We have also been speaking with current and retired Tax Assessors to assist us on a part-time basis. In the interim, Chief Financial Officer Henry Dachowitz is overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Assessor’s office.

“The tax appeal and hearing process is consistent across Connecticut municipalities. We have no intention of delaying that process or slowing down resolutions. In addition to the Assessor’s office, we rely heavily on the Corporation Counsel’s office during these hearings. It should also be noted that Michael Stewart has agreed to make himself available as-needed during the settlement and appeals process while we hire new staff.”

Rilling continued:

“It is critical that the revaluation be impartial. We have committed to ensuring fairness throughout the entire process – from start to finish. Tyler Technologies is one of 11 companies in the state that is certified in both Real and Personal Property revaluation. They no doubt have expertise in this area.

“The previous revaluations occurred in 2008 before the Great Recession and then again in 2013 before we fully recovered. It’s good news the economy is rebounding! Property values went up across the board in Norwalk, with a larger increase seen in commercial properties. Although residential properties also increased, many homeowners saw a flat or reduced tax bill as a result of our conservative budgeting which helped lower the mill rate.”

 

Who’s doing the assessments?

Asked who is doing the assessments, Dachowitz said, “That’s an interesting point. Norwalk has retained a retired assessor from Westport to work part-time during the transition and that person had his first meeting with the team on Thursday. So he is figuring out where we are (and) determining where we need assistance. And he is talking to people who could also give us part-time capability to help get things done.”

The Grand List deadline is Oct. 1, but it’s “really Jan. 31. You can make adjustments,” Dachowitz said.

“Each year, the City must report the Grand List to the state Office of Policy and Management by May 1,” Morgan said in an email.

State Statute says the BAA must conclude its hearings “by March 31 or April 30.”

Stewart “agreed to give us a certain number of days of help to transition,” Dachowitz said. “So that will help both the leaders as well as the team members. … Bill O’Brien said his phone is available to me to talk and you know, ‘you have a question on a specific issue.’ So he’s also helping.”

 

Finding ‘good old boys’?

Stewart was tax assessor from Sept. 12, 2007 to Aug. 30, Morgan said. The position was vacant for three months before he began work.

The vacancy was longer in O’Brien’s case. David Stannard left the job on June 30, 2010, after 19 months, and O’Brien replaced him on Dec. 12, 2011.

“Many appraisers do not want to be assessors due to the low pay for these positions,” King wrote. “So, I do think it will take a while.”

“Connecticut Assessors and their assistants are all members of the Connecticut Association of Assessing Officers. This Association does regular newsletters and publishes on its website and newsletters all vacancies. I’m sure Norwalk’s vacancies are (or will be) posted,” Blank wrote.

But, “The pool of potential applicants for Norwalk realistically is quite small and consists only of current Assessors or assistant assessors in Connecticut or in another state,” he continued. “However, all of the assessment laws that an assessor would apply (including exemptions, etc.) are Connecticut specific and there would be a steep learning curve if someone was brought in from out-of-state.”

“Many of the great assessors in other parts of CT will not want to leave their jobs to commute into Fairfield County, where the cost of living is much higher,” King wrote. “The talented appraisers who will go in-house to become assessors are usually ones looking for a more 9 to 5 job, want to slow down with running their own business or they just want a different challenge.  Most credentialed appraisers typically won’t give up their independence and the ability to earn higher wages to become assessors.”

She continued, “The mistake Norwalk makes is we usually look for the good old boys that the officials get along with and that really doesn’t support bringing in strong talent.   I have heard some names being tossed around, but personally I haven’t been impressed with some of the suggestions.  The people that I think would do an awesome job – most likely won’t leave their existing positions.”

Blank said, “I’m sure anyone that might be interested in taking on a position in Connecticut will certainly be aware of the openings. Hopefully, there are some good candidates out there and the City can get a couple good hires. However, as it is a small pool of talent, it could be that a long term temporary assessor is put in place. I’ve provided a few suggestions of retired assessors to the Mayor’s office and I know they are actively looking to get one or more temporary people put in place.”

 

‘Assessment skills more important’ than knowing state laws

“We have drafted job specs for assessor and deputy assessor,” Dachowitz said Thursday. Director of Personnel and Labor Relations Ray Burney has been on two weeks vacation and now that he’s expected back, he will guide the Finance Department on where to post the job opportunity.

“We have talked about a nationwide search just because within Connecticut, there’s just such a difficult time getting people and I’ve been informed that if someone is a qualified assessor in another state, and willing to relocate here, they can learn the state laws, and they have even a certain amount of time according to state law to get up to speed,” Dachowitz said.  “But the assessment skills (are) more important than knowing the Connecticut law.”

Told that some feel the search will be challenging, Dachowitz said, “What’s hard is the supply-demand imbalance. There are not enough qualified people who want to move and change from the positions they already have. The ones who are retired, said ‘I’ve had enough.’ We’re talking to them about working with us part time to help in a transition.  And then at the same time, we have to conduct a search. And … it’s not easy. So therefore, you have to expand your scope and we’ll come up with creative ways to get people in.”

22 comments

Lisa Brinton September 16, 2019 at 6:19 am

There is NOTHING more critical to the financial health of this city, than getting the revaluation process right! Did the mayor not understand this or just not care?

A few takeaways:

Rilling ordered Stewart to inform the owners that they could file lawsuits… “To date, 380 appeals have been filed with the Superior Court and some pre-trial hearings scheduled. “

Guess who pays for these lawsuits? We do.

The mayor said, “It’s good news the economy is rebounding!”

In Connecticut? Really? The only jobs being added in Norwalk are six figure ones at city hall or minimum wage jobs at the mall.

Adam Blank said, “Even if the new values are reflective of market value, when you double or triple a building’s taxes in a single year it makes it very difficult to lease vacant space or hold on to existing tenants (if taxes are passed on to the tenant) and it creates issues for property owners with their lenders because they can’t absorb or pass on to tenants such massive increases in a single year and they can start to default on mortgage covenants.

Please wake up Norwalk.

Itsjustme8 September 16, 2019 at 8:12 am

Yes, the economy is rebounding. Hmmmm, shall any credit go to the President of the United States? Who’s more likely to create a job in CT? Malloy, Rilling, Duff?

Piberman September 16, 2019 at 10:51 am

We elect Mayors to take full responsibility for the proper functioning of our City governance.
Abrupt changes in personnel in any organization usually indicate major unresolved management issues. What’s puzzling is Norwalk’s Mayors traditional avoidance of using “professional search” to secure Top talent for our City. Using professional search has long been a bedrock practice of successful management of both private and public organizations. Lets encourage Mayor Rilling and our Common Council to use Prof. Search.
We’d all benefit. Especially the City’s reputation in the business community.

Joe September 16, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Why aren’t our Common Council meetings not on TV anymore?

They’ve been running the same meeting on TV since April.

Did Ms. Nancy’s camera finally wear out?

We can certainly afford to buy a new camera which will have a clear picture and it doesn’t look like
everyone in under water in a foggy aquarium.

We need to clearly see their eyeballs as they run through nearly a half a billion tax dollars.

Rusty Guardrail September 16, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Attorney Blank:
“…Norwalk is trying to slow down the resolution of these appeals until they have at least a temporary assessor in place…”

Mayor Rilling:
“…We have no intention of delaying that process or slowing down resolutions…”

City Hall should disclose the percentage of the Grand List that the unresolved appeals represent.

John Miller September 16, 2019 at 10:08 pm

Maybe it’s time to freeze all discretionary spending (e.g. $76K rainbow crosswalks) until the City has a valid and accurate grand list. Which begs the question: How can the City establish a valid mill rate and spending plan if the grand list valuation isn’t accurate?

Tired Taxpayer September 17, 2019 at 7:11 am

I’m confused. I thought the Wall Street area is blighted and deteriorated. Wasn’t that a big issue last year with the POKO?

But now, we find out the values in this area significantly increased! Which is it? If the assessments have gone up than the blight claim is wrong.

Has anyone done a survey of the property value increases in this area? Did they really go up?

If they did I would call that taxpayer fraud on a systemic level.

Mike Mushak September 17, 2019 at 10:04 am

The tax assessor situation will get solved. Many folks knew the commercial side of our grand list was undervalued for years if not decades, and a major shift over to commercial and off the backs of residents, based on hard data, was long overdue.

Perhaps phase-ins as Adam Blank mentioned will ease the burden. When the taxes on our house jumped 40% in 2008 as a result of the housing bubble (which collapsed soon after), a request for a phase-in was denied, but I believe earlier revals did include a phase-in structure if my memory is serving me here.

Whats more troubling at this point is not the reval, but Lisa Brinton’s comment above, indicating a serious lack of understanding of Norwalk’s economy and the most basic facts about our city.

Lisa does do one thing well however, which is obsessively sling mud and insults and frequently spread misinformation much like our corrupt president. Norwalk simply can’t afford a loose cannon like Lisa as mayor.

As an example, let’s just look at her one comment above, full of untruths. The 2,500 mall jobs are not all minimum wage as Lisa claimed, far from it. And the city is not the only other entity that is expanding in the city and hiring as Lisa claimed. Businesses are opening and expanding, and our esteemed Chamber of Commerce has a positive outlook on the city and its healthy growth, a growth Lisa sees as a bad thing for Norwalk despite the nationwide evidence that no-growth policies she supports are the surest way to kill jobs and entire cities. No thanks!

As long as it’s a nasty and negative rant on Norwalk, its people, and Mayor Rilling, Lisa’s good with it. She may have the energy, but not the knowledge or good judgement to be mayor. Everyone knows this but it’s the elephant on the room, and Republicans are so desperate to gain back power (after so badly managing the city in previous decades which we can all remember) that they are all in for Lisa despite her serious flaws as a candidate.

Can anyone imagine Lisa running City Hall as she insults staff as she does regularly now, and slings mud at everyone and everything including potential investors and business owners, and sticks to these reactionary anti-urban and anti-growth canards she has been spreading around for years? I can’t.

Lisa Brinton September 17, 2019 at 3:15 pm

Mike, Back from your vacation? It’s been so peaceful as of late 🙂 Aside from your usual blah blah blah – can you, as a planning commissioner, shed some Economics 101 light for me and explain how City Hall supports an area like Wall Street being deemed blighted and deteriorated? Presumably so the Redevelopment Agency can move in? Yet, in the same timeframe the mayor declares, “Property values went up across the board in Norwalk, with a larger increase seen in commercial properties.”

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t it mainly commercial properties over in the Wall Street area? If so, which is it? Up or down in value? Or does it depend? I look forward to discussing this and some of your other charming comments at the Carver function, Thursday evening at your house. Have a good one!

Michael McGuire September 17, 2019 at 3:35 pm

@ Tired

We did do an analysis of the values in the Wall West Ave Plan area. Every property went up in value except for 3 which were part of POKO. Here are the figures.

Plan area Values in 2013 $295,271,642
Plan area Values in 2018 $619,992,755

But the fraud was not on the assessors side of the equation.

Seems like City Hall is/was trying to pull the wool over our eyes because you can’t have both ways.

The definition of Blighted/Deteriorated includes the wording [paraphrase] “property values are deteriorating”.

If you do have it both ways that’s a trifecta of “screwing the taxpayer” -Local, State and Federal.

Bryan Meek September 17, 2019 at 4:12 pm

You have to laugh at the city’s worst offender of delivering unsubstantiated venomous attacks go on and on and on accusing others of his own bad behavior.

Let’s see if he has anything intelligent to say when he is rightfully held to account for denying South Norwalk school children adequate learning facilities. Let’s see if he has anything intelligent to say when he is rightfully held to account for ensuring that South Norwalk school children will continue to sit on busses for 10 hours a week instead of having a neighborhood school. The city is spending millions of dollars on transportation that could be redirected into building modern facilities for our most impoverished children. The overwhelming community response from multiple outreach meetings and surveys wanted new schools in South Norwalk. But thanks to a few leaders in the community who think they know better and have some ulterior motive, those kids will continue to get to lose out on the enrichment, after school, and community building activities enjoyed by other school children. All so a few can stand up and say they preserved the historic qualities of their neighborhood.

How can anyone pretend to care about the historical character of an 80 year old obsolete building with numerous safety issues that is off the beaten path, while supporting a mall that fronts the gateway to South Norwalk that looks like a beached container ship? This is hypocrisy defined.

Bryan Meek September 17, 2019 at 4:22 pm

Back on topic.

Tiny Bethel, with a fraction of our population and much lower property values and median income, manages to collect their rental profit and loss statements digitally.

Norwalk is still doing this on paper and God only knows how many aren’t even being reported on.

How many more terms and new hires will it take to figure this one out?

Non Partisan September 17, 2019 at 6:01 pm

Despite city halls views on the real estate market- not all areas as increasing in value. And The top of the residential market continues to be significantly over assessed

Case in point 25 point road.
Purchased 3/2008 $3,295,000
On the market for 2 years
Current listing price $1,800,000
Current assessed value $2,5 MM

Yes that’s a 1.5 million dollar loss and is still 38% over assessed

Mike Mushak September 17, 2019 at 6:15 pm

@Lisa, your last comment confirms what I said about your temperament. The nastiness is unnecessary.

I notice you can’t defend your latest outrageous claims that the 2500 jobs at the new mall are all minimum wage, and the only expanding workforce in the city is at City Hall. Because you can’t defend them.

Both are false public statements that you made just today, not to mention the countless other ones over the last few months including your claim that renters don’t pay property taxes (they do, through their rent and at a higher rate per square foot than single family homes), or that Norwalk’s growth is out of control (it isn’t, and in fact we’re now growing at one of the slowest rates ever in our long 375-year history), or that higher density is bad for Norwalk (it is proven to add economic activity, street life, and expanding small businesses just as this planning strategy in SoNo has so well proven.)

I know to you this is just “blah blah blah” in your own words, but I would suggest you start paying attention and learn what makes successful vibrant cities work. You seem surprisingly clueless on this subject considering you want to be mayor of our great city.

Your reactionary and obsolete “density bad, suburban sprawl good” car-oriented vision for Norwalk, is just plain wrong and seriously out of touch (very 1950’s in fact), and would lead to a less diverse and less affordable Norwalk which may be what you and your Republican supporters want, but that’s certainly not what the majority of Norwalkers want. Many of us moved here exactly because it isn’t Darien or New Canaan, with all due respect to our wealthy more homogeneous neighbors.

Our ethnic, racial, and economic diversity has always been Norwalk’s strength, and will continue to be no matter how hard you try to frighten people with false information and fear-mongering including your astounding and bizarre portrayal of renters as freeloaders sucking the city dry.

On the contrary, many of those renters are millennials who will be homebuyers some day when they want to raise families, or older singles and retirees who want a vibrant walkable, bikable, and safe city to live in which is what Norwalk is becoming more of every day.

This is a lot more than just “blah, blah, blah.” It’s the core reason why Norwalkers will choose Harry Rilling again as mayor, as he gets that Norwalk is getting better and growing responsibly and with good planning for the future.

Harry Rilling has no need to appeal to fear of others and fear of change and fear of any kind of development especially if it has the word “affordable” in it, as you do. He loves Norwalk and has lived and worked here his entire life, including decades as Police Chief. He doesn’t need to tell untruths and scare people to try to win votes. Norwalkers are way too smart to fall for that nonsense. That’s why he will win again by a huge margin.

I know it’s all just “blah, blah, blah” to you Lisa, but a lot of folks who know the truth don’t think so, especially folks who know Norwalk is getting better every year.

Trashing the new mall opening in October and it’s 2500 employees may win you a few votes, but that’s not what a serious mayoral candidate should be doing if they want to represent all Norwalkers, including the ones who can’t afford a million dollar house in Rowayton with a swimming pool like you enjoy.

Mimi September 18, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Wow,@Mike Mushak. What a diatribe. But you still didn’t answer a very important question put forth by a mayoral candidate who is deserving of respect:

“can you, as a planning commissioner, shed some Economics 101 light for me and explain how City Hall supports an area like Wall Street being deemed blighted and deteriorated? Presumably so the Redevelopment Agency can move in? Yet, in the same timeframe the mayor declares, “Property values went up across the board in Norwalk, with a larger increase seen in commercial properties.”

Many of us look forward to hearing your answer.

Mike Mushak September 18, 2019 at 9:32 pm

@Mimi, sure, I’lll answer that.

Just use your eyes and look around the Wall Street area and compare to the vibrant Washington Street in SoNo, that has been transformed with large infill residential buildings (just like Wall Street Place aka POKO, what a coincidence) and smart planning decisions.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see “blight and deterioration.” Empty storefronts for starters.

There are a total of 3 people I am aware of in Norwalk who think Wall Street is thriving and doesn’t need help. One of them is Lisa Brinton who is anti-density and anti-apartment building, which lo and behold is exactly the formula that saved SoNo and turned it into a thriving and fun destination.

Jason Milligan September 19, 2019 at 7:50 am

2500 jobs at the mall seems like a very high estimate regardless of how much they might pay. Can we get a fact check on that number? Where will all those employees park?

Mike I am glad you don’t know many of the wonderful people helping bring Wall Street back. Please keep it that way. The last thing we need is your “help”…

Michael McGuire September 19, 2019 at 12:29 pm

Mike Mushak,

As a planning commissioner did you ever think to check in with what is happening on Wall Street with us, the business community? I don’t think you ever contacted WSNA or came to our meeting to see what has been accomplished. Sad to see you only bad-mouthing this area and tearing down the reputations of those looking to make a positive difference here. Shameful.

Virtually every property in this area has been renovated over the past decade. But you didn’t seem to notice. The vacant spaces you see are being re-tenanted (except in two large cases – Riverview and Clocktower) on a rolling basis.

We have a very strong burgeoning arts community, and the pricing is right for Mom & Pop retailers. This is reflected in the positive turnover in the small retail spaces over the past 5 years to tenants that better serve the needs to the regional business community and local residents. That process will continue.

This area has the highest concentration of small business in Fairfield County. Much more so than SoNo but clearly you don’t know that. Sad. That is something you planners may want to explore and better understand before you impose “smart” government/development like POKO on us, or allow things like Duleep’s building to carry on for 8+ years, or allow a decade of retail choking free parking policy.

Please read the CT State statues on the requirements for an area to meet the “blight/deterioration” thresholds – Section 8-124 of the CT Declaration of Public Policy (google it). Clearly they don’t apply here and to imply that they do is disgraceful on your part. Read it and you will understand why your comments are disgraceful.

The assessor may be off on the degree of change but not on the trend – as the mayor duly noted – values are up on Wall Street.

Michael McGuire September 19, 2019 at 12:47 pm

@ Mushak,

Here is the Definition that needs to be met for Blight/Deterioration classification in CT.

It is found and declared that there exist [in municipalities of the state] substandard, insanitary, deteriorated, deteriorating, slum or blighted areas which constitute a serious and growing menace, injurious {…} to the public health, safety, morals and welfare of the residents of the state;
that the existence of such areas contributes {…} to the spread of disease and crime, necessitating excessive and disproportionate expenditures of public funds for the preservation of the public health and safety, {….}
and the existence of such areas constitutes an economic and social liability, substantially impairs or arrests the sound growth of municipalities, {….}
that this menace is beyond remedy and control solely by regulatory process in the exercise of the police power and cannot be dealt with effectively by the ordinary operations of private enterprise without the aids herein provided; (i.e. RDA takeover of the area).

Does the above sound like a good description of the Wall-West Ave Area?

Mimi September 19, 2019 at 12:56 pm

@ Mike Mushak, an empty storefront is not blighted if it is structurally sound, not rotted, windows not broken, etc. It is merely an empty storefront which our government/P&Z has yet to fill. If you believe like you state large infill buildings done right catalyze areas, which Ms. Brinton also believes from what I read, what do you believe large infill buildings done wrong do to areas? And in particular, what does one particularly outscaled, mold-ridden, possibly structurally unsound, unfinished building done wrong in our city’s center do to catalyze an area? One that Senator Duff threw several million at and one that has a negative ROI with millions in taxpayer sunk costs attached to it, amazingly unbeknownst to the majority of Norwalk residents who will go to the polls this November?

The POKO building is blight inflicted upon us by our government. I think Ms. Brinton’s point is that calling in RDA and declaring blight on a building whose blighted state could have been avoided and is directly attributable to government mismanagement is a disingenuous and unorthodox designation of blight. An RDA’s purpose is not to bail out local government botched projects, which the “Tyvek Temple” is the blinkin’ beacon of.

The mayor had the opportunity to back out of the POKO deal in 2014 when the red flags were flailing, according to Nancy’s coverage here on NoN. He decided to stick it out. He has allowed an unfinished building to mar the landscape and regress surrounding business owners’ revenue while costing taxpayers sunk costs. And look where we are now. A noble captain is supposed to go down with his ship. Ours is choosing to jump, while his co-captain already swam to Springfield. He is asking RDA/Norwalk taxpayers for a very expensive life preserver, while bailing out Citibank and making the McClutchys even richer. How does this way of doing business benefit our city and its residents, @ Mike Mushak? Look forward to your answer.

Meanwhile, Ms. Brinton has been fighting hard for the taxpayers for years as an activist, with the goal of protecting their hard earned dollars.
You have to respect her for that. People are going to vote for who they believe in. I do not see the value in you consistently personally attacking Ms. Brinton on her platform, @ Mike Mushak. Please be kind.

Nancy McGuire September 19, 2019 at 11:35 pm

I suppose I’m the second person who thinks Wall Street is thriving, but I can’t figure out which of the hundreds of business owners, restaurant owners, musicians, designers, artists, bakers, developers, bankers, architects, CPAs, electricians, notable chefs, lawyers, insurance agents, hairdressers, coffee baristas, yoga instructors, gallery owners, theater owners, and residents who live and work on Wall Street would be the third person to whom Mike Mushak is referring. And if you call paying to water the Vinca in the tree wells lining the streets “excessive and disproportionate expenditures of public funds for the preservation of public health and safety”, then I suppose in some twisted fashion, you could argue that Wall Street is blighted.

But I beg to differ.

And Norwalk’s dated habit of pitting South Norwalk against its fellow Downtown is petty. With 89,000 or so residents, no one has to pretend their neighborhood is better than the other. It’s just Norwalk. Norwalk IS the neighborhood.

As for the LDA and all the HUD money that our counsel wants to raise, its a Smokey cloud. The rents projected for POKO fall at the top of the range of rentals already on the market in Norwalk, and that is with the 60% and 80% of published median income discount. All new apartments built in CT will have some component of affordable housing. I might be only one of three people who think that a 100% affordable project in the center of a major downtown main street is very odd. I don’t know one developer who would think that is a good use of such a site, unless, of course, the tax breaks were too good to pass up.

Wall Street is a fun place to live and work. Neighbors know each other here by name – – and many communicate with Greek accents, Russian accents, Spanish accents, and terrible attempts at Spanish with a Texan accent. And that is today, not a reminiscent of decades past.

And now with our newly painted very odd back in angled parking, the neighborhood is better than ever. Come down to Wall Street. See a show. Watch a movie. Stay a while.

Jason September 20, 2019 at 9:14 am

Can we still see a movie?? What is the status of the Garden Cinema? My apologies if i missed it being mentioned somewhere…

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