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Norwalk roundup: NPS lawsuit; a hunting ban opinion; shocking arrests…

A screengrab of the Daugherty Law Group’s website.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s a roundup of Norwalk newsy items:

  • Lawsuit against NPS withdrawn – but ‘far from over,’ lawyer says
  • Beach hunting ban been on radar screen for a long time
  • ICYMI: Two Norwalk men were recently accused of plotting mass shootings

 

 

A ‘different strategy’

The lawsuit filed by Hope Coles and Sadiya DeIrish against Norwalk Public Schools, accusing the district of wage theft, was withdrawn Friday.

Attorney Ryan Daugherty said Saturday that there’s “been a change in strategy” and he will elaborate Tuesday. “Just know, we’re not going away and this is far from over,” he wrote.

Norwalk Deputy Corporation Counsel Jeffry Spahr on Monday pointed out that he filed a motion to dismiss in the case, a motion that he feels “pretty much made it clear that it was inappropriate for them to have filed their lawsuit. It seems clear that the position that we had taken all along in this regard was correct and that their legal reasoning and logic was mistaken.”

NancyOnNorwalk asked Daugherty for more information. No details until Tuesday (Sept. 10) but, “we discovered more violations after talking with more NPS employees,” Daugherty wrote Monday. “So, we withdrew the original complaint instead of ‘amending’ it. This will give us more options moving forward, as we can ‘restore’ that case back to the active docket if we file a ‘motion to restore’ within 4 months.”

Coles and DeIrish, both NPS employees, in their July complaint accused NPS of systematically depriving them and hundreds of their colleagues of pay.

 

 

Mocciae requested beach hunting ban back in 2000

Waterfowl hunting has been temporarily closed through May 31 at Calf Pasture Beach, Taylor Farm Park and Veterans Memorial Park, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) states on its website. This was publicized last week by State Sen. Bob Duff (D-25), Mayor Harry Rilling and others.

While the officials have DEEP’s cooperation now, a similar request was denied by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2001.

Then-Deputy Police Chief Mark Palmer and then-Acting Recreation and Parks Department Director Mike Mocciae wrote to DEP and requested a ban, citing increased recreational use of the beach, a new children’s playground and complaints to police, the Recs and Parks Department and the press. DEP cited state statute which states:

“The commissioner may amend such regulations for a particular locality where he finds that: (1) The physical setting of a particular locality presents an unreasonable risk that hunters may violate the regulations regarding hunting in proximity to buildings occupied by persons or domestic animals or used for storage of flammable or combustible materials or the regulations regarding shooting towards persons, buildings or animals; or (2) a record of documented complaints reveals that violations of such regulations occur with significant frequency.”

Calf Pasture and Shady Beach sees relatively little hunters, mainly in late goose season, from Jan. 15 to Feb. 15, and usually early in the morning when “use of the park is limited,” DEP found. It would be a violation of regulations for a hunter to shoot toward the pier or the Veterans Park docks. “The Department will not close a site based solely on noise concerns or public opposition to hunting…. Waterfowl hunting is a safe activity that routinely occurs near areas of high human use with few conflicts.”

This news comes to you from NancyOnNorwalk reader Jack Harder, who wrote:

“There have been no physical changes to the area.  Calf Pasture and Veteran’s Park haven’t had any changes since 2001.

“The statute on closing areas for hunting is very clear.  For closure the area must present a clear risk.  To give you an example the Saugatuck River in Westport has an area that is closed.  The reason for closure was that the Town opened the ice skating rink on the tennis courts at Longshore.  It was decided that there would be a good chance that a waterfowl hunter discharging there could drop shot on the ice rink.

“In my opinion Calf Pasture and Veteran’s Park are not good places to hunt and I wish people wouldn’t hunt there.

“The problem that I have is that every time a few people complain about waterfowl hunting it should not trigger a closure.”

 

 

Norwalk felon ‘could have been targeting’ a Maine Walmart

The arrest of Brandon Wagshol on Aug. 15 generated much concern in Norwalk as the 22-year-old was suspected of intending to commit mass murder with high capacity weapons. He was charged with four counts of illegal possession of large capacity magazines.

Jeremy Hugh Rogers, 25, was arrested days later in Maine and charged with charged with terrorizing, terrorizing with a deadly weapon and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, multiple news reports say. Rogers is a Norwalk native who had recently moved to Rockport, Maine, according to the reports. He was arrested here in 2016 and charged with violation of probation, altering ID on guns, criminal possession of a firearm, and risk of injury to a minor, the Daily Voice reports. He was convicted of criminal possession of a firearm and risk of injury to a minor.

A Thomaston, Maine, Walmart was evacuated on Aug. 20 due to threats made by Rogers, reports say. Police said they seized an assault rifle from the Rockport home where Rogers was staying, according to the Hartford Courant, and a police spokesman told the Bangor Daily News that Rogers “was prepared for something.”

NancyOnNorwalk could not find any news reports after the initial spate announcing the arrest.

Wagshol was arrested through a joint effort of the Norwalk Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after the FBI received a tip that Wagshol was attempting to purchase large capacity rifle magazines from out of state, an NPD press release said. “During the investigation it was revealed that Wagshol was buying rifle parts online in an attempt to build his own rifle. Wagshol had a Facebook post that showed his interest in committing a mass shooting.”

“Wagshol told police he did not intend to commit a mass shooting, according to his witness statement,” the Hour reports. “…Wagshol’s public social posts, which did not include the one authorities cited, showed he had a disdain for the FBI, disliked transgender people and appreciated weapons.”

Wagshol has been released to house arrest under the stipulation that he wear a GPS tracking device and has to report to his probation officer every day until this case is resolved or until the conditions of his release or modified, Fox61 reports. “The prosecution says one of the things that concerns them about Wagshol is his well documented history of psychiatric issues, dating back to when he was 11-years-old.”

10 comments

Mike Mushak September 10, 2019 at 10:49 am

I applaud the decision by Mayor Rilling, Senator Duff, and Police Chief Kulhawik to request the hunting restriction from DEEP in our waterfront city parks for public safety reasons, the same as all other waterfront cities have done in CT from Greenwich to New London and all cities in between.

Astoundingly, Norwalk was alone among CT waterfront cities to allow hunting in its public parks and inner harbor surrounded by dense development, which no one has ever been able to explain to those of us who have asked that question for many years. Perhaps it was a layover from another era when Norwalk had much less people, but the conflicts created by this practice have been obvious to many of us for years who live in or near our densely populated waterfront communities.

The hunting in public parks in Norwalk was discussed at length in 2011, when then-Councilmember Rich Bonenfant, who was Chair of the Common Council Health, Safety, and Public Welfare Committee, held a public hearing to discuss the issue. I recall the hearing was civil, well-run, and over a dozen folks spoke with many more letters presented from folks who couldn’t make the hearing about the need to restrict hunting in our busy waterfront public parks.

Here were some facts presented at that hearing on March 24th, 2011:

-In a survey of ordinances, Norwalk appeared to be the only seaport city in CT, from Greenwich to New London, to allow waterfowl hunting in its public parks or in its inner harbor surrounded by dense development. Also, all of our surrounding towns have ordinances restricting discharge of firearms in public parks.

-If hunting were to be permanently banned from the edges of Norwalk’s two main waterfront city parks (Vets and Calf Pasture) and the inner harbor as all other cities have done over the past 50 years or so for public safety reasons, an area about 300 acres, it would reduce the total area for waterfowl hunting within Norwalk city limits by less than 5%, as the total area still open for hunting by boat would include all the area (over 6,500 acres) beyond 250 feet from shore and all around the Norwalk Islands.

-a majority of the hunters in Vets Park and Calf Pasture Beach were from out of state based on a survey of the license plates of cars and trucks in the parking lots during active hunting in hunting season in 2011.

-Most speakers at the public hearing were not opposed to hunting, and said they respected the tradition. They just didn’t want to allow hunting in city parks near playgrounds and walking paths where many folks walk early in the morning when most hunting occurs.

-some folks from East Norwalk told of hearing buckshot falling on their roofs or finding buckshot on their boats, or landing on their kayaks while they were using them. They expressed alarm that their safety relied on someone’s else’s good aim only.

-there were 43 complaints about the hunting in city parks to the Norwalk Police Department in the 3 years prior to March 2011.

Personally, I have no issue with hunting in any form and think it’s a great tradition, and it actually helps with conservation efforts through license fees and advocacy for protecting wilderness areas. I also appreciate any effort to control the over-populated geese whose droppings pollute our parks and waterways with nitrate-laden droppings that lead to algae blooms. But geese hunting will still be allowed in the 95% of the area that was always open to waterfowl hunting in Norwalk, and will continue to be.

However, it makes no sense to allow hunting in our city parks with shotguns blasting close to playgrounds, walking trails, and densely populated areas, which is why every other waterfront city in CT restricts hunting in its public parks and inner harbors surrounded by dense development. Decades ago, folks were not as physically active as they are now, with many folks walking in our parks in early morning hours at the same time hunting is occurring. The potential for a tragic accident is too high to ignore any longer.

Bryan Meek September 10, 2019 at 2:01 pm

While it isn’t my thing, I don’t ever recall anyone ever being injured from the bird shot. It’s loud and surprising for sure when it happens, but I just don’t recollect any injuries.

The Merritt Parkway on the other hand continues to kill people left and right from narrowed lanes due to it taking 8 years now to fix a few shoulders and overpasses. The SB exit 42 on ramp has been redone 2x now in this time. And with the increased density we are being force fed, it takes 45 minutes to get to Stamford without any incidents. There is almost zero enforcement of the ever increasing presence of commercial traffic and trailers and this is what our lawmakers focus on? $2 billion and counting has been diverted from the transportation fund and now they want us to believe that tolls are the solution. Whats more amazing is how many continue to buy this BS.

Mike Mushak September 10, 2019 at 10:14 pm

@ Bryan Meek, if bird shot lands on your house or in your backyard, I’m sure your tune would change lol. Perhaps deer hunting in Cranbury Park while the public is present is a good idea by your own criteria, no? Do you support deer hunting in Cranbury Park?

As mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton’s treasurer, please share Lisa’s opinion about banning hunting in Norwalk’s public parks.

In the service of full transparency, does mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton support the public safety action taken by Mayor Rilling, Senator Duff, and Chief Kulhawik?

And since I have your attention, does Lisa Brinton support (like you do) wasting millions of taxpayer dollars demolishing the beautiful and structurally-solid historic Columbus School to build an inappropriate suburban-style school in the heart of our precious SoNo Historic District?

Since we’re conversing here, please share Lisa’s presently secret positions on both these subjects. Thank you!

Lisa Brinton September 11, 2019 at 6:01 am

Mike: Happy to catch up with you on those issues at the Carver function @ your house. See you soon! It’s a small world in Norwalk.

Bryan Meek September 11, 2019 at 7:25 am

@Mushak. I have an issue with politicians who do things for cameras but hide from the big issues. That was my point you missed. It took 45 minutes to get from Cranbury to SoNo yesterday thanks to all this wonderful development that we get to pay taxes for.

And now that you bring up Columbus. It’s good to know you are on the record for denying South Norwalk children a decent facility to go to school. That you are on the record with it being ok to bus children 1 to 2 hours a day on a hot stinky bus instead of offering them a modern facility in which to learn in their neighborhood.

Now, with a straight face please tell everyone why you are so supportive of maintaining the character of the neighborhood you care so much about with an obsolete building no one sees, but have NO issue with the container ship looking mall that is going to smack everyone in the face as they first enter your precious historic neighborhood.

My campaign for BOE will be pointing out exactly who is for and who is against our South Norwalk school children.

Mimi September 11, 2019 at 12:09 pm

“There is almost zero enforcement of the ever increasing presence of commercial traffic and trailers and this is what our lawmakers focus on?”

Agree with Bryan Meek. We have far more immediately pressing quality of life issues in Norwalk which are receiving far less air time. This hunting ban Calf Pasture photo op is deflecting from those issues during campaign season.

East Avenue on East Norwalk, unenforced and terribly congested on a daily basis anyway, has been gridlocked and literally impassable from 7:30AM to now because of the Stroffolino bridge closing. It is so depressing that I think the mayor should pull up a lawn chair on a sidewalk and have a look for himself tomorrow. Maybe Governor Lamont and Senator Duff can join him. My child’s bus driver couldn’t get through the gridlock yesterday and was late – said he had to wave cars down to let him pass to get to the street. No enforcement whatsoever. Also, a light was stuck on red on Myrtle, yesterday and today, delaying the bus and causing bumper to bumper back up on a residential street.

The past two days have been a case traffic study of what is to come on that stretch of East Avenue with the impending Walk Bridge disruption, the lowering and widening under the trellises to encourage more truckcentric traffic, the pending train station apartments, and the mall cut through which will happen. But let’s talk about Duck Season, Wabbit Season…

Jack Harder September 11, 2019 at 5:27 pm

Mike,

To address a few of your points.

-Waterfowl hunting is allowed along most of the CT coast with a few areas that are closed. The closed areas in general have some sort of a structure or special condition (like the area around the nuclear power plant in Waterford) that has them restricted. Once you are below the mean high water line in navigable waters state/federal laws apply. If a hunter is above the mean high water mark in the park he/she would be in violation. The public has a right to hunt, fish or conduct other activities below the high water mark. The idea of the public trust is what enables you to walk below the high water line in front of someones private beach house.

-The guys hunting at Calf Pasture and veterans park are not from “out of State”. I know them. It’s the same few guys. A couple of them are (were) Norwalk cops. The others are a few guys who live down by the beach. Hunters putting in boats at Veterans Park aren’t hunting from the park. They are going out to the islands.

-If someone has bird shot landing on their boat, hitting their kayak or landing on their roof they should IMMEDIATELY call the police. The guy firing is going to get arrested. As someone who has dealt with waterfowling issues in CT for 20+ years this comes up. It usually turns into “I heard about a guy who was my brother’s cousin’s friend got hit with shot”. When the DEEP goes to look for the records to justify closure it turns out they never existed.

-Of the 43 complaints that came in I’d be interested to know what they are. When I met with the city back in 2001 I was the President of the CT Waterfowlers Assoc. Norwalk Police were going to set up (I guess you would call it a category) in their computer system to catalog “complaints” regarding waterfowl hunting. I remember looking at some of the “complaints” a few years later and they were exactly that. Nothing to do with safety or violations. The calls were “there are guys hunting at the beach and I don’t like it”.

Personally I don’t think Calf Pasture & Veteran’s Park are great places to hunt. I don’t think it’s a safety issue but you really are right in peoples face. I really wish that people would use some restraint from a public relations point and not hunt there. My problem with closing the area is that it fits none of the parameters of the law as it is in place. This “political” closure totally circumvents a State law that is in place to deal with closures.

The fear that many waterfowl hunters have is that whenever a few people complain we end up with this “there ought to be a law” solution. There are people who hate hunting. What I don’t want to see is waterfowl restricted in perfectly acceptable areas because a few people have a problem with the activity.

Mike Mushak September 11, 2019 at 6:53 pm

Jack Harder,

Why is Norwalk the only waterfront city that allows hunting in its inner harbor surrounded by dense development, and in its city parks next to playgrounds and walking trails? No other city allows this. I simply don’t see how all those other cities were granted this restrictions over decades by DEEP but Norwalk should be excluded. It its good enough for Norwalk to allow hunting in all its waterfront parks, than we should allow hunting in all our cities.

I’m tired of the double standard here. Either DEEP allows Norwalk to restrict hunting in areas similar to what all other CT cities have done, or DEEP should rescind all those restrictions to make this a fair process. Otherwise DEEP is holding a double standard by telling Norwalk we cant have what everyone else has, which is safe parks for the public to use free from shotguns blasting near playgrounds and walking trails and surrounded by residential development so close that shot blast falls on the roofs and in their boats.

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