Construction expected on parts of long-delayed Norwalk Harbor Loop Trail

Norwalk BOE 022714 001
A boardwalk is expected to be built just north of the Yankee Doodle Bridge this summer, according to Susan Sweitzer of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency.

NORWALK, Conn. – Docks on the Norwalk River are expected to be connected to create a boardwalk, Harbor Management Commission member Tony D’Andrea said.

D’Andrea was seeking the commission’s approval Wednesday night for an application put together by the Planning and Zoning Department in coordination with the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency (RDA) to create a public accessway behind 148 East Ave. on city-owned riverfront property. Approval was granted. The application is expected to move on to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Susan Sweitzer of the RDA said that piece is in addition to two others that have already gotten approval in a continuing effort to bring the Harbor Loop Trail to fruition.

The Norwalk Harbor Loop Trail is a project that began more than 30 years ago and is zoned into all new construction. The walkway has not been completed, with several notable gaps (such as the one at 148 East Ave. and the property south of there), keeping pedestrians from walking the entire planned loop around the Norwalk River waterfront.

Oversight of the Harbor Loop Trail, also known as the  Waterfront Public Access project, was transferred from P&Z to the RDA last June, as a result of the building boom. Former Mayor Richard Moccia commented at the time that the switch might speed things up.

“I think Redevelopment does have the ability to act on things pretty fast in some ways, because they’re a separate authority,” he said.

The “Yankee Doodle Bridge” portion and the 40 Cross St. portion go to bid this spring, Sweitzer said. They were approved as part of last year’s capital budget process.

“I am preparing a schedule now so I would expect that the two pieces could be constructed this summer/fall. I am also finalizing a project cost estimate and will have that by tomorrow or Monday,” she wrote in an email.

The piece behind 148 East Ave. would connect to the soon-to-be-constructed Yankee Doodle Bridge boardwalk, and to the property just north, where there is already a boardwalk, she said.

The Cross Street project is simpler, a trail along the river front.

The city’s objective would be to have a minimum 10-foot wide public access waterway, according to the application going to DEEP. There would be a 950-foot long raised boardwalk at 148 East Ave., with the rest of the accessway being made of asphalt on the ground.

The project is complicated by three outfall pipes. They will be extended, the application says.


21 responses to “Construction expected on parts of long-delayed Norwalk Harbor Loop Trail”

  1. DeeeeMoooo

    Congrats to everyone who has worked so hard to make the loop into a proper – and safe – loop!

  2. MORE wasted money.
    WHO, in their right mind, wants to walk along a polluted ugly river, along an ugly shore, under an ugly and decrepit highway bridge only to get mugged by the homeless or the derelicts hanging out there.
    WHY? WHY? WHY?

  3. Yeah, because the picture above is sooooo inviting and attractive….

  4. jlightfield

    The economic benefits to linking SONO and downtown Norwalk along the harbor and Norwalk River are massive. First, Norwalk is home to premier rowing clubs that train on the River. Cities that have developed their waterfront for public access thrive.
    Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, for example, invested in making public access and amenities a priority and as a result have seen a surge in new businesses opening including retail, restaurants, art galleries, museums, in addition to growth in multifamily housing and class A office space.
    Norwalk has the most potential to turn its waterfront into a vibrant, public amenity, and supporting a boardwalk in these areas is vital to that.

  5. Yeah,but don’t put the cart before the horse – get business’ to come in and STAY (and NOT retail business but MEANINGFUL white collar business’ that attract higher income employees). And you have to remember – those are big cities with long meaningful history – not Norwalk (and by the description you cited – you want Norwalk to become a bigger city than Stamford – and oh, that town is so attractive to families with kids…)
    The way that Malloy is ruining (oops, I mean “running”) the State, there is no need to put that boardwalk in.
    You can keep “selling” this all you want Jackie, but I’m not buying it (as well as many business’ don’t either…)

  6. EveT

    This is the kind of forward-looking development we need to make Norwalk more walkable, more scenic, and more inviting for businesses near to the walking trail.

  7. Mike Mushak

    This is fabulous news for Norwalk. Jackie Lightfield put it much more succinctly then I ever could! I could write a book on the exponential benefits of this trail, backed up with research and case studies, but I won’t(cue the collective sigh of relief!) That is why it was first proposed by expert consultants 30 years ago, and has been in our Master Plans ever since waiting for implementation. No need to get into why it has taken so long, as we can now look forward and not backwards anymore.
    I also applaud our DPW and Common Council and Mayor Rilling for recently moving ahead with the Norwalk River Valley Trail plans to connect Union Park with New Canaan Ave, a crucial link in the 28 mile Norwalk to Danbury trail, that is shared on part of its route with the Loop Trail (from the Aquarium through Mathews Park and behind the Y to Union Park), and will connect to the Loop at the end of the 40 Cross Street parking lot.

    The Loop Trail route is mapped out here: http://www.livablenorwalk.org/2010/12/norwalk-harbor-loop-trail.html with an interactive map. If you are on Facebook, there is a Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/norwalkharborlooptrail, with a virtual tour of the entire route with 150 pics so you don’t even have to wait for the snow to melt.
    For several more years, we will need to use sidewalk and street connections to bypass missing links, just as other cities do it. The next missing link to work on is 130 East Ave., where a temporary or permanent easement is needed to fill that crucial missing link across from City Hall. We all hope the owner will be sympathetic to this 30-year-old dream to open up the amazing Norwalk waterfront to the public.

    This trail will differentiate Norwalk from every other city in CT, and be a great marketing tool as well as a huge boon to quality of life and economic growth. No other city has a 3-mile harbor loop trail, that can be walked in an hour or biked in 20 minutes, that transitions from tidal salt marsh to pristine upland New England forest, connecting dense condo buildings with some of Norwalk’s largest employers like City Hall and Norwalk Hospital. It also connects historic neighborhoods (Sono and Wall Street) to established popular cultural attractions (Aquarium, Oystershell Park, Mathews Park, Pine Island Cemetery, Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, Center for Cont. Printmaking, Stepping Stones, Freese Park, Mill Hill, Town Green, and Vets Park.)
    The Loop Trail and NRVT can be used for commuting, exercise, relaxation, and education (history, wildlife, sightseeing). Anyone who thinks this effort is not worth it, contact me directly for a personal tour and a gentle scolding. [email protected].

  8. DeeeeMoooo

    WHO, in their right mind, wants to walk along a polluted ugly river, along an ugly shore, under an ugly and decrepit highway bridge only to get mugged by the homeless or the derelicts hanging out there.

    Virtually every word of this sentence makes me think you haven’t actually walked along the loop. It’s true that there are heavy metals and other contaminants polluting the river, but I wouldn’t call it ugly. And the amount of floating refuse has SIGNIFICANTLY diminished over the past years – mostly the occasional bottle or plastic bag nowadays. Proximity of the public to the riverfront, combined with the continued efforts of volunteers, would lead to things staying relatively tidy.

    Imagine if NYC had decided that garbage in the rivers was reason enough to not bother building any of the wonderful pedestrian/bike paths that they have there.

    Having walked the trail, I have not seen any “homeless” or “derelicts” and did not feel unsafe at any time.

    The bigger question is what specific proposal underlies your comment when taken en toto: please share your alternative plans for getting “business’ [sic] to come in and STAY.” Do nothing to improve the City while simply begging businesses to stay? Sounds like you’ve already written off Norwalk and the whole state, yet you express such passion on this issue. It’s confusing.

  9. Passion about the money being wasted again in the city of Norwalk is confusing to you???? How much money is needed for this city “to get back on it’s feet”? Probably alot since the politicians reward unions for strong arming businesses into rehiring exorbitantly paid janitors. Where else in the city do you get financial security for not learning the language, probably not becoming a us resident and not getting a higher education (outside of the DPW).
    Oyster Shell Park have been redone at least 3x and each time it doesn’t get any better.
    Yes, I’ve been to the waterside along that river and it’s not pretty or redeeming.

  10. Mike Mushak

    Thanks again Nancy for this great article. And I also want to thank Susan Schweitzer and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency for pushing this effort forward. I forgot to mention them in my post above. And as for you, irishgirl, for St Patrick’s day I will give you a personal tour of the Loop Trail and even buy you a green beer afterwards at O’Neills. My email is in the post above. Contact me.

  11. srb

    I live along the harbor and love it- Irish Girl sit out some time and watch the rowers and kayakers, who knows you might find that you actually enjoy it and find a silver lining in that bleak universe

  12. Angela

    I live on the river. I have fished and kayaked every corner of it. The waterfront is my favorite thing about living in Norwalk. The diversity and abundance of wildlife and tremendous. Seals, bluefish, heron, deer, osprey. Bravo to RDA. I’m so looking forward to the uninterrupted loop. The completed sections are inspiring, more more more please! I know it will be the toast of the town when it’s finished. Oh, and I would love to see the loop extended down to the south end of Water Street.

  13. Suzanne

    No matter how emphatic the naysayers might be (and there will always, always be some including me on some issues), this project sounds like a win-win, that is for the environment and for the citizens of Norwalk. It actually feels kind of thrilling – I came from the West a few years ago and first lived on the Hudson. I would go to the shoreline everyday and watch garbage floating by. Guess what? As the environment has been improved, the water reclaimed and cleansed, the experience is one of sublime nature. Norwalk now has the same opportunity to provide to its citizens through this completed loop trail, years in the making. This type of amenity is priceless and will only make the City more attractive to out of towners and residents. This is the kind of project that I want my taxes to fund – open to all, not just some, and a connection to a resource that sustains us. Yay Norwalk! Yay to all who worked so hard to make this project possible, doable, realized!!!!

  14. @SRB,
    You think I am making some random statement because I’ve never sat near the waterfront or walked in OSP and because you live there you think it’s all that majestic?
    I’ve “sat” and watched the river, I’ve walked the OSP and I’ve crewed with NRRA. No need to think I am just a naysayer. The OSP has been done 3x over and it’s still an ugly eyesore from the highway (although better than the garbage heaps we had growing up).
    Q: In the 1970’s, how did you know you were in Norwalk?
    A: The smell from the garbage dump going over the YDB.
    Time will tell but at what cost?

  15. David McKenzie

    This will be a fantastic way to enjoy our beautiful harbor.

  16. spanner

    Do we get to walk by King Industries when the wind direction is not heading towards the this boardwalk? Those wind socks on the poles tell a story wonder if the people walking those trails will be aware of why they are there?

    The outfall of Oyster shell park is another great story of success along the river will be able to read about it on a sign board along the new trails there?

    When all is said and done what added security to the properties that host the walk and the people who enjoy it going to cost?What things in Norwalk have been ignored where funds have been diverted to bring this dream home?

    How do we gauge the profit from all of this in terms of a return to Norwalks books?

  17. Joe Espo

    And a really big thank you to the Planning Commission, Mike Greene, Mike Wrinn, Frank Strauch, and the P&Z folks who championed this project incessantly through the years. When it’s done, it’ll be awesome.

  18. TG

    I am thrilled about this! This is how you make a city sustainable and forward moving. Hopefully we will see a portion of our residents begin to use this as an alternative to cars as a way to access other parts of the city. For me personally, neither working nor living in the immediate area of the loop, I simply look forward to the recreational use of it. I really lament that outside of Calf Pasture and Cranbury Park, Norwalk lacks places to simply stretch my legs and walk. Often when spring finally arrives after a long winter I find myself with my kids walking from Devon’s Place under the bridge to Oyster Shell Park (totally disagree with Irishgirl- it looks great now, and I haven’t even seen the new playground), all around the trail there and on to Maritime Aquarium. The kids just run and run, with much to discover along the way. I can’t wait to walk the whole loop. And so, Mike Mushak, I will take you up on the tour! [email protected]. One point I happen to agree with Irishgirl on is the presence of the homeless there though. To ignore that truth is not helpful. OSP surely has seen makeshift shelter there- I’ve witnessed it. I don’t know about other parts of the harbor area, but there seems to be plenty of pockets for one to set up shelter. And while I would NEVER call a homeless person a derelict- I presume harmlessness and prefer compassion- I also have to err on the side of caution when walking the area, especially with my kids. Plus anytime you have dark, isolated pockets anywhere in an urban area, there is the tendency to draw some “sketchy” activity. For this reason, although I’d love to sit atop OSP and watch the sun go down, I feel like I have to be outta there before it gets dark.

  19. KevinPenthouse

    I agree kudos to the people trying to make this happen and I ditto JLights comments. To those “naysayers” here I recommend going to Murrels Inlet SC or Baltimore Inner harbour and see the “before” and “after” results and I don’t think they understand what a “working river” actually is. RAG ON

    My only Q? Can some one answer . . . at a previous time . . . was that this project originally (and in my opinion visionary-ily) planned for the Maritime Aquarium side . . . but if I remember right it ran into some hiccups after Yankee Doodle. If you go to markets where this is a success it is where it connects the stalwart business(s) and industry and the gaps all got filled in by unique water based industries working together. The east norwalk side simply does not have all that . . or is it both

  20. KevinPenthouse

    and you rock srb 🙂 bleak universe lol

  21. KevinPenthouse

    in closing “Its All Good!”

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