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Dry Hill Road resident questions decision, motives in sidewalk dispute

Norwalk DPW
Robert Celli claims this Dry Hill Road sidewalk was compacted by heavy machinery sitting on it for protracted periods.

NORWALK, Conn. – Something is not right, according to a Norwalk resident who has filed a claim against the city.

Robert Celli, a Dry Hill Road resident, claims that heavy equipment compacted the sidewalk in front of his home, causing puddles when it rains and even sending the water toward his home. He said he’d be happy with a new asphalt sidewalk, which most of his neighbors got as part of the recent repaving of Dry Hill Road, but there is nothing wrong with the old sidewalk and it does not need replacing, according to Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord.

If Celli wants to put in a new sidewalk he must use expensive concrete, Alvord said. But if DPW had done it, the new sidewalk would have been asphalt. DPW did, in fact, use asphalt to fix a four foot section of Celli’s sidewalk that was damaged in the recent repaving, meaning the sidewalk goes from new concrete on the corner to new asphalt to old asphalt.

“Something is strange here. This may be a case of DPW deciding what to do, which they do, as it seems they do always,” Celli said. “… They patched up different areas of the sidewalk and it really looks like heck, it really doesn’t look well. OK, you can say whatever you want, but you impacted my sidewalk. The water doesn’t run off. It’s on a slant. It’s dangerous.”

It’s dangerous, he said, because in winter the puddle on the sidewalk may freeze and become a patch of ice. The asphalt patch rises from the old sidewalk to the new handicapped assessable corner, making the asphalt a downward ramp from the corner leading to the puddle. The corner is a school bus stop, he said.

“Mr. Celli’s claim has been filed and is under review. (Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord) is determining if the paving project on Dry Hill Road was done according to plan,” Mayor Harry Rilling said in an email.

Celli said he talked to a Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency (CIRMA) representative. She said, “It will take a very, very long time and an awful lot of investigation and time. I don’t know when this could possibly be done,” according to Celli. She also said that Alvord, “although a man of few words, was very smart, does a great job, knows his stuff, and is great at what he does,” according to Celli.

The city paved the entire length of Dry Hill Road. From Murray Street, at the northern end of Dry Hill Road, to Celli’s house on the corner of Merrill, almost everyone got new asphalt sidewalks and curbs. The exception is a block of concrete sidewalk, which does not appear to be new.

Between 19 Dry Hill and 33 Dry Hill, the sidewalk is old, with some new patches. From midway in front of 19 Dry Hill to Westport Avenue, DPW put in new concrete sidewalks.

In short, almost everyone got new sidewalks. Alvord said homes nearer to Westport Avenue got concrete because they’re in the urban zone.

Robert Celli claims this Dry Hill Road sidewalk was compacted by heavy machinery sitting on it for protracted periods.
Robert Celli claims this Dry Hill Road sidewalk was compacted by heavy machinery sitting on it for protracted periods.

“DPW is deciding who gets what and it’s wrong,” Celli said. “I am wondering if this is because when Mayor Moccia was still in office, I had three trees here that were city trees on the Merrill Road side of my house that were slated to be removed before I bought this house. … For four years after I bought this house I continually called customer service and DPW and requested they do something about them because they were dangerous, they were dying. Every time there was a storm of any kind, huge branches would come down. I said somebody is going to get hurt.”

Celli said he finally wrote a letter to Moccia. The trees were cut down.

“Is this retribution from DPW because I went to Mayor Moccia?” he asked.

Celli’s sidewalk wasn’t replaced because it wasn’t damaged, Alvord said. The curbing was intact; the curbing down the rest of Dry Hill was damaged, Alvord said. Curbing exists to funnel water in the right direction, he said. If the curbing is damaged, it must be redone, and with it the sidewalk, he said.

On April 28 Celli sent an email to Rilling and Councilman David Watts (D-District A):

“The way this project is being undertaken is much less than desirable and will leave the south end of Dry Hill Road looking subpar and piecemeal, with sidewalks in worse condition than when it was started, partial old and partial new  blacktop. All this money spent and, in the end, incomplete and horrible. Whoever is in charge has planned poorly and why should the homeowners/taxpayers suffer because of it?

“I’m beginning to think there is some type of discrimination at work. What other excuse could there be but discrimination, poor planning, or incompetence?  In any case, someone at DPW should be held accountable, but the homeowners should not suffer because of it. Still, I contend whoever is selecting some homes to get blacktop sidewalks and others not appears to be doing it arbitrarily. What is the reason?  Something is terribly wrong with this process.

“Mr. Mayor, if you have not been out to see this for yourself, you really should take a ride down Dry Hill Road starting on the north end and head toward Route One and see how beautiful it looks until you hit Merrill Road, and then you will realize someone has planned this project very poorly.  I work for a large partnership and this type of poor planning would not be tolerated and heads would roll.  The city should accept no less.”

On May 28, Public Works Committee Chairman David McCarthy said in an email to Celli that he had spoken to Alvord about the issue:

“The response from the director was that the curb’s primary function is to direct water into the drains so as to avoid ponding in warm weather and icing in the winter. The existing curb that is in front of your property is not damaged and is serving the drainage purpose. He has personally inspected the site and observed that, while there may be some ripples, the sidewalk is not in terrible condition.  Given that the amount budgeted for sidewalks this year is only $350k, we need to make the most out of what we have in replacing or repairing the sidewalks that absolutely need to be replaced or repaired.

“If we replaced your sidewalk, as you know, it would be replaced in concrete, not asphalt.  The cost of concrete is significantly higher than that of asphalt, and the tradeoff (of the sidewalk along your property being replaced) would be other sidewalks not being repaired or replaced. The council is not in charge of picking what sidewalks get paved; staff does that with the goal of maximizing the amount that gets done given the budget.  There are 140 miles of sidewalk in the City, much of it in need of repair; a formal assessment has not yet been done but the expectation is that bringing all City sidewalk up to standard will cost in the tens of millions of dollars. In light of this, $350,000 is minuscule and requires very tight management by staff so as to maximize the benefit of every tax dollar.  In my view they are doing this well. The members of the Public Works Committee of the Council concur that a better funded sidewalk program is needed and has committed to work with staff in developing same going forward.”

Said Celli, “If I want to go to City Hall and I want to repair my sidewalk on Dry Hill Road, or Merrill Road for that matter, they are going to tell me ‘Oh, you can’t fix it with asphalt, you have to use cement, that’s city zoning.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s curious. You broke up four feet, damaged my sidewalk, then you replaced it with blacktop.’ You have to follow your own code. The city, to me, how can they not – they’re not above and beyond the code.”

Comments

24 responses to “Dry Hill Road resident questions decision, motives in sidewalk dispute”

  1. John Hamlin

    This situation — the condition of the sidewalk, the explanation and excuses, and the lack of responsiveness — is an emblem for what’s wrong with our city government. Essentially the message is this: if you want a decent sidewalk, if you want a responsive and competent government that doesn’t engage in petty games, then move to another city. If the sidewalk pictured in this article is the work of DPW and if DPW thinks this is good work, then we should outsource the entire function. I thought city departments were going to be held accountable in this administration. I guess not so much.

  2. EveT

    It seems pretty obvious that this is payback for the homeowner complaining about the hazardous city trees.

  3. Mike Mushak

    Why were 6 properties left out of the sidewalk replacement on Dry Hill, and the owners are being told they need expensive concrete that THEY have to pay for? All based on a dubious map that appeared recently that gerrymandered the line to exclude 3 blocks of Dry Hill Rd near Westport Ave?
    .
    Why does the city define the 3 lower blocks of Dry Hill as “urban core” with the line going through the midblock of Merill and Roosevelt north of Mr. Celli’s house, where the city actually used asphalt for the entire block? The city violated its own policy repeatedly on Dry Hill and can offer no coherent explanation for their actions except insulting the owners, most recently by Councilman Dave McCarthy who said Mr. Celli just needs to “power-wash” his dirty sidewalk.
    .
    The absurdity of this situation is a metaphor for everything that is wrong with how DPW is being managed under Hal Alvord and Dave Mccarthy, where taxpayers are harassed and maps appear out of nowhere that no one can explain the logic of.
    .
    In Fact, Mr. Alvord has said repeatedly on the record that the “urban core”is defined by P and Z, but when asked, P and Z staff said the urban core was the “First and Second Taxing Districts” and the “commercial strips” along CT and Westport Avenues. So, when asked for a map, P land Z had to go back to DPW and a week later a new map appears, that has the 3 blocks of Dry Hill where Mr. Celli’s house is segmented off into the urban core. The entire neighborhood is clearly and without a doubt residential, and the city’s own “Roadway Standards” of 1982 states the following on page 14: “In urban areas sidewalks shall be concrete. In residential areas they may be ASPHALT OR CONCRETE.” (My emphasis with caps). Mr Celli’s house is in a “B RESIDENCE” zone, the EXACT same zone as ALL of his neighbors on Dry Hill, all 120 of them, to the north.
    .
    The 60 or so properties that got new sidewalks on Dry Hill are NO different than the 3 blocks that did not get them at the bottom of Dry Hill, which are all in the same B Residence zone, except the 3 blocks fall in an inexplicable and irrational “urban core zone” that most folks never heard of ever heard of before including even P and Z staff who Hal Alvord said repeatedly are the ones who defined it! When I was thrown out of the Public Works Committee by Chair Dave Mccarthy at the meeting last week for making sure the committee members knew about this injustice that penalizes taxpayers not just on Dry Hill but across the city, including in Bettswood, Marvin Beach, and Spring Hill that no sane person would ever call “urban core”, no one followed up after I left to ask about it. They they voted to approve $20,000 taxpayer dollars to “study” the bad sidewalks in the “urban core”, even though the source of this wacky definition is unknown and unexplained even now.

    If anyone thinks this is an isolated incident, they are wrong. This nonsense of the city picking winners and losers, as Councilman David Watts describes it, is widespread across the city. The owner of the Norwalk Inn told me a couple of years ago that he was being harassed by the DPW staff to have to spend something like $20,000 to entirely replace his existing concrete sidewalks with new after he renovated the 93 East Ave building.. This was despite the fact that most of the sidewalks were in fine condition, but he did have a beautiful historic city-owned oak tree in front of 93 East Ave that had lifted a couple of sections of the concrete with its roots, and another section that the city had patched with asphalt when repairing a fire hydrant. These affected areas were about 5% of the total sidewalk, but DPW wanted him to replace 100% at his cost!
    .
    I sent out emails to McCarthy, Alvord, and others, and the city changed its mind on the ridiculous demand, and Mr. Handrinos saved at least $15,000 I would guess to replace a perfectly good (albeit slightly weathered) sidewalk. However, it gets worse. Mr Handrinos was told he had to use concrete only, and that would affect the roots of the historic tree (one of the largest on East Avenue and at least 100 years old), and compromise its health.
    .
    I asked a city engineer in a Tree Advisory Committee meeting if Mr. Handrinos could use brick which would save the tree as it could gently “bend” over the roots, and it would fit in the context of the historic character of the area, which is in a Village District as well as an Historic District. That was a simple, smart, and attractive compromise from a licensed landscape architect (which I am). I was left dumbfounded by the engineer’s response, who said “brick sidewalks are not allowed in this area”! In an historic district! So, the magnificent tree was cut down to make way for the concrete sidewalk that the city insisted on replacing with more concrete, and we lost a beautiful landmark tree as well as the chance for a more attractive brick sidewalk in front of restored historic landmark that the owner would have gladly paid for.
    .
    The absurdity of our failed DPW policies goes on and on, with many more stories I can share that I know of, and yet no one seems to want to want to hear the facts or fix these horrific policies that causes real anger at the city with its arrogance and complete lack of common sense, and a failure to understand we have a dysfunctional system that ignores the nationwide trend to “context-sensitive” urban design including smart policies for sidewalk and street design.
    .

    In the meantime, just finish the Dry Hill sidewalk replacement all the way to Westport Ave, with asphalt for God’s sake. Asphalt is less than $5 a square foot, so this is not a huge expensive mistake to fix, and it will prove the city leadership can actually make things right for folks who are being grossly mistreated by staff whose generous salaries their taxes are paying for.

  4. EastNorwalkChick

    Looking at the pictures I wonder why for so many years we have put up with and accepted this type of work from DPW. Money? The “I don’t want my taxes to go up” mentality, so this is as good as it’s going to get.
    .
    This is not only on Dry Hill, there are many more streets in Norwalk like this….we have to ask ourselves, is this what we want our City to look like? Are we willing to just accept the status quo?
    .
    Or do we want something better?

  5. Tim D

    @EastNorwalkChick .. Or do we want something better? Sure, if you want to finance this by taking on the costs or through tax increases. This City will not let you pour the cement. It’s a racket that should be left alone.

    ..

    The sidewalk looks serviceable, and it doesn’t appear the city is requesting that Mr Celli replace it. why not just let it go? Or is this more an attack on Mr Alvord? Kind of like the city carting trash complaints from last week. Seems like this is a pattern with the same group of malcontents.

  6. One and Done.

    The sidewalk looks fine. They don’t want it paved with gold. They want their union’s pockets lined with gold. Alvord has been the only department head to effectively manage to pull the city out of the death grips of the union and they don’t like it one bit. Their choice would be to pay themselves above market wages and unsustainable pensions while the city’s infrastructure swirls the drain.
    .
    One and Done.

  7. Robert Celli

    My complaint was based on damage done to my sidewalk by the City and its contractors, which has nothing to do with the reputation that Mr. Alvord has acquired for himself on his own behalf. The Urban Core issue came to light when Mr. Alvord used it as the reason why the City didn’t continue blacktop sidewalk to the end of Dry Hill Road, because the sidewalks would have to be cement and cost too much. After further research regarding US Census Tracts as they define the Urban Core, it appears Mr. Alvord is either incompetent or misrepresenting the truth about its parameters in the City. Take your pick, in either case it is unacceptable.
    >
    The damages aside, it is an unfair paactice to replace sidewalks for 9/10ths of the taxpayers on Dry Hill Road and not the entire street. If yo do it for one taxpayer it should be done for all City wide.
    >
    For the record below is the body of my complaint letter to the City Clerk regarding the damage to my sidewalks.
    >
    >
    May 14, 2014
    >
    Donna King, City Clerk
    City of Norwalk
    City Hall
    125 East Avenue
    Norwalk, CT 06856
    >
    RE: Dry Hill Road Complaint and claim of sidewalk damage done by the City of Norwalk and its contractors
    >
    Ms. King,
    >
    During a meeting with Mayor Rilling today, we were informed that our formal complaint and claim of damages by the City regarding damage done to our sidewalks by the City, Yankee Gas, and/or their contractors, should be made directly to the City Clerk’s Office. This letter will serve as our formal complaint and claim.
    >
    Since the spring of 2013, the City of Norwalk, its contractors and Yankee Gas have been doing work on Dry Hill Road updating gas lines, and replacing roads and sidewalks. As of today, we still see workmen blacktopping sidewalks on Dry Hill Road, south of Merrill Road. In the course of this work being done, the sidewalk outside our home has been impacted and damaged. The City and its contractors have attempted repairs but they have been inadequate leaving the sidewalk in a lesser condition than before the work began. The City should be responsible to rectify this matter appropriately and swiftly. If anyone is injured in any way due to the dangerous conditions created by the work performed by or on behalf of the City of Norwalk, we will hold the City accountable.
    >
    Below is a list of the damages pertaining to our complaint and claim:
    >
    1 During the course of the work done on Dry Hill Road, many heavy trucks and large backhoes would regularly park with two tires on our sidewalk along the Dry Hill Road frontage of our home. In essence, both corners outside our home were used as a staging area for work being done in our neighborhood. The weight of these heavy work vehicles have caused sink wells and cracking in various areas along the entire length of the sidewalk, which did not exist before the commencement of this work. This has caused an unsafe condition for pedestrians and school children who use this heavily foot-trafficked road. It also causes water pooling in many areas which will freeze in the winter, creating a very dangerous condition. Photos attached. This situation did not exist prior to the work being done.
    >
    2 When the preexisting handicap corner was removed, an additional 3 feet of my Dry Hill Road sidewalk was broken and removed south of the corner that was removed. When the new handicapped corner made of concrete was installed, it was set approximately 2 to 3 inches higher than the old corner, the 3 foot section they broke up and removed, and the remainder of the existing sidewalk. While all this work was being performed they were driving a heavy backhoe on my entire Dry Hill Road sidewalk as well as parking and driving heavy dump trucks with two of their wheels on my sidewalk . An attempt was made to repair the 3 foot section of sidewalk with blacktop that ran from the new corner to the remaining existing sidewalk. This repair is in violation of City code for this area of the city. Code requires that when repairs are made, the full sidewalk must be replaced with cement, so the City and its contractors violated the City code. Since the newly installed corner is 2 to 3 inches higher than the existing sidewalk, the repair has caused a 3 foot long steeply graded slant from the newly installed corner to the existing sidewalk, which causes a dangerous condition for pedestrians, school children, and the handicapped Because the new corner is higher than the existing sidewalk and the repair is sloped, water can no longer run off the sidewalk as it had previously, and therefore fills the sidewalk with water. Photos attached. Consequently, once the sidewalk can no longer hold the water, it runs onto my lawn, down my property, into the basement window wells, and seeps into the basement through the windows. None of these conditions existed prior to this work being performed.
    >
    3 A new gas turn off was installed on the south end of my Dry Hill Road sidewalk. In order for that installation to be competed an opening of about 2 feet by 3 feet was put into the sidewalk. Once installed, the sidewalk was patched in an unsightly manner with blacktop leaving that area and those around it with wells that fill with water and freeze in the winter, which is dangerous for pedestrians, school children, and the handicapped. Again, the City violated its own code in replacing blacktop in an area where cement is required if any repair is made. In order for this work to be done, a backhoe was pulled onto my sidewalk and front lawn. The weight of the backhoe caused additional wells and cracks in my sidewalk. Photos attached. My lawn was also damaged and rocks and stones have been left there and grass will no longer grow. This condition didn’t exist prior to this work being performed. We would like to note that sometime after this work was completed a workman arrived outside my home and was spray painting this area with red paint. When we inquired what he was doing, he informed us he was marking the gas line because the city was going to replace our entire sidewalk. To date, that hasn’t occurred. The red paint is still there.
    >
    4 There were two sections of concrete sidewalk replaced right off the new handicapped corner on the Merrill Road side of our home. These had previously been blacktopped over by the City shortly after we purchased our home in 2004 as a consequence of the snowplows and salt laden snow eating away the entire corner. It appears these two new sections are in line with the existing code, but don’t match the remainder of the sidewalk. Per the City code one may not repair any section of concrete sidewalk unless you replace the entire sidewalk and bring it all up to code. The City should be held to the same accountability of code as the taxpayer.
    >
    5 One of the slate stones at the beginning of my front walk which abuts the Dry Hill sidewalk has been cracked from the weight of backhoes and dump trucks driving over it. This was not in this condition prior to this work. Photo attached.
    >
    6 Our entire front lawn as also been impacted by this work. The lawn was worn away, and many rocks and stones have been pushed onto it and grass will not grow. This was not in this condition prior to this work being done.
    >
    In conclusion: our sidewalk has been impacted by the work done by the City of Norwalk and our property value has been negatively affected.
    >
    We look forward to your timely response and reparative actions.
    >
    >
    Sincerely yours,
    >
    Robert J. Celli
    >
    Enc
    cc: Harry Rilling
    cc: Erin Herring
    cc: David Watts

  8. LWitherspoon

    Only in government do Unions participate in electing the people who will decide their salaries, benefits, and work rules. Who can forget Mayor Rilling proudly proclaiming that the City’s new personnel director met with Union heads prior to the Mayor’s announcement of the hiring, and the Union heads approved. If only taxpayers received similar consideration.
    .
    Not satisfied with that level of influence, municipal employee unions and their water carriers now appear to be waging “campaigns” for or against City department heads as well. Imagine a business which is run for the benefit of the employees instead of the shareholders, i.e. taxpayers, and that’s what we appear to be moving towards here. There may be some legitimate complaints against the City employees in question, but if so it’s hard to separate the signal from the noise.

  9. Mike Mushak

    Tim D, the trash complaints were real and documented, even by a Common Council member. It was not made up. In the case if the sidewalk, this has nothing to do with unions as One and Dine says above, not is it about “settling” for a seriously broken sidewalk that holds puddles that can freeze in the winter, causing a liability issue for the homeowner according to city ordinance. This was after 60 property owners north of this gentleman on Dry Hill and a couple south if him all got NEW sidewalks as part of the complete makeover of the street. About 6 homeowners were left out for no good reason except some made-up claims about curbing not getting destroyed that no one understands, nor which makes any sense at all.
    .
    Tim D, imagine if all your neighbors for a full mile got new sidewalks paid for by the city, but you and a couple of your immediate neighbors were left out for dubious reasons and you were told sorry chump, you not only have to pay for your own sidewalk unlike 60 of your neighbors on the same street and in the same zone, but you have to use expensive concrete that is 4 times as much as asphalt, probably about $6 or $7,000 instead of $1,500 for the typical home. How would you feel if that happened to you? I doubt anyone would accept it without a fight.
    .
    This property owner now has a house that looks shabby compared to all his neighbors with new sidewalks, affecting his property value and his potential liability from trips on the many bumps or slips on ice on the many puddles. It is completely unfair and borders on the criminal, as much of the damage occurred from the city themselves by parking heavy trucks on the sidewalk creating all the fresh cracks and uneven settling, and it is also a clear denial of services that all the other property owners received in the neighborhood except for 6 unlucky property owners out of 60. Why do they have to drop $7,000 of their own money when the rest of the neighborhood didn’t have to spend a penny? So far, no explanation is satisfactory or even credible. It was just stupid and nasty, and sad that we live in a city where this can happen to responsible property owners who pay their taxes, yet no one is doing anything about fixing it. It’s tragic, really.
    .

  10. Peter Parker

    Well said Mushak, I couldn’t have said it better myself

  11. Mike Mushak

    LWitherspoon, there was absolutely no mention of unions in last week’s article on the trash falling out of the trucks and not being picked up off the ground, or in this article about a failed policy of the city randomly choosing properties to replace sidewalks. Yet, you use these articles as springboards to question the motives of me and others who are trying to highlight and fix major faults with city policies. Why are you doing that?
    .
    The discussion last week devolved into a debate about unions and I nor anyone involved in these issues including our entire neighborhood and many other folks around town who have seen a decline in quality of service in the case of the trash pickup, or a wacky and unfair sidewalk replacement policy that left out 3 blocks of Dry Hill Rd for no good reason and requires majestic healthy trees to be cut down, are concerned about how unions play into these issues which is not on anyone’s mind but your own. The sidewalk issue especially has no relationship to unions at all! The trash issue did indirectly since we compared years of clean streets after trash pickup to what is happening now, but it was just a comparison to conditions with no comment made about the relationship to unions. That came from you and others, as if you were hyper-sensitive to criticism of City Carting, as if they should be immune to any criticism of their work because it will only be perceived as a longing for the union crews.
    .
    We just want the quality of the work to improve, since we are paying for the service and we should not have garbage or recycling crews who leave streets dirtier than the way they found them! Please stick to the issues at hand and stop distracting the discussion into a debate about unions which has absolutely nothing to do with the seriously broken sidewalk policy or trash being left on streets by lazy crews who can’t be bothered picking up behind themselves as the rest of us do. Thank you.

  12. Tim D

    @Mike M. I drove through that neighborhood this afternoon. It’s a dump even a week later. Most of the trash looked old and crusty as if it had laying around for quite some time. It seems like it’s a cut through, as result of the downed bridges, and people toss stuff out of their windows -which is most likely the source of the garbage. I also took note that most of it was recyclables like glass and other bottles – clearly indicating to me that this was primarily the results of what’s known as “the mcdonaldlization of America” where everyone is in a hurry and most consume and discard trash through the use of cars. i.e Coffee cups or soda cans that are conveniently thrown out the window without consideration.

    ..

  13. Peter Parker

    Isn’t this article about DPW and sidewalks? I think that’s the issue here.

  14. One and Done.

    The root cause analysis of anything perceived to be wrong with DPW in this city goes back to Alvord tossing the unions. You could fill in the blanks on anything else. Sidewalks, paving, treatment plant, transfer station, etc….it is all just window dressing.
    .
    Sidewalks is the cause du jour.
    .
    Where is Harry on the subject?….Crickets.
    .
    One and Done.

  15. Paul

    I think someone needs to ask the mayor and his new personnel director to see the recent settlement agreements for 2405 employees. One employee was given a cash settlement, another employee refunded punishment days back and yet another was moved to a totally different department of his choice. To those that say the union is n control, it is. Please research the above 3 examples from personnel. They are all true. Now that would be a story.

  16. minimum wage worker

    Why can’t they just fix the sidewalks?

  17. EastNorwalkChick

    @Tim D & One and Done – This has nothing to do with unions, this is about questioning the inconsistancy of what the DPW does when it comes to sidewalks. Go down any street in Norwalk and you will see this inconsistancy, First Street and Gregory Blvd is a perfect example here in East Norwalk. Apparently according to the DPW’s urban core map these roads are considered part of that core. If it is, then the sidewalks should be all concrete, but they aren’t, is a mishmash of both. Why? What are Mr. Alvord’s reasons for these streets?
    .
    You may be ok with settling with this type of crappy way of doing things, maybe you don’t care what your street or house looks like, but many of us do care and are tired of Norwalk looking like we just don’t give a darn about our City.

  18. Suzanne

    I am curious: if the request to do the sidewalks in the correct way were put to the workers at DPW, would they refuse, could they refuse? Is there any standard of practice by which these repairs are made (and there are standards out there as to how to build sidewalks that have existed since sidewalks began.) Could a union member purposefully NOT do the repairs to a standard of practice? Could nonunion members?

    *
    Because, ultimately, this has nothing to do with employee relations and the citizens. The latter just wants to see the work done to a high standard, correctly. Whatever labor disputes their are, put them where they belong with Mr. Alvord and friends and do not use that as an excuse for a lousy end product.

    *
    There should be a way to do this work that is clear to everyone: what resources are needed to do it, how workers must be organized to do the work, how citizens are informed about the intent to do the work and so forth. The pictures above show a mish mash of solutions to the same problem that, at the very least, is aesthetically “challenged.”

    *
    This detail will reflect property values: it is what a potential home buyer getting out of the car to look at a home sees if not first, then second and wonders, “What kind of neighborhood is this?”

    *
    Sloppy procedure and sloppy end results directly affect the taxpayer – it is too bad we don’t get a vote about how the DPW is doing, with corrections made for appropriate improvements.

  19. LWitherspoon

    @Mike Mushak
    .
    To repeat: “There may be some legitimate complaints against the City employees in question, but if so it’s hard to separate the signal from the noise.”
    .
    And, quoting from my prior comment on trash pickup: “I agree with you that it may be necessary to press City Carting to fix whatever problems exist.”
    .
    I will not attempt to guess at every individual commenter’s motivations, but I am sure that more than one of the City Carting critics are politically motivated. If you are truly seeking to improve Norwalk through better policies, then more power to you. I do think you’ll find improving Norwalk much easier if you hold off on declaring that something “fishy” has occurred until such time as you have actual evidence that something fishy has occurred. Also it’s hard to see how slamming Hal Alvord so mercilessly now will lead to anything good when your Bicycle and Pedestrian task force recommends new bike lanes, as I hope you will.
    .
    With respect to how Unions entered into the discussion, there are some who sit on the Common Council whose motivations are clear: protecting Unions at all costs. David Watts is one such member of the Common Council. Who can forget Mr. Watts donning a Local 2405 T-shirt during a council meeting to discuss outsourcing trash? A slap in the face to all taxpayers who expect our elected officials to represent our financial interests. Based on a few anecdotes, some commenters have declared the contract with City Carting a failure. Considering the politics surrounding the issue, I merely noted that it would be prudent to evaluate City Carting based on official statistics rather than a few anecdotes. After all, there are also anecdotes from people who say that things are much better on their street with City Carting collecting garbage. And as I noted in my prior comment, “it may be necessary to press City Carting to fix whatever problems exist.” I also eagerly await Mayor Rilling fulfilling his campaign promise to closely review the contract with City Carting to determine whether or not the predicted savings are real.

  20. John Hamlin

    Why can’t we fix our sidewalks like a respectable town or any decent city? Let’s figure out a way to solve this problem so we aren’t harping on it 5 or 10 years from now. There’s a serious problem related to infrastructure. Let’s fix it. And if our department heads and our politicians can’t fix it or won’t try, then let’s switch them out. And keep switching them out until the problem is solved.

  21. Norwalk19

    I don’t even know where to start….I read this article and posting and it is crystal clear that this town can’t get the basics right, why do I continue to think they get the big picture? They appoint the ride/bike/walk whatever task force then $20k on a side walk “study” and this guy up the road from me can’t get (3?10?) feet of sidewalk repaired. Sorry but anyone with a W-2 with The Town of Norwalk on it and involved in the resulting mess with sidewalks on Dry Hill is an idiot. There – I said it, I mean typed it. What the people in town government do not realize is if Mr. Rilling SIMPLY called Mr. Alvord or someone on potholes to say “Hey, Hal – Harry here. How is it going? Say, um – we are getting lit up on Nancy on Norwalk about Dry Hill and the guy we screwed on the sidewalk is not going away. Next time we have paving to do, stop by and fix the dudes sidewalk. Then call the Hour and NON to publish an apology. I know we are in a gray area on this, we’ll fix the urban/concrete/asphalt brick bunk later but jeez, just make this go away Thanks. Click”
    Down the road, has anyone seen the corner of Muriel and Dry Hill – 1 side is a smooth transition off the curb. The other side is one of the 5 inch tall sewer grates. Something tells me they ordered 12 of the low transition curbs/serwer grates, 11 showed up so everything ground to a halt but page 9,000 of the contract said they are not responsible for thinking on their feet so they put in what they had left over. Unreal.
    Here’s a thought – I should put a suggestion in Stew’s comment box to say “Hi Stew. Please go read Nancy on Norwalk about the mess on Dry Hill. Maybe pay to have his sidewalk fixed then put a sign out saying “This 30 square feet of paved sidewalk donated at no cost by Stew Leonards” Genius advertising opportunity then rub it in the faces of these clowns. -Kevin Kane

  22. What I don’t get about the Dry Hill repaving is this – Why did the city of Norwalk repave every driveway on that street from the edge between driveway and street continuing about four feet.
    *
    There are QUITE A FEW that go well beyond four feet – almost to the point the city repaved the taxpayers driveway at the cost to the rest of us. There are some illegal (homeowner created) driveways that the city repaved COMPLETELY!
    *
    Does anyone know why the city choose to give some homeowners the lions share of the asphalt while others got the minimum required by law while still just a few shafted ones got diddly squat (the Celli’s of the street)?
    *
    If this group of yo-yo’s led by head master sir Duncan Yo-Yo, repaved the bottom portion of ALL homeowners driveways fairly – then NoN and the rest of Norwalk would not be commenting on this screw up.

  23. Norewalk Lifer

    Clearly if this man’s home is damaged as a result of poor drainage because of incompetent engineering of a sidewalk, he should get HUD involved; no one who invests in the embarrassingly high priced properties in Norwalk should have to suffer damage to their investment because of poor and incompetent engineering by the city;

    If Mr. Alvord is too stuck in his position, where the familiarity is breeding contempt, time for a move.

    Regards
    Norwalk Lifer

  24. Mike Mushak

    Great points, Norwalk19, lilly deacon, and Norwalk Lifer. The whole mess on Dry Hill with the omitted sidewalk replacements on only 6 out of 60 properties defies logic, and the city looks ridiculous. The repaved driveways lilly brings up needs explaining too.
    .
    LWitherspoon continues with criticism of me for saying the urban core map situation was “fishy” with as he says “little evidence”. Please read the other NON article from Monday, June 9th, published the same day as this one, about the 3 versions of the map, and Alvord’s insistence the DPW version came from P and Z until I announced publicly it cry from his own department. The map clearly gerrymandered the so-called “urban core”, which no one can explain, around 3 blocks of Dry Hill Rd that does not exist on the P and Z or Redevelopment versions of what the urban core is. The city says it can’t afford to do concrete sidewalks for those 3 blocks where concrete is required, even though the city did asphalt patches in the same area and routinely does asphalt sidewalks in the so-called urban core in other sections of the city (for example, on John St).
    ..
    The 3 blocks of lower Dry Hill are in the same B Residence Zone as the mile long length with 120 properties north of Merrill, yet those 3 blocks inexplicably are being called “urban” by the DPW only, NOT P and Z or the Redevelopment Agency. Why?
    .
    That is most definitely “fishy”! Speaking truth to power when a gross injustice occurs may be too much for some folks, but this is exactly what happened on Dry Hill. This is a gross injustice against 6 property owners who were denied services by the city that the rest of their neighborhood received, based on a map no one can explain including Alvord.
    .
    For God’s sake, just fix the sidewalks with asphalt to match the rest of the street, basically finishing the job, and then fix the stupid map, as Norwalk19 (Kevin Kane) suggests above!
    .
    The sidewalk policy can be easily altered to follow DPW’s own “Roadway Standards” of 1982, which are in force, and which say on age 14 that urban areas shall have concrete sidewalks and residential can have asphalt OR concrete. Then let’s all agree that URBAN areas are commercial retail or industrial zones, where concrete is appropriate for durability, and will NOT include any zoned residential areas regardless of census tracts or whatever flimsy reasons there were in the past, including very dubious reasons that seem to exclude certain blocks in residential areas that seem “fishy” to most observers except LWitherspoon above.
    .
    PROBLEM SOLVED!

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