Flooding, free spending debated by Norwalk council

NORWALK, Conn. – A preliminary step to create another route of travel for cars through a Norwalk neighborhood was approved Tuesday night by the Common Council, creating an expected expenditure of $200,000 in next year’s capital budget.

It looked like the study of the proposed extension of Academy Street, which is favored by developers of the Waypointe project under construction on West Avenue, would be approved by the council without any discussion. In fact, Mayor Richard Moccia called the vote and got a loud “aye,” until Matt Miklave (D-District D) pointed out that there was a procedural mistake, as the agenda had not been followed. Miklave then voiced his concerns about the city’s budget, and a debate ensued.

“We’re not even talking about the emails we get from residents that live in one of the 21 neighborhoods that live in our community that face constant flooding,” Miklave said. “Some of these neighborhoods flood with raw sewage in heavy rains. We can’t afford to spend $3 million to subsidize a developer. … We never have a discussion about priorities before this council. We just spend money like it’s going out of style and we don’t make hard choices because when you get a room full of people saying ‘We want this, we want this, we want this,’ the politically popular thing to do is to say yes.”

That nerve struck, discussion ensued.

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Common Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-District D) spoke in favor of spending $200,000 on a study of the proposed Academy Street extension.

Bruce Kimmel (D-District D), who is running as a Republican-endorsed candidate for council At-Large, said council members did not know yet how much the project would cost or what the developer would kick in.

Paxtol Kinol of Bellpointe Capital, funder of the Waypointe project, told the council that his company would be willing to help fund the extension.

Kimmel said initiating the process would make the city more attractive to developers in the future and would allow for negotiating better deals. About those financial investments, Kimmel said, “We should remember we do not have communities flooded on a weekly basis, we have one street, one house, where there’s a problem that’s being addressed … We’ve spent this year $2.5 million for flood mitigation.”

Kimmel went on to talk about the amount of money the city has spent under Moccia for road paving.

Doug Hempstead (R-At Large), who is running for re-election, said every year there are more requests for capital expenditures than the council has money to spend. Flooding issues had been worked on, he said. Twenty-five years ago people said don’t spend money on the Maritime Aquarium, he said.

“I think it’s important to send a message forward that we’re trying to look a little bit forward, down the lane when development comes … I think it’s important that we’re supporting a vision of what can be versus what can’t be,” he said.

Michael Geake (D-District B), who is running for re-election, said the expenditure was laying ground work.

“If we don’t need it, we don’t need it,” he said. “But to not be prepared in case, with all of this development going on, we find that we just plain need more capacity on our streets…”

Nick Kydes (R-District C), a lame duck, spoke of the transparency of his Planning Committee before getting to the meat of the issue.

“We have been very very frugal with the city’s funds,” Kydes said. “… The adoption of the Academy Street extension is not giving any developer a free ride, as has been implied.”

Miklave and Anna Duleep (D-At-Large), who is running for city sheriff, were the only ones to vote no. All members were present.

Duleep said she was not comfortable with subsidizing of private developers.

“It depends on the project,” she said. “Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes it’s not.”

The proposed Academy Street extension would allow pedestrians and cyclists to get from the Lockwood Mathews Mansion area to Wall Street without using a West Avenue that is just going to get busier, Kinol said at last week’s Planning Committee meeting.


6 responses to “Flooding, free spending debated by Norwalk council”

  1. Bruce Kimmel

    The “one house” I referred to above was not, strictly speaking, related to a flooding issue. I was referring to a specific situation in which sewage is sometimes backed up onto the driveway and front lawn of a home. The home is in the Wolfpit area that has experienced flooding the last few years. And the city has been working extra hard monitoring that particular area while we develop and implement both short and long term solutions to the local flooding across the city.
    I responded to Mr. Miklave because he ignored some very basic facts, particularly the $5 million a year spent on road repair, the $2.5 million spent the last two years on flood mitigation — both of which he supported. Moreover, we are talking about a $200,000 “design” for an extension so that we can attract developers and negotiate better agreements with them. Nobody is giving away $3 million; have no idea where that came from. And, of course, we will engage the community throughout the process.
    I also noted last night that some of our flooding issues go back a long time, and that past Democratic and Republican administrations were slow to address the problem. Thus, we now have a large number of areas to address.

  2. Oldtimer

    Mr Kimmel seems to think he gets a do-over here. He said, on the record “we have one street, one house, where there’s a problem that’s being addressed” in a public meeting, as a sitting Democratic councilman, running for re-election with only Republican endorsement. This falsely implied that all other flooding issues have already been fixed. Now, he backs away from that lie and expects us to forgive and forget. What is he telling us ? Republican candidates are not required to be honest, just to support the administration position ? There were plenty of honest arguments supporting the Academy St engineering study that could be made without distorting the facts on flooding. Shame on him.

  3. Jen

    “We should remember we do not have communities flooded on a weekly basis,” well that is, tecnically, a correct statement, not weekly, about monthly during full moons at high tide. In all fairness Mr. kimmel did respond and clairfy his position. Not sure what politics have to do with Kimmels position on an issue, he thinks for himself and does do his homework o all issues. Gotta give the gentlemen that much respect, at least. Even though, some, still have hurt feelings. That said, would be nice if Mr. Kimmel could bring his vision into a little better focus for us myopic folks, when he states the project will attract developers? How? Why? Who? Bruce come clean now, what do you know that we dont, yet?

  4. Ken Werner

    In response to “Oldtimer,” I’d say of course Mr. Kimmel deserves a do-over. In the heat of a debate, it is possible for any of us to exaggerate or fail to make a point effectively. Mr. Kimmel is correcting his error, and should be complimented for doing so.

  5. Don’t Panic

    Olmstead, Wolfpit, Water St. Three examoles of flooding after heavy rains.
    While it’s clear that both Mr. Miklave and Mr. Kimmel both think deeply about these issues, it’s also clear that they each have a different approach.
    What is unclear is why Mr. Kimmel continues to feel the need to respond to Mr. Miklave’s every public statement with a rebuttal, especially now that Mr. Miklave is no longer a candidate for Mayor.
    When that rebuttal implies a departure from the “facts” then Mr. Kimmel should be sure that his own “facts” are in order.
    Lastly, Mr. Moccia needs to understand that there are other ways to get places other than cars. Traffic is only a forgone conclusion if you design for it. This is something that the citizens of this city have been trying to get on his radar. He fails to adjust his vision to the future needs of the city.

  6. “Nick Kydes (R-District C), a lame duck, ”
    What the hell kind of “unbiased” “reporting” (HA!) is THAT, NoN????
    Riiiiight, you are a non-partisan website…

    (Editor’s note: “Lame duck” is a widely used and accepted term applied to a politician in his or her final term and who, by that fact, has less leverage with colleagues and outside forces. It is not a pejorative or partisan term.)

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