Forums on running for office, the Danbury line; work on a Norwalk River Valley Trail segment; Musante retiring

The Troupers Light Opera Company performs Victor Herbert's "The Magic Knight" April 2 at Norwalk's Wall Street Theater.
The Troupers Light Opera Company performs Victor Herbert’s “The Magic Knight” April 2 at Norwalk’s Wall Street Theater.

Once AroundNORWALK, Conn. —  A “soft opening” for the Wall Street Theater, an opportunity to learn about running for local office, a forum about potential improvements on the Danbury line and a cleanup of a proposed Norwalk River Valley Trail segment.

Plus, breaking news: Ed Musante is retiring.

New era begins on Wall Street 

The Wall Street Theater opened last weekend with performances by The Troupers Light Opera Company, an amateur group founded in 1946 in Darien.

The Troupers Light Opera Company's Brett Kroeger performs as Josephine in Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore," April 2 at Norwalk's Wall Street Theater.
The Troupers Light Opera Company’s Brett Kroeger performs as Josephine in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore,” April 2 at Norwalk’s Wall Street Theater.

The Troupers first entertained audiences with a rendition of Victor Herbert’s “The Magic Knight” and then offered a longer play, Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore.”

The theater isn’t quite done, as murals and other decorations have not been installed, and the sound system is not yet connected. It was difficult for those in the balcony to make out some words, however the troupe was entertaining and tickets are available for two more shows this weekend.

The theater will have a “hard opening” in mid-May, said Frank Farricker, the driving force behind the renovation and recreation of Norwalk’s historic theater.


Learn about running for local offices

“We can march by the millions but to change policy we need to get elected to office!” a flier proclaims, inviting potential candidates to a presentation at 7 p.m. tonight, April 5, in the City Hall community room.

It’s a rallying cry for women but men are welcome, too, the flier states.

Patricia Russo, executive director of the Yale University Women’s Campaign School will speak. Mayor Harry Rilling will also offer a few remarks, organizer Nora King said.

“Learn what you need to know to run for office or how to be selected for a commission or make a difference in local politics,” the flier states.

Redeker to discuss Danbury line

Got ideas for improvements on the Danbury Branch railroad line?  State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) is inviting anyone who is interested to an April 10 evening forum in Wilton with Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) Commissioner James Redeker.

“We’re holding this forum as a part of a bipartisan effort during the current legislative session to identify improvements that could be made cost-effectively to Danbury Line service in the near term,” Lavielle said in a press release.  “The best way to understand what kinds of changes would really make a difference is to hear directly from commuters who ride the trains every day.  That is why this will be a listening session and not a presentation.  It’s an opportunity for people to bring their comments and suggestions about the service directly to Commissioner Redeker and their area legislators.  If there are things that can be done now to improve their daily commute, we should see that the necessary steps are taken.”

A bipartisan group of 11 House legislators, including Lavielle, Chris Perone (D-137), Fred Wilms (R-142) and Jonathan Steinberg (D-136), have sponsored House Bill 6553, which would require the reallocation of previously authorized bonds to make incremental service improvements on the Danbury Line, the press release said.

“HB 6553 specifically does not request new bonding,” the release said. “Because of the state’s precarious financial situation, the legislators felt it was unlikely that any bill requesting the $400 million or more necessary for the full electrification of the Danbury Line would be passed this year.  Rather than making train commuters continue to wait indefinitely for any further service improvements at all, however, they have taken the approach of trying to identify less extensive measures that could improve service in cost-effective ways and to begin making at least some progress now.”

Locals have already weighed in, with suggestions that include scheduling more afternoon or evening trains, improving connections with trains on the main line in Norwalk and Stamford, opening more doors at station stops, and providing more information on delays and service issues to conductors to help them respond to passengers’ questions, the release said.
The two-hour forum is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 10, at Wilton High School’s Clune Center at 395 Danbury Road. It is meant to accommodate residents of towns all along the Danbury Line at a place that is located right on Route 7 and at a time late enough to allow them to attend after their evening commutes; suggestions help to shape the language of the bill, the release said.

For more information, contact Lavielle’s office at 860-842-1423 or at [email protected]


Cleanup of proposed trail along the Norwalk River
A Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT) “missing link,” set for construction later this year, is slated to be the focus of a volunteer cleanup on April 20.

Mayor Harry Rilling, Keep Norwalk Beautiful, Grace Farms Foundation volunteers, employees of Shop Rite Supermarket and the NRVT plan to join forces to clean up the proposed NRVT section that runs along the Norwalk River adjacent to Riverside Avenue.

Once this section is completed, Norwalk will have 3 miles of continuous off-road multi-purpose trail beginning at the Maritime Aquarium and running north to Broad St.  This new section will closely follow the Norwalk River.

“When you’re down on this proposed section of the NRVT along the Norwalk River, with the foliage filling out, you’d swear you were in Vermont.  It’s just beautiful,” said Jim Carter, Norwalk’s leader on NRVT’s Five Town Steering Committee.

The cleanup will begin at 10 a.m., with crews forming up at the NRVT banner just north of Casatelli Tile at 34 Riverside Ave.  Tools and garbage bags will be provided, along with water and bug repellant.  Volunteers are welcome to bring their own tools.

For more information about the trail development go to www.nrvt-trail.com   or contact: Charlie Taney, NRVT Executive Director, [email protected] or 203-536-5618.

For more information about the April 20 cleanup contact the City of Norwalk’s Neighborhood Improvement Coordinator, David L. Shockley at [email protected], or 203-854-7810 ext 46782.


Ed Musante retiring from Chamber

Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ed Musante on Tuesday announced his retirement, effective Aug. 31, according to a press release.

“We are enormously indebted to Ed for his many contributions throughout his 15-year tenure. The Chamber has evolved into the preeminent regional business-advocacy organization thanks to his leadership and his hands-on approach to work for the benefit of the Chamber’s members,” Chamber Chairman Marc Grenier said in the release. “Chief among Ed’s many accomplishments were his efforts to solidify the Chamber’s financial position, eliminating debt and increasing its cash reserves.”

“I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked in jobs that I loved and have had the opportunity to meet and work with truly wonderful people,” Musante said in the release. “I am proud to have been associated for most of my adult life with this great place known as Norwalk.”

Prior to joining the Chamber, from 1988 to 2002, Musante was the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency’s Executive Director.  Musante cited his role in the early 1990s in creating the first economic development program in the city, which helped recruit several high profile Fortune 500 companies to Norwalk, according to the release.  He noted that the marketing program associated with the effort helped transform Norwalk from a waning manufacturing town to a thriving corporate center.

Musante said that he and his wife, Janice, are looking forward to beginning a new chapter in their lives and will relish having more time to visit family and friends and to travel both in the U.S. and abroad.

The Chamber has created a committee to commence an immediate search for Mr. Musante’s successor, said Grenier, managing partner at The Law Offices of DePanfilis & Vallerie, LLC. Committee members include Grenier, Terri Polley, immediate past Chairman of the Chamber and President/CEO, Financial Accounting Foundation, as well as current Board members Harry Carey, Director, External Affairs for AT&T; Charles “Chuck” Presbury, President, Presbury & Associates; and Michael Sutton, Partner, Benefit Planning Services.


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