Updated Feb. 21: Copy edits.
Someone once said bad news travels faster than good, so I’d like to share a lot of good news out there about Norwalk, including a lot we don’t often hear about:
- Grand list is up and taxes are stabilized and even going down for the majority of residents as reported (thanks Mayor Rilling and city staff).
- Schools are getting better with more investment and renovations (thanks BoE).
- A new school will be built in South Norwalk, Columbus school will be renovated, and Norwalk is poised to be first district in the state with K-12 International Baccalaureate (IB) Program (thanks BoE, Common Council, Mayor Rilling).
- Streets are getting repaved and being made safer (thanks DPW).
- New sidewalks and crosswalks are going in (although we can always use more, but again thanks to DPW for doing the best they can with existing resources).
- Parks and ballfields are getting better (thanks Parks and Rec).
- Social services and healthcare are continually improving and expanding to serve Norwalk’s diverse community, including Norwalk Hospital, Carver Center, Open Door Shelter, SoNo Community Center, Community Health Center, Star, Inc., Person-to-Person, etc.
- Walk Bridge replacement, along with replacement of other obsolete rail bridges in Norwalk on nation’s busiest rail line, are moving forward with planned disruptions decreasing with good planning (Fort Point St. won’t be closed as once expected, and other detours being improved. Thanks DOT and DPW).
- East Avenue south of 95 (including exit 16) will become a much more attractive and safer Complete Street soon with street trees, historic lights, buried utilities, renovated train station, and better traffic flow for all users. And big trucks won’t disrupt local neighborhoods anymore as they currently seek shortcuts around the low East Ave bridge. (thanks DOT, DPW, and Third Taxing District).
- Norwalk’s amazing list of world-class cultural institutions are always improving and expanding, including the Maritime Aquarium, Stepping Stones, Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Mill Hill, Norwalk Historical Society Museum, Norwalk Symphony, and the Wall Street Theater (thanks to all the volunteer boards and staff.)
- Obsolete Washington Village is being replaced with a beautiful new mixed-income project, and surrounding streets rebuilt as a national model Choice Neighborhoods project (thanks HUD, Redevelopment, Housing Authority, DPW, and private investors.)
- Ryan Park is being rebuilt with community input (thanks Redevelopment).
- SoNo Collection will open in October bringing 2500 new jobs and increased tax revenue, and a world-class shopping experience (thanks Redevelopment, Brookfield Properties).
- Libraries are improving and expanding (thanks to the Library boards and staff).
- Norwalk’s downtown and transit-oriented areas are being redeveloped with new businesses bringing new jobs, and more housing choices including more affordable housing for our expanding population, quite an accomplishment in a state with an overall shrinking population (thanks Redevelopment, private investors).
I’m sure I can go on with this list of positive things about Norwalk, but let me just summarize and say what a lot of folks already know, that Norwalk is a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family, and only getting better!
Is it perfect? Of course not, as no place on the planet is. But it is a lot better, and more beautiful including its rich history and natural setting, than a lot of similar small cities I have been to which is why I chose to move here over 20 years ago, and invest my life savings in opening a new business, and saving two blighted historic houses from demolition by buying and restoring them. I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t know in my heart this was an awesome place to spend my life with my husband and so many dear friends. That’s why David and I, both landscape architects by profession, have rolled up our sleeves as volunteers to work hard to make our neighborhood and our city a better place for everyone, as it is a city with so much potential for the future.
Full disclosure: I currently serve as a volunteer on the Planning Commission, and am optimistic for Norwalk’s future, as so many are who serve on our volunteer boards and commissions. My husband David Westmoreland serves on the Redevelopment Commission. I just wanted to give a different and more positive perspective than the usual dozen or so commenters here on NoN, many who hide behind fake names or who have political aspirations, and who lean towards a “glass half-empty” worldview as they obsessively trash-talk our city, where even good news is met with predictable negativity often to the point of absurdity. There is plenty to be grateful for here in our beautiful city of Norwalk, and plenty of great things to look forward to as we reinvent ourselves for the 21st century and for future generations.