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Happy holidays, Norwalk!

Mayor Harry W. Rilling.

Happy Holidays Norwalk! I hope you will enjoy the season with friends, family, and loved ones. As we get ready to close out 2019 and head into 2020, I want to thank the voters of Norwalk for electing me to a fourth term as Mayor. I am grateful for your continued support and the trust you’ve put in my team and me to lead our city forward. I officially began my next two-year term Nov. 19 and I am excited for what we have in store. Before we look ahead to 2020, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of what happened in 2019.

Perhaps the biggest news of the year happened just this month! On December 9, we announced plans to build a new Norwalk High School. The plan, which includes 80% state funding, is a unique situation for our community, and will save taxpayers more than $100 million. We are fortunate to have this opportunity with strong financial resources that will not delay other much-needed school infrastructure projects. Stay tuned in 2020 for more on the proposed new Home of the Bears!

Also this year, we launched the Mayor’s Dashboard, the first of its kind interactive dataset in Connecticut. Norwalk is a data-driven city, and we make decisions based on facts, trends, and information. I am incredibly proud of what we put together. We did not use a consultant or canned package, but rather, relied City staff to develop a Dashboard that is reflective of what we hear from the community. We are displaying this information directly on our homepage to clearly show our commitment to accountability, transparency, and continuous improvement. If you haven’t already, please visit norwalkct.org/dashboard and let me know what you think.

Additionally, in 2019 we finished the reorganization of City government, the first of its kind in Norwalk in 30-plus years. The reorganization streamlines services and offers greater transparency to our residents. As part of that plan, we also built-out a new Community Services Department to meet the needs of residents. Norwalk is a great place, and it should be that way for all people – especially those who need a helping hand. It is incumbent on us to ensure that no one falls through the cracks of an overworked, underfunded, and complex safety net system. Our new department has already made a difference and continues to coordinate services and referrals with Norwalk’s robust nonprofit sector.

I am excited for 2020 and what’s ahead. We recently adopted our 10-year strategic plan – the Plan of Conservation and Development – that will help guide development, budgeting, growth, and decision-making. At the same time, we are undergoing a rewrite and update of the City’s Zoning Regulations – a task that has not been done for more than 30 years. We are gathering feedback from stakeholders to help inform this process. Also, in 2020, we will be moving our permitting process online to make things more convenient for residents and businesses. I know getting a permit for a special event can be cumbersome, and this new technology investment will help streamline that process.

Also on deck is planning for a 25,000-square-foot expansion of the Norwalk Public Library. This project will help make our library a model for all public libraries in the country. It will provide additional public spaces and be an anchor of future economic development in the area. We are also launching a Small Business and Main Street Program to help support our local businesses and enhance residential quality of life. You can learn more about this initiative by visiting norwalkct.org/smallbusiness.

It is my honor to be your Mayor. I wake up every day believing in Norwalk and the progress we’ve made together. I love this city and am truly grateful for the continued opportunity to serve our entire community. I look forward to keeping our momentum going in 2020. This is indeed an exciting time for Norwalk and I am optimistic about what the future holds. From my family to yours, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

13 comments

John ONeill December 15, 2019 at 9:59 am

If Rilling doesn’t get support from the state and Feds for ELL program he’s a failure. The dollars are huge. It’s a hidden crisis, and Teachers union knows it. Yet,are Yordon is silent. Why?

John Levin December 15, 2019 at 8:44 pm

“Norwalk native”: “What an embarassment [sic]!” might appropriately describe how I, John Levin, feel about anonymous posters who leave nasty messages in the comments section of NancyOnNorwalk but who are unwilling to use their own names or contribute to civic discourse.

Norwalk native December 16, 2019 at 6:15 am

John Levin,

Not sure what you prove by leaving your name..big man I guess. We live in a town and in a state where opposing views are not tolerated by the cancel culture thought police mob. That is why I don’t leave my name. Suffice it to say that I am a Norwalk Native and that I live here also. I have a right to be embarassed by our current leadership in City Hall and I certainly have a right to say so with or without my real name. Mayor McCheese Rilling won with only 55% of the vote on very weak turnout in an overwhelmingly Democrat town, so I am not the only one to think this way.

Diane Lauricella December 16, 2019 at 8:44 am

Agree, John Levin but riddle me this:

Why not ban anonymous posting…since you are on the NON Board of Directors…can you please share why you all continue to allow it and encourage nasty anonymous posts???
Happy Holidays!!!

Patrick Cooper December 16, 2019 at 12:36 pm

@John Levin. So let me get this straight – you criticize an anonymous poster for using like most of the others the very policy supported by NoN? Would you criticize them if they said – Harry is a sweetie and should run for Govenor?

Well, I post using my real name. And like the other 45% of Norwalk voters – I didn’t support this man. It’s not because of political party affiliation. It’s not some personal grudge. It is because his policies since 2013 have had the demonstratable impact of reducing the value of my home by approximately $200,000 – when the vast majority of property outside of CT has increased in value – significantly. It’s his imperial posturing. It is his deceit. It is his pseudo outrage used to whip-up a race riot at the BOE – but then he leaves out the side door without facing the fire he started. Complicit without accountability.

So, yea Mr. Levin – I actually agree with the anonymous poster – Harry is an embarrassment. However, I also agree with you – NoN should not allow anonymous posting – but I lost that argument – and apparently, so did you. One thing – only one of us can do something about that. Civil enough for you?

John Levin December 16, 2019 at 8:50 pm

Thanks, Patrick. And very civil. And well reasoned and articulate. I appreciate your perspective and I agree with much of it. The NoN board, believe it or not, constantly discusses the comment section and the comment policy. And of course I am authorized to speak only for myself, but you should be aware that like most institutions, both large and small, the easiest course, and the one often taken, is “do nothing”. It’s not over and I’m always hoping we can do better.

Mike Mushak December 16, 2019 at 11:31 pm

Thank you Harry, and we wish you and Lucilla and your entire family all the best for 2020.

We agree with Patrick Cooper and also support banning anonymous commenters on NoN. It reduces the integrity of debates for sure.

I’m just curious about something Patrick Cooper said. Perhaps he can explain his comment.

According to both Zillow and city records, the value of Patrick Cooper’s house has not dropped by $200,000 since Harry was first elected in 2013, but has actually risen.

And Patrick Cooper’s property taxes dropped this year, and are actually 10% less than when Harry Rilling was elected, and his home is now worth 225% more than when he bought it 25 years ago in 1994. Nice return on investment, no?

Happy Holidays Patrick!

Anonymous December 17, 2019 at 9:10 am

I support anonymous commenting, readers should be entitled to free speech without fear of retaliation or having personal property values dug up and aired out on holiday forums

Patrick Cooper December 17, 2019 at 10:26 am

Other than this simple reply to @J. Levin, I have not posted a comment here since August – exactly because of this behavior by the mayors defender in chief. So confused, he is. So let’s unpack his claims – perhaps as a lesson to those of you who take what this city administration says as fact.

First – there is the confusion about time. I’m talking 6 years – the deflector goes back to the 1st Clinton administration. Harry was walking a beat. Fine. We’ll address that.

Second – my point is about market value. This is confused for the lovely municipal math called “valuation” – with two numbers – “assessment” (what the city uses to tax you) and “appraisal” – what they say you can sell it for. This I truly question the validity.

Let’s avoid the discussion about “assessment”. All I can say about that – is the 2018 process was an acknowledged disaster – both key city employees were fired, and the “adjusted” grand list still hasn’t been published. Inconvenient truths won’t show up on the mayors dashboard.

Further, I would counter – the only way to test the “appraisal” value accuracy would be to benchmark it to actual sales. What the market will actually pay. There is but one home on our street which has gone through this since 2013 – #8. Very similar. Purchased in 2001 for $181k, sold in 2006 for $675k, foreclosed in 2016 – and then sold again last year for – $342k. That’s a 333k haircut.

In 2013 – I could have sold my home for $200k more than what I can sell it for today. This is my point. Sorry, no thanks Harry. As for taxes – how can you say they have “gone down” when applied as a percentage against the real value (what I can sell it for) – they have gone up? Real dollars – not numbers on a page produced by fired employees. Do you want to compare Norwalk’s real estate performance to other cities of similar size? Whatever you do – don’t look outside of this state – you’ll vomit.

Now, the defender brings in historical performance – that I should be delighted with my ROI over the 25 years I’ve lived in Norwalk. His calculation is based on initial purchase price versus current “appraised” value. How to say that’s good without a comparison? Ok – easy one. The Dow Jones was at 3,650 in 1994, now at 28,235 (plus 773%). Since 2013 -the Harry time? 13,400 to 28,235 (plus 210%). Thankfully, I don’t use landscapers as financial advisors, because outside of my home – all of my other investments are doing quite well, thank you.

As for the defender – I would think you would be the angry one, not me. For using the very same records you used – I see your purchase price in 2004 is actually greater than the current “appraisal” – what’s call negative equity. Apparently, I’m up 225% in 25 years – and you are minus 4.3% over 15 years. If I needed any better example to show why you shouldn’t be trusted with money or math – it’s right there.

Bryan Meek December 17, 2019 at 12:36 pm

I think Patrick is speaking about market realities, not the botched reval or grossly unscientific zillow algorithm. I think he’s speaking of homes listing for high 800s as “revaluated” only to fetch low $600s based on market demand, which is shows Norwalk home sales down 10% year over year.

James Cahn December 18, 2019 at 10:04 am

@Mike

Not to pick nits but an aggregate, pure ROI of 225% over 25 years should end up somewhere around 3.25%. But that’s just based on doing the numbers quickly, in my head and on a train. That’s before you net out a tax drag, carrying and finance costs which would have started at about 8% 25 years ago. 3.25% is right around typical inflation. I’m not trying to be pedantic but I don’t know that I’d call that a “nice ROI.”

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