To the editor:
Recent letters by Isabelle Hargrove and Bud Taylor have called attention back to the issue of the potential settlement of the case against the city brought by the Al-Madany Mosque. I felt strongly enough that I reached out to our mayor and let him know something that I think he may have missed in all this.
My message to the mayor was simple and clear. It is wrong in every way to stick a huge mosque on a busy intersection in the residential neighborhood of West Norwalk. Every person who lives in West Norwalk knows this, and every resident of the city should fear a mayor who pretends not to.
We all recognize that there are many, many areas in the city that would be better locations for a hall of worship. We also know that neither residents, nor the city can force the mosque to relocate their plans. They own the lot, they can apply, but they should respect the reasonable response they have received. That they have not respected our city or its processes is obvious by the fact that the Mosque Group does not dispute the facts of the zoning case, they allege racial discrimination.
My main point to the mayor was that this is clear as day, and that any settlement has to be a back room deal. I still feel that way. The Zoning Commission refused the application based on the traffic impact, the parking and the sheer bulk of the development. I had hoped the mayor would respect that, given that he said he was running because he had the best interests of Norwalk and its citizens in mind.
Instead, the mayor proved to me that he is a politician, through and through. He blamed his predecessor, Mayor Moccia, even though I know Mayor Moccia played no part in the Zoning Commission’s hearing process. The mayor claimed he was “cleaning up” an issue he inherited. At least the mayor’s next statement was honest; he admitted that he knew it was a politician’s answer.
If our mayor has convinced himself that he is doing something that is in the best interests of Norwalk by sacrificing the West Norwalk and Kendall Neighborhoods, then I question his honesty and his resolve.
I know that for many months, Mayor Rilling would not even respond to my neighbors, his constituents, when they emailed him. Now, as this rush to settlement has progressed he obviously feels he must at least respond. So, if you feel strongly, now is the time to let the mayor know what a mistake he is making. Our neighborhood is worth it, West Norwalk and Kendall are worth more than an expedient political solution surrounded by a pack of excuses.