To the Editors:
Norwalk citizens may be excused for wondering if our city has become ground zero for the nation’s developers. We have: Avalon, POKO, GGP, Ironworks, Waypointe, “new” and expanded Washington Village and who knows what else is “in the works” that we haven’t heard much about.
One of these clearly has not produced housing for the moderate income people it was planned to accommodate, another looks more and more like a boondoggle of delayed starts, another is a misstep headed for failure as a means of gentrifying Norwalk, one is a great and costly expanse of bare acreage never to be filled with “mixed use,” and another is a huge addition to low cost housing that has not served the needs of its residents.
Has no one ever thought of something called city planning? It could be too late for Norwalk, but a coordinated effort early on to move forward in prudent, monitored steps toward a unified, predetermined goal might still lead us back to being a livable middle-income city rather than continuing the nearly unstoppable helter-skelter slide into becoming the Discount Heaven of Fairfield County.
One might wonder how we got on this downward spiral. We seem to have been suckers (or worse) to the songs of any peddler of easy solutions that knocked on our door. We appear to be going off in many different directions: do we need affordable housing for middle-income people? Do we need “luxury” housing, mimicking our neighbors? Will “mixed use” combining housing, businesses and recreation all on one lot give us the “city center” Norwalk has lacked for many years? Is all of this builder activity the way to lower the tax burden for those of us homeowners who remain?
Can we blame our elected officials? Not entirely, when they are burdened by our starkly inefficient two-year election cycle in which a good portion of a politician’s hugely limited time in office must be spent on preparations for re-election, when the emphasis is on disruptive and dividing political party control and domination, when there’s precious little time taken away from the business of guiding the city toward a workable goal. However — and I do not mean to raise another ruckus — one has to consider that 10 years of one administration did much to start us on this road of helter-skelter indecision as to our true identity. We are a middle- to lower-income community, and we have much to offer as such.
Dorothy Mobilia gave an accounting in an earlier posting when she pointed out that we have a shoreline. “Just go down to Calf Pasture on any night or weekend and be impressed by the activity on the ball fields, the volleyball courts, the skateboard area and the walkers on the walks and the beach, to say nothing of the bathers during the day. Ball fields, tennis courts, parks, boating facilities everywhere in our city are busy because they meet a need.”
Let’s accept who we are and let’s give the builders a rest until a trained city planner can oversee their activities and guide them all in a unified direction toward a predetermined objective that complements our identity.