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Library Director: Parking plans for 11 Belden a cause for concern

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Christine Bradley is the Norwalk Public Library director.

To the Editor:

As both a resident of Norwalk and its Library Director, I am concerned about this proposed development. At a time when we are all working together to improve the Wall Street area, this proposal will only add to our present traffic congestion and parking problems.

Mott Avenue has already become a treacherous side street. The main library had 410,000 visitors in FY 2015, a 30% increase from the previous year. In FY 2016, we are on target for another 30% increase to 540,000 visitors annually. That translates to an average of 1500 visitors per day, not counting increased audiences for special events. These visitors include parents with babies and toddlers, teenagers, and senior citizens. In addition to the main library, Mott Avenue is home to a church with a day care center, medical offices, several social service agencies, and a mosque to be opened this year.

In NancyonNorwalk this morning, I read that Mr. Milligan said that he did incorporate a number of parking spaces to be reserved for library use during particular hours of the day. Be clear that his application notes 5 spaces that would be available for library visitors only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Mr. Milligan is further quoted as saying, “There has been a lot of talk about the apartment building causing an increase in demand for on street parking on Mott St. and the surrounding area. The project provides all of its required parking in accordance with the Norwalk Zoning regulations. We have not proposed any on-street parking.”

Mr. Milligan has placed 39 of the required 90 parking spaces in two offsite lots, at #3 and #5 Mott Avenue. These lots are across the street from his proposed apartment building, and one lot is behind an office building. Apartment residents going back and forth to these off-site spaces will add to the present congestion on Mott Avenue. I am also afraid that apartment residents and their guests will not park in these off-site lots that are leased by Mr. Milligan, but will instead park on Mott Avenue, which is closer and more convenient to their apartments. This will take on-street parking away from visitors to the library, the church, and other Mott Avenue office sites. Finally, a development of this size, squeezed into a parking lot, will block sight lines for those parked in the library’s lot as well as for those parked along Mott Avenue.

I also want you to know that, for several years, I had personally contacted the agent for the 11 Belden property owner (prior to Mr. Milligan) to see if the library could lease parking spaces there. The agent repeatedly told me that the owner was not interested. The first I knew that the property was for sale was when Mr. Milligan called me in February 2015 to tell me that he had bought the property and had big plans to develop it.

Thanks, Nancy, for your interest in this important issue.

Chris Bradley

Comments

12 responses to “Library Director: Parking plans for 11 Belden a cause for concern”

  1. Oldtimer

    Milligan hasn’t built anything yet. It is not too late for the City to buy parking spaces to be included in his building, perhaps in an additional level of parking garage under the proposed building. Finding a way to limit use of such spaces to library patrons for limited periods each day may not be simple, but is certainly possible, if the City has the will, and the money, probably a good deal less than the cost of buying the entire property.

  2. EveT

    Something doen’t add up.
    Milligan and others claim the 11 Belden property was up for sale for a year before Milligan bought it.
    Yet Ms. Bradley says “I had personally contacted the agent for the 11 Belden property owner (prior to Mr. Milligan) … the owner was not interested. The first I knew that the property was for sale was when Mr. Milligan called me in February 2015 to tell me that he had bought the property.”
    Was the property offered for sale secretly?
    Were Norwalk authorities asleep at the switch?

  3. Norwalk4Life

    Thanks for the additional information Christine. The library is a wonderful resource for the families of Norwalk. The programming for children is first rate. I would hate to see an issue where there is not enough safe/convenient parking for parents with small children and the elderly. I hope the City of Norwalk can resolve this issue quickly. The property at 11 Belden Avenue seems to be a great candidate for eminent domain.

  4. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    Ms. Bradley: You have a marvelous library, and it’s distressing to see it consistently set aside by the
    City when the question of improvements comes up.It’s a pretty good indication of the quality of life in this town when more citizen don’t rise to your support.

  5. LWitherspoon

    EveT asks an excellent question. Was the property for sale for an entire year? If so, why didn’t the City purchase it?

  6. Sue Haynie

    Ditto, EveT asks an excellent question.

  7. Lyndsey

    Milligan is complying with the zoning regulations by providing parking for the residents of the future apartment. The fact that he bought a lot that the city wanted seems irrelevant. Even in a bidding war, the city of Norwalk doesn’t have pockets as deep as that of a Real Estate Developer. If Norwalk values its library and the safety of its citizens while parking and navigating the streets in question, they should revise zoning regulations so that they properly reflect the actual demands of an apartment building, buy/build a parking lot/garage for the library and install crosswalks which are enforced by the PD and manned by crossing guards during busy library hours (weekends). None of that, however is Milligan’s concern. This is a city issue, not a developer issue. The city’s reluctance to keep up with the speed of the city’s development is a shame.

  8. Lyndsey: I’m confused about the fact that the developer is “complying with the zoning regulations by providing parking for the residents of the future apartment.” He is asking permission to shoehorn more apartments into the building, by being allowed to have the parking in a different lot across the street. Is this really allowed by right, without a special permit? If so, the zoning regulations are even more insane than I previously thought.

  9. EveT

    Yes, the zoning rule about offsite parking is insane. Granted, some of the historic buildings occupy the entire footprint of the lot because (a) 100 years ago people came and went on foot, and (b) there was never money to buy adjoining property to put up parking lots.
    But the zoning could have allowed offsite parking just for EXISTING buildings, not new ones. That would have made sense.

  10. Jlightfield

    @EveT if you don’t allow offsite parking for new buildings in an urban zone, the existing old buildings you want to preserve become threatened. Offsite parking is perfecto okay. Even in the example Chris Bradley is stating the parking assets are across the street from the housing, which is exactly how parking works for the residents who live on the other end of a Wall Street.

    People who will attend the Wall Street a Theater will have to cross the street to park. People who go to the Garden Cinema will have to cross a street to park. For those of us who not only work hard to revitalize the central business corridor, we are okay with offsite parking as long as it is shared parking for the district. The problem is that you have to keep the parking assets neutrally owned (ideally municipally) instead of letting an outside agency give them away in botched land swaps.

  11. EveT

    @Jlightfield, Please explain how “if you don’t allow offsite parking for new buildings in an urban zone, the existing old buildings you want to preserve become threatened.”
    Say the old, existing, historic buildings are allowed to have offsite parking, and new buildings that are built must have parking on site. How is that a threat to the old buildings?

  12. Jlightfield

    @EveT simple, you end up with a developer tearing down the old building next to the new building and create onsite parking for the new project. The policy goal you want as the outcome is a shared parking lot for an area that all buildings use. There are many ways to get there of course, and you need to have all your zoning code work to achieve that.

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