NORWALK, Conn. — South Norwalk is getting an upgrade, financed by a $3 million state grant aimed at honoring the late Martin Luther King Jr. by sprucing up the areas named after him.
The Martin Luther King initiative has been meeting for two years and now the group’s “intangible ideas (will) become tangible projects, and to really improve the sites of our city,” State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said at a press conference called Thursday to highlight the funding.
Video by Harold F. Cobin at end of story
The State Bond Commission voted April 16 to award the grant, said to “finance streetscape improvements, staircase reconstruction, sidewalk improvements and façade improvements in the Martin Luther King, Jr. corridor.”
“It’s not just limited to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard here,” Duff said, standing at a busy SoNo intersection. “It’s really an area around that which I believe will enhance property values, enhance pride in our community and provide an area that will really live up to Martin Luther King and what he stood for and his name and respect that we should have for somebody who did so much for our country.”
Joining Duff were the Rev. Lindsay Curtis, the Rev. Richard Wesley Clark, State Reps. Stephanie Thomas (D-143) and Travis Simms (D-140), Common Council member Darlene Young (D-District B) and Mayor Harry Rilling.
“Over the last couple of years, members of the Norwalk Martin Luther King, also known as the MLK corridor Initiative, have been meeting and engaging in a healthy conversations about development within the MLK corridor,” said Clark, chairman of the committee. “The MLK Initiative comprises both city officials, as well as community leaders and residents. We have met with the community, we have collected data, we have analyzed data collected, we have formulated recommendations for implementation. We want to see Norwalk… as a better place for black, brown, and all people to live the American dream, a place of economic, housing, educational, and social equity.”
Young said the area affected extends to Bouton Street in one direction and Lexington and Meadow Streets in the other.
“We know that there’s development here and a lot of development is centered around the TOD (Transit Oriented District). And so our focus really is to look at those communities outside of the TOD that really need I think deserve to experience the changes at the same time,” she said.
“The hope is that, you know, in construction terms, that we’ll be able to get a shovel in the ground relatively shortly,” Curtis said.
“Our priorities focus on enhanced mobility, connectivity, safety, including but not limited to crosswalk insulation, sidewalk construction, streetscape, streetscape improvements, neighborhood cleanups, public art, playground investment and enhanced urban canopy and I know there are others as well, that’s just kind of a, you know, a shortlist of things,” Duff said.
“I look forward to the great changes and the beautification that’s going to happen in this area. I know it’s been long overdue, and I’m super excited about it as a person who’s been living here my entire life,” Simms said.
Young said, “This is the beginning of a new era for South Norwalk.”