Naramake school plans given green light; exasperated Norwalk neighbor skeptical

Alice Tierney-Prunotto makes her points known Wednesday at the Norwalk Zoning Commission meeting. She said she complains to people who are parking on her grass and they don’t care.

NORWALK, Conn. – Plans to ease overcrowding at Naramake Elementary School are moving forward, but one beleaguered neighbor doubts it will make life better for homeowners in the vicinity.

Alice Tierney-Prunotto said she has lived across from the school all of her life, and remembers seeing it built. The new design is nice, she said at Wednesday’s Zoning Commission hearing, but she’s doubtful.

“Are these parents going to follow the new rules? They didn’t follow the old rules,” she said. “They chose to park on the street, turn around in my driveway, park over my sprinkler system. Because it was easier access. We have no parking signs. They park.”

The plans, which were approved by the commission, call for adding four new classrooms, redesigning sidewalks and reconfiguring the traffic going in and out when parents are picking up and dropping off their children. There will also be a storage area for Board of Education use only behind the school.

Bill Silver of Silver/Petrucelli Associates said the number of children at the school will not increase, but secondary areas, such as the media center, will go back to the use they were intended for.

The project is expected to cost $4.1 million, and the city expects reimbursement from the state on nearly $1 million.

Bids for the project should go out by next week, BOE member Artie Kassimis said in an email. The project is expected to be done in October or November 2014, he said.

“We are approximately three months behind due to a lengthy state approval process and other various issues,” he said.

Norwalk Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo said there will be room for 12 to 15 more cars in the U-shaped driveway in front of the school with the new design, which calls for creating a designated area for buses, with wide painted stripes. A turn lane will be added to the parking lot, which should make the traffic flow smoother.

Tierney-Prunotto said she appreciated the sentiment but was highly skeptical.

“I know what the caliber of the people are, unfortunately, that go to the school and they don’t care about the neighborhood,” she said. “… If this will save it, amen, but I don’t think so because I don’t think you’re going to have the rush factor figured into this. Every parent is in a rush and it’s a me-me-me society today. If I can park on the street and get in and out faster than this ‘U,’ I will do it. And they are very belligerent.”

Norwalk police are on top of the problem for the first few days of the school year, she said, but “it’s not a big issue to them.”

Lo said the design would improve the situation but not solve the problems. “I think it’s the nature of the school,” he said.

Zoning Commissioners said they were aware of the problems. Their approval included a stipulation that a letter would be sent to the Norwalk Police Department.

Commissioner James White said, “We know they are busy but this is an important issue across the town.”


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