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NCC planning pedestrian bridge over Richards Avenue

NORWALK, Conn. – Architects will begin working within the next two months to design a pedestrian bridge over Richards Avenue to provide Norwalk Community College students a safe route to cross the street, NCC President David Levinson said Wednesday.

The bridge is part of Phase III of a master plan created more than a decade ago, according to The Voice, NCC’s student publication. Levinson said the state has given NCC $36 million to enact the changes, which include making the Pepsico Theater a “first-class performing arts space” and turning the West Campus cafeteria into a student union-type facility.

The pedestrian bridge is the next step in NCC’s development, Levinson said.

“We are pretty much landlocked and parking is always a challenge here,” Levinson said. “The architects are already hired, Mitchell/Giurgola, are going through a competitive bidding process and are the same ones that designed our science and health building and also the redevelopment of that part of our West Campus. They’re going to be here in a few weeks to start the design for that.”

It would be a two- or three-year process, he said.

“The costs are all over the place,” Levinson said. “One (estimate) was about $2 million would be the least expensive and then the issue is it’s got to be American Disabilities Act, ADA compliant. So the original thought of the bridge here was to go from the second floor of the library to the Center for Information Technology. I don’t think that’s going to be, aesthetically, be really too nice, so I’m not sure (about)t other design options, but we should know when the architects come in the next two months.”

Dandre Chery, writing in The Voice last October, said that instead of building a bridge the idea of closing Richards Avenue to unite the East and West campuses was being discussed.

Levinson mentioned that idea.

“Creating a safe passage is really important to me,” he said. “The bridge, part of the issue of the bridge and some of the concerns I have received on campus, is ‘If you build a bridge will students really use the bridge?’ I don’t know. The other thought, ideally, but would never work, would be whether we’d close off that part of Richards and truly unite the two campuses into one. I don’t think the neighbors would necessarily appreciate that.”

Other than the focus on the bridge, not much is set in stone.

“The architects are going to do an assessment on all of these projects,” Levinson said. “What will be challenging is how far will the $36 million go? It sounds like a lot but it really isn’t. In bidding for the project they did a phenomenal schematic of a student union building. We’ll see how much that costs, but what we want to do is get a sense of all these projects. We’ll see what the funds are and then they’ll make some decisions and perhaps do some private fundraising around that.”

Architects will go to Sacred Heart University and look at the new student union center there, Levinson said.

There’s no timetable on the theater either, he said.

“We had a firm a few years ago and they did an assessment, Levinson said. “They said you could do $800,000 or $8 million, depending on what you want to do, so we’ll see. We’ll make it a first class performing arts space. I think it will be really neat, and utilize that, have more plays and more productions going on.”

Comments

7 responses to “NCC planning pedestrian bridge over Richards Avenue”

  1. Mike Mushak

    Wow. This is very disturbing. NCC does not need local land use approvals for its decisions as it is exempt as a state property, but that doesn’t make it right that it is developing without local input or review. At a minimum, just two stop signs at the crosswalk would cost less than $1,000, and make the crossing safer. Adding bump-outs is another common solution, where the crossing distance is shortened and traffic is slowed.
    .
    Our city-funded 2012 Pedestrian and Bikeway Plan shows bike lanes and better sidewalks along Richards Ave, and connecting to Rowayton Ave. to create a 2 mile long Ped/Bike corridor from Cudlipp St on the south end to Fillow St on the north end near Fox Lane School. Why isnt NCC involved in helping our city move that ahead, which would help hundreds of theri students every day who walk or bike to school along that route from mass transit routes along Route 1 and the Metro North stop in Rowayton?
    .
    This $2 million publicly funded bridge idea sounds like a vanity project more than anything, using easy state tax money. Richards Ave. will never be closed down, since it is a crucial connection to West Norwalk for emergency vehicles as well as entire neighborhoods, with an ADT (Average Daily Traffic) count of 8900 cars. Imagine all this traffic diverted to West Cedar and Fillow St.! It’s a bad idea and should never be mentioned again at the risk of institutional embarrassment.
    .
    It would be much better for NCC to work with the community on finding a simple low-cost “Complete Street” solution for Richards Ave that accommodates pedestrians and bicycles as well as cars. As a landscape architect and Co-Chair of the recently formed Norwalk Bike/Walk Task Force, I would be happy to sit down with campus planners and help come up with a solution that benefits the community as well as improves safety for students.

  2. isabelle hargrove

    @Mr. Mushak
    You find the idea of building a pedestrian cross bridge “very disturbing” but as a zoning commissioner in 2012 you voted NO to denying a mosque permit which called for a 27,000-square-foot building with an 80-foot minaret and 89 parking spots on a 1.5-acre property in a AAA residential area?

    You certainly seem very selective in your judgment of what makes for sound suburban planning in West Norwalk! Or maybe you thought the + 1,000 occupants for the mosque and community center would all ride a bike despite that steep hill by the intersection…

  3. Suzanne

    Ms. Hargrove, your understanding of that mosque vote shows a distinct lack of understanding of what took place. I suggest you do your research.
    *
    I pass by NCC on a regular basis: I cannot believe a multi-million dollar bridge is required for the periodic times during which students cross the street. I have never waited more than three minutes, if that, for stragglers as well as groups to cross. Do the two crossing guards cost millions? Does waiting a bit for safety’s sake to let the students cross cost millions?
    *
    How long will Richards Avenue be blocked during construction? Does it matter that this is a major access to West Norwalk?
    *
    I think this is an unnecessary structure. It is growing the campus into something it is not: a major educational institution that requires out sized infrastructure in order to operate. NCC is a Community college, formerly known as a Junior College.
    *
    Let’s keep it that way.

  4. isabelle hargrove

    @Suzanne.
    I am not sure there is much room for any misunderstanding. This vote has never been contested and is a matter of public record. I was also in attendance. Below, is one of the many articles you might want to read to correct your misunderstanding of the situation. Mr. Mushak voted NO to deny the application and no amount of lengthy verbiage from you or Mr. Mushak can change that record. Based on that vote, Mr. Mushak lost all credibility with me and many others in West Norwalk as a legitimate advocate on preservation and quality of life issues for our residential neighborhood.

    http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Norwalk-will-not-be-home-to-a-mosque-3616843.php

  5. Suzanne

    “There are four centuries of religious diversity and religious tolerance in Norwalk,” Mushak said. “And this application has nothing to do with that strong tradition. I think Norwalk needs a beautiful and thriving mosque to serve the Muslim community. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this site is the proper location for it based on density of use as described in our special permit regulation.”

    The actual “Yes” vote was to approve the plan WITH MODIFICATIONS that were significant and explained quite clearly by Adam Blank in your cited article. That you misread it is not the subject of this article.
    *
    As a resident of West Norwalk, I object to a millions dollar walk bridge whose construction will disrupt traffic for only God knows how long, is over the top in terms of actual need and represents an elevation of the campus status to something other than what it really is. There is just no need for it.
    *
    And that, Ms. Hargrove, is the subject of this article.

  6. Mike Barbis

    Thank you Mike Mushak! NCC should consider traffic calming measures like they use in the UK. I have photos but I can’t figure out how to post them here but, at pedestrian crossings, they narrow the street so much that a driver must come almost to a complete stop. They are not costly and would get the job done.

  7. Mike Mushak

    This article was about pedestrian safety around NCC, or so we all thought until Ms. Hargrove went completely off topic to get in a nasty personal attack against me. For anyone to say I am not committed to protecting neighborhoods and quality of life in Norwalk is laughable, as anyone who has followed my years of community activism and safety advocacy could attest, and much of that on the record in case folks like Ms Hargrove want to continue to misrepresent me, as well as the official record.
    .
    Thank you, Suzanne, for clearing up that misunderstanding by Ms. Hargrove by posting above my actual comments on the record when I voted. By the tone of her comments, I suspect Ms. Hargrove will not be convinced by such facts on the record, or she will think perhaps someone altered the official recording with dubbed voices that sounded just like mine. I mean, why let facts get in the way of a nasty politically-motivated attack?
    .
    Without addressing any specific issues of the case, and by simply repeating what has been widely reported here on NON and elsewhere, let me just say that any final potential settlement will have been the product of lengthy negotiations involving folks on both sides of the aisle, and are actually being led by Emily Wilson and Joe Santo, Chair and Co-Chair of the Zoning Commission, who traveled to Hartford to lead settlement discussions representing the city. I believe the politically-motivated attacks against the mayor (and others on only one side of the aisle, go figure) we have seen recently by folks like Ms. Hargorve and others are simply a misguided and short-sighted attempt to divert attention from who is actually responsible for negotiating this case, and the complicated myriad of issues surrounding it.

    The truth is, I voted against the resolution to deny the application, based on the resolution not being the one we agreed to in committee, which is all on the record. I made it clear, as Suzanne has clearly described be reposting my exact words, that I was not voting to approve the project. But why let a little fact like this get in the way of a nasty unfair attack on my character? I don’t know who Ms. Hargrove is, but based on her many letters and comments, she is clearly misinformed and has obvious political motives to use this case against folks who are volunteers and trying to do the right thing for Norwalk. Unfortunately we will always have folks like this in Norwalk, but it is important to counter them with facts and truth.
    .
    The sad irony of all this is, the folks who are most committed to attacking the process currently going on including the players on only ONE side of the aisle, which is so transparent as to be silly if it wasn’t also so dangerous, are also the same ones who may actually have contributed to evidence on the record being used in the case against the city. When the final chapter of the situation is written, it will be the folks who were spreading misinformation and attack flyers full of lies who will be the ones who will have to answer for their actions, and I believe that is why they are so committed to the well-orchestrated campaign of misinformation that is currently going on. Shame on them, and they know who they are.

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