This is an open letter to the Norwalk Zoning Commission, Mayor Harry Rilling and District C Common Council members John Kydes and George Theodoridis.
It shocks me that it is necessary to publicly stand in opposition to the proposal for a distribution center in Norden Park. I don’t understand why it has gotten as far as the Zoning Commission. Do you really live in Norwalk? Have you ever driven from East Norwalk to exit 16 in the morning on your way to work, or home in the evening, inching your way through the invariable bumper to bumper traffic that exists
I’ve lived in East Norwalk for over thirty years. That’s long enough ago to have naively thought at one time that the most reckless choice our elected officials could make was permitting a Dunkin’ Donuts on East Avenue. A fantastic call for whoever owns DD, but miserable for anyone on their way in or out of that area.
My wife and I moved into this neighborhood because we appreciated the proximity to SoNo, the natural beauty of Norwalk’s incredible coastline and islands, and the small town feel of being able to stroll the area on a summer evening together with our dogs, and eventually with our children. Over the years I knew people who wondered aloud why we didn’t move to neighboring towns. Often, once they’d spent a little time here, walking down to SoNo for the Arts Festival, or to the beaches, they’d comment about what a surprising gem this little area really is. I haven’t heard a comment like that for quite some time.
Since the Dunkin’ Donuts debacle, I’ve watched mostly silently as various administrations have step by misguided step turned this side of I-95 into a virtual parking lot with the permits they have endorsed. Massive buildings, far out of scale with the rest of the local architecture, packed with apartments, and ground level retail spaces of highly questionable value to Norwalk residents have caused our roads to be choked with traffic at all hours. It’s become a misery to get in and out. At this point, traffic is pretty much like it was in Stamford, from where we initially fled because it was too much like a city for us even as a young couple.
For anyone who imagines that widening roads is some kind of solution to traffic congestion, I encourage you to take a little field trip to the Bronx (as just one easy and stark example) to see how that logic inevitably plays out. And of course, it’s about much more than traffic.
It’s obvious that adding tractor trailers to and from the proposed distribution center to our roads will bring traffic to a virtual standstill. But it will also raise stress levels, injure our health with a miasma of diesel fumes and absolutely endless noise – I can already hear trucks on I-95 all the way over here on Third Street in the middle of the night, I can only imagine what it’d be like for the people who live any closer than us to a 19-dock distribution center!
It’s a plain fact that if the Norden Distribution Center is allowed, it will degrade the experience of living in this area in every sense. No public official who supports this project or any like it will ever again be able to honestly represent themselves as a supporter of public health and safety, or quality of life. I urge you to think long and hard about who you stand with on this question.