Norwalk 101: Civic engagement meeting provides insight into City government 

The “Norwalk 101” Common Council Civic Engagement Meeting with members and representatives from various boards and commissions on June 17.

Norwalk residents received a comprehensive lesson in local government operations during a “Norwalk 101” civic engagement meeting on Monday. The Norwalk Common Council organized the Zoom and in-person meeting at the City Hall Community Room. 

The “Norwalk 101” presentation was designed to educate residents of all ages about local government operation, and to promote community involvement. Council President Darlene Young opened the program by saying, “We believe that this is something that should be done on a regular basis.”

Over the course of the meeting, attendees heard from:

  • Jared Schmitt, Chief Financial Officer, who provided an overview of the various functions and personnel within the Finance Department’s purview: tax assessor, purchasing, informational technology, comptroller, management and budgets, and risk management. 
  • Vanessa Valadares, Chief of Operations and Public Works, who discussed the mission and the departments that make up public works. She also announced that the Engineering Department is hiring five summer interns to help with paving and bridge projects. 
  • Lamond Daniels, Chief of Community Services, who detailed how the Human Services Department coordinates services in partnership with the city’s community organizations. Residents can seek help and resources in Room 202 of City Hall. 
  • Terry Blake, Deputy Chief of Police, who discussed the police department’s mission statement and announced that its annual report was recently published on the  Norwalk Police Department website. 
  • Jessica Vonashek, Chief of Community and Economic Development, who announced that state officials are visiting Norwalk on Thursday for an arts and cultural district walk on Wall Street, West Avenue, and Washington Street. The city hopes to create an arts district that will be eligible for funding and state resources.  
  • Steve Kleppin, Chief of Planning and Zoning, who discussed the Plan of Conservation and Development, a state-mandated 10-year plan that maps out the future of a municipality. The first phase of the plan will focus on affordable housing.

The meeting sought to show residents how to get involved in city governance. The Common Council encouraged Norwalkers to apply for open positions on various boards and commissions. Vacancies are posted on the Boards and Commissions Vacant List.  Interested individuals can apply online or email their resumes to Assistant City Clerk Esther Murillo at [email protected].

For more information about joining a board or commission, visit Norwalk Boards and Commissions or contact the City Clerk’s office.


One response to “Norwalk 101: Civic engagement meeting provides insight into City government ”

  1. Lynnelle Jones

    A 21-page Norwalk 101 Department, Committee and Commission Pamphlet was shared at this engagement. What was included was good, however what was not included was disappointing. The Mayor’s Water Quality Committee, who hasn’t met in over 9 months, despite a Norwalk shellfish recall due to water quality during this time, was included, yet there was no mention of the Sustainability and Resilience Committee, who has met for a few years and who this spring introduced a draft for the state required Sustainability and Resilience Plan.

    Our 2019 POCD made studying a Stormwater Authority a priority for 2019-2021, and Norwalk hired, directed, consultants have been studying this for over 4 years, with no public report. A question was asked about stormwater management, the recent stormwater survey distributed by Norwalk Redevelopment (who has many hired, directed, consultants), and who was the acting Norwalk Director of Sustainability, state required. The explanation was that Redevelopment, not included at all in the 21-page summary, had “technical skill sets” that no one else in the city had and the city was leveraging Redevelopment’s “technical expertise.” The special technical skills in the Redevelopment Agency, lacked by other departments (!), were never defined or shared. The lack of any mention of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency, who is clearly now controlling city-wide studies, hiring consultants for city-wide required plans, due to their special technical skill sets, going beyond their stated mission of urban renewal, along with the lack of mentioning the Sustainability and Resilience Committee, made no sense and devalued an otherwise good idea and presentation.

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