Say, Norwalk, can you spare a dime?

By Diane C2: “Things Norwalkers Really Should Know”


Hello readers and seekers of all things true. Which one of the following money sagas would you like to read about in my next commentary?

  • Oak Hills Park Authority questionable leadership that resulted in sub-leasing the restaurant to a company (whose offices are “vacated”) that is now being investigated in Westchester County.
  • Oak Hills Park Authority and their unpaid city loan in excess of $2 million. And a boondoggle restaurant, golf cart and now driving range plan????
  • Maritime Aquarium and their unpaid city loan in excess of $35 million. Gee, where do I sign up for a no payback loan with the city?? (Circa 1986, but still bugs me).
  • Redevelopment Agency $70,000 loan to a city landlord who just happens to be the realtor chosen to represent the Redevelopment Agency in the sale of Ely Street condominiums. Can you say ‘conflict of interest?” I think you can. (June 12, 2012, but still bugs me).
  • City gave $155,000 of our $176,000 Open Space Fund to Norwalk Land Trust to pay off their mortgage on Farm Creek property. Once again, can someone direct me to who I see at City Hall to pay off MY mortgage?? (Sept. 28, 2010, but still bugs me).


12 responses to “Say, Norwalk, can you spare a dime?”

  1. LWitherspoon

    Diane, it’s not on the list, but I’m most interested in the details regarding the redevelopment and potential sale of $2 million in waterfront property to Trinity Financial.

    Along with that, I would be interested to know under what auspices the Norwalk Housing Authority exists. Where does it get its funding? Who appoints its board? WHY does it exist? Many have commented that ridding Norwalk of public housing would improve the City. I don’t know if that’s true, in fact I think it probably isn’t, but it seems odd that we have a lot of Public Housing compared to nearby towns, but nobody knows how it operates.

    1. Oldtimer

      Municipal housing authorities are a creation of the CT legislature for all CT Cities dating back to 1949. There is a board of commissioners, appointed by the mayor. Most of the funding comes from HUD, a federal agency. Chapter 128 of the State Statutes, if it doesn’t put you to sleep, will answer all of your questions. I don’t know if their budget is an expense on the City budget, but most of their money comes from other sources.

      The people who are so opposed to public housing seem to believe there is no good reason to need public help in any form and would like to see all public assistance eliminated. Most of them cite examples of fraud and abuse of public assistance programs to justify their positions.

      1. LWitherspoon

        Old Timer,

        Thank you for that background information.

        I don’t think it’s accurate to say that “The people who are so opposed to public housing seem to believe there is no good reason to need public help in any form and would like to see all public assistance eliminated”. It could simply be that they support the existence of a safety net but think the free market should set housing prices, rather than the government. I’m aware that a lot of criticism of public housing is rather uninformed – most people aren’t aware of the restrictions that tenants of public housing must follow, rules that require them to be upstanding citizens etc. Some have explained to me that public housing is actually good because enforcement of the rules for who can live there improves the neighborhood – the real problem in rough areas of town are the private absentee landlords. But there’s more to the story and I do think it deserves our attention.

        It does seem odd to say to developers that they will only get permission to build if they agree to rent a certain number of units below the actual market rate. Why stop there? Why not make a rule that every homeowner who sells his house must sell it at 10% below the market rate? That way ALL of Norwalk can be made more affordable. I would love to live on the water, but the market rate for doing so is very high, so I don’t live there and find other ways to enjoy our shoreline. This is simple economics.

  2. Oldtimer

    We both know they never put nattering nabobs on the list for big gifts from City Hall. Merry Christmas

  3. Diane C2

    @Lwither and OldT: you guys crack me up! I am consumed with finishing a statement for the public hearing tonight on Spinnaker’s 20 North Water Street application, where he now wants to move the workforce housing offsite to some old junky buildings on CT Ave.
    I will absolutely do a whole piece on Washington Village and the giveway. I also will take the opportunity to publish my observations of the Norwalk Housing Authority.
    Sorry cannot do tonight, but will try to get some to Nancy by the weekend. So many issues, so little time.
    BTW- the calling on the carpet, the humiliation, the shouting down, all continue when you challenge any OZ:apparently there are OZ-wannabes, OT!

    1. Oldtimer

      There is but one great OZ. The others, emulating his behavior, are mere minions. The would-be heirs to the throne behind the curtain, with all the smoke and mirror controls, are too smart to display bad tempers in public. They need to win an election and rude behavior does not win votes.

  4. Oldtimer

    He now wants to put most of the workforce housing off site, with a few at 20 North Main. The argument, from any developer’s position, is that workforce housing not only gets a lot less rental income, but makes it more difficult to fill market rate units. The theory is that people who can afford market rate units do not want to be next door to workforce tenants. That is not pretty, but it is the same logic that kept other kinds of segregation in foce for so long.

    1. Diane C2

      The reality is that workforce housing is intended for folks like teachers, police officers, nurses and other professionals.
      Funny how they use the same argument differently when it serves a developers purpose – Mr. Fowler wants them offsite at 20 North Water and Trinity Financial lauds the benefits of them onsite at Day and Raymond (Choice Neighborhoods Initiative to rid city of Washington Village tenants)…

      1. Diane C2

        Actually, since our Zoning Commissioners last night set the precedent for an approved development with onsite workforce to move them off, and virtually anywhere, one can only presume that Trinity Financial will submit the exact same request once their project is approved and ready to build. The tenants in Washington Village will end up with that new “Choice Norwalk Neighborhood” still, but it’s actually called “Bridgeport”….

  5. Diane C2

    I’ll need a day to recover from the shock of the zoning approval tonight*, but will be exposing and writing soon.

    *fait accompli, compli with pre-determined compromise?????

  6. inqusitive mind

    Does anyone know who appoints the board at N.E.S.? aka Open Door?
    What the process is and when does this process occur?

    1. Diane C2

      You just opened one of my favoriite cans of worms – and hit on an organization with lots of money and little oversight, with state officials who do “desk reviews” of their operations instead of in-person inspections, and where reports of document shredding in the middle of the night fail to alarm any one here.
      Years back, when I started asking my own questions about them, it took me days just to find where they even list the board members. I think now the names are on their website.
      I’ll try to find the answer to your questions on appointments, or perhaps another reader here knows what the current process is.
      Among the many disturbing things in Norwalk that need investigating, the shelter ranks on my top 10 list….

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