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Norwalk Council DPW roundup: It’s all in a name

From left, Norwalk Director of Recreation and Parks Nick Roberts, Waste Programs Manager Jessica Paladino and Norwalk Chief of Operations and Public Works Anthony Robert Carr, Tuesday in City Hall.

Updated, 7:51 p.m.: More information; two tiers of disposal passes, not three.

NORWALK, Conn. – Some important doings in the Common Council Public Works Committee:

  • A plan to revise the resident pass system
  • Renaming part of Chestnut Street to honor Cesar Ramirez – but not right away
  • A request to rename Cemetery Street

Not a beach pass anymore

There are changes coming to what has been called the “resident pass” system, according to two of Norwalk’s chiefs, who say tiers of user categories will be established.

First off, the passes will be separated into disposal passes and beach passes. Disposal passes will still be free to most of us, but residents who do not have their trucks or large vans registered in Norwalk will have to pay $100 yearly to use the transfer station. And, in the third tier, non-residents will face a different fee structure.

Recreation and Parks will feature a three-tier structure but the fees will be higher.

You won’t be able to go online to print your pass anymore. You’ll get your disposal pass at the transfer station and if you don’t have just a regular passenger vehicle, you’ll exchange the disposal pass for a card. And if your vehicle isn’t registered here, you’ll have to pay.

This is all according to Norwalk Chief of Operations and Public Works Anthony Robert Carr, Director of Recreation and Parks Nick Roberts and Waste Programs Manager Jessica Paladino, who unveiled this plan at Tuesday’s Common Council Public Works Committee. They’re planning to delve further into the beach pass side of this equation at next week’s Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Affairs Committee meeting, they said.

There were a number of cars with out-of-state plates using resident spaces at the beach, and this is an attempt to address that issue, Roberts said. Non-residents, whose cars aren’t registered here and who don’t own property here, will be on the third tier, paying fees equivalent to the daily rates and the non-resident rate. This approach is common in Stamford and Bridgeport, he said.

Although Carr spoke of non-residents using the transfer station, Norwalk Communications Manager Josh Morgan on Thursday described the disposal pass thusly:

  • Tier 1: Free – This includes Norwalk residents and/or property owners that have their vehicle registered in Norwalk and are up-to-date on their motor vehicle taxes.
  • Tier 2: $100 – This includes Norwalk residents and/or property owners that do NOT have their vehicle registered in Norwalk.

“Anyone without a proper disposal pass will be subject to the disposal fees at the Transfer Station or Yard Waste Site, which is currently $20 minimum, regardless of weight. Garbage is calculated at $85/ton, and yard waste is calculated at $55/ton,” Morgan wrote.

He continued, “What is not changing is the process for larger, non-commercial vehicles, like pickup trucks, vehicles with trailers, and vans. They will need to have a Resident Permit Card, which is issued at the Transfer Station. Residents will be asked to show the new Disposal Pass to issue a new fiscal year sticker, issue a new Resident Card or replace a damaged or lost card. This Resident Permit Card provides them with one-ton free. Non-commercial pickup trucks, vans, and vehicles with trailers that do not have a Resident Permit Card are subject to the $20 minimum fee.”

The $100 fee for residents with bigger vehicles is inspired by the tonnage rate plus a fee for processing. Also, it’s what Greenwich charges, Carr explained Tuesday.

“Since the city is growing and implementing a new system with LAZ with the license plate readers, things are starting to basically change,” Carr said.

Paper passes will probably be accepted at the transfer station through the year and maybe through 2021, then there will be a transition to stickers, they said. Stickers will be mailed out at tax time.

A license plate reader isn’t feasible at the transfer station, Paladino said. It would have to go at the top of the hill where vehicles enter the resident disposal area, but some people don’t have front license plates and that issue would have to be solved. Plus, City Carting staffs the station and there’s usually one person assigned to checking passes and helping people toss their stuff.

“It would be a lot for him to carry an iPad, check the system make sure the cars read. If there’s a problem with the vehicle, then he’s got to stop a vehicle check,” he said.

At that point, cars would back up, and other vehicles would go around the stopped vehicle, Carr explained.

“It’s not it’s not off the table… we certainly looked at it. And for the interim, we’ll start with the pass,” Carr said.

This all begins with changing the name of the relevant ordinance. The ordinance will also be moved to a different chapter in the City Code.

 

Cesar Ramirez Way – a year from now?

Chestnut Street from Monroe Street to Merritt Place would be honorarily renamed to Officer Cesar Ramirez Drive, under a proposal advanced to the Committee by Israel Navarro.

“He deserve this so much. His legacy should never be forgotten. He will always be a shining light in the story of Norwalk,” Navarro wrote to NancyOnNorwalk.

Ramirez died recently less than two months after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Committee members indicated agreement that the street should get the honorary designation but former Council member Rich Bonenfant pointed out that it’s too soon.

The ordinance was recently changed to specify that a person has to be dead for a year before a street can be renamed, he said.

“The basis …  was you didn’t want to do it on emotion because … you wanted it to the dust to settle everything to go down,” he explained.

Oddly, the Council could vote to name a road after a living person, by a “super majority plus one” vote.

“It seems to me that if we could go to ordinance and talk to the attorneys about little minor change,” to be able to honor Ramirez before a year goes by, Common Council President Barbara Smyth (D-At Large) said.

Public Works Committee Chairman George Tsiranides (D-District D) agreed and moved to table the request, shifting it to the Ordinance Committee.

Bonenfant “has a valid point about the ordinance.” Thomas Keegan (R-District D) said. “We don’t make rules so we can immediately break them, right. We do need ordinance to act on this, but I do think the community wants to name this road after Officer Ramirez…  And I think that having a year to do it may be somewhat of a good thing. Because we can plan to have a real celebration of his life. And I’d be willing to work or head a Committee that would do that.”

Committee members also wanted to check with Navarro and ask if he meant an honorary street naming, where the honorary name is on a sign alongside the official street name sign, or an official renaming, which would mean that deeds would need to be changed, as well as residents’ driver’s licenses, etc.

Navarro said he meant an honorary naming.

“I grew up with Cesar in my life,” Navarro wrote. “Since the day I was born to be exact. Cesar was not just a family friend. He {too} was an Uncle. A man that was a person I could vent too.”

 

Mill Pond Place?

“The name of the street, Cemetery Street, is just not conducive to positive thoughts,” Alan Webber said to the Committee.

Webber, of M.F. DiScala & Company, was there on behalf of Prime Equities Inc., the new owner of 1 Cemetery St. The property is easily recognizable as the Wells Fargo bank on the rotary around the East Norwalk cemetery, near Calf Pasture Beach. It’s literally the only property with a Cemetery Street address, he said.

This would be an official renaming. East Norwalk activist Diane Cece objected before NancyOnNorwalk arrived, but declined to explain why to NancyOnNorwalk.

Cemetery Street does sound negative, but “on the other hand, you know, it’s part of our history, that cemetery’s been there for so long,” said Smyth, looking at Cece.

The Committee agreed with Tsiranides that a public hearing be scheduled for April 7, to give time for the possibility to reach the public.

Because it’s a request for an official renaming, the proposal will go to the Land Use Committee, the Zoning Commission, and the Third Taxing District before the public hearing, he said.

Prime Equities suggests the name be changed to Mill Pond Place, because Mill Pond is right behind the property, Webber said. This would be “giving some more awareness to that,” and, “We don’t have any anything else specific going on right now. Wells Fargo has a lease on the property.”

13 comments

Residente February 6, 2020 at 6:56 am

OMG, are you kidding? “The name of the street, Cemetery Street, is just not conducive to positive thoughts,”

If Prime Equities had such negative thoughts about the name they should NOT have bought the property. What’s next, move the cemetery?

I go to the Wells Fargo often and have NEVER been phased by the cemetery or street name. If these new investors get the streets name changed, and change part of the city’s history, I’ll be closing my accounts and take every opportunity to tell friends and business partners to bank elsewhere and will keep reminding the community what Prime Equities has done!!

Stuart Wells February 6, 2020 at 7:24 am

It would also be useful if the Registrar of Voters office was “in the loop” on official street name changes. We have to change the table of addresses and voting districts in the state voter registration computer system for any such changes. And the post office has to be kept up to date as well. There are already quite a number of Norwalk streets where the city and the post office do not agree on the name or the correct spelling.
The biggest problem is with building numbers, and buildings which sit on top of local Council District and Taxing District voting lines. The state voter registration system does not allow a given street address to be assigned to two different voting districts. This affects a number of houses and even some apartment buildings and is the result of local voting lines (mostly taxing district lines) being established over 100 years ago before many of the streets were created.
At the moment there is no procedure in place to inform the Registrars of any of these changes and we are left to having to research them when the first person registers to vote at the newly created address.
We also receive registrations from non-existent addresses or non-residential addresses. Someone the other day tried to register using the street address of the Department of Motor Vehicles as their residential address. (It was an on-line registration through the DMV using the persons Driver’s License — You would think the DMV would recognize their own address…)

Audrey Cozzarin February 6, 2020 at 11:49 am

Besides naming streets and discussing paving, one agenda item on Tuesday that was not mentioned in this article is the clipped presentation made by the Norwalk Zero Waste Coalition. It focused on the recycling and waste streams currently either not adequately handled or managed at all. I’m sorry this highlighting of an important nature wasn’t included in this article.

Dealing with the plastic food packaging and textiles that Norwalk currently does not adequately collect will not only keep Mother Earth healthier, it will help defray expenses: When all that plastic and fabrics end up in our garbage, the city pays more to Norwalk Carting in tonnage. It ultimately ends up being incinerated in Bridgeport.

I have written in Nancy on Norwalk ( https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/be-mindful-of-the-packaging-your-food-comes-in/ ) and The Norwalk Hour about Norwalk retailers who collect plastic film packaging and who does not. Educating “the public,” you and me, as well as expecting our city officials to help us manage what to do with this “stuff” are important and deserve air time. Plastics and toxins are in our water and air. How long can we keep ignoring this poisoning of our environment?

There are many issues in Norwalk which demand the attention of DPW and the Common Council. Recycling/proper care of waste streams is an area where ALL OF US participate actively in our daily lives. I think we can all step up and do this better, and lead by example so that eventually our city will make it a priority.

Tom In East Norwalk February 6, 2020 at 5:02 pm

To change the name of the street, Cemetery Street to make it sound more “pleasant” to someone make no sense to me. I’d wager that most Norwalkers didn’t even know the name of this short bit of road they drove on frequently until they read the NON article.

Cemetery Street borders a history filled cemetery with the final resting place of many prominent East Norwalkers. Cemetery Street does not actually border the Mill Pond.

Besides – mills were loud, dusty, dirty places of long hours of hard labor, not a pleasant place. This particular mill pond was basically a contaminated dumping pool for the hat factories years ago. It has been cleaned and dredged, but it’s history is still the same.

IF the renaming takes place – let the developer pay ALL related expenses – including new signs and any time spent by any city employee to change the signs, change paperwork records in City Hall, DPW, etc.

Residente February 6, 2020 at 10:30 pm

For Cemetery St. Let’s wait and see & keep an eye. Given the history this is something worth standing up for!!

It’s odd that it’s hard to find what was purchased in the sale??

@ Tom, this is a great bit of road in a key part of town.

Kathleen Marsh February 6, 2020 at 11:06 pm

This is going to end up much more complicated and involved than meets the eye! I think it should remain Cemetary St.

Holden Caulfield February 7, 2020 at 9:20 am

Changing the name of Cemetery Street for the only address located on the street….smell that? It’s not low tide. It’s the stench of cheaply built “luxury” condos wafting in.

Mimi Chang February 7, 2020 at 5:20 pm

“The name of the street, Cemetery Street, is just not conducive to positive thoughts.”

Code for: The name Cemetery Street is just not conducive to an enticing sounding address name for what allegedly will be yet one more building with apartment units. Mill Pond Place sounds much more palatable than Cemetery Street for such a purpose.

Residents discussed the potential of the Wells Fargo lot/Mill Pond at the East Avenue TOD Visioning Workshops and at the final meeting in November where consulting group Harriman presented the public its proposal. We asked Harriman consultant Mr. Cecil why a use for the Wells Fargo lot reflective of the public’s input (public majority vocalized they didn’t envision dense apartments, but an opened up space with a much smaller scaled building type w/an amenity like a coffee shop or cafe, for example, placing emphasis on public walkability/accessibility, and opening up/showcasing Mill Pond), was not acknowledged, and why a designation for that lot which is within the parameters of the TOD study was missing in their final proposal to us. We asked if developers were already being considered for the mixed use apartment buildings they proposed, and if DiScala is planning to build apartments at his Wells Fargo lot, as that was what people had been hearing over the summer. Mr. Cecil vaguely answered that something is being planned for the Wells Fargo lot.

We know that P&Z Director Steve Kleppin responded to a resident, who saw DiScala’s camp appear to be measuring/surveying the lot in early December and emailed him (and cc’d the Common Council) to inquire about it, that apartments will likely be built there. Kleppin also responded that it’s likely the developer will build as many units as possible on that parcel. Barbara Smyth was cc’d on the email and is well aware of what is going on with that lot, so her comment about the street name is a head scratcher. Let’s hope we don’t end up with a giant Head of the Harbor South style apartment complex completely swallowing up that lovely Mill Pond enclave, which has so much potential as an open space, to the point of obscurity.

The lack of transparency and disregard of public feedback by our city officials is astounding. East Norwalk is going to be slammed with apartment complexes. The almost 200 units in The Hat Factory building, the two separate mixed use apartment buildings (one which swallows up a gas station, a Laundromat and and strip mall and which the public voiced was too large in scale) proposed by the Harriman Group, and now what sounds like will be Mill Pond Place apartments at the DiScala lot? The public voiced loudly and clearly that they did not want this many complexes bringing in more cars and traffic congestion than we already have. What was the point of elaborate public input at the East Avenue TOD Visioning Workshops if a good chunk of that input has been ignored, and our elected officials are just going to overreach and do whatever they want?

Not surprising that Norwalk is conducting business as usual and overdeveloping. Ned Lamont was quoted as saying recently that he wants to double the population of CT cities, so our elected officials are taking their marching orders. Elections have consequences. Under 30% of voters who actually bothered to show up to the polls voted in, again, lack of government transparency, more back door development deals, and of course, more, more, more apartments, cars and pollution.

Residente February 8, 2020 at 5:17 am

For now apparently the name change application is being withdrawn. Kudos to the investor for considering concerns of the community.

Apparently they will consider the potential of the name change if or (assuming here, when) they decide they want to do something different with the property.

Mimi Chang February 12, 2020 at 10:10 am

@Residente, my understanding is that the name change application has not been withdrawn and is on the agenda for next week? Have you heard differently from the investor who is now as you write “considering concerns of the community”?

It would be nice if the investor/developer could meet with East Norwalk residents to hear first hand what they voiced they envision on the Wells Fargo lot at the East Avenue TOD Visioning Workshops, and which a large turnout of East Norwalk residents discussed while talking about the TOD project as a whole at the last ENNA meeting.

That East Norwalk residents feel like items like this name change by a private entity are getting slid past under their noses is disappointing, especially after the time, effort and input they gave to the East Avenue TOD Visioning Workshops and community meetings.

Mimi Chang February 12, 2020 at 10:34 am

Correction on name: East Norwalk TOD Visioning Workshops – not East Avenue TOD Visioning Workshops… Ooopsy!

Catpior February 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

Re: Beach and Parking permit fees. The emphasis here seems to be on those who are paying property tax on their cars. But how does this policy consider those who pay property tax on their home but may drive a car not registered in Norwalk? There are many retired residents who pay MUCH more in property tax for their residence than those who are renting and only paying car taxes. It seems odd; It may be easier to track given the license plate system. But it ignores the fact that there is a population that contributes to taxes that support the city infrastructure and now are being ‘double billed.’

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