Norwalk Council notes: Library cafe, parking lot sale, and IMAX update on tap

A rendering of the cafe proposed for the Norwalk Public Library.

Updated, 10:42 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s what’s on the Common Council agenda for Wednesday:

  • A café for the library
  • Sale of the YMCA parking lot
  • ‘Restructuring’ will facilitate construction of new Maritime theater


(The Council was originally set to meet on Tuesday, as is standard, but the meeting was postponed to Wednesday. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. with a presentation of the recommended 2019-20 operating budget and at 8 p.m. continue with the regular agenda.)


Blue Teapot Cafe coming to the Norwalk Public Library

The Council is expected to authorize Mayor Harry Rilling to execute a one-year license agreement to allow Blue Teapot Café LLC  to provide café services at the Belden Avenue library, with a possible one-year extension.

Norwalk Public Library Director Christine Bradley in a Jan. 18 memo to Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo wrote:


“The Norwalk Public Library Board of Directors has accepted a-proposal for the operation of a Cafe at the Main Library.

“The cafe would have similar offerings to the Friends cafe that the Friends of the Library operate twice a year during their book sales. All food except coffee and tea will be prepared offsite and delivered to the cafe.

“The cafe area will be on the main floor of the library near the copy machines.

“…Library management envisions a library cafe that provides a comfortable, cozy atmosphere serving great coffee accompanied by beverages and pastries that can be served throughout the day and evening.

“Examples of menu items might include muffins, coffee, espresso, tea, bottled water and juices, cookies, homemade cake and pie and specialty desserts. In addition, components of a high tea will be offered providing fresh brewed tea, scones, and tea sandwiches. As the cafe matures, light foods such as sandwiches and salad can be provided. Pastry will be made fresh daily in the Blue Teapot’s commercial kitchen at 314 Wilson Avenue in Norwalk.

“The decor of the cafe will be planned in conjunction with the library’s staff and will fit with the general decor of the library. The Library reserves the final decision on the design of the cafe and the signage associated with the cafe. Decorative elements and furnishings will reinforce the comfortable relaxed setting.”


The café will use about 100 square feet, she said. An 8-ounce cup of coffee would be $1 and a slice of frosted cake would be $3.50.


Council agenda 19-0212 library cafe


Council to consider West Ave. property sales for Norwalk Hospital project

“In response to the City’s Request for Proposals, the City’s Purchasing Department received one proposal on October 29, 2018 for the disposition of city owned West Avenue parking lot located directly across from the main entrance to  Mathews Park,” Lo wrote on Dec. 5 to the Council Land Use and Building Management Committee.

The Norwalk Hospital Association, which owns the old YMCA property, made the winning proposal. Obtaining the property would allow the hospital to build the mixed-use “Center for Healthy Living” it pitched to Common Council members on Aug. 3, with medical offices, assisted living and memory care senior living facilities, and a center for wellness to promote healthy living.

“It is important to note that the properties were surplus properties from the construction of Route 7 and abandoned Stevens Street,” Lo wrote. “The State placed a public use restriction on the properties when the City acquired the properties. Therefore, as part of the disposition, the City will coordinate with the State to remove the deed restriction, to complete the roadway abandonment process and to modify the property lines necessary to establish a consistent right­ of-way width for the existing bike trail.”


He explained:

  • “Purchase price will be at the appraised value of $950,000 with the City providing a payment to the State for the release of the Deed Restriction in the amount of $176,000;
  • “The City will waive its Rights of First Refusal for the purchase of the two small State owned areas along the bike trail;
  • “The State and/or the Hospital will provide the City with various easements necessary to maintain the width of the bike trail;
  • “The Hospital shall obtain a U.S. Department of Interior, Level III historical report. Additionally, within the interior of the new development, the Hospital shall incorporate a photo gallery and displays of architectural elements with historical value to document some of the historical significant structures on West Avenue, including the structures currently on the site, as well as the overall historic character of the area;
  • “The Hospital shall execute a mutually acceptable lease agreement with the City for the continued use of the parking lot for Mathews Park special event overflow parking prior to the start of construction. Additionally,  the  Hospital shall execute a mutually acceptable 99-year lease agreement  with  the City to provide 50 parking spaces within its parking structure for Mathews Park special event overflow parking upon completion of construction; and
  • “Complete roadway abandonment process of Stevens Street in order to provide clear title for the parking lot.”


The hospital expects to spend $104 million on its Center for Healthy Living, Lo wrote.

19-0213 Council West Ave


DOT requests temporary hold on new IMAX after estimates exceed costs

You may recall, the Connecticut Department of Transportation is expected to fund the replacement of the Maritime Aquarium’s IMAX Theater, as it’s set to be demolished to make way for the Walk Bridge reconstruction. The Aquarium plans a new 4-D theater on its north side, and the project would include a new home for the meerkats and a new seal tank.

“In the fall of 2018, the project was advertised for bids, The total hard construction costs together with all of the soft costs exceeded the project budget substantially, Subsequent to the bid opening, DOT requested the project to be temporarily put on hold in order to provide an opportunity to evaluate the project scope,  design criteria, bid results, completeness of the bid package, effectiveness of the bid solicitation process and availability of redesign options to achieve significant cost savings with minimum impact on project scope,” Lo wrote on Feb. 1 to the Council Land Use and Building Management Committee.

The Aquarium’s plans for the theater were an estimated $34.5 million, Maritime Board of Trustees Co-Chairman Michael Widland said in May.

ConnDOT requested that the City take over the responsibility of managing the funds for the project, on the grounds that the three-party relationship was too complicated.

“The change in management of the contracts does not increase the City’s exposure to any additional liability or costs, The City  will  manage  the project in close collaboration with the Aquarium and  the  State,  The only additional costs to the City will be in the form of staff time – particularly, in the Building Management, Engineering and Law departments,” Lo wrote.

Council agenda 19-0212 maritime aquarium


Piberman February 13, 2019 at 10:17 am

We’re still waiting for Mayor Rilling to release a report on the estimated costs to City businesses, residents and the Aquarium itself from the destruction and rebuilding of the Aquarium that brings half a million visitors to the City and many tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of revenues to local City businesses and the Aquarium itself.

Silence here is not “Golden”. Why haven’t consultants been hired ? Election year ?

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