By Nancy Guenther Chapman
NORWALK, Conn. – There was a recurring theme at Tuesday night’s Norwalk Common Council meeting: Item not found.
- “With your indulgence, somehow this item got a little mixed up when it got put on the agenda for you,” Finance Director Thomas Hamilton said about 20 minutes in to the just over one-hour long meeting.
- “We’re getting paperwork at the last minute into our council chambers consistently,” Councilman Warren Peña (D-At Large) said at about 8:47 p.m. “It’s just creating a little bit of chaos and I think we just have to be better at what we’re doing. I just see a big issue with finding an issue before us that we have to vote on that already has been done.”
- “I’m so sorry. The contract I have has pages 1, 3, 5 and 7, so I don’t know how I’m going to vote,” Councilman Matt Miklave (D-District A) said at about 8:55 p.m., on a separate issue.
1. Agenda-resistant item:
Hamilton was speaking of a $725,000 appropriation from the contingency fund to cover expenses from Superstorm Sandy, with the expectation that the city will be reimbursed for most of it by FEMA. Item 1 on the agenda simply said, “Accept and approve the Special Appropriation request of the Board of Estimate & Taxation: Dated: December 3, 2012.”
“If you look at the backup material, normally, I think you know, that the board of estimate recommendations start with ‘resolved’ and then have an account number and so forth,” he said. “Item 1, that didn’t happen, but the backup is, in fact, correct. So I would ask your indulgence to take these items up if you would. The backup was in all of your packages.”
A motion to put the item on the agenda was unanimously approved.
“Unfortunately there was a problem two weeks ago to get them on the agenda, so this is the second time there’s been a problem,” Hamilton said.
2. Work done, payment approval sought:
The second item, which drew Peña’s comment, was also Sandy-related. The council was asked to approve a $110,000 payment to Deering Construction – for paving work that had already been done.
“Why are we getting it now, to approve the money, when the project has been done?” Councilman Fred Bondi (R-At Large) asked Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord.
“Unfortunately, Superstorm Sandy threw all of our project plans into disarray,” Alvord said.
Deering had being doing drainage work on West Main Street and Summer Street, he said, when the storm hit. A&J Construction, the paving contractor for the year, was not able to complete its other work and still do West Main Street. Deering had its equipment right there and did the work for the same price A&J would have done it, Alvord said.
“We couldn’t leave the street dirt through the winter,” he said. “… we had to get it done before the temperature started dropping.”
Peña said he wasn’t pointing fingers, but, “I just see a big issue with finding an issue before us that we have to vote on that already has been done. I understand the circumstances and I just think we have to be a little bit better here in the process that’s before us.”
The council approved the expenditure. Bondi was the sole no vote; Pena abstained.
3. Contract pages missing
Lastly, the council was asked to approve a 5-year extension of an arrangement that allows owners of the SoNo Corporate Center, located at 50 Washington St., to occasionally put a trash bin in the city’s park there.
None of the council members had the even-numbered pages of the contract. They hadn’t noticed until Miklave pointed it out.
The matter had gone through the Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee. Chairman Jerry Petrini (R-District D) said the entire contract had been in the committee and he went to get it. Council President Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) offered to table the motion, but Miklave said all he needed was a few questions answered.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Mike Mocciae said the arrangement didn’t have a monetary component to it. His department has a symbiotic arrangement with the SoNo Corporate Center, he said: work is done on the park – such as decorating it for Christmas – without city staff being involved. “Their staff cleans the front of the park, because we can’t get to it,” he said.
The building does not have a loading dock, he said, so management parks a trash bin outside once or twice a month to deposit debris associated with tenant relocation.
Mayor Richard Moccia drew laughs when he said, “I think the question is, did the other missing papers go into the Dumpster?”
Petrini said the contract was just a renewal. “The Dumpster doesn’t stay there long; nobody wants a Dumpster in front of their building,” he said.
“They are good corporate partners and they are working to improve the appearance of that building,” Moccia said. “I would hope that, since there is no monetary value, we could approve this and then track down the missing pages, check the Dumpster out tomorrow.”
All voted in favor.