Norwalk is our American Dream

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Norwalk is our American Dream, and we must all work together to shape it to serve its residents. As I drive around town, I note all the ways that Norwalk has improved in the last six years under the Rilling administration. Whole sections of town are cleaner, safer, more attractive, more vibrant and more connected than they were six years ago. Our quality of life has improved drastically, with better schools, parks, infrastructure, and safety.

When I began as an advocate for Norwalk Public Schools, I was frustrated and angry. The schools were overcrowded, and every budget cycle was a fight over which service would be cut next. I remember staying until midnight to have the opportunity to beg for funding. Mayor Rilling listened to parents like me, and has invested in our schools in an unprecedented way. This year was the first since my eldest entered Kindergarten that parents didn’t have to fight, beg or march for adequate funding. We are building our first new school in decades, we are fixing schools, we are staffing appropriately and providing excellent programs and curriculum. Our budget conversations are about possibilities and not cuts. We are rebuilding our schools and finally supporting our staff and students. There is a sense of pride in our schools, as we celebrate being the top urban school district in the state. Our students are excelling, winning state and local competitions, and showing the world that Norwalk is special.

A myriad of improvements to our parks please all ages. My kids love the splash pad at the beach, the cleaner sand, the new pier, and Ripka’s. For the active set there are the new kayak racks, volleyball and skate park. For folks who need more passive enjoyment of the beach, there is now handicapped access at the beach, and beautiful benches and tables every few yards. I remember when my children were little the parking lot was dangerous, the sand was filthy, there was no healthy year round food, and there was poor crowd control. Cranbury Park is also much improved, with beautiful landscaping, marked trails, maps, and an upgraded Gallaher Mansion and bunkhouse for events. Fodor Farm has also had an incredible facelift, and is operating programs and rental space that adds value for the community. Many new and improved playgrounds have been installed across the city.

Under Mayor Rilling, the sense of neighborhood character has improved. Neighborhood Associations have been heard, and improvements to streets, sidewalks and bike paths have been implemented.

The Norwalk River Valley Trail is growing, and has the potential to link our region and generate tourist revenue. The mayor has championed walking, leading weekly neighborhood walks with residents. Wall Street is full of new businesses that are driving culture in our city, with a special shout out to Troupe and the Wall Street Theater. The libraries have generous hours and diverse and vibrant programming for all ages, and the new parking is fantastic. Our crime statistics are down, and our community is safer. New and interesting stores that were vacant are renovated and luring Norwalkers, not to mention the mall which has been a sensation. The Norwalk Historical Society and Mill Hill are renovated and providing amazing programming and exhibits to celebrate our shared history. Norwalk Hospital continues to grow and set an example for the region of excellent care. NCC supports students of all ages to be lifelong learners. Members of Norwalk Acts work together to provide the services and support our youth need to be college and career ready.

As Norwalk prospers, we will not leave anyone behind. The new Community Services Department is a great step towards ensuring residents are connected to support if it is needed. Senior tax relief allows for seniors to stay in their homes. New affordable housing means that people starting out can afford to live in Norwalk, especially new teachers, police officers or fire fighters who would qualify to live there.

And all of this has been achieved while holding taxes down and building a healthy general fund to help us weather any future storms. Norwalk is my American Dream, and Mayor Rilling shares a vision of abundance, inclusion, balanced services with financial prudence, and civility and neighborly behavior. Together, we can build our community to be better with each generation. Please consider joining me in voting for Mayor Harry Rilling on Nov. 5th, and continue our positive momentum.
Barbara Meyer-Mitchell
Norwalk Board of Education member


17 responses to “Norwalk is our American Dream”

  1. John ONeill

    Please give us your opinion on NON-Norwalk funding for ELL costs? The lack of outside funding has considerably hurt other programs. I enjoy living in Norwalk, but Shangri-la it is not. It would be informative to get anonymous feedback from teachers regarding school environment right now.

  2. Norwalk native


    The NPS exists in order to teach illegals English. No one who can do better would choose to send their kids to NPS. In fact, the Norwalk school system is the main reason many families choose to move out of Norwalk (ask any Realtor). Moving in are childless Millenials and young couples and hordes of Illegals.
    The illegals are attracted to Norwalk because it is a lawless City that does not enforce laws. In particular, zoning laws are completely ignored by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, and by this administration. In return, our Tammany Hall City Hall gets the endorsement of Public Sector and Teachers Unions who grow large at the expense of taxpayers. By and large, those same Public Sector employees choose not to live in Norwalk, lest their children be subject to attend Norwalk schools.
    Because of the graft of our current Public Officials, Norwalk is at a crossroads. Do we become Port Chester or Bridgeport or do we look more like West Hartford?
    Our current Mayor has spent his whole working life profiting from and beholden to the Public Sector Unions. Which way do you think his compass points?

  3. Milly

    A few facts about Calf Pasture beach the sand has been clean for years before Rilling became mayor – the skate park opened in 2004, the tables and benches were added in 2010, and the new pier was done in September 2013.

  4. TRS

    I don’t think it’s appropriate for a current BOE member to endorse a political party/person for mayor.

  5. John ONeill

    @ Barbara: Just a quick question. Does head of Teachers union live in Norwalk? Based on your comments, and her comments she has to live somewhere in Norwalk..Let me know on ELL funding question.

  6. Barbara Meyer-Mitchell

    Bryan Meek has endorsed Lisa Brinton, and is currently serving as her treasurer. Bruce Kimmel has also written an endorsement opinion. Simply because we are elected,we do not surrender our right to free speech, aside from confidential matters.

    Norwalk Public Schools is currently the top urban school system in the state, and nipping at the heels of wealthier Wilton. It saddens me to see people trash the good work of educators across the city. Do you care to celebrate that Tracey was named a National Blue Ribbon School, or that four of our schools were named state Schools of Distinction? Has every issue been solved? Not yet. But Norwalk is making progress in many important areas.

  7. Arthur Fleck

    Ha ha ha ha … and I thought my jokes were bad. Just another pushing for her own agenda with no clue how the city works.

  8. David Muccigrosso

    The volleyball courts at Calf Pasture still suck. Would be nice to get some real sand in there.

    Also, nice to see “Norwalk native” standing behind their racist words with their real name.

  9. Mike Mushak

    Awesome letter, that expresses the pride in our amazing community that so many of us feel every day!

    As many seem to just want to complain about everything without ever doing anything about it. there’s a core group of folks who roll up their sleeves every day and make things better for everyone.

    We know who they are, and it includes city staff, elected officials including Mayor Rilling, and volunteers and community leaders who truly care about Norwalk and its schools and parks and institutions and diverse vibrant neighborhoods.

    Norwalk is not perfect, no city is, but our beautiful historic city has gotten so much better over the last 20 years and especially over the last 6 years, and is only getting better each year!

    I agree, let’s keep the momentum going, and vote Row A Democrat next Tuesday!

  10. Gareth Moody

    With responses like Norwalk Native’s, is it any wonder some voters smell a whiff of xenophobia in the Brinton camp.

  11. Jody

    Is Norwalk perfect? No. But I choose to live here because of its affordability and diversity. If we can offer a better life to someone who wants it, then why shouldn’t we? The comments made by Norwalk Native are offensive and xenophobic. I’d like to ask why you remain in Norwalk if you’re so afraid it’s going to turn into Bridgeport or Port Chester? Maybe because it’s still an affordable city with great amenities. Honestly, I think the city would be much better with “illegals” looking for a better life than with a miserable curmudgeon who will only complain and do nothing to help change the system.

  12. Debora Goldstein

    Once again, we are # 1 out of 9 in our District Reference Group H. Ansonia, Danbury, Derby, East Hartford, Meriden, Norwalk, Norwich, Stamford and West Haven.

    All nine of those are alliance district schools, which are the bottom 20% performing schools in the state out of 169.

    If we were actually one of the top performing schools in the state, we’d be able to get an exception to the state requirement that the BOE budget can’t be cut from one year to the next.

  13. niz

    I moved to Norwalk in 2015 I have a sped kid, I need to work locally and my kid needs a specific math program. I painfully learned that it is impossible to get either in Norwalk. Had no idea all the politicking was so intertwined in schools and jobs, just awful. NO American dream here and I have tried, networked, asked, sought, spent lots of money …. it unbelievable!

  14. John ONeill

    @Barbara: Can you respond to my questions? Thanks in advance for your help.

  15. Tysen Canevari

    Just for the record it was Mike Moccaie who orchestrated the revival of the beach, Fodor farm, and Cranbury Park to name a few. Harry pressed him to retire. Now he is making Trumbull beautiful while we pay his pension! What does school of distinction mean? Harry Rilling discontinued the extra points firemen received for living in Norwalk on the entrance exam. Soon there wont be any familiar faces walking in your door to administer life saving procedures. Our teachers are awesome! Its the system in general thats trash. We turned Silvermine School into a spanish speaking school. Thats sad! Barbara if your kid forgot lunch would they get it free? No, they would call you to bring one. However, if you are here illegally we will give you a physical, educate you, give you housing, let you hide here, and give you free breakfast and lunch. Starting next year your kids can stay up later to catch the 11:00 news because they can sleep in! I cant afford it but sent all 4 of my kids to private school to experience school the way I did. Three letters; S-A-D!!!

  16. TRS

    Spot on, Tysen.
    I know several NPS teachers and they AVOID sending their kids to NPS schools, too.
    It’s all about the ELL students nowadays…and it’s growing out of control.
    I’m so sick of hearing “top urban school district in CT.” That’s like coming in first place in a beauty contest filled with 10 guys who look like Edith and Archie Bunker.

  17. Pamela Parkington

    @ Gareth Moody, a whiff of xenophobia in the Brinton camp? More like the stench when the water treatment plant when it dumps sewage in the Norwalk River, mid August.

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