Norwalk official looking to dredge Veterans Park ramp

A workman checks the depth around the Norwalk’s Veterans Park launch ramp recently. (Contributed photo)

NORWALK, Conn. – A workman poking around the launch ramps at Veterans Park recently sparked suspicions among two NancyOnNorwalk readers – both wanted to know what Recreation and Parks Director Mike Mocciae was up to.

“A little birdie tells me Mocciae had an area around the launch ramps surveyed just recently, for water depth,” one wrote Monday. “Same little birdie suspects he intends to get some dredging done there as part of the larger dredging project, apparently to make more room for way-too-big boats.  Could he be cooking up a return of the Island Belle?”

The Island Belle, a Mississippi river-style boat, damaged the visitors pier when it broke free during Superstorm Sandy.

Mocciae confirmed Tuesday that his department is looking to get in on the larger dredging project, which was announced earlier this week, but he said there are no plans at this time for a return of the Island Belle.

The $5 million final phase of Norwalk River dredging will be done with $3.3 million in federal grants and $1.7 million in state funds, removing 160 cubic yards of sediment, from the Stroffolino Bridge to the mouth of the harbor.

The materials sent to NancyOnNorwalk  did not mention work at Vets Park.

Mocciae said work has been needed there for a while.

“We are silting back in at the launch ramps,” he said. “We haven’t done (dredging there) since the early ’90’s.”

It would be much cheaper to dredge the launch ramp as part of the river dredging, when all the equipment will be here and the disposal of the sediment arranged, he said.

Mocciae’s request of $100,000 in capital budget funds to design and engineer a new ramp was denied. He said dredging the area would “give us a leg up.”

“It’s easy because now we have an open field to put the new launch ramps and the docks in,” he said.

He thinks the larger dredging project will start in October. He would need to have the permits for the launch work by July, and then he would start looking for grant money for the project.

As for “way too big boats,” Mocciae defended the former presence of the Island Belle at the dock as revenue that isn’t coming in anymore.

Mocciae said the damage from the Island Belle is estimated to be $38,000 to $40,000, which the city is hoping to get back from owner Ken Hart.

Now that the boat isn’t there, the city is not getting the benefit of it’s $2,000 a month rent through the winter, he said.

Dredging the area around the launch ramp and redesigning the dock would allow a boat like the Island Belle to rent space without intruding into the federal navigation channel, he said.

But the work needs to get done even without a potential commercial renter, he said.

“We have boats come in anyway, besides the Island Belle, come in from New York and New Jersey that are just as big but they don’t stay,” he said. “They offload people to Washington Street and then they come back. They never stay longer than two hours, they’re usually out to sea and then come back in. We’ve done that all along.”

Announcement of federal funding for dredging


5 responses to “Norwalk official looking to dredge Veterans Park ramp”

  1. oldtimer

    Kimmell can protest all he wants, but Pena has a point when he complains about the nominal democrats who were so easily convinced to become republicans in fact while still calling themselves democrats. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and meets (caucuses) with ducks, it is probably a duck.
    Why not just register as republicans ?

  2. Tim T

    Old Timer
    You are 100 percent correct.
    The only thing is I think you posted this on the wrong thread. LOL. Please read my post when you get a chance on the other thread as I think Kimmell should resign and force a new election and run as a Republican. I feel betrayed that he had got my vote.

  3. Old Salt

    Dierctor Moccaie is correct the City of Norwalk has in violation of federal and state permits been allowing commercial use of the Veterans park facility all along. Wouldn’t it be prudent to at least cash the federal and state dredging checks before breaking the law again? Alas Director Mocciae is aloud to continue to break the law, while other harbor bussiness are held to a much higher standard. Why is the Harbor master allowing these things to go on, could it be he is employed by Director Moccaie as the Veterans Park supervisor? Interesting. I thought there was only a problem in the town clerk,s office….shouldn’t this situation be audited as well?

    As for the island belle… The vessel was too big for the dock. Everyone knows that. The emergency services departments in Norwalk could not react adequately in an emergency with a vessel of this size. Ask Chief McCarthy how his boat was going to evacuate 600 passengers, unless they were going on the Harbormasters boat too! Our wise director of Rec and parks mentions the loss of revenue after the departure of the island belle. Wasn’t that the same vessel that the Mayor said had not paid the city a dime since Dec 2011? Confused? I am. I suggest a full and compleat audit of all dealings for the visitors docks are in order for at least the last 60 months. Lots of cash moves through that facility.. Are there any controls? Has the City comptroller or HR looked into that facility recently?

    Let those folks on the Harbor Commission take a look at this. Didn’t they just get almost six million dollars to dredge the Harbor? Seems like they would know how to sort this out, or better yet ask everyone on the waterfront who they would like to see run the Vets Park Facility… Don’t think it would be the current group of “professionals”.

  4. oldtimer

    Income ? It would be interesting to see the books and see if, in fact, the Island Belle had generated any income in 2012 for the city or paid for any of the damage. Moccaie makes it sound like Hart, the owner of the business run out of the park with the Island Belle, was paying for dock space all year. There was a comment by the mayor that he had not paid anything past Jan.1st of 2012. Who are we to believe ?

  5. Diane C2

    What part of “taxpayers own the parks” doesn’t Mr. Mocciae understand! His “I Love Lucy”-style get-rich-quick-schemes to generate income are an insult to many Norwalkers, and only serves to justify our call that city Directors must be residents! I wonder how much of this nonsense goes on where he lives….

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