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Norwalk plans $2M ARPA investment in Recreation and Parks

Bouton Street Park playground.

NORWALK, Conn. – A Norwalk school playground and three South Norwalk parks will see new equipment, courtesy of American Rescue Plan Act funds, Mayor Harry Rilling said Thursday.

The $2 million commitment also includes funding for improved field maintenance, modernization of Recreation and Parks Department systems and accreditation.

Video by Harold F. Cobin at end of story

“We’re really excited about the journey we’re on. We’re on a journey to improve Parks and Recreation Department in Norwalk, and to make it one of the best Recreation and Parks Department in the tri-state area,” Norwalk Recreation and Parks Director Robert Stowers said during a news conference outside City Hall.

Rilling said $1.4 million in upgrades are planned for:

  • Bouton Street Park playground
  • Flax Hill Park playground
  • Kendall Elementary School playground
  • Meadow Street Park

 

Meadow Street Park will see a complete redesign and installation of playground equipment, because it’s “really tired and really, really needs attention,” Rilling said.

Norwalk’s open space and parks are a draw but things deteriorate and the City has struggled to assign fields equitably, Rilling said. The federally funded ARPA grants are a “great thing” because “we can only do so much with operating budget funds, because we have to keep taxes as low as we possibly can.”

It’s particularly tough given the investment needed in the schools because they were “ignored for decades,” he said. Some of the parks have also been ignored and “they’re almost an embarrassment at times,” but now, with ARPA, the City can address its longstanding wish list of items that get kicked down the road for lack of funding.

Rilling also mentioned $380,000 for field maintenance and the systems modernization is included in $220,000 of ARPA funds. New vehicles will be purchased.

The city has 1,200 acres of recreation and parks, including two beaches and two mansions, so Recreation and Parks is “very, very busy.”

Stowers said the with school grounds under its purview, the department maintains 54 sites.

Common Council Recreation and Parks Committee Chairwoman Darlene Young (D-District B) said the Council will need to approve the ARPA fund usage. Then, the department’s efficiency and the parks’ conditions will be improved.

She said, “I am happy that this is happening and can’t wait for this to take place, particularly because quite a few of those improvements are in South Norwalk, which has been underfunded and in need of great repeat improvements for quite some time.”

2 comments

Johnny cardamone June 17, 2022 at 10:00 am

I still prefer the old name Parks and Recreation let’s put the emphasis on parks at preserving natural open space a little bit that is left in our beloved town city of Norwalk

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