NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s what we have for you in political notes this week:
- Chimento tackling problem Alvord said was impossible to fix
- Harbor Management Commission members are not feeling the love
- DEEP’s not as powerful a Lauricella thinks
- FOI hearing on Mosby complaints rescheduled to the week before election
Chimento green lights DPW focus on traffic signals
Anyone who routinely goes through the intersection of Fairfield Avenue, Flax Hill Road and Couch Street knows how frustrating it can be, but there was nothing to be done, former Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord said some while back.
New DPW Director Bruce Chimento is taking a shot.
The department is tinkering with the timing of the lights, Chimento said, shaking his head and calling the intersection a “nightmare.”
DPW also has, under Chimento’s command, changed the timing at the intersection of Commerce Street and Wall Street. Now you can make a left turn from Commerce onto Wall, he said.
“There’s an ongoing program that we have, especially looking at our older lights that don’t respond as well,” Chimento said.
“People don’t realize that when we do something with a light we have to get state approval. … It’s not a difficult thing, it just takes time. The state people are responsive to us, but don’t forget they’ve got the entire state,” he said.
You also need state approve to change center lines, he said.
People have been talking to him about the Fairfield/Flax Hill intersection, he said, about how the light makes drivers sit and wait to cross MLK from Fairfield when there is no one on MLK, backing the traffic up.
Drivers routinely block Flax Hill, and by the time they clear the intersection the light has turned red again. No problem, usually – taking a right onto Fairfield is easy at that point, unless some unfortunate soul wants to go left and is stuck there. You can’t go around.
Chimento said that is changing. DPW is making Flax Hill into two lanes there.
“We are going to try to do something about that,” Chimento said.
A Commission without a country
Harbor Management Commission members have spent a lot of time updating mooring rules and regulations, they say. But getting them to the Common Council for approval is not as easy as you would think.
“We have to figure out which department we are going to go through,” Tony Mobilia said at their recent meeting, prompting a rant from John Pinto.
“We are a bona fide commission of the city of Norwalk,” Pinto said. “We should have direct contact with the Common Council members. If we want to get something done by that Common Council, we go directly to that Common Council as a Commission of the city of Norwalk. Why do we have to go to another Commission? Why do we have to wait for Mr. Mocciae? Why do we have to wait for Mr. Greene? I don’t understand it.”
“I don’t know if I’m walking a plank here and I am going to say this with a smile on my face, but not being totally versed in governing procedure, how is it that, over all of these years, a great amount of things that we do deal with we deal with through Planning and Zoning? How are those two things able to co-exist? We have to do this through them, we have to do that through them, they give us support on this, support on that. When it comes to a thing like this, we are a man without a country,” Harbor Master Mike Griffin said.
Coastal Area Planning Consultant Geoff Steadman said five previous mooring regulation updates had gone through the Parks and Recs Committee without a problem. “Now for whatever reason it’s not moving forward,” Steadman said.
“Why do we need Parks and Rec?” Pinto asked.
It’s up to Planning and Zoning to provide staff support, Steadman said.
“Is this a trick dictionary that we are talking about: ‘provide staff support’? How do we define staff support?” Griffin asked.
Can DEEP pull Norwalk’s ‘privilege’?
Democratic activist Diane Lauricella is not alone in saying that Norwalk does not respect the state’s opinion on Coastal Management Act applications, but she does appear to be out on a limb with a recent statement regarding the state’s power.
At a recent meeting of the Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations (CNNA), Lauricella asserted:
“The city has been given the privilege of administering the Coastal Area Management Act. That is a sacred privilege. It can be taken away if they continuously forget that they have to look at the balance of environment with development. If they don’t want to do it, that sacred trust should be given to a different department and a different commission.”
But a Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection official’s statement seemed to blow Lauricella’s assertion out of the water.
DEEP Communications Director Dennis Schain said this in an email:
“DEEP does not have the power to withdraw a municipality’s authority to conduct coastal site plan reviews….or to determine which local authority should do such reviews. The roles of DEEP and cities and towns on this are spelled out by statute.
“Given the above, we have never withdrawn authority for a municipality to conduct coastal site plan reviews…statutes do not allow for that.”
FOI hearing rescheduled
Norwalk Board of Education member Shirley Mosby’s battle against Freedom of Information requests may finally resume on Oct. 26.
That’s a full month since Mosby requested that the two Freedom of Information Commission hearings scheduled for Sept. 28 be postponed, claiming that she was on bed rest that week. That would have been Parent Teacher Organization Council President Michael Byrne’s first bite at the apple, his chance to make an argument that the organization should have access to the “evidence” collected by Mosby to support her year-old accusation of “disparate treatment” on the BoE.
That would have been followed with another hearing with NancyOnNorwalk and Republican Town Committee Chairman Pete Torrano.
The NoN and RTC cases were consolidated by the Commission. That case is scheduled to continue at 1 p.m. Oct. 26. Byrne’s case is scheduled be heard at 2:30 p.m.
Don’t expect a revelation. Hearing Officer Valencia Harmon will make a recommendation to the full Commission. Then, provided that Mosby hasn’t decided to turn over what she has to the public, there will be more waiting while a final hearing is scheduled.