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Norwalk political notes: New garbage contracts offer opportunity; NPS transition

City Carting picks up Norwalk waste in 2017.

NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk political notes for you:

  • Switching to city-wide garbage pickup?
  • Meadow Street transfer station a target
  • Wilcox Williams has left NPS in Communications Department makeover
  • NPS YouTube channel glitch

Considering a new model for waste pickup

City Carting’s 10-year contracts to haul Norwalk garbage and recyclable materials are expiring in June. When the City issues an invitation for competitive bids on new contracts, it may be seeking a company to do city-wide residential pickup.

That’s right, the antiquated current system may be dumped and if you’re in the Fifth Taxing District, you may be switching to putting out your garbage for a city-paid hauler. You’ll pay the city a user fee. You may also get Christmas tree pickups and other special services.

“Way before all of us, decades ago, the City made a decision to tie sanitation services with sanitary sewer services,” Anthony Robert Carr, Norwalk Chief of Operations and Public Works, said July 5 to the Common Council Public Works Committee, commenting that it took him a while to grasp the “floating” Fifth Taxing District, a district based on who isn’t connected to City sewers, not on geographic boundaries. Fourth Taxing District residents flush their wastewater into Norwalk’s treatment plant and therefore get garbage pickup.

Now, with City Carting’s contracts expiring in less than a year, the City is studying “a number of waste management models” and “one of them” is city-wide municipal solid waste pickup. If people get government garbage pickup, “then they would ideally get all the special services” like brush removal and Christmas tree pickup, Carr said.

It would work with a “equitable” user fee rather than a mill rate change and would only be available for buildings with up to four families, he explained. More than that is considered commercial. Four units is a “pinch point” based on the equipment needed to collect the waste and “there’s a mathematical formula on that based on how many tons an average family generates every year, which is between one and 1.5 tons annually of garbage.”

The Mayor’s Office has been discussing this with DPW and the next step is a meeting with Norwalk Chief Financial Officer Henry Dachowitz, he said. City Carting picks up waste at about 13,000 parcels and the new contracts would cover about 23,000 parcels, he said.

“I think we could do it city-wide for a reasonable cost, close to what the garbage mill rate is now,” Carr said. “Some might be paying more, some might be paying less. But then you’ll get the special services and … maybe we increase some of those special services too. So that’s fair across the board.”

Once the administration settles on a concept, DPW will draft an RFP (request for proposals) and,

“We’d obviously do a public information session,” he said.

Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Smyth (D-At Large) said that city-wide waste pickup is something “we’ve been talking about for years amongst ourselves. So it’s good to have this discussion publicly.”

 

Move the Meadow Street transfer station?

The above conversation ended with Council member Nora Niedzielski-Eichner (D-At Large) asking if City Carting could move its Meadow Street transfer station as part of a new contract, given that the City is planning to build a South Norwalk neighborhood school right down the street.

Carr said he’s not aware of any discussion about that, but the hauling contracts involve the City’s transfer station on Crescent Street, not City Carting’s private property near the new school site.

“Well, I’m putting it on your radar as a topic that I have every intention of having discussed,” Niedzielski-Eichner replied. “…I don’t think having all this garbage trucks going down that street when there are children in that building is safe or wise.”

She suggested that if City Carting is told that a condition of getting its Norwalk contract renewed hinges out of moving out of Meadow Street, then it might agree. Carr agreed that if City Carting is a finalist for a contract, then the City would have leverage.

“I’m saying, I will object to renewing City Carting’s contract if they’re continuing to use the Meadow Street location as a transfer station,” Niedzielski-Eichner said.

 

Then-Norwalk Public Schools Communications Director Brenda Wilcox Williams in 2017. (File photo)

Wilcox Williams leaves, Dua set to get NPS communications role

Niccolo Dua. (Contributed)

Brenda Wilcox Williams got a new title and a raise a year ago as part of Norwalk Public Schools administrative team. This year, her position was eliminated, and she’s moved on.

The transition follows recommendations made by Evergreen Solutions in the efficiency study released earlier this year. Shifting the communications functions so that they’re supervised by the Deputy Superintendent for Excellence, Equity, and Innovation would save the district about $150,000 a year, the consulting firm said. In May, the Board of Education unanimously voted to follow the recommendations.

“We’re looking at individuals that have a background in more digital communication and revising the job descriptions to align to those elements based on the need,” Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella said during the April 26 BoE meeting.

Wilcox Williams began as Communications Director in December 2013 under then-Superintendent of Schools Manny Rivera. Last year, Estrella made her Chief of Staff and Communications.

Her employment with the district ended June 30, she said.

“It’s been my honor to serve Norwalk students and families over the past 8+ years,” Wilcox Williams said in an email. “Although I am returning to the private sector with a new job in communications for a global company, I will continue to live in Norwalk, my home for nearly 25 years. I expect to continue being an active member of our community.”

Wilcox Williams made $183,784 in 2021 and $142,766 in 2020, City records show.

The Board of Education is meeting Wednesday to approve multiple appointments. Among them is Niccolo Dua as Director of Communications and Marketing.

He’s been Director of Electronic Communications for the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, “where he established their storytelling, social media and digital media practice,” the BoE agenda states.

He’s married and the father of three children, it states.

“His recent position as the Senior Director of Communications saw him conceptualize and launch Virtual Keystone Symposia (VKS) – an initiative that produced and disseminated digital content and engaged the global scientific community,” it states. “… Nick earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems, Minor in Business Administration Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY, Managing Technical Professionals and Project Management Certification from American Management Association. He is also a Meta Certified Digital Marketing Associate.”

 

Meetings in Spanish only

Last week, the NPS YouTube channel did not feature English language versions of the June 14, May 3 and May 17 BoE meetings.

Neither Thomas McBryde, Deputy Superintendent of Excellence, Equity, and Inclusion, nor Assistant Superintendent of Digital Learning and Innovation Ralph Valenzisi offered any explanation but after NoN pointed out the glitch, repairs were swiftly made.

11 comments

Taxpayer July 20, 2022 at 5:38 am

Wow city carting is at a disadvantage because they decided to build a school nearby. Perhaps it’s time to move the transfer station to city hall

E Fontaine July 20, 2022 at 8:01 am

it’s not the only commercial property in the area, don’t knowhow much difference it would make. it’s also a truck route.

John O'Neill July 20, 2022 at 10:44 am

“I feel like this is such a win for the community to have a property of this size, it’s going to allow for so much playing field space,” Niedzielski-Eichner said during Monday’s meeting. “And it turns out to be so clean. I think that’s something really to be celebrated and very grateful for.”
The above comment was from June 7th…

Comment below is from today:
“Well, I’m putting it on your radar as a topic that I have every intention of having discussed,” Niedzielski-Eichner replied. “…I don’t think having all this garbage trucks going down that street when there are children in that building is safe or wise.”

City Carting has done a tremendous job over the past 10 years. City officials knew what/where they were buying property for new school. In my opinion the above inferences from an elected official border on blackmailing a company that’s done a stellar job for Norwalk..

DrewT July 20, 2022 at 10:55 am

So let me see if I understand this whole City Carting deal?? They were brought it with high praise and to my knowledge and I do use the transfer station a decent amount of times they have been doing an excellent job since they came in. But NOW, as part of a new contract the CC Member is threatening them to move the Transfer Station or they wont get the contract renewed?!?! IS she SERIOUS?!?!? And it’s not exactly right down the block from the new SONO School. BTW has she looked around the area where that school is actually going? More and More stupidity from the CC. And when what about AMEC?? Its OK for them to be right there? Where does she want them to move. OH BTW, where doweled she have the Transfer Station Moved too? Maybe the City Hall Parking Lot? Why Not?!?! We have SO Many bigger issues in this City. The Transfer Station and City Carting are fine and really don’t need to be touched. Approve the contract and please start tackling real issues!

Also, a HUGE THANK YOU to Brenda Williams!!!! You really upgraded communications that were Worley needed at NPS. You will be missed and I highly doubt anyone will do as great as a job that you did! The efficiency study that cost a lot of money allowed for the hiring of 7 Superintendents but suggested her position be removed and she replaced by someone not even a part of our community. I’m not sure what special things he is going to bring to the position that she wasn’t doing? Are they going to have fireworks in the background when an email is sent? Oh Boy!

Stuart Garrelick July 20, 2022 at 11:38 am

I am a tax paying resident of Norwalk who does not get city pickup of garbage. I have questioned this numerous times without ever receiving a satisfactory explanation, other than I committed the sin of living in a condo. This past election I tried to generate support for condo garbage pickup within the Independent Party but was unsuccessful. Next election I hope to generate enough Condo Power to finally receive equitable treatment. If you are a Condo owner, start flexing your muscles.
Another suggestion- let’s start figuring out exactly how much money NPS will “save” with their communications change which was made specifically for that reason. The NPS and BOE will never report on this so, perhaps, Nancy can keep us updated on our “savings” which will surely result in less of a cry for increased funding in our next budget.

Margaret July 20, 2022 at 12:43 pm

How about garage cans that can be picked up the same as recycling? It is working for Stamford

Tysen Canevari July 20, 2022 at 12:58 pm

Imagine that Nancy. All these high priced “empty suits” with big titles and your grass roots not for profit publication had to point out that the NPS meeting on youtube was in Spanish only! Now aint that some SH#T! Amazing how much money these people make with their inflated titles and take away from the teachers and the children which is the core of what the Norwalk Schools should be about. The super must have been driving around in her Maserati!

Patrick Cooper July 20, 2022 at 6:11 pm

Nora “can I buy a vowel” got on the CC because she could see no evil on the ethics board. Could have the shortest political career in Norwalk since Barbara Meyer-Mitchell.

Mitch Adis July 20, 2022 at 9:10 pm

What about Lajoie’s and LeBlancs? Forget about them?

Typical politician! Make a grand statement without plan.

Seriously July 20, 2022 at 11:36 pm

Estrella just funneled the money that used to be Wilcox Williams job to her NEW YORK friends. This is all Estrella has managed to do, push people out and get her NEW YORK friends in. When shes done with the District itll be bled dry, with no one actually from Norwalk even running NORWALK Public Schools.

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