Norwalk Redevelopment Agency picking its spots

NORWALK, Conn. – Workmen have transformed the view on a Norwalk roadway in advance of a grant to create a more permanent fix-up.

The wildflower meadows installed by volunteer Mike Mushak in medians on West Avenue have been pulled up and replaced by purple petunias and other colorful flowers.

“The Redevelopment Agency assumed the maintenance responsibilities for the SoNo traffic islands and Art Park of which the plantings are a part,” Norwalk Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan said in an email.

More than a year ago, at a meeting to unveil West Avenue landscaping plans, then-RDA Special Projects Manager MaryGrace Weber said the work would include narrowing the median strips and installing irrigation to provide the water needed for the landscaping. Funding sources had been identified to support the work, she said, but Sheehan said the new flower planting is “not part of the larger West Ave. Master Plan or the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant Application.”

That grant is a United States Department of Transportation program. In May, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that USDOT had received grant applications totaling $9.5 billion, when there is only $600 million to go around.

North Water trellis South Norwalk 001-2014-04-15
The trellis on North Water Street.

However, Norwalk has the funds to go ahead with another RDA project. In April, RDA Senior Project Manager Susan Sweitzer informed the SoNo Task Force that lights would be installed on a trellis along the waterfront at the Maritime Aquarium. Sweitzer said this week that the installation will start on Monday.

The new SoNo sign under the Washington Street railroad trestle bridge is also expected to light up. The LED lights are on order, Sweitzer said.

Don’t expect a SoNo sign for the other side of the Washington Street intersection as yet, she said. But the LED lights will be programmable and change colors, she said in April.

West Avenue
A yellow-based wildflower meadow installed on West Avenue by a volunteer has been replaced by purple and pink plants by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency.


7 responses to “Norwalk Redevelopment Agency picking its spots”

  1. Suzanne

    As pretty as they look right now, they have taken perennial, or plants that re-grow from year to year, a meadow, and replaced it with annuals that must be replaced every year. I hope these beds have a trust fund.

  2. Mike Mushak

    I appreciate most of what our esteemed Redevelopment Agency does, and in this particular case I like the sign under the bridge. But like Suzanne in her post above, I am scratching my head over the removal of a beautiful drought-tolerant and sustainable native meadow in full bloom, that I worked for 3 years on, at no cost to the city.
    I got the courtesy of a call from city staff warning me it would be removed one week from the call in mid June, and I assumed it was for the permanent plantings recommended in the 2012 Connectivity Study. I was shocked to then find out it was not, but it was only to turn around and install high maintenance annuals that will need constant watering and weeding the rest of the year at taxpayer expense, which will need replacing every year.
    I will always support progress in Norwalk, yet I will never cease to be amazed at times at how we define that word progress. The good thing is the public and the birds and butterflies can still enjoy my colorful and sustainable meadow planting at my company’s adopt a spot at MLK and Washington St.


  3. LWitherspoon

    @Tim D
    Thank you but I am against youtube too.

  4. EastNorwalkChick

    Mike is right, annuals are high maintenance plants, it also looks like they haven’t mulched the beds properly, perfect breeding ground for weeds…newly turned over soil. I highly doubt that by the end of July that these islands will still look as good a when they were first planted.
    They should have gone with grasses and heat/drought tolerant perennials or left what was there alone.

  5. Bill Wrenn

    It sounds like this landscaping decision was made like many other Redevelopment Agency decisions, without much planning, logic, or concern for taxpayers.

  6. EveT

    What a shame. Kind of like the big ceramic planters that were placed along West Avenue, was it last year? Full of high-maintenance annuals that didn’t get the maintenance so they withered and looked awful.

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