Norwalk reporter’s notebook: lawsuits flushed, no mall in East Norwalk, talkative Watts

Norwalk tax assessor Michael Stewart
Norwalk Tax Assessor Michael Stewart points to residential neighborhood map in his office, showing the spot labelled “shopping mall.”

NORWALK, Conn. – Sometimes things happen that aren’t worth a full story, but still deserve to be noted:

• The lawsuits against Norwalk and Ganga Duleep filed by two people who were injured as a result of a devastating fire on Wall Street in 2010 have been settled.

Patricia Taher and Randy Keen alleged that Norwalk had been negligent in inspecting Duleep’s building at 45 Wall St. On Oct. 14, the Common Council voted to settle the suit. It’s now official: Keen’s lawsuit was withdrawn on Thursday; Taher’s lawsuit was withdrawn Friday, according to the state’s judicial website.

The paperwork on both cases say it was done at no cost to either party. Deputy Corporation Counsel Jeffry Spahr on Friday declined to offer details. “We are in the process of putting finishing touches on the settlement of both of these matters,” Spahr wrote in an email. “Stay tuned.”

• There’s apparently no mall planned for East Norwalk.

Norwalk tax map
A detail of the map hanging in Norwalk Tax Assessor Michael Stewart’s office.

On Monday, the NoN commenter “Wineshine” said he had seen a planning map that showed a “Shopping Mall” at Norden Place. Wineshine provided an image to NoN, and said the map had been on display at an informational meeting about the recent property revaluation, which was held by the Tax Assessor’s Office.

Planning and Zoning Director Mike Greene said Thursday he knew nothing about any such map. Shown a picture, he said his department would not color in the zones the way it was done on the map. He speculated that the Tax Assessor’s office had done that.

On Friday, Tax Assessor Michael Stewart said that’s what happened. The neighborhood map was created to help in evaluating tax values, he said. Someone stuck a “shopping mall” label over Norden Park, he said. That’s what’s there, he said.

But there is no mall there.

Well, it’s developed, he said. That’s all it means.

• More than a third of Tuesday’s Common Council meeting was devoted to the words of Councilman David Watts (D-District A).

NoN studied the city’s video to come up with this assessment. The video is one hour, 35 minutes and 39 seconds long. Watts talked for 33 minutes and 8 seconds. Roughly, that’s 34.7 percent of the meeting.

That includes 2:26 of speechifying to endorse the anti-bullying resolution and thank Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E) for writing it, and 2:44 endorsing the senior tax relief – that passed, by the way – and praising Finance Committee Chairman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) and Mayor Harry Rilling for bringing it about.

The really good stuff was the 9.5 minutes devoted to saying it was a shame that no one had endorsed the effort to force the Maritime Aquarium to give Norwalk children a free summer camp on marine biology by putting it into the new lease, and the more than 16 minutes protesting the new honorary road-naming procedure, which includes the need to have 11 of 15 Council members vote to name a road after a living person.

Speaking of which, NoN could not, in listening to a recording made by NoN, clearly make out the words of Councilwoman Phaedrel “Faye” Bowman (D-District B) when she made a controversial statement about Jim Crow laws.

It’s very clear on the city’s video. “I’m sorry, it’s almost election season, but this reminds me of, what do they call them, Jim Crow laws. Yeah, you can vote but you have to do this, this and this. Why should a person have to have 11 votes?” she said.

• Haven’t had a good Seen and Heard in a while because it seems that no one is saying anything that fits the format. But there were a few quips at the Mayor’s Night Out on Thursday.

One Norwalk citizen asked if there could be more yard waste pickups. She said she lives across the street from Kendall Elementary School and the wind blows all of the leaves into her yard.

Rilling said city officials would get to work on changing the direction of the wind. DPW head Hal Alvord agreed. All in good fun.

Delores Meehan said plans for developments should be made available to citizens for inspection. Greene told her that all she had to do was come into the P&Z office and ask, and the plans would be provided.

Ask the reporters, he said – they come in all the time and look at plans. “If there’s anybody we want to hide it from, it’s them,” he said.


4 responses to “Norwalk reporter’s notebook: lawsuits flushed, no mall in East Norwalk, talkative Watts”

  1. Scott

    It’s a shame that the mayor and Mr. Alvord deflected the question about yardwaste pick up. It is a service that Mr. Alvord has slowly whittled away. We used to have pick up twice a month except June, July and August were once a month and then closed after first significant snowfall. Does the mayor support this reduction in service? The city still has the trucks because they just used them for bulky waste pick up. I guess we all will have to pay someone to remove our leaves because the end of this month may be too late. And if it does snow and the curb lines are stacked with leaf bags you can only imagine what the snow plow will do.

  2. Mike Mushak

    I knew the bogus mall proposal for the Norden site had to have a good explanation, and this was it. It certainly made for a lively debate on that article! Wineshine is forgiven for believing the tax map, with “Shopping Mall” written right there over Norden clear as day! Oops.

    We obviously need more yardwaste pick ups. The sad thing about this is that without a state of the art composting facility like so many other cities have, Norwalk taxpayers have to pay to have our leaves trucked away to other cities! It is absurdly expensive and an environmentally unsound practice. Composting leaves at home is fine if you have the room and the desire, but relatively few properties in Norwalk have that kind of room. I know there are folks both in City Hall and privately working on a long-term solution to this dilemma, which is great.

  3. Kathleen Montgomery

    Having observed many meetings for group process concerns, Watts holding forth for a little over 1/3 of the meeting time is telling. People who are unprepared for meetings do this in abundance.

  4. McKeen Shanogg

    If each of the 9 Common Council members spoke for 33 minutes, the meetings would be almost 5 hours long. Which they sometimes are.

    Editor’s note: In fact, there are 15 Council members, 2 from each of 5 districts and 5 at large. If each spoke for 33 minutes the meetings would be 8.25 hours long. (There are 9 Board of Ed members).

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