Quantcast

Norwalk’s Fodor Farm ready for an unveiling

Norwalk Recreation and Parks Department Director Mike Mocciae, center, shows off the second floor of the Fodor Farm main house Thurday to Common Council Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee members.
Norwalk Recreation and Parks Department Director Mike Mocciae, center, shows off the second floor of the Fodor Farm main house Thurday to Common Council Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee members.

NORWALK, Conn. — Looks are deceiving – while Fodor Farm still looks a little rough from the outside, with plywood covering its windows, the inside is finished and ready to show off to the public, aside from the installation of art and historical exhibits.

“Pretty impressive,” Common Councilman Michael Corsello (D-At Large) said Thursday, verbalizing a sentiment expressed by other members of the Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee taking a tour after their meeting.

“Architects said it couldn’t be done for less than $1.2 million. … We did it for less than $500,000 because of my staff and their dedication,” Recreation and Parks Department Director Mike Mocciae said of the renovations of the historic estate at 328 Flax Hill Road, which began nearly seven years ago.

The Norwalk Common Council Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee meets Thursday in the Fodor Farm conference room.
The Norwalk Common Council Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee meets Thursday in the Fodor Farm conference room.

The committee met in a conference room, seated at a large table made partially from beams salvaged from the 1809 farmhouse, as pictures of the building pre-renovation flashed on a television. Afterward, Mocciae and carpenter Steve Green showed Council members the results of their labor, pointing out hatchet marks in the beams still used in the walls and the ceiling.

The marks are there because that was how wood was cut, Green said. There were no saws, no electricity, he said.

The place was in such bad shape when the project began that Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo fell through the floor while showing Council members the second story, Mocciae and Councilman Rich Bonenfant (R-At Large) said.

There were two layers of plaster on the walls and five layers of roofing, Green said. The basement was a crawl space; it took five months of digging with a pick ax and shovels, carrying out dirt in 5-gallon pails, to turn it into the full basement it is today, workers said.

“We did it; we got it done,” said Matt DiJoseph, a carpenter’s assistant.

The 200-year-old windows were refurbished. You can’t see them from the outside because they are inset, with newer windows to be installed on the outside of the building.

The house has period-style lighting fixtures, all with LED bulbs, they said. Porcelain tile in the utility area looks like wood.

Norwalk Recreation and Parks Department carpenter Steve Green, left, shows of the original beam in Fodor Farm on Thursday.
Norwalk Recreation and Parks Department carpenter Steve Green, left, shows off the original beam in Fodor Farm on Thursday.

All that is left is to put the exterior windows on and to install artwork as well as historical items from the Norwalk Museum, Mocciae said.

Some of the historical items are already displayed in the barn, which was also toured in a display of pride from Recs and Parks. All that’s left of that project is to finish installing tongue-and-groove wood on the ceiling; the signs on the walls are from old Norwalk businesses, and there are tools, such as an apple picker.

Interpretive labels are yet to be installed next to the signs, Norwalk Historical Commission Chairman David Westmoreland said Friday. A large weather vane will be installed once the ceiling is done, he said.

“In the main house, we are doing a history of Fodor Farm in the conference room, a history of  ‘saving and restoring’ the farm in the break room, and then we’ll have various farming and other related folk art type objects on display throughout the building, including a weather vane on a stand, some other farming tools, an old oak roll-top desk, etc.  This will be installed probably in May/June,” Westmoreland said in an email.

Four non-profit organizations – the Norwalk Land Trust, the Norwalk Preservation Trust, Norwalk Grows and Live Green CT – are slated to pay $150 a month to rent a modicum of space on the second floor.

Mocciae called this a legacy that will serve Norwalk well.

“They are doing programs on the property as well so this place will really be a hub of green activities,” Mocciae said. “… It’s a win-win, this property.”

Council recs 16-0413 Fodor Farm Norwalk 120
From left, Norwalk Recreation and Parks Department Director Mike Mocciae, Common Council Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee Chairman Travis Simms (D-District B), Councilman Steve Serasis (D-District A) , Councilman Michael Corsello (D-At Large) and Councilman Rich Bonenfant (R-At Large) survey the nearly done work in the Fodor Farm barn, which is available for rented for functions.
Council recs 16-0413 Fodor Farm Norwalk 117
Matt DiJoseph, left, and Tyrone Martylewski talk on Thursday about fixing up Fodor Farm.
Interpretative labels will be installed next to these historic items in the Fodor Farm barn, Norwalk Historical Commission Chairman David Westmoreland said.
Interpretative labels will be installed next to these historic items in the Fodor Farm barn, Norwalk Historical Commission Chairman David Westmoreland said.
Council recs 16-0413 Fodor Farm Norwalk 112
LED lights in the Fodor Farm cupola are computer programmable, Steve Green said, comparing the effect to the Empire State Building.
Council recs 16-0413 Fodor Farm Norwalk 074
The Fodor Farm break room.

Comments

8 responses to “Norwalk’s Fodor Farm ready for an unveiling”

  1. Paul Persius

    This is what pisses people off about City administrators, they are so out of touch with reality. “It was estimated to cost 1.2 million to repair.” Lets see, 2 city employees for 7 years. Lets say each employee earns 70K. (im sure it is higher and my number doesnt include benefits). Thats 140K per year, times 7 years is 980K in LABOR ONLY. Add to that ALL materials, fixtures, (i saw some subcontractors there) heat, floors, paint, etc and it will be WELL OVER 1.2 million. SOmeone will say “but the employees were being paid anyway.” TURE, but if they were spending all their time at this place, something else wasnt getting done. So, 4 tenants at 150 per month, is 7200 per year. How many years to recoup our money?? Considering cost of utilities, it will never happen. I dont see how this makes any sense at all. Beautiful, yes. Sensible, no.

  2. Susan Wallerstein

    THANK YOU everyone involved! Clearly a “labor of love” restoring this valuable legacy.

  3. Bryan Meek

    Looks great. $4 million for the parcel too as I recall.

  4. Norwalk Parent

    It looks great. But why did we spend all of this time money and effort just to rent it out to a couple businesses. Not sure how that benefits Norwalk or its taxpayers.

  5. Norwalk teacher of 25 years

    I’m sure that in the future years to come, Fodor Farm will be used for many different functions. A beautiful job, well done! I am proud of the improvements on our town properties over the past several decades! When will Fodor Farm have an open house for its Norwalk residents?

  6. Amanda

    Here I am 🙂 The unpopular ignored opinion of Fodor Farm! I truly think what the city has done with the property is fantastic. I applaud everyone who worked on this project and think it turned out absolutely lovely.

    BUT… What has been forgotten throughout this belabored process is THE GARDENERS. This was meant to be a community garden, not an event space, not space for local non-profits to have an office. Yes, it’s fantastic to give the non-profits a place to call home, but it seems the city has forgotten the true meaning of WHY they purchased the property in the first place. Here’s an article from NYT in 2008:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/01gardenct.html?_r=0

    While the unveiling of Fodor Farm is great and can have much influence on generations to come, the current users of the property have been forgotten. It is not peaceful to come and tend your plot when there is a 100+ person party at the farm, with a DJ on a mic with speakers and zero parking. It is not peaceful to come tend your plot when there are children painting pumpkins and kids are running through the already tight parking lot unattended. In fact, it’s a liability.

    The gardeners are not given a schedule of planned events. Since the barn has been constructed, it’s a crap shoot on if you attend a good day/time to garden vs an event being held. If an event is being held, forget about parking.

    While I wholeheartedly agree the city has done a great job on the property, the last folks in line for consideration of any event held at FF are the gardeners. Mr.Mocciae and the P&R dept as a whole would create goodwill in the community if they were to communicate when events would be held. I hope someone in P&R is listening as this problem is only getting worse.

    Gardeners should get first parking rights in what is now an already diminshed overcroweded lot. If events are going to be held,vehicles should be parked off site and people bussed in and rules should be implemented.

  7. Rick

    Now it makes sense why we have so many private contractors working on Norwalks recreational fields.The other night there was a noise complaint on a popular field turned out private contractors working for the city.Bathrooms at vets park needed private contractors to fix and so on down the line. While the city may have saved money here where did the taxpayers pay a premium for work in other areas of the city?This was a partial list of guess what Norwalk paid for this week to private contractors via P&R.Money for the soccer fields this year exceeded last years cost the question is who did the work? and how much and if any of the filed rentals had anything to do with the repair work.

    A nice job? Yes its nice Norwalk has something to muster around and feel some city wide pride but at what cost?

    The garden, thats the gem thats the pride of others hard work thats food for those who enjoy labor with love.From what has been said it would be a shame if the P&G decided to charge for the lots but that would be the Norwalk way when something is taken from those who work so hard to develop such a nice spot.

    Maybe a dept head-rental agent should be what Norwalk needs now in the past it seems from Police details and security to event planning should be more of a priority to the city before trouble hits rather than after events on city soil.We have an ad hoc environmental watchdog dept who has uncovered some problems ,imagine if the city had a position for that alone the city may save in the end less damage would be done and more questions on operations in the city could be questioned .

    Now with so much at stake security cameras now will prevent any damage to the gardens and property I can’t wait to see where they have been placed.Not that its a high crime area but small pockets of trouble over the years with less traffic were reported, experience with our Mayor in security will ease anyones thoughts this won’t be a priority.

  8. To those people thinking “when do we get our money back”, I say this to you:
    You have created a legacy that your grandchildren will cherish for their grandchildren. It was way under budget. Saving your town a ton of bucks. If your so good with math, why not solve the national debt instead, and get the good godfried out of Norwalk. You don’t belong.

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments