NORWALK, Conn. – For bikers and walkers who have been waiting for the mayor to follow up on campaign promises and address their concerns, the wait is just about over.
Mayor Harry Rilling will hold a press conference at 8 a.m. Thursday on the westbound side of the East Norwalk Railroad Station to announce the formation of the Norwalk Bike/Walk Task Force. The unit will be composed of local residents and business owners and led by co-chairmen Mike Mushak and Peter Libre.
The group’s purpose, according to a press release from the mayor’s office, will be “to help make city streets and sidewalks safer for everyone regardless of age or ability, or whether they are in a car, on foot, or on two wheels.”
According to the press release, the task force will put an emphasis on making safer routes to school, work, shopping, pleasure and transit, and implementing the many professional plans and studies Norwalk already has in place to achieve these goals. The task force will also emphasize public education on following the rules of the road for everyone, including cars, pedestrians and cyclists.
“The task force will be responsible for advising all of our decision-makers in City Hall, including the mayor, on the best approach to improve safety for all modes of transportation in Norwalk,” according to the release.
The release stated that the goal is “to improve the quality of life for all Norwalkers, and in turn contribute to economic growth and business investment as many studies show these are greatly improved when our cities are made more livable, walkable, and bikeable.”
Moving from bikes to boats…
Rilling will present a proclamation to the Norwalk Sail and Power Squadron and the Norwalk Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 72 declaring May 17–23 National Safe Boating Week. The presentation will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 17, at the visitor’s dock in Veterans Park.
“The Norwalk Sail and Power Squadron and The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 72, provide safe boating instruction for all ages in order to prevent boating accidents and to teach rescue and survival techniques in case one does occur,” Rilling said in a press release. “National Safe Boating Week is just the start of the year-round effort to promote safe boating”.
The Norwalk Police and Fire Marine divisions, the Harbor Master, along with members of the Norwalk Sea Scouts Ship 6 crew will participate in the event. The U.S. Power Squadron Ensign and the U.S. Coast Guard Flags will be raised in the Norwalk tradition to fly for one week. The public is invited.
Getting out the vote
At the beginning of May, representatives from the Registrar of Voters, along with members of the Norwalk chapter of the League of Women Voters, went to all three of Norwalk’s High Schools – Richard C. Briggs, Brien McMahon and Norwalk – and registered qualified students as new voters. Those registered were 18-year-olds and 17-year-olds who will turn 18 on or before Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 4).
According to Republican Registrar Karen Doyle Lyons, the practice of registering high school seniors has been occurring in Norwalk for several years.
“With students moving ahead to college, we want to provide them with the opportunity to register to vote and ask questions about voting,” she said in a press release.
According to Lyons, as of 2012, Connecticut General Statutes now allow individuals who are 17 to vote in primaries if they will be 18 on Election Day.
“We want to instill in them the importance of voting in both primaries as well in general elections,” she stated.
This year when the students at the three high schools were offered the opportunity to register to vote, 18 students registered at Briggs, 45 registered from Brian McMahon and 20 registered at Norwalk High (the low turnout at NHS was attributed to many of the seniors not being available during the lunch shift registration process as they were rehearsing for the school play at the time).
The individuals who were registering the students were Elsa Peterson Obuchowski and Donna Karnes from the League of Women Voters and Loren Allee and Robert J. Sodaro from the Registrar of Voters’ office.
If anyone has questions about their right to vote, if they’re registered to vote, or where they should go to cast their vote, they should contact the Registrar’s office at (203) 854-7996.
I-95 overnight lane closures
From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday, May 15, there will be a double left lane closure on I-95 North between exits 15 and 17, and double right lne closure on I-95 South between exits 17 and 16. The closures are to facilitate the state Department of Transportation’s bridge inspection and evaluation program.
The Connecticut Tree Festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 17, at Cranbury Park. The family event will be filled with entertainment and education, and everything — admission, parking, picnic lunch drinks — is free. Nearly 40 exhibitors are expected, and you can send your kids up a tree — in a cherry-picker or rope harness, that is.