Yes to tolling trucks and getting the roads and rails fixed

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I support the draft tolling legislation, LCO No. 373, because it makes the big (Class 8 and above) trucks pay for using our highways. These trucks, when fully loaded, put vastly greater wear and tear on our infrastructure as compared to cars. Class 8 trucks are generally long haul and full of merchandise being delivered to destinations outside of Connecticut. It is time we collected our fair share of road maintenance user fees as all the other states between Maine and Florida have had doing for years now. Continue reading Yes to tolling trucks and getting the roads and rails fixed


Any hate crime is hate crime

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Late last month, our Senator Bob Duff and Senate President Pro Tempore Looney announced “A Just Connecticut,” one of four legislative agendas for the 2020 General Assembly session. One item within this particular agenda “Combating Hate Crimes & Violent Right-Wing Extremism” would have Connecticut finance and create a new state police division specializing in “investigating FAR RIGHT extremist groups and individuals.”

Pardon me? Isn’t hate just hate, regardless of whom that hate is directed towards? Of course it is. Shouldn’t we be fighting ALL hate and especially ALL hate crimes? Of course. Are we intending, as this agenda item seems to suggest, to give a pass to hate crimes committed by “left wing” extremists? Of course not. I am sure that in their hearts, Senators Duff and Looney know all of this, but in a misguided attempt to incite partisan fervor, they choose to use dangerously polarizing language in connection with a very serious, emotionally charged issue. It shows incredibly poor judgement at best, but why should we be surprised? Continue reading Any hate crime is hate crime


NPS wrestles with enrollment growth

The Ponus school expansion on Jan. 11. (Paul Cantor)

NORWALK, Conn. – When the Ponus Middle School expansion/renovation is complete this year, it will be short of space to seat the expected students.

Norwalk Public Schools is talking about installing two portables on the campus in what Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski referred to as an “almost permanent” solution to the shortage. Additionally, district-wide enrollment growth may scotch the plans to turn the Chestnut Street school into an International Baccalaureate K-5 Academy. Continue reading NPS wrestles with enrollment growth


Recreation and Parks commenters step up to the plate at capital budget hearing

The crowd, Wednesday evening in the City Hall community room. (Paul Lanning)

NORWALK, Conn. – It was Wednesday in City Hall, and what looked like the line at the DMV was actually a lengthy queue of Norwalk coaches, parents, and young athletes waiting their turn to advocate for better sports facilities.

Former Planning Commissioner Dave Davidson kicked off the dialogue, contending that Recreation and Parks’ needs “for the last several years have been sacrificed to fund the Board of Education programs, which have exploded from the time they were originally proposed and approved.  You have to recognize infrastructure and recreation and parks’ needs with the same support that you’ve given to the Board of Ed in the past.” Continue reading Recreation and Parks commenters step up to the plate at capital budget hearing



Norwalk Council DPW roundup: It’s all in a name

From left, Norwalk Director of Recreation and Parks Nick Roberts, Waste Programs Manager Jessica Paladino and Norwalk Chief of Operations and Public Works Anthony Robert Carr, Tuesday in City Hall.

Updated, 7:51 p.m.: More information; two tiers of disposal passes, not three.

NORWALK, Conn. – Some important doings in the Common Council Public Works Committee:

  • A plan to revise the resident pass system
  • Renaming part of Chestnut Street to honor Cesar Ramirez – but not right away
  • A request to rename Cemetery Street

Continue reading Norwalk Council DPW roundup: It’s all in a name


Norwalk parents seek funding for school projects

Tracey Magnet School students ask for a new playground, Wednesday in City Hall. (Paul Lanning)

NORWALK, Conn. – The Planning Commission’s public hearing on Norwalk’s 2020-21 capital budget drew a crowd of roughly 150 citizens, including several dozen lively commenters, to City Hall Wednesday night.

At the outset, a question put to the Commissioners by NancyOnNorwalk Board Chairwoman Claire Schoen instigated an exchange regarding process.  Schoen asked, “What happened to instructional technology? It was not funded when it was requested.  I’d like to know why”, to which  Planning Commission Chairwoman Fran DiMeglio replied “The Finance-recommended numbers are here.  We’re not here to change, his numbers are his numbers….We’re not here to address why he did it.”   Continue reading Norwalk parents seek funding for school projects



Norwalk capital budget features school projects, transportation studies and question marks

Chief Financial Officer Henry Dachowitz. (File photo)

Update, 3 p.m. Feb 6: Capital budget info is on city website. Correction, 3:46 p.m.: Silvermine driveway is slated for 2021-22 funding. Clarification added regarding Cranbury Elementary funding. 3:57 p.m.: Correction on Jessica Casey explanation.

NORWALK, Conn. – You are invited to go to City Hall tonight and opine on the capital budget. It’s suggested that you go to City Hall and wade through paperwork if you want to know what to opine on.

Contrary to previous practice, detailed information is not available on the City’s website but you could email and ask for information on specific projects, if you can divine what they are from the skimpy information available online. Continue reading Norwalk capital budget features school projects, transportation studies and question marks


Developing Jefferson concept includes possible glass-walled gymnasium

Michael LoSasso of Antinozzi Associates shows off a rendeing of the Jefferson Elementary gymnasium glass wall idea, Thursday in Norwalk City Hall.

NORWALK, Conn. — Renovation efforts to transform Jefferson Elementary School into a like-new building should be beginning about a year from now, Alan Lo said.

There’s a new idea for the design: reorienting the gymnasium 90 degrees from the concept presented a year ago. This solves several issues and creates the possibility of floor to ceiling glass, bringing the outside in, architect Michael Losasso said at Thursday’s Board of Education Facilities Committee meeting. Continue reading Developing Jefferson concept includes possible glass-walled gymnasium


Can new tax assessor help Norwalk keep pace with spending?

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Last week, I attended the Common Council meeting when Norwalk’s newest employee, Tax Assessor William Ford, was confirmed.  After welcoming him, I was compelled to share housing issues unchecked for too long.  My hope is he’ll apply his experience from Worcester. Census figures reveal a city with 185,000 residents and only 42 percent owner-occupied housing. Is Norwalk headed in that direction? I think so. How does Worcester fund everything?

Norwalk’s shift in housing stock has been gradual, with a rise in multi-unit rentals, both new and illegal, resulting in a decreased percentage of what was historically and reliably taxed owner-occupied single-family homes.  Demographic shifts, northeast affordability, a struggling state economy, new immigration trends and City Hall policy has resulted in a more densely populated, less affluent population settling into Norwalk, with a need for cheaper housing. City Hall’s reliance on individual landlords, LLCs and real estate trusts for property taxes comes at a time of increasing city costs including headcount, salaries and benefits, school enrollment and infrastructure.  Continue reading Can new tax assessor help Norwalk keep pace with spending?


A Norwalk Zoning complaints primer

Attorney Gary Oberst presides over a Norwalk Zoning Citation hearing in June, 2018. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. — Your next-door neighbor routinely parks two big dump trucks and a front loader in his driveway.

Or maybe there are three separate dish antennas atop the single-family home across the street, with seven cars and vans scattered at odd angles on the front lawn. Continue reading A Norwalk Zoning complaints primer


Council hires assessor, OKs $1 million for SoNo community center; set to tackle ‘sensitive’ topic

A rendering of the proposed YMCA community center at 98 South Main St. It’s hoped that construction will be complete in three years.

NORWALK, Conn. – Some Common Council news for you:

  • Norwalk approves 30-year lease on YMCA community center in old NEON building
  • New tax assessor confirmed, lauded
  • Discussion planned to consider South Norwalk eminent domain purchases

Continue reading Council hires assessor, OKs $1 million for SoNo community center; set to tackle ‘sensitive’ topic