Since Mayor Rilling has been in office, he and his professional and hard-working staff have pulled off a miraculous trifecta: improved services, better management of the city, and lower taxes for most homeowners across the city. That positive trend will only get better if he and fellow Democrats are re-elected next month.
Norwalk is doing a great job of balancing growth with preservation of our traditionally affordable and historic neighborhoods. We know this firsthand because we live and work in the diverse neighborhood of Golden Hill in South Norwalk, and have seen our historic neighborhood improve greatly over the past six years without forcing any residents or businesses out through gentrification.
Norwalk’s diversity has always been our strength, and preserving that diversity while simultaneously increasing opportunities for everyone is a top priority for the Rilling administration as all the evidence shows.
The truth is, Norwalk is getting better while responding smartly to the market and to the huge nation-wide demographic shift that is seeing vibrant and walkable and denser neighborhoods in once-depressed post-industrial cities become more attractive to millennials, empty-nesters, and retirees. That’s who is mostly filling up the new rental apartments as fast as they are built, helping alleviate our severe housing shortage while adding economic activity and street life and new businesses and jobs to formerly empty, dangerous, and blighted downtown neighborhoods near transit connections.
Attracting millennials in denser neighborhoods also means fostering a healthy employment base for our established corporations and startups to draw from. The recent move by Diageo back to New York City, and a few years ago of GE to Boston, was not because of taxes, but in their own words it was because of the lack of talent in our area. Norwalk is helping to fix that by growing smartly and in areas near transit that guarantees our future sustainability and economic success in our rapidly changing world.
There is an important trend as well in housing that Norwalk is well-positioned for. Many of the millennials in rental housing are future homebuyers of single family homes as they settle into raising families, and this trend will help stabilize the single-family housing market that has seen declines as overall demand for suburban houses has dropped nationwide.
The idea being pushed by some that rental housing is a burden on single-family homeowners is nonsense. Rental housing units pay more in property taxes (which are included in the rent and paid for by landlords) per square foot than single family homes, and require much less services as they aren’t sprawled across thousands of acres of paved streets connected by hundreds of miles of utilities that all require expensive upkeep to maintain. And we are growing at a steady controlled pace of about 6% this decade, much slower than most other decades over the past century when Norwalk’s growth rate averaged close to 20% per decade. So our growth is not “ exploding” as some believe, but is just enough to allow businesses to expand and revive our downtown areas near transit hubs that are now enjoying an urban renaissance just like all smart cities across the nation are.
Re-electing Harry Rilling will continue the positive and sustainable momentum that has helped grow our grand list, bring more businesses and jobs, provide more housing choices for so many, revive our downtown areas, and rebuild our schools, athletic facilities, and infrastructure after decades of neglect.
That is why Harry Rilling and the entire Democratic ticket are strongly supported by us, and by almost everyone we know across the city who love and care about the future of Norwalk as much as we do!
Michael Mushak and David Westmoreland
(Mr. Mushak serves on the Norwalk Planning Commission, and Mr. Westmoreland serves on the Redevelopment Agency Commission and Second Taxing District Commission. The stated views in this letter are their own.)