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Redevelopment chief: Expected Wall Street boom may create anxiety for some

Updated, 1:25 p.m.: Comments from Mayor Harry Rilling supporting back-in parking. 

NORWALK, Conn. — Prediction: One year from now, Norwalkers will be complaining about “too much” development happening in the Wall Street area.

So says Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan in telling two groups last week that construction at the three long-delayed projects is moving ahead, and there’s another one that should be submitted to Zoning soon. But one aspect of the rosy prediction is set for some controversy – Sheehan said the city has decided to go with back-in angled parking for Wall Street, but Wall Street Task Force Chairwoman Jackie Lightfield said that’s, well, “dumb.” The task force has concerns about the sudden activity, too, she said.

Sheehan’s first commentary on this came at the Parking Authority meeting, where Dick Brescia said the “general tone” on Wall Street is that the city is neglecting that area while trying to jump start SoNo. Not true, Sheehan said.

Head of the Harbor South and the Globe Theater are surely going ahead; Wall Street Place is very likely to proceed and Jason Milligan is planning a housing project behind the library, Sheehan said.

“I am pretty confident that at the end of the day that within 12 months, the sense of what’s occurring on Wall Street is going to be dramatically different than what people perceived it,” Sheehan said. “… All of this construction will hit at same time, and the folks that today are concerned about the construction not advancing are just going to be overwhelmed by the level of construction that’s actually going to be happening all around them.”

Lightfield said similar things in an email.

“I’ve heard rumors that Milligan has purchased the People’s Bank and Eagles Property near the library, that the First Taxing District wants to sell their Belden Ave. property, and that Belpointe/Paxton Kinol are buying property on Knight and Cross Streets. Each project is rumored to be for housing,” she wrote.

Head of the Harbor should begin construction in mid-summer, Sheehan said Thursday to District A Democrats; current activity includes utility relocation orders. The former Globe Theater has “minor environmental review issues that need to be checklisted out” for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), he said.

The Wall Street Theater Company on Friday announced that it has closed on its $5.2 million construction loan with Patriot National Bank, with plans to renovate what was in 1915 the Regent Theater into a multi-use theater with state of the art technical capabilities. Sheehan said the hold-up with HUD concerns old oil tanks and a vapor study that needs to be redone because the one that has been done is more than 180 days old. “In short order, those issues should be addressed,” he said.

11 Belden Ave.

11 Belden Ave.

Milligan is taking an “interesting” idea to the Zoning Commission soon, he said.

“He’s focused on the smaller units that aren’t carrying the heft of the rents that, for example, the Waypointe project is doing,” Sheehan said. “He is appealing to a younger demographic that can’t afford $1,700 for a one-room apartment.”

The development will have to include some incorporation of the surface parking element that is there now, he said.

“He is working proactively with the library, I’ll leave it at that. It’s a private discussion between the library and him,” Sheehan said. “… They are trying to resolve some issues, looking at other properties around the library.”

The intersection there, where Wall and West and Belden and Mott converge in a confusing mess, will change with or without the advancement of Wall Street Place, Sheehan said. The city has decided that it will go ahead with the infrastructure improvements that are linked to the delayed development even if it isn’t built because it’s important to the area, he said.

“Changing Wall Street to angled parking and modifying the flow of traffic in and around the islands on western Wall is critical. Those should be advancing with or without development,” Sheehan said.

Traffic enhancements at the west end of Wall Street include “cleaning up” the “exceedingly confusing” intersection, where newcomers literally have no idea where to go, Sheehan said. There will be crosswalks leading to sidewalks across the islands.

An idea had been floated to make Wall Street one way. That is not planned. It would go against urban planning principals, as the goal is to activate the street, Sheehan said.

“I think there is some misperceptions on the part of some of the merchants there that will enhance their business,” Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord said to the Parking Authority. “Generally that’s something that doesn’t enhance their business.”

“I am pretty comfortable at this point it’s going to be angled parking, back-in angled parking,” Alvord said. “The mayor stopped in at bike task force last Friday. I think we all agreed on back-in parking. We pretty much all agreed that is the safest way to do it.”

Enter the controversy.

“The idea to try reverse-angled parking on Wall Street is one of the dumbest things to do in terms of supporting business,” Lightfield said in an email.

She continued:

“Jeff Speck, in his book and in his presentation to the Redevelopment Agency a few years ago, specifically pointed out that the if the goal is to increase the number of retail businesses in a downtown, it is imperative to provide on street parking, and that the parking be convenient to the use. The goal, from a business perspective is to make it convenient to park, not more difficult. It is why parking lots are always designed with the ease of entry and parking movements foremost and less consideration to the exiting maneuvers.

“Reverse angled parking is not convenient. It is an unnatural parking maneuver. And on Wall Street, which is; a bus route, an ambulance and emergency services route, and has a fair amount of car traffic– Norwalk will find, much like the City of Austin and many in Michigan are finding, businesses are losing customers. The area is challenging enough without adding greater inconveniences to visitors.

“Further, reverse in parking is more dangerous to pedestrians on two fronts. One is that the driver is not facing pedestrians who naturally use sidewalks. And second, the exhaust from all these reverse angled cars will now flow onto sidewalks and into businesses– aggravating the quality of air needlessly. Most vehicles are design to have more rear overhand, so the rears of cars will likely encroach on the narrow sidewalks, further contributing to the poor pedestrian experience.

“Another important thing to note is that reverse parking is normally banned at train stations, airport parking lots, and university/college parking lots all across the nation, precisely because in high volume parking situations, the reverse parking motion is difficult for drivers to master, and parking lanes in such lots need through traffic flow during congested periods where there are timed events.

“The extra time for reverse in parking is well documented, but it is simple to understand why it does cause more traffic congestion. It takes less time to back out of a parking space (from a constricted area to a wider area) than to back into a parking space (from a wide area into a constricted one.)

“Lastly, the entire speculative idea that this will be safer for cyclists is speculative and erroneous The FHA studies on biking accidents predominantly show that bike/car accidents occur when the cyclist enters a traffic lane, or with motor vehicles turning at intersections, not parking movements. Specifically cited, (47 incidents) or 1.6% of all cycling accounts involve autos backing, of those 19% were in parking lots, and 19% were in an alley or a driveway where both the cyclist and vehicle were in the same area, in other words driveways with children.

“The Wall Street Task Force for the following reasons prefers head in angled parking:

“It is safer for pedestrians and drivers. It minimizes the risk of denting or hitting adjacent cars. It minimizes the risk to pedestrians. It minimizes traffic congestion. It is pro-business.”

There are numerous studies online that support back-in parking, Mayor Harry Rilling said Monday. “It took me less than three minutes to find this one back on April 15 when I sent it to those in the early morning meeting.  I am certain there are many reports/studies on both sides of this issue,” Rilling said in an email, sending along this study:

05-Back_in_Diagonal_Parking

“Notice that back-in parking starts with the very same first action that parallel parking starts,” Rilling wrote. “Signaling an intent to park and pulling just past the spot.  Then the same next move, cutting the wheels to the right and backing up.  No difference.  Then look at the view one has when they are ready to pull out.  Head-in angled parking can cause significant problems when backing out into moving traffic, especially if there is a large vehicle blocking the operator’s view.  It becomes a roll of the dice and a bit of luck.”

Sheehan said the angled parking plan at present would provide “one if not three” more on-street parking space than are there now.

The developing Waypointe project also will affect Wall Street, Sheehan said, as residents look for things to do. Alvord said the increased activity might stir interest on the part of the Connecticut Department of Transportation to reactivate Wall Street’s hidden train station, which is under the Ink and Out tattoo parlor.

Belpointe Capital is looking to spread the Waypointe project further into the neighborhood, Sheehan said. “That’s a preservation zone in the Redevelopment plan, so we have had some discussions with the intent of the developer,” Sheehan said. “…The plan had always been for that neighborhood to be strengthened.”

Much of the development should be complete within two years, Sheehan said.

“All of a sudden the pieces come together and, quite frankly, folks get overwhelmed by how quickly it’s moving. When they see it come into construction they get a little bit apprehension,” Sheehan said.

Lightfield’s group has that now. An email:

“All this activity is concerning, and the Norwalk Center Task Force is working on a few things:

“1. We are recommending that all new construction in the central business district will be limited to having a stone or brick facade, not including brick veneers.

“2. We are recommending that new, updated design guidelines can reflect the historic architectural elements that define the central business district and prohibit elements that detract from the district’s aesthetics.

“3. We are recommending that parking requirements be contributing assets to a District Parking amenity that can be shared between residential and businesses in the area.

“4. We are recommending that the City invest in an economic program to subsidize retail establishments to avoid the empty storefront syndrome in the central business district.”

“We are working with a number of the property owners in the area to understand better what the city can bring to bear in facilitating opportunities for their ground-floor space,” Sheehan said.

There has been talk of incubators and master leases, but “smaller folks” with business opportunities have been hesitating with a “Is it coming, isn’t it coming?” apprehension, Sheehan said.

As for the city neglecting Wall Street in favor of SoNo, people need to remember that the city has to think of the entire region, Sheehan said.

“It was alleged that the city had enticed good businesses to leave the Wall Street area down to Sono,” Brescia said.

A Wall Street yoga business that moved to Ironworks SoNo had been contemplating leaving Norwalk altogether, after problems with a landlord that included a leaking roof and mold, Sheehan said. Redevelopment helped arrange a small business loan and the yoga studio is drawing a surprising amount of foot traffic in the morning and afternoon, he said.

“Their relocation has been very successful, they are happy with the location where they’re at,” Sheehan said. “From the agency’s perspective, you can’t control where businesses want to locate. This was a business decision made by the parties that own the business. It was better for Norwalk not to lose them.”

Wall Street Norwalk 15-0425 069

A sidewalk is planned for this traffic island.

 

27 comments

Bill April 27, 2015 at 7:56 am

An unelected person, Lightfield, demands “subsidized” retail spaces paid for by taxpayers? Over my dead body.

We tried that with the banks and bailouts, I’ll be damned if we are going to do it on a local level. Whatever closed due to development temporarily will reopen later or be replaced by something. Spaces dont stay closed for long when an area is being revitalized.

No taxpayer should have to subsidize a business, we are already subsidizing way too many poor people that should be living in lower cost states.

Mike Mushak April 27, 2015 at 8:35 am

I applaud the DPW, Redevelopment Agency, and Mayor Rilling for supporting safe and modern Reverse Angle Parking (RAP) on Wall Street over the obsolete and dangerous Angle-In Parking (AIP), which increases car/car accidents as folks blindly back into traffic, and increases bike/car conflicts for the same reason, especially since Wall Street is designated for biking facilities using bike lanes and/or sharrows.

That is why the urban designer Jeff Speck recommends RAP over AIP, ironically considering he was quoted in the article above as seeming to support AIP, which he does not.

Backing into an angled space is actually easier than parallel parking, using the same sequence of using your turn signal to notify traffic behind you, pulling slightly ahead of the empty space, and backing in in one motion. You can see it in action in this video here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HddkCbsWHlk.

Exiting a RAP space is much safer and easier than backing blindly into car and bike traffic, as you are already facing out and can see clearly anyone who is approaching. The angle you need to turn your head to see oncoming traffic when exiting is also reduced, from 180 degrees to 135 degrees, which is why traffic engineers around the world now prefer RAP over AIP.

The towns of Greenwich and New Canaan, with old-fashioned downtown AIP, show how traffic congestion is worsened by the AIP. There are many times I have seen gridlock in both places as folks try to back into traffic without being able to see, and research from many cities that have installed RAP has shown a dramatic decrease in accidents after AIP is switched to RAP, which is why DOT’s and DPW’s across the country are recommending the RAP. http://www.bubblews.com/news/2063288-reverse-angle-parking-getting-a-bad-rap.

The sawtooth curb design with RAP eliminates any conflicts with the sidewalk and pedestrians, and air pollution concerns were only voiced in one on;line source by a motel owner where tailpipes from backed-in cars are just inches away from the air intakes of wall-mounted AC units with straight in parking stalls. The suggestion that backed in cars will pollute the air more than straight-in parked cars is absurd, since most folks park and immediately turn their cars off, and their are no motels with wall-mounted AC units inches away from tailpipes anywhere on Wall St.

In the places I have seen RAP being used in my many travels to US cities to study urban design and for pleasure, businesses were thriving, and the parking was easy to use by the many folks I watched using it. Just this past year alone I have seen it and even sometimes used it in NYC, Chattanooga TN, Charlotte NC, Austin TX, and Indianapolis IN, and there are dozens of other cities that have use it for years its increased safety and convenience. Wilmington DE actually has an ordinance requiring RAP, and it has been used successfully in Seattle, Portland, Washington DC, Montreal, and many other cities.

Considering that much research shows increased retail activity up to 50% greater on streets with bike lanes, and RAP is proven much safer for bike lanes, it is also an economic issue as well as a safety issue for Wall Street to have both bike lanes and RAP co-exist in its re-design. For all of the reasons above, the Bike/Walk Task Force strongly recommends RAP for Wall Street, along with all of the city departments and Mayor Rilling.

Casey Smith April 27, 2015 at 8:58 am

Sheehan said the city has decided to go with back-in angled parking for Wall Street, but Wall Street Task Force Chairwoman Jackie Lightfield said that’s, well, “dumb.”

I stand with Jackie on this one. There is no way that I am going to back into angled parking. I rarely use the Library because of the parking issue, and have little or no reason to go down there now. I’ll have even less when they change over to this.

sofaman April 27, 2015 at 9:36 am

I have no idea if back-in parking is the way to go, but it certainly shouldn’t be omitted as a possibility for the reasons JL (who is doing a great job for Norwalk) cites:

1. In a redevelopment scenario, there should be no such thing as “narrow sidewalks”
2. If you can’t handle a reverse parking maneuver, you shouldn’t have a driver’s license.
3. While I truly appreciate concerns for cyclist’s safety (I enjoyed a Norwalk/Westport 2 hour ride just yesterday) I can guarantee that cyclists would rather confront an angled car pulling out of a parking spot nose first.

Roundabouts are used throughout the world, and have proved FAR safer than a 4-way intersection. They are met with resistance here in the US because they are unfamiliar. Maybe back-in parking is in the same category? I wouldn’t dismiss them offhand.

Bill, there’s no doubt we’ve seen excessive state spending to “keep” businesses happy (think Bridgewater, United Technologies) but the other side of the coin, is when towns fail to support the business community, effectively shooting themselves in the foot. Investment in SoNo met with much resistance over the years, and I think it’s fair to say the investment has paid off very well.

Having said that Bill, I do appreciate your gentler-kinder admonition telling people to move out.

Jlightfield April 27, 2015 at 9:59 am

pawpaw Michigan tried and removed reverse angled parking in its downtown. The Austin businesses in Congress Street reported a 20% loss of business as a result of the implementation of reverse angle parking and my personal favorite is that the Indianapolis DPW instruction video shows without irony the difficulty in parking an SUV into a reverse angle spot.

There are areas where reverse angle parking works and it is largely for ling term residential uses like in Baltimore and Washington DC.

The issue here is simply one of prioritization of the economic development goals of the area. Clearly the goal of the city seems to be in favor of residential development over downtown retail. Sadly this strategy failed in SONO coupled with bad parking policy. Here we go again.

Norwalk4Life April 27, 2015 at 10:03 am

It is interesting that the First Taxing District would be looking to sell their property on Belden Ave. I would hope the library and Norwalk would try to purchase the property to allow for more parking and possible future growth.

EveT April 27, 2015 at 10:18 am

Who says First Taxing District wants to sell their Belden Ave. property? Have you spoken to First Taxing District commissioners about this? I have a feeling this is a rumor started by the developer who wants to buy it.

Gordon Tully April 27, 2015 at 10:32 am

It would be good for a third party to verify the equally compelling arguments put forward by Jackie and Mike, both of whom tend to do their homework. I am more convinced by Mike, who travels a lot to see urban development in place. Backing is difficult either way – almost all my near collisions result from backing out of angle-in parking.

As for @Bill’s imminent demise, the public spends $450 billion a year on programs and lost revenue that support suburban sprawl, which eats up valuable farm land, creates pollution, destroys vibrant downtowns, creates more infrastructure than we can afford to maintain, and largely accounts for the fact that the U.S. uses twice as much energy per capita as denser countries like Japan.

Perhaps a little help for small businesses will balance the impact of the new suburban shopping mall at 95/7.

Finally, we really need the circulator to reach Wall Street and not confine it to SoNo.

Jlightfield April 27, 2015 at 10:57 am

@eveT I heard the plan from Frank Zullo directly.

@gordon the circulator is another solution in search of a problem. There is not enough density in Norwalk to support one. The idea has been tried twice and was ended due to low or non existent ridership and cost. I don’t think think there is much out there in the way of homework on this issue. That is the problem. There is one study all reverse angle parking advocates cite, Pottstown PA where the conditions were quite different. A road diet, that is reducing lanes and decreasing traffic speed is both pedestrian friendly but also business friendly. The study is on the American Planning Association website and it illustrative in what criteria is needed for supporting reverse angle parking. Right now it is a fad promoted by advocates on reducing car dependence in urban areas. A worthy goal to be sure. But Norwalk and by extension Fairfield County is filled with decades of sprawl based infrastructure. You can’t cherry pick ideas and implement them based on flawed assumptions. IMHO that is what is being promoted here. Anyone can have an opinion, but the facts are what they are, and downtown Norwalk has more pressing challenges at hand than spending $5 million dollars in a reconfiguration that does not address the fundamental problems of traffic, parking and pedestrian safety in the area.

The intersection in question used to be a roundabout and that would be the preferable traffic solution along with wider sidewalks and pedestrian bump outs to shorten crossing distance to municipal parking.

Gordon Tully April 27, 2015 at 12:43 pm

What does it cost to run the existing bus system in which the buses are mostly empty? Surely the circulator cost could be integrated with the overall subsidy for buses.

Michael McGuire April 27, 2015 at 1:26 pm

WOW – finally! Positive things are happening and none to soon. I think its all good. Regarding the parking – angle in or back in, I’d defer to the real on-the-ground retail industry studies on this topic.

Either way the “noise” is good and keeps Wall Street on the front burner. At this point I don’t think we have retailers to “drive away” regardless of what method is chosen.

I want to encourage the City to “harmonize” the various department heads and business community (similar to what was done on 95/7 over the past several months) so we don’t lose the momentum and/or get off track working at cross purposes. Revitalization like this needs a holistic approach. Wall/Main is a district and needs to be viewed as such along with its linkages to the adjoining districts, not as a collection of disparate parts.

Now, if we can just get Duleep on board……

Don't Panic April 27, 2015 at 2:10 pm

@Lightfield,

Agreed. Circulators work better in:
1) higher density commercial areas
2) on a circulating route, not an end-to-end two-way track
3) on streets that are wide enough to accomodate a slow-traffic lane where vehicles that stop frequently like buses and trolleys don’t impede traffic.

Taxpayer Fatigue April 27, 2015 at 2:31 pm

So the “scientific” study of Austin retail businesses losing customers because of reverse angle parking was conducted by “Eric”, a clerk at Wiggy’s Liquor Store on 6th Street, according to this Sarasota Herald-Tribune article:

“Everybody who comes in complains about it,” said Eric Jones, a clerk at Wiggy’s Liquor Store — where 900 customers have signed a petition to get rid of the back-in spaces. He estimates the store has seen a 20 percent decline in customers because they do not want to contend with the back-in parking”

Since this article was published, Austin has expanded reverse-angle parking to more blocks in its downtown. The Austin DPW said that accidents in the area were down significantly.

The same article goes on and tells of another implementation of reverse angle parking in Somervile, MA, outside of Boston:

“A similar fuss occurred in Somerville, near Boston, when that city replaced 12 parallel spots on Bow Street with 23 back-in angled spaces three years ago.
Businesses complained.

Now, however, merchants there see merit in having diagonal spaces with a narrower lane for traffic.

“It slows the flow of traffic, which is good for a business district,” said Harrison Seiler, manager of the Bloc 11 coffee shop and cafe. “It allows people to safely cross the street. It just took awhile for people to adjust to it.””

Don't Panic April 27, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Here’s another idea for redevelopment…how about really supporting local businesses?

I’ve noticed that there are an awful lot of web ads showing up on NON for Nordstrom and Nieman. Those ads appear to have been purchased through targeted web advertising. It would be far more beneficial to the local businesses of this news outlet and its competitor if those ads were placed directly with the local businesses, instead of providing pennies per impression through an online ad service.

Mike Mushak April 27, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Norwalk should not base it’s important urban design decisions should on reactionary emotional responses from a few shop owners in Austin TX and a bunch of elderly retirees in Pawpaw MI, who were the ones who complained about the reverse angle parking after it replaced parallel parking, to create more parking for the businesses there. The old geezers just couldn’t adjust, not realizing that the angle-in parking would be even more difficult for them to navigate when they exited.

Last May 3rd, I dined at an awesome Tex Mex live music venue called Guaro’s, with my partner and his family in SoCo (South Congress) in Austin TX, where we have been told in these comments that business has dropped 20% after the reverse angle parking was installed. I know it was May 3rd because my partner’s niece married a Star Wars buff the next day who wanted to say “May the 4th be with you” from the altar. I digress.

After dinner we walked along the trendy street that defined “Keep Austin Weird” and all the spaces were full and the street was crowded, as thousands of folks strolled or rode their bikes along the fully occupied storefronts. The one empty lot we saw was full of semi-permanent artist and craft stalls. We talked to shop owners along the way as we always do on commercial streets with bike lanes to see how they felt about the reverse angle parking and bike lanes, and almost all of them praised the change which happened in 2011. One owner told us the cowboys in the oversize dual axle pickup trucks complain about it, but otherwise everyone has adjusted just fine, and they get a lot of cyclists as customers.

Bottom line, reverse angle parking is the safest and best solution for Wall Street, and no argument based on dubious Internet sources based on emotion will change that.

Jlightfield April 27, 2015 at 3:45 pm

@all As much as this issue seems to provide NON with comments, ultimately the choice of of parking angles is ultimately a first world problem, and one masking the reality that both SONO and downtown have high retail vacancies that will not be solved by efforts that ignore the actual demographic make up of Norwalk.

Instead I encourage people to support the people of Nepal who are in great need of medical support. I recommend Doctors Without Borders.

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

Nate April 27, 2015 at 3:49 pm

“He is appealing to a younger demographic that can’t afford $1,700 for a one-room apartment.”

About time. The rent in all the local areas here is outrageous. For me, it’s too little too late. Moved here about 3 years ago, and moving away shortly. The benefits of this area just don’t mesh with the cost of living here.

Living and working near the Wall street area, it’d badly needed. I do look forward to seeing how it progresses when I come back to visit occasionally.

Kevin Di Mauro April 27, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I noticed the $1,700 for a one-room apartment also. Maybe it refers to a one-bedroom apartment. Either way, it’s still crazy.

Mike Mushak April 27, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Calling a smart urban design solution “dumb”, that has been proven by much research to reduce accident and injury rates to car occupants, cyclists, and pedestrians, is just irresponsible.

Changing the subject to far-off earthquake victims when losing an argument, after your iPhone factual sources were revealed as completely bogus, is quite creative however. I am praying for Nepal, and also praying for all the folks who have to navigate our city by car, bike, or on foot every day, who are in desperate need of responsible and smart urban design solutions that have been proven to reduce accidents and save lives all over the world.

Norwalk is not that unique and our drivers not that stupid that we can’t figure out how to back into a parking space the same way we parallel park, only easier. If it works in Chattanooga it can certainly work in Norwalk!

Kevin Di Mauro April 27, 2015 at 9:05 pm

I love it. Jackie Lightfield versus Mike Mushak.

Cinco De Mayo is almost here. How about a mud wrestlng competition at Friese Park?

Paul Lanning April 27, 2015 at 10:44 pm

Somebody thinks that the city is trying to “jump-start” Sono?
Sono has seen the departure of retail, and now consists mostly of drunk tanks attracting lowlifes from far and wide. It didn’t have to go this way.

Joanna Cooper April 28, 2015 at 7:52 am

There are two major issues that are a serious concern with more development in Norwalk. Our school system can’t handle many more kids. If more major housing developments are to be built new additional schools should be built. The schools are packed now and never seem to have enough funds. Traffic is the other major challenge in this city along with parking. Whatever development is planned these issues require careful consideration. Free parking would be nice. Don’t give anymore parking contracts to LAZ.

Dorothy Mobilia May 3, 2015 at 8:17 am

References to cities such as PawPaw, Michigan, in the above comments, with a population of under 4,000, as a guideline for Norwalk, the sixth largest city in Connecticut, surely is a facetious and mischievous comment.

Lori May 12, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Who comprises the group-Wall Street Task Force? I have just read that Jackie Lightfield (who has yet to answer my question as to what city dept. she is employed with) is Chairman. A lot of verbiage. I as an interested party and a one who has a love for Wall Street and the City of Norwalk am amazed that there is such a group and those of us that live here have no idea, or shall I say are not insiders to a group. People need to meet face to face in open forums when forming such groups. Not work out of small spaces and basically forward their own opinions/agendas. I for one have my new library card and frequent it. Many know how I feel about Norwalk having it’s own YMCA also, which continues to go unheard. I believe I am going to give myself a title since it seems to be like coining a phrase or anything else. I am the Advocate for the People of Wall Street and Main Avenue there, it’s proclaimed and now I have a position? Everyone knows if it is in print it must be credible correct? If I push my own agenda am I linked in automatically to the ‘machine’ that seems to be running amok on it’s own agenda and changing it’s colors whenever anyone learns of some of the casualties it is causing? When I learned the parking lots were chained around the library and the employees and patrons are being given parking warnings inside of the library that is akin to threats and intimidation. There is an entire demographic in this town and need for community that is not in Bloomingdales which fits in the proposed spot as well as anything else would, or expensive apartments. We are going to become expensive ‘Row Housing’ in a sense. We have lifelong citizens going through hell at Dreamy Hollow and being intimidated. I am not mixing issues either if someone suggests that I am. There is a people factor, people that matter that have no idea that when they are out all of this new apartment building and promise of housing to (in particular the Washington Village residents) may very well find the door shut. They cannot afford with a voucher to find new housing (a deathknell really) and then afford to move again if the 100 out of many more families that live there are even offered the ‘affordable apartments’. Let’s all become Kings or Queens of the castle and see who can knock who off of the hill. Bully tactics and intimidation if anyone has the nerve to give a dissenting voice to the machine is worse than bad practices. There are many good people all around this area that provide family and neighborhood fabric that has the heart that this town needs and at the very least not to lose what we have left. I guess on an sociological scale change does happen. The intellect (which is not IQ or the wealthiest) is to give what is here a chance to have it’s life and contribution along with change. As of right now it seems that the Emperor is Wearing No Clothes and everyone is afraid to say anything, for those who have much to gain. Ending with my usual, the YMCA was deeded for a YMCA now Danbury Hospital owns it through many behind the scenes moves. It should be rebuilt as a YMCA,(yes the building needs work or a rebuild) culture and diversity at it’s best. The library is also deeded for just that particular use. Again, culture and diversity at it’s best.

Editor’s note: Jackie Lightfield is not employed by the city. She is co-founder of the non-profit Norwalk 2.0 and she is the formerZoning Commission chairwoman.

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