Rilling promises proactive environmental task force

NORWALK, Conn. – A cold wind was blowing Sunday as Norwalk Democrats gathered near the Norwalk River to discuss protecting and preserving Norwalk’s natural resources, something they said has been neglected for some time.

Democratic mayoral candidate Harry Rilling stood with environmental activists Diane Lauricella, Mike Mushak and Bill Wrenn as he unveiled a five-point preliminary plan for environmental health and management initiatives he said he will put into place should he win Tuesday. Number one on the list is an environmental task force.

“Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something,” he said. “These people are advocates of a clean environment, and with people like these working hard – working for free – to try to make Norwalk the cleanest it can be and as environmentally friendly as it can be, they make my job much easier. We start talking about a five-point plan and moving forward and making sure that we clean up Norwalk and we take care of our natural resources. … It’s critical for us to do that.”

Norwalk fall foliage 110213 006
Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling pitches his environmental plan at the Yankee Gas site on Chapel Street.

Each of Rilling’s five points features the word “leadership,” whether it’s in regard to “reviewing and initiating comprehensive proactive environmental management” or “leadership to ensure that public health and environment is protected from our industrial past.”

Rilling would call for “a review of the long list of old contamination sites in Norwalk, prioritize which sites needs immediate state and federal government’s attention, and work with the appropriate government agencies, the public and property owners,” he said.

He would work to preserve and protect open space, and insist the Conservation Commission fulfill its state-mandated duties and encourage the use of innovative techniques such as green roofs and rain gardens to decrease flooding, something Lauricella has suggested at numerous Zoning Commission meetings, to no avail, she said.

Rilling said he would protect the city’s air quality by ordering a review of public and private sources of dust, sand and other pollutants. The odor from the city sewage treatment plant affects the quality of life in East and South Norwalk, he said.

The city needs to move to green energy with a sense of urgency, Rilling said, specifically mentioning the missed opportunity to put solar panels on the new firehouse.

Lauricella said the group is concerned there may still be leaching from an oil drum dump site at 23 Platt St.

“We want to make sure that there’s a proactive way to keep the public informed,” she said. “We feel that Harry will make sure that the state and federal government, who have the final say-so on the cleanup, knows that Norwalk cares about this so that we will be put at the top of the list because we’re proactive. Right now they hardly ever hear from Norwalk on these cleanup sites.”

Mushak, a zoning commissioner, said that, when it rains, oils and toxins run off of parking lots and into Long Island Sound.

“Billions of dollars are being spent by cities all around the sound, by the federal government, state government, lots of cities, with updated standards to clean up the sound. It is a crucial natural resource,” he said. “… We have obsolete drainage standards that we have been trying to update for years. There has not been an interest in the current administration to update those standards. It’s very important to have those updated because we are the last city on Long Island Sound to have updated standards.”

Wrenn, a former councilman and leader of the Friends of Oak Hills Park, said he loves the plan.

“I think that’s something we haven’t heard in a long time from mayoral candidates,” he said. “Even talking about the environment is a really positive development.”

The entire plan is attached below. It includes some charges levied at Mayor Richard Moccia’s eight years of leadership.

“Norwalk did not apply for the latest round of the 2013 Connecticut Energy Finance and lnvestment Authority (CEFIA) Solarize Program that would have proactively educated the public by offering solar lease programs and other financial instruments that allow reducing electricity and hot water bills,” Rilling states in the plan. “Winter is coming, and active assistance and regular public education that inform the homeowner or business owners how to save real money bevond light bulbs is needed, like other towns surrounding us have done.”

“The city of Norwalk made a pledge in 2007 to form an Energy Task Force that included public input and to purchase electricity from clean energy sources by 2010,” Rilling states in the plan. “This was never accomplished and therefore denied the city free solar panels for use on public buildings, unlike other towns that surround us who have placed these solar panels on fire houses and schools. As mayor, I will aggressively pursue opportunities to save money for taxpayers on utilities and achieve a more sustainable city.”

Moccia did not respond to a request for comment.

“We have some wonderful natural resources and its our duty to protect them and provide for the environment,” Rilling said. “… I’ll push for the city to take a comprehensive and proactive role.”

Rilling environmental plan


11 responses to “Rilling promises proactive environmental task force”

  1. John Frank

    That will be different.
    Moccia never had much concern for protecting the environment. When it was the 110ft Island Belle docked at the visitor’s dock, sitting on the bottom at low tide, and paying rent to the City. CL&P digging cable trenches across the harbor, or somebody asking to build a pier out over a shellfish bed. He even put one of his friends who was turned down for a pier over a shellfish bed and sometimes piloted the Island Belle, on the shellfish commission. New plans for that same dock just resurfaced.

  2. Mike Mushak

    The Norwalk River, Harbor, and Long Island Sound are our must cherished and yet delicate natural resources in Norwalk. They need to be protected with often simple changes to the way we approach site planning and zoning approvals, which now rely on grossly outdated regulations from the 1980’s, regulations that we often hear conscientious applicants say they will voluntarily offer to go beyond out of a moral obligation to protect the environment even though our current obsolete regulations don’t require it.
    Not all applicants are so concerned , and we often watch as projects are approved that have a negative impact on the quality of our precious water resources in Norwalk because of our inadequate regulations.
    GOP zoning commissioners and our current P and Z staff have resisted updating our obsolete drainage standards (all on the record when I tried to do this 2 years ago when Joe Santo was Chair, which he is yet again after another GOP led vote 2 weeks ago) leaving us in last place among cities around the Sound to update them. Their reason is that it would “cost too much” for developers, but the truth is most of the simple best practices drainage improvements use inexpensive recycled plastic structures that are easy to install, and do not add much to construction costs, especially relative to the environmental benefits that are gained.
    The updating of obsolete drainage standards in our regulations to protect water quality is supported by members of our Harbor Commission, Shellfish Commission because they understand how important it is to protect the harbor and Sound for the oyster industry, fish breeding, eelgrass beds , and for recreation like swimming and boating which are integral parts of our quality of life here.
    Mayor Rilling gets it. Moccia does not. Vote line B for a Better Environment, and skip over line A which stands for Abysmal Failure.

  3. EveT

    Glad to see this spotlight on environment. If we continue to degrade our environment as the Republicans have been doing, our quality of life and the desirability of living in Norwalk will decline. The environment affects all of us, rich and poor, residents and business owners alike.

  4. Ark

    Well there is crystal clear proof Harry Rilling will kill all development in Norwalk. His environmental committee consists of landscaper, a photographer, and Diane L? I thought Mushak was all into a requirement for certified professionals. This group is opposed to all development. Has Diane L. ever supported a project in Norwalk. Wrenn has spent the last 10 years saying no to any real improvement at Oak Hills. And we all know that Mushak is ready to blow up the zoning department of the City because he disagrees with all the professionals who work there. This un-certified trio will not protect the environment but they will kill all new development. Harry wants to bring back the Knopp administration at its worst!

    Harry must be desperate and he clearly does not understand or want development.

  5. Ryan

    Promises promises.

  6. Suzanne

    Ark, there are so many inaccuracies in your statement I could not possibly address them all now will I. However, I would like to point out to you that there are entire industries outside of this little place called Norwalk, CT, that are devoted to environmental development, building “green” and protecting the environment while developing it. It coexists everywhere but here. You are wrong in your assessment if you think that an environmental plan somehow precludes positive change to our urban landscape.

  7. Don’t Panic

    At least we can stop holding our breath waiting for Mr. Moccia to pay attention to this issue.

  8. Mike Mushak

    Ark represents the failed Moccia Admintration at its worst. A complete lack of respect for science, facts, and professionalism. It is the regressive Tea Party worldview that looks backwards, not forwards. Vote for the forward looking Rilling and Democrats on Row B, and let’s reject once and for all the mediocrity and incompetence of folks like Ark who have left Norwalk in last place on so any benchmarks. We are better than that, and Row B will be the choice for all folks who believe we can do much better than what we have had for the last 8 long years of backward policies.

  9. Better Norwalk

    With all these “promises” from Harry to so many agencies, unions, teachers, fire fighters, parents, students etc etc and now this…..

    When will Harry find the time to properly govern the city of Norwalk?
    Answer is NEVER!It’s impossible to keep up with the dizzying amount of promises Harry has made during his crusade oh, sorry, campaign. How can he reign, sorry again, govern the city with all what he offered?
    We can be grateful for having Mayor Moccia as our current and future mayor.
    People can claim they have answers and can “do better”. Doing better is just trying to outdo what someone else has accomplished. Harry, you are riding on the Mayor’s coattails and it’s time to get off,no more free rides.
    We all know this new “promise” will just be added into the rest and you all know what that means.. TAXES! and more TAXES! Layoffs, service interruptions and we can thank Harry.
    Make the smart move, keep Norwalk moving FORWARD!
    Vote row A: Mayor Moccia and team. They have Moccia-mentum for the city of Norwalk!

  10. Mike Mushak

    Oh my, Better Norwalk. You are trying to persuade us we should vote Row A for the “Moccia-mentum”? I would vote Row B just because of this dreadful mangling of our English language! Lol.
    Vote Row B for a Better Norwalk, with my apologies to my friend, the oxy-moron named Better Norwalk whose views prove that a chosen alias can represent the exact opposite of reality. Thanks for the laugh with the “Moccia-mentum”! Now there’s a real vision , finally!

  11. Better Norwalk

    Yes, Norwalk does have “vision”, and it was Mayor Moccia and team that did it.
    But you and others will disregard the Connecticut Magazine listing Norwalk as the #2 city in the state?? High scores for education?? Gee Mikey, how did this all happen? Wishful thinking? It took hard work and dedication to move Norwalk in the right direction.
    Harry on the other hand, will NOT. Simple facts show anyone can promise the rainbow in politics, but it takes true leadership and knowledge, which Harry lacks. Sorry, but just being Chief does not give you political insight or knowledge. It takes time, working in a political party and involvement within the party.
    You see, Mikey, if Harry was a true political leader, Amanda Brown would have resigned, and charges filed on all parties involved. If that was Harry’s start of his political campaign for mayor, he would be considered a strong candidate.
    But for now, all I hear as well as everyone else is promises and I can do better. Nothing more. That’s simpleton politics at the level of dare I say it high school politics.
    More promises and no time to govern Norwalk at this point. I stopped counting on all the promises he claims.
    Doesn’t matter much anyway since Mocia will win hands down tomorrow. So, I’d learn to start accepting the outcome and time now for you to step off the soap box.

    Vote Row A: Keep moving Norwalk moving FORWARD with Moccia-mentum…This just in, MOCCIA WINS ANOTHER TERM!

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