NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard recently in Norwalk, including one news story we haven’t shared with you yet:
Aquarium lease renewed
The new lease for the Maritime Aquarium was approved by the Common Council Tuesday without much comment, as it was on the consent agenda, lumped in with other items council members had agreed to pass.
“I don’t think there was any doubt about the Maritime center’s lease at all, at any point,” Council President Doug Hempstead said.
Mayor Richard Moccia had some thoughts on the topic, too.
“It was under Mayor (Bill) Collins that the ball got started rolling for the Maritime Aquarium,” he said. “I think some of the same concerns were expressed about that project, the traffic, taking of land, other issues, some of the same things. So the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
The lease, good until 2031, lets the Aquarium off the hook for rental payments to the city. In return, the Aquarium will take over maintenance duties for the facility.
The Aquarium’s bond to the city has been paid, officials said last week, without explanation.
Hempstead also reminisced about being on the council in 1984, when there was “high angst” over renewing a $24 million one-year bond to the Aquarium.
“Tonight is a great moment for us to extend this lease out, change it to make it whole over there, because it is truly a wonderful asset for the city of Norwalk.”
Hempstead said council members had observed an important piece of history before the council meeting with a get-together at Mill Hill.
It was the 100th anniversary – “to the day,” Hempstead said – of the first meeting of the newly incorporated city of Norwalk’s first council meeting, which had been held in Mill Hill, then City Hall.
“I want to thank (City Clerk) Erin Halsey because she dug all of this out, went through the minutes. It’s pretty amazing that the first bill the city had to pay was to The Hour for the advertisement about the first meeting,” Hempstead said.
That reminiscence gave the mayor his first opportunity for a quip during the meeting.
“Did The Hour do a poll?” he asked.
“Yes, but it wasn’t online,” was the response.
Reminiscing about outsourcing, with a regret
At the Planning Committee meeting the week before, two veteran council members said they had regrets about the 10-year contract with City Carting for outsourcing garbage pickup.
“I have over the years traditionally voted the terms and not the contract, but there has been subsequent debate about some of the language that is in these contracts, and I question the wisdom of that,” Matt Miklave said. “I almost think you’re right. We need to see the contract, whether it is a contract to enter into services or contract for the sale, we just need to see the contract and understand it.”
“I don’t disagree with that,” Hempstead said. “…. Every council seems to have changed that because I was on some councils that we wouldn’t do a darn thing without the full contract. Then it went the other way … I am in agreement. Anything that big I want to see the line contract. The lease for the beach, or something like that, that’s another thing.”
“But it was a thorn in my side that we never saw the contract for the privatization, the outsourcing of the garbage,” Miklave said. “That was a big contract. We should have seen it.”
“Touche,” Hempstead said.