NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard recently in Norwalk:
Republican Registrar Karen Doyle Lyons was getting questions about a bad hair day Wednesday, but her odd outfit (see above) was for a good cause.
“We are working diligently to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy,” she said of her old-time prison outfit. “It affects a lot of children, so we are very happy to do this.”
The deal here is that she is one of four City Hall employees expecting to get arrested on April 24, she said – Town Clerk Rick McQuaid, Mayor Harry Rilling, Assistant City Clerk Erin Herring and Lyons will all be carted off to the Dolce Conference Center, she said.
“I’m going to be carrying the pail to collect by bail to get me out of jail,” she said.
Lyons was pleased about the number on the front of her striped outfit because it added up to 21. That goes back to a high school experience way back when.
“We would get little tickets,” she said. “If they added up to 21, it was much like spin the bottle – we would get a little kiss.”
Unusual BOE sentiment
Anyone who regularly attends Board of Education meetings knows Tony Santamaria, who speaks often about issues related to Special Education.
Last Tuesday Santamaria had a short and to the point comment: “I want to thank Mr. Daddona for helping me out with a home problem. I am very happy,” he said.
That was sandwiched between comments from Bobby Burgess and John Mosby.
If only they were paying real rent
The Planning Committee was considering Community Block Development Grant funding Monday, faced with what they thought was a conundrum: a desire to fund the Travis Simms Foundation youth boxing program at $43,493 while maintaining the existing Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program at $21,746 and the neighborhood improvement coordinator at $21,747.
Councilman Rich Bonenfant (R-At Large) decided to throw out an aside.
“Mayor’s summer youth — it’s a great program,” he said. “This goes back, it might not be totally related to this committee’s work at this minute, but it goes back to these $1 a year leases that we give out. All you need is $1,000 a month from, for example, Stepping Stones or the Maritime Center and that nut would be covered right there. Just a comment.”
That got laughter and an “OK,” response from Council President Doug Hempstead (R-At Large).
They moved on.
Former Mayor Bill Collins peppered Thursday’s SoNo Task Force meeting with a number of light-hearted quips.
One of them was directed at Mayor Harry Rilling. Rilling thanked everyone for their interest and their willingness to volunteer to help SoNo.
“As you know we have put together a couple of other task forces over the last couple of months and I expect the same results from those as I do from this group,” Rilling said.
“Harry is running for Task Force King of Connecticut. He’s in the lead,” Collins said.
Special Service District effort inching along
Also at the task force meeting, Collins strayed from the agenda to allow Tom Rich of F.D.Rich to give an update on the status of the SoNo Special Services District.
Rich and Kim Morque of Spinnaker Real Estate Partners presented the idea to the Common Council Ordinance Committee in February with the intention of coming back in March with a complete proposal. That hasn’t happened.
Rich said the group behind the idea is close to finalizing the boundaries of the proposed district. Next is to write the legislation to bring to the council.
The idea is to collect an extra tax from commercial property owners in the district. That would fund a website, a series of special events, an executive director and maybe an assistant, Rich said. The budget would be $400,000.
As an example, a $10,000 tax bill might become a $10,500 tax bill, he said.
“To me, that is not a lot of money in terms of an increase when you consider what you will get in return for that as a collective. It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “You can’t possibly do these things on your own for the $500.”
Collins had a title in mind for the executive director.
“It could be a czar,” he said. “We could have a SoNo Czar.”
Out with the barbecue, in with the Brazilian food
SoNo landlord Jack Chiaramonte still hasn’t closed his own SoNo Silver shop as he attempts to liquidate his inventory, but he has made a sale – the smoker from what was Jeff’s Cuisine was bought by a Philadelphia restaurant owner.
The new tenant of the space, who plans to open a Brazilian restaurant, didn’t want the massive piece of equipment. “Thank God for craigslist,” Chiaramonte said Thursday as he watched a crew from Philly try to take it out a window. They were stuck, worried about how to support the weight of the back end, which was propped up by the window sill. It was their second trip to Norwalk – the man had given up on a previous attempt to get the smoker out.
Chiaramonte said he didn’t think his own business problems had anything to do with the much-talked-about parking issues.
“It’s the economy,” he said. People come in to look, admire the jewelry and leave empty handed, he said. “‘I don’t have any money,’ that’s all I heard,” he said.