NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard recently in Norwalk:
Now in the lead: Mike Mushak
Norwalk activist Mike Mushak addressed the council’s Public Works Committee for about 11 minutes Tuesday, sharing information about sidewalks before revisiting the issue of accidents in the area of the Rowayton Avenue railroad bridge and the recommendations in two studies that were commissioned by Norwalk.
Councilman David Watts (D-District A) thanked Mushak for the information, saying, “My buddy Warren Pena said he was going to be the 16th councilman but I think you’ve got him beat.”
Time keeping varies
Councilman Jerry Petrini (R-District D) was in charge of that meeting as committee Chairman David McCarthy (R-District E) was not available. Petrini let Mushak go on, as mentioned previously, for 11 minutes, allowing Mushak to say everything he had come in prepared to say – a major change in style from January’s meeting, which was led by McCarthy.
McCarthy did give Mushak five minutes at that meeting although speakers at public meetings are customarily told three minutes. Most of the first minute went to lauding the late Diane Witkowski. After four minutes McCarthy said, “I didn’t count anything you said about Diane. I started your time after that and you’ve gone through three. I gave Nora (King) an extra 30 seconds so I’ll give you an extra 30 seconds but I’m giving you fair warning.”
Mushak talked for a minute before McCarthy cut him off, saying, “You’re rehashing stuff that has already been passed.”
Mushak expressed frustration later, saying he had done a lot of research on Rowayton Avenue, which he was not given the opportunity to present.
The research Mushak presented this week included a copy of Connecticut Public Act No. 09-154, An Act Improving Bicycle and Pedestrian Access; a chart of stopping distances for cars at various speeds; a Norwalk Police email about the number of accidents on Rowayton Avenue; excerpts from the Norwalk Pedestrian and Bikeway Transportation Plan; and excerpts from the Transportation Management Plan.
All of those things are now “on the record.”
Will Fourth District disappear?
At that same meeting, Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) asked Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord if there had been any discussion recently about extending the city’s garbage collection into areas that don’t get the service now — in other words, the Fifth District.
Alvord said McCarthy had asked him to look into it.
“The ordinance needs to be cleaned up first,” Alvord said. “… You’re talking about just about really eliminating the Fourth District. Which makes sense because when everything came out of the ad valorem tax and it was based on who was hooked up to the sewer, then it sort of made sense. When the WPCA (Water Pollution Control Authority) was formed and the sewer use rates were taken out of that it really doesn’t make any sense anymore.
“We have some really screwed up situations where it really doesn’t make sense anymore. For example, we have cul-de-sacs where you have six houses down one side, three at the end, six houses on the other side. All houses on the street are not hooked up to the sewer but the three down on the end hooked it up to the sewer from behind their properties on the other street. So the garbage truck comes down the street, skips those six houses, picks these three up, skips these six – they’re all screaming ‘How come you’re not picking up my garbage… There’s all kind of these all over the city.”
He said a proposed solution would be worked on.
Mayor Harry Rilling reminisced recently about a situation he dealt with as Norwalk Police chief when he tried to smooth talk an elderly man who Rilling described as “set in his ways.”
His ways included replacing the snow in the street after a snow plow had come through and removed what had been there. He did this by pointing the shoot of a snow blower in a destructive direction.
“I was coming around the curb and coming down the hill and there was this great big pile of snow on an otherwise totally clear street,” Rilling said. “I stopped and I said, ‘You know you can’t blow the snow out into the road.’ He said, ‘Well where do I throw it?’ I said just turn the shoot so that it goes onto the lawn. He goes, ‘I’m not going to do that, I don’t want it on my lawn.’
“I tried to explain. I took 10 to 15 minutes trying to explain exactly what was happening and why he couldn’t do that. He starts up his snow blower — and I’m in uniform! — He starts up his snow blower and continues to blow the snow out into the street. At that point, I had no other choice, I had a police officer come up and give him a ticket. I felt so bad. … It made a tremendously slippery area.”
Do not use
Town Clerk Rick McQuaid got an odd gift this week: Friends had a toilet installed in front of his house.
Well, for a day.
It’s part of a St. Philip’s Catholic Church fundraiser. The explanation from the church’s Facebook page:
“To build excitement and to ‘tell everyone’ about our fight against world hunger, we have painted and decorated four toilets, which are outside the four doors of the church. Starting at all Masses this weekend, there will be ballots available for $1 each on which you can place the name and address of someone (in Norwalk) on whose lawn you want the toilet placed. You can buy as many ballots as you like!
“At the end of the Noon Mass every Sunday for the next three weeks, we will draw 20 names. Each of these ‘winners’ will have the brightly decorated toilet left on their lawn for a day. We are hoping to ‘flush out hunger’ by raising both visual awareness and funds by your ballots. That is a total of 60 different addresses that will get a purple or pink or yellow or green potty! When people driving around Norwalk begin to see brightly colored toilets, they are going to wonder what is going on.
“Now, if you don’t want a toilet left on your lawn, we have ‘potty pooper’ insurance. You can purchase this insurance for a one-time fee of $25, which will ensure that no toilet will ever visit you!”