‘Tis the Season for the Annual Capital Budget review and your voice is needed to let the Planning Commission and the City officials know if you agree with their choices about how to spend your money……Future candidates for Council, Board of Education and Mayor need to know what you think about their spending plans. Sitting through the recent 3-night Planning Commission Budget Department Review process was an eye-popping experience. The Commission valiantly attempted to squeeze information out of the various Departments about how to make the dollars stretch as several projects like the Board of Ed School construction or the Broad River Sports Complex that were doubled in cost or expanded in scope when alternatives existed. Democracy is not a spectator sport!
Citizens should insist that the Planning Commissioners and other officials ask the question: It may be nice, but is it necessary? That’s what we citizens have to do for our own family budgets every day….
Go here for an outline of the Capital Budget requests, by department, where the amounts requested are listed as well as the initial recommended items by the City’s Finance Director, CFO Henry Dachowitz (working with the City Budget Director Angela Fogel). One problem though, the list does not contain very many details and lists only two out of the five years that a Capital Budget should include, leaving an interested citizen scratching their heads about the motivation for certain spending requests. Would have been more transparent to have the full request list available online for public scrutiny also.
I offer some talking points for reconsideration. Select one or many:
- Overall: Why not begin to ask for private funding of a portion of our schools, sports fields, parks and police/fire infrastructure? How about, for example, the FactSet wing of Cranbury School in order to reduce citizen costs?
- Recreation and Parks: Why are Artificial Turf Fields, proven to cause serious lower extremity injuries, solid waste disposal problems and long-range health problems still the go-to sports field system? Until the City provides a neutral, professional review of the many health threats and engages in an honest cost comparison of natural turf fields we should have a moratorium. We’re talking millions of dollars invested in dangerous artificial turf when alternatives exist.
- Calf Pasture Beach: For years, a plan to install green infrastructure in the form of pervious paving and rain gardens at the Calf Pasture Beach was stalled. The purpose was to help filter the polluted runoff from the parking lot and reduce the temperature of stormwater into the Sound. Why is traditional paving proposed?
- Tree Planting: According to WESCOG, Norwalk has the lowest amount of Tree Canopy. Why not more investment, strategically placed according to neighborhood heat island effect to bring down Norwalk’s temperature and reduce its carbon footprint? $50K is not enough.
- BoE: While a Welcome Center is fine in theory, why can’t it be combined instead with our new Community Services Agency or added to a current school construction project? Would it be a better idea to sell or swap the Briggs property for South Norwalk real estate?
You can email your comments in advance to the Planning Commission c/o Steve Kleppin: [email protected] Address your comments “ATTN Planning Commission.”
To observe and speak or just observe on Zoom: On Wednesday at 6 p.m., click here and scroll down to February 3 Planning Commission. If you want to speak, click on the Zoom link. If you dial in, press *6 to unmute yourself.