Guest View: Norwalk Connectivity & Development

May 22, 2007

This is an exciting time in Norwalk’s history. Many developments are planned that will forever change the shape of our city.

While development forces are focusing on Norwalk, housing prices are prohibitive for many families, property taxes are squeezing out many current owners, infrastructure is at a critical stage and transportation is at a crossroads. Norwalk is at the tipping point between “large town” and “small city” and good planning should ensure that the “new Norwalk” will reflect that which is good and unique about Norwalk’s past and present as it moves into the future.

Many residents have been following these development plans and asking the question: “What does the future hold for Norwalk?” Recently the Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations (CNNA) has turned its attention to how Norwalk will look and feel in 2010 and beyond. A group of neighborhood leaders has been meeting for several months and recently adopted the name “Norwalk 2010” (to express both a year in the near future and a vision even better than 20/20).

Norwalk 2010 has been working with city leaders, development professionals, the business community and experts in various fields to better understand these development forces and long-term trends. Armed with this knowledge we are hopeful that Norwalk is approaching its planning in a way that will ensure future success. Success can be defined in many ways, but many have defined it by balancing economic growth with quality-of-life.

Norwalk truly has a talented group of people looking out for its future. Norwalk 2010 encourages continued open and honest communication between all of these parties. We hope to engage more members of the community in these discussions so that people feel that they are vested in Norwalk’s future rather than a “victim” of it.

It is time for us to really consider our options and look at Norwalk as a whole. This means convening interested parties at the Federal, State and local level. We need to tap the best minds available, gather input from every quarter to help shape our future. Norwalk is no longer the “hole in the doughnut”; it is a wonderfully diverse community with a rich history and lives up to its name as a “city on the move”.

The CNNA challenges the “powers that be” to devise a grand plan that we will be proud of for generations to come. To that end, Norwalk 2010 will be initiating a series of meetings to discuss these important issues. We ask you to get involved in helping shape Norwalk’s future. Don’t let this exciting opportunity go by without making yourself heard. If we don’t make the effort now, then we shouldn’t complain about how Norwalk will look and feel in 2010 and beyond.

The first area we are tackling is the issue of “connectivity” as critical to the future success of the city’s redevelopment areas “ particularly West Avenue. Norwalk, originally created out of the merger of several villages, has always had multiple “town centers”. Additionally, construction of I-95 and the “Super 7” connector created additional divisions within the city.

The proposed re-developments of the Wall Street area, West Avenue and 95/7 provide a unique opportunity to create a continuous “downtown” core connecting the vibrant South Norwalk Washington Street area all the way to Mill Hill at the Town Green.

The Norwalk 2010 working group believes that encouraging pedestrians, bicycles, mass transit and other forms of alternative transportation within this new downtown core is critical. However, I-95 forms a barrier between South Norwalk and the rest of the redevelopment area. The experience of a pedestrian or bicyclist crossing under the I-95 and Super 7 overpasses is daunting, even with wide sidewalks and an “art park” installation. This raises the question of the possible enhancement of the Crescent Street Connection on the north side of the redevelopment area, which is the only other option for getting across I-95.
Looking at all of the redevelopment plans together, the importance of Mathews Park as the “crown jewel” of Norwalk should become obvious. With proper planning and the cultural resources already established there, the Park should become the “Central Park” green space for the thousands of residents living and working in Norwalk. While the City of Norwalk proactively created a master plan for the park in 1998, implementation has been slow due to lack of funding, and major challenges remain in funding the remaining renovation of the park and the Pine Island Cemetery. While the principles of the 1998 master plan exist, further review should be considered due to changes that have occurred since the plan was originally developed.

The Norwalk 2010 working group, having identified these issues, has been aggressively working with concerned citizens, the Redevelopment Agency, various other city agencies and the developers to highlight and come up with creative solutions to benefit the citizens of Norwalk.

In the coming months, the Norwalk 2010 working group of CNNA will continue to help facilitate the continuing rebirth of Norwalk by bringing issues to the table that will foster discussions on critical issues facing our City.

While many individuals have lent their expertise to the Norwalk 2010 group over the last several months, the core group consists of the following people:

Jim DelGreco “ (committee chair) – Golden Hill Association
Maribeth Becker “ Eastern Norwalk Neighborhood Association
T.C. Burtt “ Golden Hill Association
Brad Hotchkiss “ Norwalk Association of Silvermine Homeowners
Laurel Lindstrom “ Eastern Norwalk Neighborhood Association
Michael Mushak “ Golden Hill Association
Moina Noor “ Eastern Norwalk Neighborhood Association
Mark Pierce “ Wilton Avenue Association
Lynne Pratt “ Rowayton Advocates for Zoning
Bob Wagman “ West Norwalk Association
David Westmorland “ Golden Hill Association

Stay tuned for more news from Norwalk 2010. We look forward to hearing from you.

  • Anonymous

    Great stuff, I’m glad to see a coalition like this forming to provide the citizenry with an alternative to business as usual from the City.

    I see this is a Guest View, but there is nobody identified as having written it. Turfie, can you please let us know who the Guest is?

  • turfgrrl

    The authors are listed at the end of the post. It was a group effort.

  • Curious

    Are the condo associations included in the coalition? I should think that would be an appropriate addition to the group.

  • Curious

    No response from anyone on the list… you have four members listed from Golden Hill and three from the ENNA, where is the representation of the condominium associations? Can anyone answer that question? Have they been approached?

  • anonymous

    Curious – have the condo associations approached the Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations about participating in CNNA?

  • Curious

    I still see no response from this group. Hello! Is anyone home?

  • itsridiculous

    Curious, each neighborhood associations is open to all residents and businesses within each association’s boundaries. Click here to see a list of all the associations that are affiliated with the coalition:
    http://norwalkneighborhoods.com/cnna/outside_frame.asp
    and then click on neighborhoods. If your individual condo association is not listed, perhaps you would start one and then join with the CNNA?
    PS: It’s beautiful out today, so I suspect many bloggers are out in their yards or enjoying a cookout somewhere – I just took a break from weeding!

  • Maribeth Becker

    Curious –

    Sorry to leave you hanging over the long weekend! I was enjoying a wonderful few days out of town with my family. As much as I love Norwalk, sometimes it’s nice to get away.

    Thanks ‘itsridiculous’ for your response. It’s exactly what I would have said. Curious, I hope to hear from you soon.

  • Curious

    In other words, no condominium associations are involved and none are listed. Why not just say that? Since Condos are excluded right now, why doesn’t your leadership reach out to their citywide association to join the discussion. I don’t represent them but would hope your group would not overlook the input of thousands of Norwalkers who live in condominium complexes throughout the city.

  • Maribeth Becker

    Curious –

    There is at least one condominium association that regularly attends CNNA meetings and has provided input into the work of the 2010 committee. We would love to have more representation from the condominium complexes located throughout Norwalk.

    No one is excluded from the CNNA or any of its committees. Any resident can attend our meetings which are typically held the second Monday of each month.

  • turfgrrl

    Maribeth Becker: Thanks for making people aware of the CNNA. Could you post the location and time of the next meeting?

  • Curious

    Thank you Maribeth. That is the first straight answer. I appreciate hearing back from someone who actually knows what is happening within the coalition. Since there is an umbrella group for condo associations, I was hoping they were participating.

  • Maribeth Becker

    The next CNNA meeting will be Monday June 11th at 7:30 pm. While we normally meet at City Hall, this month we are taking a ‘road trip’ to the police station so that we can hear about the new surveillance cameras that are being placed throughout town.

    We will also be joined by representatives from 95/7 who will update us on the revised plans for their redevelopment project.

    Our meeting starts at 7:30 in the Community Room of Police Headquarters. Anyone interested in a tour of the new facility should meet in the front lobby of the Police Station at 6:30. All are welcome.

    Also, if someone has contact info for the condo association umbrella group, could you please pass it on to me? Thanks so much.

    Just a reminder that there are many neighborhood associations out there that are working hard to improve the quality of life in Norwalk. Please consider becoming active in your association (if your neighborhood has one), or gathering a few neighbors to create your own (if your neighborhood doesn’t have one). Your voice really does matter.

    Hope to meet many of you soon -