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Norwalk Takes Steps To Beautify Park Built on Dump

NORWALK, Conn. – An award-winning landscape design will be in place at Oyster Shell Park by spring, says Susan Sweitzer of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency.

The Common Council approved the expenditure Tuesday evening. LaRosa Building Group will implement Phase 1 of the park's master plan, using up to $1.423 million of a state grant. Improvements include paths up to the park's high point, where an open plaza, lighting and landscaping will be installed.

Sweitzer said Phase 1 does not include improvements for the entire park, a former landfill. The southernmost portion will be revamped, making the paths handicapped accessible and enlarging the existing docks.

Construction will take six months, she said. Earth moving and regrading will begin by the end of the year. Planting will be done in the spring.

Oyster Shell Park is behind Maritime Yards and borders Interstate 95. It draws pedestrians, bicyclists and joggers, who will find additional paths when the work is done, she said.

Sweitzer said the master plan for the park was given an award by the Boston Society of Landscape Architects. The American Society of Landscape Architects chose the plan as one of 175 pilot projects for the Sustainable Sites Initiative. That is basically the landscaping equivalent of LEEDS, a green building code, she said. She hopes that this will help obtain funding for Phase 2.

Phase 1 is funded through a State of Connecticut Special Act grant, part of a $20 million allocation for infrastructure improvement to the Reed Putnam Urban Renewal Area, $375,000 in Department of Energy and Environmental Protection funding and Community Block Grant funding. City Capital Budget funds have not been used to create the master plan, site improvements bid documents or construction.

Because of the complexity of working on what was once a landfill, the Department of Public Works was involved with the project, working with the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Redevelopment Agency to bring it to this point.

"When I first took office this was a pipe dream," Mayor Richard Moccia said, as he thanked those who worked on it. "It took a lot of doing, especially with all the cutbacks."

Contact reporter Nancy Chapman at nchapman@thedailynorwalk.com

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