An East Norwalk man snow-blowing his driveway during the blizzard noticed that a neighbor, who has a disability that makes it tough to handle a snow shovel, was struggling. About 10 minutes later, both driveways were clear. That's the type of kindness Mayor Richard Moccia would like to see all over Norwalk, a "nice gesture" that would make the city safer for pedestrians.
City ordinances require residents to clear the sidewalks in front of their homes, but many have not been done. "We have senior citizens that, for obvious reasons, either physically or monetarily, cannot afford to do their sidewalks," Moccia said. "What do we accomplish if we give a $250 summons to an 85-year-old widow? We cannot do it. We're hoping that neighbors ... might be able to help out. This is a time where people can really be helpful, if they have snow blowers. ... That would be a nice gesture."
The city recently hired Larry Losio as a part-time ordinance enforcement officer. But Losio "cannot handle all of the complaints that come in" Norwalk has 35,000 houses. The publicity about Losio's new position has resulted in worried phone calls to the mayor's office. "One called, her mother was a 93-year-old woman," Moccia said. "I asked if she could make arrangements. She said, 'Financially, we're not doing well.' You know, they can't afford to pay some guy $100 to shovel their driveway."
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch from Tuesday evening to Wednesday afternoon for Southern Connecticut. Snow will be heavy with 6 to 14 inches expected to accumulate.
Moccia said the city's main priority is to plow the main streets. "We always get complaints about the side streets, but I just think that considering we are going into our third one, we have done a reasonably good job," he said. "Perfect, no. ... But I don't think anybody ever does that on plowing."
The Department of Public Works is responsible for clearing parking lots and walkways at schools, and the Department of Parks and Recreation is responsible for clearing sidewalks on public lands. Nevertheless, the walkway that goes from North Water Street to Crescent Street gets missed. Norwalk resident David Marcus, founder of routefriend.com , recently complained about that on The Daily Norwalk's Facebook page. "It seems cars are the DPW's only priority and those who get around without cars (30% of the population of South Norwalk) are left to climb snowbanks," Marcus said.
"We just don't have the manpower," Moccia said. "Quite honestly, this time of year, it's not used that much."
He said Parks and Rec and the DPW have lost about 30 workers over the past two years. "Basically, the budget has not gone up for two years," he said.
Moccia doesn't know how much the city has spent on snow removal. He said it is a "little more complicated" with "four or five different funds to draw from." Moccia said the city has not calculated overtime costs.
Are you dug out and ready for another storm? Are you still navigating snowy or icy sidewalks? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.
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