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Norwalk Council Backs Rowayton Ave. Work

NORWALK, Conn. -- Lowering Rowayton Avenue and other safety improvements at the Metro-North Railroad bridge are a work in progress, say some city officials. But one Democratic Common Council member, Laurel Lindstrom, says the project is basically "set in stone."

"My concern is that as a project moves forward it almost takes on a life of its own," Lindstrom said at a hearing Tuesday night where a resolution supporting the work passed in a close vote. Lindstrom said she abstained because she hadn't heard from many people who live in the area.

The preliminary design would take 1,933 square feet of land from four properties to make room for the Rowayton Avenue improvements. But that may change. Also, the state would have temporary access to 4,624 square feet of private property while the work is done and would change the slope of 530 square feet of private property.

An annoyed Councilman Andrew Conroy said the project began in the 1990s in response to safety concerns entering and exiting the train station. "Somebody in the community was running around saying this project extends all the way up Rowayton Avenue and all the way down to Highland," he said. "I don't know who that person was, but they were dead wrong. This thing goes 350 feet one way and about 450 feet the other."

Hal Alvord, director of the Department of Public Works, called the plan "a work in progress."

"You're in design development -- and as a result of the public information meetings that have been held and the feedback, particularly those property owners who are affected, we have continually made adjustments to try to minimize those impacts and still achieve the safety goals that the project was intended to do," Alvord said.

The only public comment came from Marc Bradley, chairman of the Democratic Town Committee. "In a time when our state is dealing with substantial budgetary problems, I'd like to understand why the mayor and Republicans on the Common Council see it fit to invest $2.8 million in taxpayer money on this unnecessary and wasteful project," he said. "While much of the funding is not municipal, the cost to taxpayers is equally outrageous."

Republican Mayor Richard Moccia responded with an "editorial comment" just before the vote. "If our $2.3 million can help solve the $1.5 billion state deficit, I'll be the first one to give it back," he said. "I don't think that's going to be the answer. The deficit was not caused by the Rowayton Avenue project."

Do you think the safety improvements are necessary?