Norwalk Council Approves Washington Village Improvement Plan

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Norwalk Common Councilman David Watts is one of an overwhelming majority of council members who supported an improvement project for the Washington Village housing complex. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

NORWALK, Conn. – The residents of the Washington Village housing complex on Water Street in Norwalk could be looking at a rebuilt development after years of dealing with an aging, flood-prone facility.

By a 13-1 vote Tuesday, the Common Council approved a plan to grant property on nearby Day Street to the Norwalk Housing Authority for $1 as part of an overall improvement project for the housing complex.

The plan calls for the city to apply for $30 million in federal funding to help pay for the new Washington Village, which would be developed by Boston-based Trinity Financial.

The project has the support of residents of the decaying Washington Village. Included in the plan is the construction of mixed-use and mixed-income housing, educational programs and job-training initiatives.

“Mixed-use housing will do a wonderful job of helping to redevelop South Norwalk,” said David Levinson, president of Norwalk Community College, which will be involved in the educational component. “NCC will provide education services in the form of credit and non-credit courses at Washington Village.”

Despite the altruistic goals of the project, it has not been without controversy.

The Day Street property was once appraised at about $2 million, according to officials, so some residents believe the city should sell it to the developer.

Additionally, some residents have complained that the city has not held a public hearing on the matter, instead opting for meetings with Washington Village and other South Norwalk residents and interested parties.

“Norwalk will look foolish building in a flood plain,” said Dr. Ganga Duleep, president of Friends of Ryan Park, a neighborhood group of the adjacent park. Councilwoman Anna Duleep, his daughter, was the sole vote against the plan. She said she did not oppose rebuilding Washington Village but did not agree with how the issue was handled.

But council members said the project presents a rare opportunity to leverage federal money to develop a complex that can help the residents there and also help the city.

“Who are we to tell people in Washington Village that they’re not entitled to quality housing?” said Councilman David Watts, who grew up in public housing and supports the plan. “Most of the people who have criticized the project do not live there.”

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Comments (17)

sononeknows:

The city will eventually have to foot the bill for all flood mitigation on Water Street

I'm Not an expert but tide doors on the outlets on the river would prevent a lot of the damage.Most of the damage is done by water coming into water street this is proved by watching the storm drains fill and overflow on water street during high tide and no rain.

This last large storm we had there was water coming from Woodward going into Shorefront park right down Burritt suggesting the flooding was coming from higher ground.

Why would the city have to raise the State rd (Water Street) maybe the State should be working on this as well Bruce.I find the whole explanation Republican.

For all those people from the Historic district by the one of the dirty five power plants I would be interested in making my exit out of Norwalk possible seeing after most small storms now Woodward ave is under water again above Ryan Park making it impossible to leave Village Creek.

Something suggests developers make out when an area floods and a fix is made after the property is sold doors at sea on storm drains are one of the oldest remedies.Imagine what an professional would think of as well.maybe its time Bruce to suggest a study you seem to have enough intertest for someone who doesn't live in the area but cares to share your thoughts.

It is odd tho this whole time we all seem to want something better but no one yet has talked fixing the flooding before construction just making flood proof buildings spending millions of dollars of our money and no one else in the are gets any solutions to our problems.A Republican sage at its best.

JkwandaR:

I'm a little sick and tired of people from outside of South Norwalk trying to take things over and control our future. I don't think we need that and isn't nobody has time for that. If Anna Duleep's mama wants to build herself an empire, let her pay for it and leave the people alone.

I want to thank David Watts and Carvin Hilliard and others for standing up for us. If Mrs. Duleep needs something to work on, she can fix one of the slums instead of sticking notices on the front and blaming others.

sononeknows:

Carvin is a prize he stood on top of a test well at ground level on Meadow st where hazards have been detected and told channel 12 and others he gave the imression he was for the health of South Norwalk and told us all he was satisfied with the area.Ever wonder why some areas are off limits to shellfish and have been for years due to pollution on the edges of South Norwalk.I'm thinking it may be industrial use.

Carvin may have helped you here but the last few times in South Norwalk he has let us all down.The health and welfare of the kids in all the Norwalk housing is greatly ignored around the complexes by industrial traffic and businesses.

Carvin has had enough gunfire in his district to say something do something its been like this for years and not a word from him.Watch the council meetings I not convinced he knows the issues maybe its time to suggest someone else take his place and react faster with more thought and updated and pro South Norwalk person to lead the charge I cant see him leading much more.

When was the last time he stood in front of the council and asked for help the gunfire is out of control we have now a Bridgeport style element on our streets and after the shooting yesterday at high noon we must demand something more be done and maybe Carvin can help or step aside he has shown no leadership in South Norwalk with this one issue.

That goes for a few others in office why has there been nothing said in a council meeting about this voilence among kids with guns here in Norwalk?

Can't a council member address the council on our behalf? This would be my first request that Carvin find the words to help defend the quality of life to those in Norwalk that have become victims from this voilence or show him the door.

Marie_Miller:

Anna's mother was the one who gave the misleading comments about building in the flood plain. Not father. Someone said that the mother has a plan to expand the Ryan Park.

Latino:

Anna voted no so her mothers plan can be used and no the flood plain. We all know flood plains are very helpful to the community. So her mom wanted the park extended so more flood water can come in and destroy Washington Village.
Thank you to the 13 who voted yes.

Bruce Kimmel:

The plan pushed by opponents of the Washington Village project is to locate the new housing three blocks away, on the Webster Parking Lot, of all places. Then the park can be expanded into what had been Washington Village. Regarding the flood plain issue: The city will eventually have to foot the bill for all flood mitigation on Water Street anyway; rebuilding Washington Village might make that easier because the new construction will be done in a way designed to prevent flooding.

Latino:

Then if they would have moved Washington Village to Webster parking lot the city would have sold the old property.
I think the city council should bring into LAW that NO FAMILY MEMBER can buy any property from the city while there family member is serving the city as council,mayor, or even city employee. Even if the person leaves office,resigns or is VOTED OUT FOR 4 YEARS. This includes part of a trustee or group of investors.
Bring that into the next meeting mr. Kimmel

Latino:

Why did Dunleep voted NO? I notice she was in favor of the rebuilding Washington Village but still voted NO, 13 voted yes. Is there something I am missing here since her father spoke against the flood plain. Am I missing something?

Norwalker4life:

I think that Washington village should be knocked down and sold to one of the marinas . It's prime real estate . The whole public housing issue really frustrates me .I work very hard and then visit a friend in public housing and it's nicer than were I live . They pay half what I pay . People that make more money should live in nicer places not the other way around . I do understand that some of those projects are hell holes , but if you don't want to live there make more money and move out . Hardworking taxpayers ehould have to pay a cent to help out people that don't help them selves.

SONOSurfer:

I couldn't agree more...the apartments with a water view a few streets over on Haviland are a pretty penny, but for some reason we want to pollute the best real estate with low-income housing. Now obviously there is a need for this type of living space, but can't the city put it somewhere else? They finally have a chance to start over and they're just doing the same thing again. It really makes no sense.

sononeknows:

David Levinson, president of Norwalk Community College should offer his medical education courses at the Village itself.The person shot there yesterday could of used a clinic after he was shot yesterday.Maybe a triage center should be planned discounts on shooting victims could be applied.

David in the past has receieved the responsibility of spending grant money in Norwalk places I doubt he has ever been.This man was appointed to dispense funds yet community workers and clergy for the most part have never been asked or ignored to what South Norwalk needed.Having this man involved only suggests political clout and not privy to what Norwalk needs,I'm glad as a taxpayer and resident David Levinson is at least involved in Norwalks business.But you have to thank Levinson for taking the time with all of NCC problems to help the Mayors office out.

I'm just not convinced if Dr Levinson he does have something in front of his name(right) is the best spokesperson for the community in the past he has shown little to no concern about Norwalks growing problems that also have been ignored by city hall.

You have to also consider when HUD took its tour the police dept was there and I doubt if Tom passed along what the area was like to HUD during that secret meeting only privy to The Hour.

The city is full of slight of hand meetings and back room dealings its no wonder when people started gathering news sources to report this kind of stuff most of the who players look bad they brought it on themselves thinking most people in South Norwalk and the city was too stupid to think on their own.Boy were they wrong.

Save the city all kinds of trouble just install boat slips in the Washinton Village units when built that what city hall and developers had planned all along screw the HUD project there is money to be made and the mayor knows it.High tide is now at the doors of Washington Village why ignore the fact this was never what the players had planned all along.Moving water street to higher land and finding somewhere else close to the area for housing and keeping the rest for parks.

Diane C2:

"Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things."
Russell Baker

Though the concept of Choice Neighborhoods Transformation is a well-intentioned and admirable way to encourage mixed-income housing along with the social, health and educational network for economic improvement, NOTHING of this vote can be construed as positive when the taxpayers of Norwalk apparently have no say in our how our property and tax dollars are used. I'm betting that not one future Council member will have the couarge to say no to the looming infrastructure costs we'll be hit for - estimated in the tens of millions....

lwitherspoon:

@Diane

The "looming infrastructure costs" are estimated in the tens of millions by whom?

I respectfully disagree with the statement that "the taxpayers of Norwalk apparently have no say in how our property and tax dollars are used." We elect Council members to represent our best interests because we don't have time to attend every meeting and familiarize ourselves with the details of every proposal. Council's support of the project was near-unanimous. What do you see that the entire Common Council missed? Did you bring your concerns to Mr. Kydes and the other Council members? What was the response?

Diane C2:

Alfred, despite their well-intentioned support for the project, the Council did NOT approve the Washington Village Improvement Plan as your headline suggests. Rather, as stated in your first paragraph, they have thus far only approved the Option to Purchase Agreement for a land sale if and when NHA is awarded the CNI grant from HUD. Just to be clear.

Ken P Jr:

Thanks for the clarification, but why even approve giving away a 2 million dollar piece of our land?

Ken P Jr:

Who are we to tell people who we are spending OUR money on what theyre entitled to? So, we GIVE away a 2 million dollar piece of real estate, beg the feds for 30 million and let an out of state firm run the job.
Yeah thats progress, instead of working to move people up the ladder we just keep giving them something for nothing so our city and state officials can beg for money from Washington.

Something to be proud of? I dont think so.

Joe Espo:

“Who are we to tell people in Washington Village that they’re not entitled to quality housing?” said Councilman David Watts.."

Well, Diane: there you go!

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