NORWALK, Conn. – Work on a Norwalk intersection began Monday morning to the consternation of some of the residents in the area.
"I defy him to pull this stunt in Rowayton or Cranbury or Silvermine," Diane Cece said of Public Works Director Hal Alvord to two city engineers at Olmstead Place and East Avenue on Monday afternoon. "I defy him to come and mangle someone's road with no notice, change their entry and egress and have us wake up one morning to this."
Cece said she and her neighbors have been waiting for at least 10 years for the city to improve the intersection just south of the Interstate 95 northbound entrance, preferably with a traffic light.
The intersection dates to the 1950s, before I-95 was built, and is wider than needed. Turning left is difficult there. A sign that work was imminent arrived in August with the placement of red markers in the road, she said. No letters were sent to homeowners, no public meeting was held, she said.
After three weeks of emails to the city, Cece went to City Hall on Sept. 7 with a neighbor. Engineer Dick Linnartz provided the city's plans – which did not match the markings the neighbors had been studying – and discussed it with her, she said.
"I said, 'We're not sure if we're happy with this plan,'" Cece said. "'It could be the greatest thing, but it could make life worse for us. We've got to try to understand it.' So I said to Dick, 'You've got to tell us when it's going to start, that's what I need to know.'"
He promised to tell her, Cece said. But she found out Sunday when she bumped into a neighbor who had seen a surveyor Friday.
"It's almost not about the project anymore," she said. "Our issue is the city gave no notice to the residents and has been completely unresponsive to our requests for information, to meet with them, to get a through opportunity to review the plans."
Linnartz was not available for comment, and DPW employees referred all requests for information to Alvord.
"She's got them fired up," Alvord said about Cece and the residents. "I'm sorry — she creates unreal expectations."
Alvord said the two property owners at Olmstead and East Avenue were notified because that is where the work is being done. The entire road is not being paved, so residents down the way were not consulted or informed.
"She wants more time — 'Let's table everything,'" he said. "I'm sorry, but residents don't get to decide what the engineering plans for a project are."
The intersection will be narrowed, he said, with the additional benefit of more room on East Avenue for cars to line up, so they won't be blocking the intersection.
"This project has been in the mill for years, at least three years that I know," he said. "She asked for the plans, we gave them to her." A traffic light is still in the works, Alvord said, although he does not know when it might be installed.