This is a Press Release submitted to Norwalk Patch from Norwalk Councilmen David McCarthy, Doug Hempstead, Bruce Kimmel and Jerry Petrini
"Recently a candidate for office in the city of Norwalk stood next to a set of photographs and said we need better streets in the city of Norwalk and that we have potholes. While that statement may be somewhat true of Norwalk, and in fact true of every city and town in the country, the underlying premise is so incorrect it demands rebuttal.
Road paving in the city under the current mayor has been accomplished at a rate double what had been done in the past. The last 4 fiscal years have seen $5M spent each year just in repaving roads to make up for the less than adequate spending in the years prior to 2005. Additionally, grants received from the federal government in the amount of almost $4M allowed for the repaving of Seaview, Ponus, Martin Luther King Blvd and West Avenue. We are providing you with 6 pages worth of streets that have been repaved in the last 8 years.
We can understand that many of our citizens, and apparently some candidates for office, may not have experience with the Public Works Dept and may also be unfamiliar with the customer service system and therefore may tend to be confused. Let us clarify some things.
The city cannot monitor the state of every road in the city on a daily basis. To repair potholes, we rely on citizens to report them. This can be done via the city’s web site, or via a phone call to 203-854-3200, or even an email. When potholes are reported by noon, generally they are repaired the same day. If later than that, then the next day.
We stand on the side of the city highway workers, workers who perform a valuable service for the citizens of this city and who do it very well. We can report to you that there have never been customer services calls of any kind relating to potholes or sidewalks on Garber or Pogany St. since the customer service system was implemented in 2005. Furthermore, there are no open pothole reports on any of the streets in question.
We ask the media to please continue to inform the citizens of the city about our customer service system…our highway department can’t fix what they don’t know about.
In one notable case, Scribner Av north of the Post Rd, some constituents have complained about the roughness of the short stretch south of West Cedar St. Since this street is on the list for paving in the next year, they were informed that the best solution would be to allow for the project to progress.
Since the bulk of sidewalks are required to be maintained by the abutting property owners, and not by the city, we are a bit confused as to what the candidate’s point was. In any event, the sidewalks in question will be inspected, and if appropriate, the owners informed that they are deficient and should be repaired. We have provided you a copy of the city’s sidewalk report. If you note the one open item on that report, it is an item that needs a capital budget project which will be part of a future year’s budget.
With respect to the irresponsible claim that “too many times where a road is repaved, and then all of a sudden, somebody else is coming along and digging it up, and the patch they makes either sinks or it rises above" this statement reveals an ignorance of the city’s ordinance which bans any cutting through newly-paved streets for a period of two years. This ordinance is enforced rigorously, and only in the event of a gas or water leak would an exception be granted, so we don't have another event like the Christmas Eve explosion on Ohio Ave Ext in 2009.
Further, the Public Works Dept is not just satisfied with protecting the streets for 2 years – the city wants them safe from digging for 5 or 10 years. To this end, the director and his staff meet with the gas and water companies monthly to coordinate capital construction. The intent is to get the utilities to do their work before we pave. This program, too, has been very successful. This has required flexibility on the parts of both the City and the utilities; DPW has advanced or delayed a paving project and the utilities may have advanced or delayed a project – the result is the much longer preservation of the pavement. This is documented and the results are evident.
Perhaps the statement reveals a simple lack of knowledge of project work planned and executed very well by the Public Works Dept. In two circumstances in the city a street was so bad that it demanded paving, but there was a planned project that would require the street be cut through multiple times. In these cases, the decision was made, appropriately and correctly, to use a “shim” or very thin layer of asphalt to allow for immediate relief for drivers, while not incurring the expense of permanent paving and allowing needed underground work to take place to allow for the expansion of Yankee Gas lines.
On Scribner Ave, one of us personally reported sinking patches and the city requested that Yankee Gas make repairs to their patches, which they did within a handful of days. Again…letting Customer Service know is the key.
Bottom line, the city does not allow newly paved roads to be cut into for two years. The engineers and planners work very well to avoid conflicts like this, and the examples cited are very good ones.
It is well worth noting, that in the past ten years, the Public Works Department has been awarded with over $48M in grants to improve the streets, sidewalks and watercourses of Norwalk. Bridge replacements, traffic signal upgrades, road reconstructions, traffic calming, inland flood prevention work, including causation studies, mitigation planning, and the execution of corrective projects, as well as public art installations have been done in this city because of the work of the Public Works Department in conjunction with the mayor’s office to secure funding from a wide variety of sources.
In summary, none of us will ever make the claim that any process in the city is perfect, nor that any street cannot use improvement. The critical balance of resources vs. impact and the overarching burden on the taxpayer to pay for improvements is one that weighs heavily on our minds. Flippant comments to score political points without any real plan for improvement are simply pettifoggery. Saying we need to spend more money without any hint of a plan is just scary. Thank you for your time."