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Sidewalk Talk [Video]

A resident says good governance, not sidewalks, is the problem in town.

The day after the Board of Finance approved a to the Long Range Planning Committee, and the day before the Town Council is scheduled to hold a public meeting to hear arguments for and against spending as much as $1 million to ., Fred Chang took his message to the streets.

 Chang stood in front of the Post Office at the corner of Park and Cherry Streets from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday morning, with placards and a petition.  He gathered a couple dozen signatures from residents who agree with  him that the town should not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to build new sidewalks.

“Spending is out of control,” Chang, told Patch. “Money is being spent on meaningless and unnecessary projects.”

Selectman Rob Mallozzi, who for First Selectman on Feb. 28, said the discussion about sidewalks is getting in the way of a more pressing issue — paving Main St.

“It’s hard for me to believe sidewalks on Main Street are a problem in this town,” he said. “There are 2,000 cars that drive up and down Main St. There are not 2,000 people walking. To think we’re going to delay the paving of Main St. because of the idea of placing sidewalks thoughout the town is wrong. We have to fix Main St., which is a disgrace. We have a road that needs paving.”

First Selectman Jeb Walker said adding sidewalks to Main St. is part of “normal road maintenance,” and not part of the planning process being undertaken by the Long Range Planning Committee. At its meeting Tuesday night, the Board of Finance approved an appropriation of $175,000 for Phase 2 of the LRPC’s work. As First Selectman, Walker serves as Chair of the Board of Finance.

“The proposal for the sidewalks has nothing to do with long range planning,” he told Patch. “The whole notion has been around for years. The inserted itself. It’s their decision now.”

Walker said safety is paramount in the discussion about the sidewalks.

“If it were a side road there could be a great argument not to have one,” he said.

Walker said he had received a “raft of petition letters” from residents supporting the sidewalks. Opponents, he said, are a few Main St. residents.

“These three neighbors don’t want kids walking to school near them,” he said.

Fred Chang, who lives in New Canaan, but not on Main St., said he thinks the sidewalk issue is representative of a lack of transparency in town politics.

“My sense is there is a lack or absence of transparency and also a lack of effective governance,” he said. “I can’t have any confidence that they’re doing the right things the right way. I don’t want money to be spent on someone’s pet projects.”

Four Jacks April 13, 2011 at 11:18 AM
I don't think anyone is over-reacting, maybe you? In case you haven't had work done at your home lately, masonry and tree removal are very expensive. The trees on Main Street do not compare to those on Forest Street, and I, like Elmcrest, never complained about removing those trees. Your remarks are inappropriate. Stick to the subject at hand please. For those of you out there not sure how to vote, please take a ride down Main Street and scope it out for yourself. While the town is not looking to pave a "yellow brick road", the sidewalk would need to be coherent.
Tom April 13, 2011 at 12:32 PM
If Main street can have a sidewalk then I want one too. The sidewalk abruptly ends near my house too. My kids like to walk into town. Thats why we live where we live but they have to walk on the 106 freeway to get to the sidewalks. I want them extended to my house too!
MPM April 13, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Tom, I agree whole heartedly! If the Southern Main Street kids get a sidewalk, then I think the Weed Street kids need one - and of course, there are the kids who live on Journey's End who shouldn't be left out. And come to think of it, I'd like to not come so close to running over the many walkers on Richmond Hill Road on a daily basis, too.
Serenity Now! April 13, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Me too! Can we do West Road so that we can get to Irwin Park? It sure would be "nice to have".
Fan of our town April 13, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Also, in terms of pedestrian and cyclist saftey--We live in a beautiful RURAL town with narrow curvy, hilly roads, big trees and often limited visibility and safety for drivers as it is....I wish many people would heed the statistics that show that roads of any kind are extremely dangerous for cyclists, dogwalkers and other pedestrians--we will NEVER be able to have sidewalks on most of our roads--THE ROADS ARE FOR CARS PEOPLE...I can't tell you how many times MY life and the lives of my CHILDREN are ENDANGERED by having to navigate the curves and drive around a cyclist who refuses to pull to the side or a dog walker who obliviously walks and chats with a friend in the middle of a narrow street!!! All I can hope is that I am not the next casualty of this entitled, irresponsible attitude, or GOD forbid the next town "criminal" who accidently hits someone...
Westin Lovy April 13, 2011 at 02:49 PM
No, you're just wrong. We all have to share. The roads are for cars, pedestrians, cyclists, trucks, wheelchairs, strollers, and all manner of conveyances. If you want to drive on an automobile only restricted road, its called a highway. When you put a highway through a neighborhood, generally, its bad for the neighborhood. See, e.g., what construction of highways did for the Bronx. Just because you don't use anything other than an automobile doesn't mean we don't have a right to be there. Please don't hit anyone because you feel they are in your way. If a pedestrian impedes your progress in your car, I suggest you slow down until you can safely pass. I think you have this backwards as to who is more at risk.
Fan of our town April 13, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Westin I don't think you read my comment correctly....
Westin Lovy April 13, 2011 at 03:22 PM
Let's try this again. Below is part of what I wrote on March 17. The borrowing term on these bonds isn't 30 years. Perhaps you should do some research? Here's the link to the presentation given last night regarding the Town's current debt burden and financial state (we're rated AAA, for those who want to know the ending). http://www.newcanaan.info/filestorage/9488/9220/749/761/BOF_debt_sub-committee%28Final-JC%29.pdf I find page 8, showing the marginal annual tax increase for $10MM of new bonding at $108 per $1MM of assessed property value, instructive. Quick, rough math suggests that a marginal $400k for the sidewalk completion should therefore equate to about $5 in additional taxes per $1MM of assessed property value per year. Call it $6/year, to be conservative? I also think page 11, demonstrating the decrease in the absolute amount of the Town's debt since 2007. Based on what was said last night, this is a direct result of the self amortizing nature of the financing we've chosen. We also have a fairly wide margin before additional borrowing would get the Town even close to a downgrade point. Please refer to the stress tests on pages 11-12, the guidance criteria on page 9, and the debt burden averages noted on page 5.
Betty J. Lovastik April 13, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Lucy Ann (and anyone else), The survey for the proposed sidewalk plan for Main Street and Old Norwalk Road (don't forget that stretch) are available in the Engineer's office in Town Hall.
Four Jacks April 13, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Really, how about those people that walk/run IN THE DARK WEARING BLACK!!!! Or the people who walk in the middle of the road daring us drivers to hit them. Walking in the middle of the road is not sharing the road!!!!! Step aside when a car is coming!
Alan Breslow April 13, 2011 at 03:49 PM
As Everett Dirksen said, " A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money." Out of context the cost of the sidewalks does not seem high (probably underestimated like all projects) but is this the best use of these dollars? Not in my opinion. Same as the silly destruction of the building near Mead Park we, as a community, need to prioritize the dollars and draw a line in which the aboves are approved and the belows are delayed. Safety, obesity and arguments like that are smoke screens for "I wants." For me I would rather spend that money in the schools to address the problem I see where the AP and the Athletes are super-special and the good kids in the middle get lost.
Alan Breslow April 13, 2011 at 04:48 PM
You and I disagree then on both the word necessary and the absolute requirement to remove the building. Feeding the hungry and helping the poor are necessary. Removing a building is a nice-to-have, not a must-have. But that was the topic of another thread. The schools in NC are too focussed and the parents in this town are too focussed on a set criteria for ranking our schools, much like you did. There are significant issues and there are just issues that need to be addressed. If anyone believes that there are not problems in the HS, news flash there are. The students who are not abusive, not an athlete, not in the AP classes, i.e. the middle of the bell curve are pushed aside and they just muddle through the system. I would much rather use the money to address how those kids can not fall through the cracks versus worrying about the cracks in the sidewalks that noone has fallen through.
JL April 13, 2011 at 05:38 PM
really the kids in the middle of the pack are only better served by small class sizes and more attention to ensure they don't fall through the cracks. and by smaller class size, i'm talking no more than 15 kids. that just simply does not happen in public schools.
Alan Breslow April 13, 2011 at 06:48 PM
JL, And that is the simple back of the hand wave off that the administration use as their excuse, and I respectfully disagree. How many times does an AP student meet with the guidance staff? How many times does the athelete meet with the coach? On the other end of the spectrum, how many times does the administration get involved with the failing student or the student in trouble? Answer...a whole lot more than the middle of the curve. And that is where the money should go...hire someone to handle the middle of the pack; hire someone who understands where artsy students can go to college, there are great programs for the non-AP photographers, musicians and artists out there as well, and the HS is not as deep in understanding these schools as they are the Yales and Harvards; the two ends get the attention and the middle is lost. I couldn't care less about the sidewalks at the end of Main St or the Mead Park building, total waste of taxpayer money and totally generated by the people who live in the respective neighborhoods. The people on Main Street want sidewalks, write the check, people on Richmond Hill want a better view, write the check. For me the school is for the whole community, not a single neighborhood. By the way, I have no more kids in the school system so I would not benefit from my suggestions, but it covers a whole lot more than a localized set of households.
Alan Breslow April 13, 2011 at 07:28 PM
G Glad you enjoyed. We all fight our little battles. Some think I did drive a bulldozer through the HS when the kids were there. :-)
Westin Lovy April 14, 2011 at 02:14 AM
Walkers have a right to use the roads. See the statement of the Department of Transportation at: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2010/bicycle-ped.html "Walking and bicycling foster safer, more livable, family-friendly communities; promote physical activity and health; and reduce vehicle emissions and fuel use. Legislation and regulations exist that require inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian policies and projects into transportation plans and project development. Accordingly, transportation agencies should plan, fund, and implement improvements to their walking and bicycling networks, including linkages to transit." "The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems." "Pedestrian and bicycle facilities should meet accessibility requirements and provide safe, convenient, and interconnected transportation networks. For example, children should have safe and convenient options for walking or bicycling to school and parks. People who cannot or prefer not to drive should have safe and efficient transportation choices." "Transportation agencies should find ways to make facility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists during resurfacing and other maintenance projects." Safe travels, however you go.
Jon S. April 14, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Someone asks you to remove your lie about them, Gregory A. Smith, and this is your answer?! Grow up. Delete your lying post, and apologize like a man.
Jon S. April 14, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Per Mr. Lovy's insistence that "No matter how intensely one might hold opinions about the property near one's land, if the town actually owns it, it is not the property of the homeowner." Agreed. So I ask you and your friends to back up your words with action and please move your political yard signs off of OUR public property and back into your own yards where they belong. Your free speech doesn't extend to staking partisan claims on everyone's public property. Thank you.
Fan of our town April 14, 2011 at 07:37 PM
Ah, the DOT website, complete with bureacratic "shoulds" that do not apply to reality...My good sir--My point again is that walkers, cyclists and other non drivers, do not have the "right" to be negligent and put others at risk on the road. They must respect traffic rules, and like drivers, be vigilant and responsibly avoidant of situations which could cause themselves and other serious injury or death...This means staying to the side of the road, wearing appropriately visible clothing and not allowing themselves to be so distracted that they carelessly impede traffic or increase risk to themselves or others...Unfortunately, MANY of our town roadways simply do not and likely cannot have the capacity for the "accessibility requirements" you refer to since they lack shoulders, are very narrow, curvy etc and would never be truly safe for walkers,cyclists etc. even under optimum circumstances. COMMON SENSE should be used--certainly when considering bringing a stroller, or allowing a child to walk or cycle on such roadways--and perhaps, in these cases, GOOD JUDGEMENT and not recreational preference should prevail when deciding whether to use the road, or one of our MANY parks, school yards, local bicycle paths or even the HS Track facility....
Alan Breslow April 14, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Totally support paving the roads,
Westin Lovy April 14, 2011 at 08:26 PM
The budget for the Main Street completion is $400k, including a 15% contingency, and the budget for the Old Norwalk Road project is $200k, including a 15% contingency. Stop using misleading and irrelevant statements to try to scare people. Nothing automatically happens if your referendum passes -- the fire department doesn't get a new truck if the referendum passes, there are no medicare cuts if the referendum passes, and your road (whichever road you've been promised) doesn't get paved sooner if the referendum passes. All that happens is the bond is overturned and we are all back to where we were on February 16, arguing before the Board of Finance, who may recommend any action they choose (or none) at that time. Its just a waste of time.
Elmcrest April 15, 2011 at 01:36 AM
You prove my point.
Elmcrest April 15, 2011 at 01:39 AM
I'm sorry, and your parents actually named you "Let the Demolition Proceed?" Do you not see the hypocrisy of your position? Accusing someone of hiding behind a screen name from your own screen name? Incredible.
Tom April 15, 2011 at 01:07 PM
I will support the sidewalk initiative ONLY and I mean ONLY if there are substantial fines imposed within 24 hours of a snowstorm where the sidewalk hasnt been PROPERLY cleared of snow! I am not talking $10 or $20. I mean a $150 fine and NO WARNING! What I saw on South Avenue and other streets with sidewalks this winter was a travesty. If you want to argue safety then stand behind it with real fines. My comment on the tax argument is that $5 more in tax is $5 more in tax! I am tired of paying taxes for things I will NEVER use! If you really want a sidewalk then YOU PAY FOR IT! I pay enough taxes. Stop the insanity already.
Four Jacks April 15, 2011 at 06:57 PM
BJ -The actual plans are not yet done, see yesterday's Advertiser page 12. Maybe there is a survey of the street, but that's as far as it goes.
C. Hutchins April 16, 2011 at 12:33 AM
I think I had the wrong impression; somehow, I had heard that "everyone" on lower Main Street supports building a new sidewalk through their neighborhood. But I drove by there today and, judging by the yard signs, the neighborhood's feeling are decidedly mixed -- a lot of "VOTE YES" signs, a lot of "VOTE NO" signs. I'm not sure if I'm prepared to force a sidewalk through a neighborhood where there seems to be no clear demand by those who live there and whose homes will be most affected.
Gregory A Smith April 16, 2011 at 01:46 AM
Strange. The yes signs appeared overnight. Who knows how accurate they are. I doubt they are.
Jon S. April 16, 2011 at 02:03 AM
You doubt the "VOTE YES" signs, but not the "VOTE NO" signs?! Generally, people only put yard signs up in front of their home if they feel very strongly about an issue, and that goes for both sides. I wish everyone would keep their yard signs, both pro and con, in their actual yards, though, and not in the Town-owned land immediately alongside the road. Town-owned land isn't for politicking.
Patrick Henry April 16, 2011 at 02:20 AM
Hysterical. Can't wait to see how this unfolds.
Sheryl Shaker April 17, 2011 at 11:51 AM
A number of comments have been removed from this thread because they violate Patch Terms of Use by engaging in direct insults and criticisms of other commenters. We welcome lively debate -- especially about an issue as important to residents as this referendum — just, please, be sure your comments advance the dialog and are respectful.

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