Hallmarks & Accomplishments of the Eastern Norwalk Neighborhood Association
The Eastern Norwalk Neighborhood Association began in 2001 as VZSHAN (pronounced Vision). The acronym stood for Van Zant to Sunset Hill Association of Neighbors. It was founded with the vision that the region have in place a strong neighborhood group that would link the residential neighborhoods along East Avenue located north and south of the Interstate so as to provide a forum for consolidating common concerns and finding solutions to problems identified.
VZSHAN very soon became the East Avenue Neighborhood Association (EANA). As the EANA, the organization got a reputation as a catalyst for positive change in the eastern Norwalk community. Until August 24, 2003, when the Association became the East Norwalk Neighborhood Association the EANA remained an active organization.
‘East Norwalk’ was changed to ‘Eastern Norwalk’ in the association name in September of 2005 as a result of concerns voiced by several long-time residents of the area who strongly believed that the boundaries of traditional East Norwalk (south of the I-95) should be adhered to when using the name ‘East Norwalk’.
The ENNA has been instrumental and influential in several projects and success stories in the community, as listed below.
Hallmarks for 2002
- Began regular monthly meetings with neighbors to elicit and solve neighborhood concern
- Successfully resolved several Zoning violations by working with the office of the zoning inspector
- Speed bumps installed on Myrtle Street, Raymond Terrace & Pine Hill Avenue in large part due to our efforts
- Partnership with ‘City Scan’ project to take photo scans of unsightly & unsafe conditions in our neighborhoods that the City departments then fixed
- Through monthly representation at the Mayor’s Neighborhood Preservation Committee meeting we have the needs of our residents addressed
- Through partnering with Advocates for Calm Traffic of Norwalk, created an ever-growing number of web pages on the calmtraffic.org website. The web pages are up-to-date and a valuable resource to the community.
- Start of twice-yearly newsletter ‘Sea To The Green’ to provide information to the community about what’s happening in our area
- Coordinated and co-hosted the East Norwalk portion of the City-Wide Traffic Summit. Submitted detailed documentation of area concerns. As a member of the Mayor’s summit follow-up committee we made sure that concerns identified by residents were addressed
- Partnered with the historic community to save the historic house at 93 East Avenue
- Supported the residents in their successful pursuit to retain public access to the Norwalk Harbor at Second Street after the City constructed a barricade
- Through representation at public hearings affected change in plans for development at Norden Park
- Partnered with the Norwalk Tree Alliance to inventory the street trees in our area so that they can be better maintained by the city
- Organized the Pumpkin Decorating & Contest for the Pumpkin Festival held in October on the Norwalk Green by the Police Activities League
- Created an up-to-date Listing of Community Organizations and Neighborhood Associations in Norwalk (with contact name & number) that became part of the League of Women Voters of Norwalk ‘Know Your Town’.
- Advocated for work to proceed on an updated Master Plan of Conservation & Development
Hallmarks for 2003
- Established ‘Street Reps’ system on the streets of our area
- Worked with residents, City Scan and the City departments to get 23 street trees planted on First Street
- Through the Andrews Field & Pond Committee that we created in 2002, we wrote a proposal for the restoration of the wetland and establishment of a city park and bird sanctuary. After eliciting input from area residents we presented the proposal, using a slide-show presentation, to city department heads and committees. Our efforts have already drawn needed attention to this hidden & neglected resource
- Through representation at public hearings affected change in plans for condo development on the Norwalk Harbor along East Avenue
- Became a member of the Norwalk Preservation Trust
- Worked with residents, city official and departments on planning a ‘Don’t Block the Box’ strategy on East Avenue at Olmstead Place
- Extensive involvement in addressing the issue of speeding on Strawberry Hill Avenue has resulted in several solutions: painted striping to narrow street, thereby slowing vehicles; proposal for a traffic light at Tierney; flashing speed limit sign; increased monitoring by police; examination of safety of students related to traffic at the 3 schools that may result in a City Task Force formation to study and address the issue
- Extensive participation in the establishment of the East Avenue Village District
- Our input was incorporated into the Master Plan for Wall Street that came into being
- Utilized City Scan to eliminate blights in our neighborhoods such as graffiti, abandoned vehicles, overgrown vegetation, hazardous trees, potholes and zoning violations
- Extensive work with residents and official in attempts to re-open East Norwalk postal substation brought the spotlight of attention to our immediate community
- Established an Adopt-A-Spot in the center median of East Avenue in front of City Hall
- Registered as a not-for-profit organization under the name of The East Norwalk Neighborhood Association, Inc. on October 1, 2003. The trademark Sea To The Green also registered with the State of Connecticut.
- Advocated for establishing guidelines for commercial signage in the East Avenue Village District
- Active support for posting rules & regulations of waterfowl hunting in visible locations on the beaches of East Norwalk so that everyone is aware of rules
- Agreement was reached on conditions and restrictions that the owners of a massive landscaping business on Strawberry Hill Avenue will abide by. The business is located just south of the I-95 next to Fitch Park. Working to contain this expanded contractor’s yard was at the center of the neighborhood association’s efforts for 18 months. After not getting anywhere with the Zoning Board of Appeals we renewed our efforts with city officials and with the Zoning Department. Negotiations subsequently began between the Zoning Inspector and the owners of the landscaping business, and continued for a couple of months until a written agreement was in place.
- Partnering with the Third Taxing District Commission regarding the Billboards, etc. at Metro North overpass at East Avenue, to improve this location that has historic significance for East Norwalk
- Speed bumps to be installed in the Spring on: First Street; Gregory Boulevard (Tonetta Circle to Dorlon Street); Melrose Avenue; Rome Street; and Sunlit Drive.
- Partnered with the West Norwalk Association (WNA) and the Norwalk Association of Silvermine Homeowners (NASH) to form a Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, which includes several neighborhood associations in Norwalk. The ENNA drafted the Organization document for the Coalition.
- Expanded the “Know Your Town’ for 2004 and continued the collaboration with the League of Women Voters of Norwalk and the Mayor’s Office to produce this directory pamphlet. Approached the Hour newspapers for printing, with the result that it will be included as an insert for distribution twice in the year.
- Adopted a Power Line Resolution on December 18, 2003 supporting underground lines where power lines are deemed necessary
Hallmarks for 2004
- Presented the Power Line Resolution adopted by the ENNA board supporting undergrounding to the Connecticut Siting Council at its January 5 public listening session
- Hosted a ‘Meet the Chief’ meeting at our January ENNA board meeting in a collaborative effort with the Police Department to assist us in better serving our members
Worked intensely with the City of Norwalk and the Mayor’s Office to get the word out to area residents regarding the three Property Tax Revaluation informational meetings held by the City within the ENNA territory in January and February
- Hosted a presentation of the Historic Building Plaquing Program at our February board meeting to encourage pride in our history and EN historic structures
- Worked on a mini master plan for the East Norwalk community as a recommendation document to be presented to the Planning Commission for the drafting of the Plan of Conservation and Development
- Organized and conducted a bus and walking tour of East Norwalk community neighborhoods that took place on April 7 with residents, business owners, the Mayor and the Mayor’s Neighborhood Preservation Committee (MNPC) joining the tour. Quality of life conditions identified: traffic; road conditions; possible violations of health/zoning and parking. The concerns will be addressed by the MNPC each month until the conditions are resolved. ENNA will be at each meeting.
- Organized and conducted a Neighborhood Cleanup from Veterans Park to the Fort Point Street vicinity on April 17. A real group effort. Residents, business owners, Public Works, SONICC and TTD joined the ENNA in cleaning the shoreline and streets of East Norwalk.
- Presented a 27 page document of Master Plan Recommendations to the Planning Commission on April 20 for the Plan of Conservation and Development update. Presented the material in a PowerPoint presentation at the public workshop scheduled by the Planning Commission to gather public input.
- Continued to attend the monthly MNPC meetings to work with the city departments on the ENNA condition list so that as many of the complaints and concerns as possible could be addressed . As a result of the ENNA: additional signs were installed near the railroad bridge at Strawberry Hill Ave. to help prevent over-height vehicles from driving under and hitting the bridge; Briteside glowing sign pole fittings were placed on the traffic signs near the schools on Strawberry Hill Avenue; pollution in the brooks was investigated; no parking was enforced in several problematic areas; abandoned vehicles were towed away; speeding was monitored and enforced at specific locations; noise and partying at Veterans Park was addressed through better enforcement; and several properties with fire, health and/or zoning violations were inspected and made to comply with regulations.
- Hosted a presentation on ‘Become a Norwalker’ at our July ENNA board meeting. Rhonda Collins of the Norwalk Health Department elicited ideas from the ENNA for creating a walking route in the area of East Avenue and Strawberry Hill Avenue.
- Held a Fall Gathering at the Town House at Mill Hill on September 29 as a ‘State of the Neighborhood’ event that was attended by more than 30 people, including Mayor Alex Knopp, State Rep Bob Duff and several other officials. Several representatives from nonprofit groups with whom we have collaborated throughout the year gave presentations and answered questions at display tables.
- Organized and conducted a Fall Cleanup in the Wall Street area on October 23. About 20 volunteers participated. Public Works and LAZ Parking assisted with street sweepers and to cart away the bags of trash. Special thanks to New York Deli for supplying lunch for the volunteers following the successful cleanup effort.
- Established the ENNA website with it’s own domain name at https://eastnorwalk.org.
- Drafted a comprehensive plan for the revitalization of the neighborhood retail centers of Ludlow Square and Liberty Square — and the streets that link them. Starting in December, the ENNA began to gather community input for this community-driven project.
Hallmarks for 2005
- Submitted application for tax exempt status for the ENNA in February. Awaiting ruling from IRS.
- Communication with the Connecticut House of Representatives Transportation Committee in support of a bill to construct sound barriers along I-95 in Norwalk to improve quality of life for East Norwalkers.
- Worked with the City’s Tree Advisory Committee in assigning Tree Liaisons in neighborhood associations throughout Norwalk. Established and filled our own Tree Liaison position in February to work with the City on maintaining and enhancing healthy street and park trees.
- Presented a 6-page document of comments on the Mid-Harbor Planning Study to the Planning Commission at the public hearing on March 30.
- Organized and hosted a presentation by M F DiScala & Co. on April 6. Mr. DiScala and architect Steve Cecil presented a proposal for luxury apartment buildings on the former Gibbs College site on East Avenue. As the developer chosen by the City to develop Parcel 3 of the Wall Street area, plans were also presented for the ‘head of the harbor’ that includes: the property where the pottery factory stood; the intersection of East Wall Street & Main Street; parts of Main Street; and Freese Park. ENNA members and members of the public attended and were given ample opportunity to make comments and ask questions at the end of the presentations.
- Led the effort, with several other neighborhood associations and community groups, in the City’s Citywide Cleanup on April 30. Coordinated the cleanup effort in East Norwalk by getting the word out to the community – press, schools and citizens – about the cleanup locations. ENNA organized successful Cleanups at Constitution Park, Fitch Park, Andrews Field and along East Avenue from the I-95 down to Seaview Avenue with dozens of volunteers participating and tons of trash collected.
- Followed the Pepperidge Farm site property and planned housing development application, speaking at the public hearings re the need to proceed with caution because the new Master Plan is not yet in effect. This development will add hundreds of additional condos and increased traffic through the neighborhoods of East Norwalk.
- Expanded our Sea To The Green newsletter and published the first edition at the beginning of July. It is an informative and educational publication – and we hope to publish quarterly, or 3 times annually.
- Established a second Adopt-A-Spot on Tierney Street at the intersection with Strawberry Hill Avenue.
- Hosted a presentation by David Waters, attorney for the developer, on the proposed housing development on the Lea Manor site at our July 13 meeting. Invited the neighbors and elected officials – with a turnout of 50 people.
- Hosted a presentation by Mike Mocciae (Director of Recreation and Parks) and Fred Bondi (Chairman of the Recreation and Parks Committee and Council President) on the Parks of East Norwalk at our July 13 meeting. Kevin Poruban (Councilman and Chair of the Public Works Committee) also participated in the discussion. Thank you Mike, Fred and Kevin.
- Organized a Strategy Meeting with members and neighbors held on July 28 to discuss next steps related to the proposed housing development at the former Fitch School site. Mayor Knopp and about 35 residents attended a very productive meeting run by the ENNA president, Laurel Lindstrom.
- ENNA Board met with Spinnaker Development representatives Kim Morque and Candace Schafer on August 18 to hear a presentation of the proposal for a large condominium development on the NordenPark site. The ENNA membership was provided with the information from the meeting to allow them to comment on the plan.
- Name of ENNA changed to Eastern Norwalk Neighborhood Association on September 16 so that our name better describes the area of Norwalk that we serve.
- Held the second annual Fall Gathering at Mill Hill Town House on September 26. Theme was eastern Norwalk ‘then…and now’ – celebrating the past and planning for the future of our neighborhood. Enjoyable gathering with refreshments, displays, reminiscences and good company.
- Drafted an improvement plan for Liberty Square after several meetings and interviews with area property owners. Proposal submitted on October 26 to the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency requesting funding for improvements through the City of Norwalk Neighborhood Centers Improvement Program.
- Official notice received from the IRS on November 8 approving the ENNA as a tax exempt organization under section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are tax deductible retroactive to September 4, 2003.
- Hosted newly elected Mayor Moccia as our guest speaker, inviting the public, to our December 14 regular board meeting. Well attended and informative meeting that began a constructive relationship between the Mayor and the ENNA.
Hallmarks for 2006
- Posted in January on the ENNA website a new ENNA ‘guide’ – Norwalk ‘At Your Fingertips’ 2006 (a directory and guide to community, neighborhood and civic participation). Hardcopies made available to members – and on request.
- Began participation in January as a member of the Wall Street ‘Scrapbooks’ Committee formed by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency to create an historical baseline for redevelopment.
- Notified in January by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency that we had been successful in our application for grant funding for Liberty Square Improvements for $30,000 conditional on finding matching funds.
- Hosted, at our February 8 regular board meeting, a presentation by the developers of 142-144 East Avenue (former Gibbs site) regarding 36 condominiums proposed. Public invited to attend. Good turnout.
- Spoke at the Conservation Commission public hearing on February 28 regarding the potential negative impact to the wetlands and the loss of open space if a 328-unit condominium development is built at 8 Norden Place.
- Successful in our request to have the Third Taxing District approve funding, at the March 1 annual meeting, of $1,000 to use as matching funds for Liberty Square improvements.
- Spoke at the Zoning Commission public hearing on March 6 regarding the potential negative impact on traffic and infrastructure if a 328-unit condominium development is built at 8 Norden Place.
- Held a public forum on Traffic Safety specific to Strawberry Hill Avenue on March 8. Mayor Moccia, Police Chief Rilling, Public Works Director Hal Alvord and Public Works Traffic Engineer Fred Eschraghi were our guest presenters. Well attended.
- Participated in ‘Slow Down Days’ the week of March 20.
- Spoke again at the Conservation Commission public hearing continuation on April 11 regarding the potential negative impact to the wetlands and the loss of open space if a 273-unit condominium development is built at 8 Norden Place. Result of continued advocacy was successful. On May 16 the Commission voted to deny application.
- Initiated a campaign for funding of $80,000 to be allocated from the City’s Capital funds for a Traffic Calming study and design of Strawberry Hill Avenue. Successful April 11 when the Common Council approved the funding.
- Advocated for ‘Safe Routes to School’ program for Strawberry Hill Avenue – and for the City to apply for federal grant funds for this purpose. City applied for these funds in April 2006 and succeeded in securing a $368,000 grant.
- Worked with Senator Bob Duff and the owners of 73 Strawberry Hill Avenue (old Fitch School/Lea Manor site) in June for regular maintenance of the site for safety and aesthetic reasons. Successful outcome.
- Hosted a presentation in November on West Avenue proposed development plan by Seligson Properties. Public Q&A period followed. Several members of the public attended. Overall opinion was that the proposal was much improved from prior drafts.
- Hosted ‘Finding Solutions to Neighborhood Flooding’ Forum in December with a panel of speakers: Mayor Moccia, Hal Alvord (Director of Public Works), Walter Briggs (Chair of the Planning Commission), Chris Perone (State Rep – District 137) and Herb Grant (District A Common Council member). Public Q&A with a turnout of more than 75 people.
Hallmarks for 2007
- Met with Mike Mocciae, Director of Rec. and Parks, in January to learn more about the plans (miniature golf, batting cages, amphitheater, etc.) proposed for Veterans Park. Alerted the public to proposals that were moving forward.
- Spoke at the Capital Budget public hearings in support of allocating flood relief funds for neighborhood residents. First phase of funding was approved.
- Organized two successful spring cleanups in April as a participant in the ‘Keep Norwalk Beautiful’ campaign.
- Presented Master Plan priority recommendations to the Planning Commission at the May 30 public hearing. Request for consideration of Village District designation for Liberty Square and creation of Master Plans for all major city parks were subsequently added to the plan by the Commission.
- Participated in meetings with Northeast Utilities/CL&P, along with other community leaders, in order to minimize disturbance and environmental impact specific to the Middletown-to-Norwalk power line project that will be placed underground along Westport Ave.
- Worked with Public Works to arrange a public meeting specific to the proposed road improvements on East Avenue from the railroad underpass to Olmstead Place. Q&A meeting to take place in September.
- Continued to support residents concerned about the future of Veterans Park, speaking to the Rec. and Parks Committee and working closely with the Save Vets Park Association in pushing for public input into a Master Plan for the park.
- Continued to provide valuable public service information to area residents through regular email bulletins, quarterly newsletters, monthly public forums and editorials in the local papers.
- Monitored development plans, and potential development plans, at several critical sites – the former Fitch School property on Strawberry Hill Avenue. And on East Avenue – the former HoJo’s, 198 & 200 East Avenue and 1 Gregory Blvd. In contact with the owners regarding plans, and working to preserve the character and scale of the streetscape.
- Voted on a position against the Planned Residential Development (condos) at the former Fitch School property because it would be out of character with the surrounding neighborhood comprised of single family homes. Spoke to this at the Zoning Commission public hearing on August 15. The Zoning Commission subsequently denied the application so that condos can’t be built at this site.
- Hosted a presentation on October 10 of Real Property Revaluation 2008 to help answer questions about the update process that the City of Norwalk is conducting. The meeting was open to the public and drew a couple dozen property owners. Tax Assessor Michael Stewart, Director of Finance Thomas Hamilton and Principals of J. F. Ryan Associates contracted by Norwalk to assist the Assessor with the revaluation shared their revaluation plans, answered questions and listened to input.
Hallmarks for 2008
- In February ENNA president met with Public Works officials to review the concept plan for the Safe Routes to School project on Strawberry Hill Ave.
- At the request of Kim Morque of Spinnaker Development ENNA president met with him in February to discuss neighborhood sentiment re types of potential uses for the Norden Place property that abuts Westport
- Organized a Spring Cleanup on April 12 in the vicinity of City Hall down East Ave. and Strawberry Hill Ave. to also include areas south of the I-95
- Hosted a Crime Prevention forum with a panel of representatives from the Norwalk Police Department on May 14. Attended by more than 2 dozen residents from throughout Norwalk. Lively and thoughtful Q & A.
- Worked with the Public Works Department, the Norwalk Tree Advisory Committee and Councilwoman Laurel Lindstrom to promote a public presentation that took place on September 9 to present and answer questions about an extensive tree planting project along Calf Pasture Beach Road. Meeting attended by about 25 residents.
Hallmarks for 2009
- Instrumental in getting the word out for the March 17 public information meeting held by the CT DOT and Public Works regarding the project to Replace the Metro North Railroad Bridge Over East Avenue and Reconstruct East Avenue from approximately 60 feet south of Rowan Street to the intersection of East Ave. at John St./Raymond Terrace. ENNA well represented at meeting.