Public Weighs In On Norwalk’s Challenges and Vision for City’s Future

December 28, 2017

On Saturday, November 18, 2017, more than 185 Norwalk residents from a broad range of backgrounds and neighborhoods spent the morning in a forum at the Community Room in the Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School. They came to share their hopes and aspirations for the future of the City of Norwalk as part of the Norwalk Tomorrow Citywide Plan process. Some of the takeaways from that morning are below.

Live Poll Results

During the morning session, participants took a smartphone “live” polling survey. The survey included questions about the demographic characteristics of participants in the room, as well as some general questions about Norwalk. Some of the takeaways from the poll include how participants felt about the quality of life in Norwalk. A majority (59%) rated overall quality of life in Norwalk as “excellent” or “very good.” As for alternate modes of getting around the city, about half can walk from their homes to a city destination but a significant majority does not feel safe bicycling in Norwalk. The City’s coastal waterfront, rivers and streams, along with the Wall Street and SoNo areas, overwhelmingly represent Norwalk’s identity to the forum participants and they experience a sense of community through a broad variety of experiences.

Findings From Interactive Exercises

After the poll, participants were taken through a series of exercises in which they wrote down their individual ideas about Norwalk and its future then shared those ideas with others around the table. Each table identified places of particular interest on a map of Norwalk, and finally, came up with a set of common priorities for the city’s future.

When asked to list what they considered Norwalk’s best assets, of the over 420 listed, nearly half related to Norwalk’s parks, coastline, and beaches. The South Norwalk area, historical elements, arts and cultural opportunities, schools, and the library were also strongly valued by participants.

Those at the forum were also asked about challenges the city faced. Of the over 370 challenges listed, there was an emphasis on multi-modal transportation options, particularly bike lanes and parking issues. Zoning and development enhancements, park maintenance, development in SoNo, traffic and road improvements, and big box store sprawl were also mentioned as concerns.

Top Priorities

After sharing personal visions for Norwalk and discussing elements they had in common, the participants around each table listed their top five priorities for the city. The priorities generally fell into the following categories:

  • Open space and historical elements: protect/preserve/maintain natural resources, open space, coastline, history, and historic buildings
  • Community: enhance civic pride; maintain communities and small-town feel; community engagement
  • Schools: strong school system; incorporate vocational training in schools
  • Connections and mobility: traffic reduction; public transportation; better connections; 
adequate parking
  • Affordable housing
  • Jobs and training: job and vocational training, high paying jobs
  • Bike/walking friendly: bike lanes; well-maintained sidewalks; bike and walk-ability
  • Zoning and development: enforcement; zoning revisions; smart development; controlled 
development; limit big box stores
  • Diversity: of populations and businesses
  • Sustainability: renewable energy incentives
  • Arts and culture
  • Other: Strategic plan and input, transparency/communication in City
  • Hall/government, continue Mayor’s emergency contact, economic strength-taxes, common sense

CLICK HERE To see the full report from the November Vision Forum.