Eco-Friendly Living: Simple Steps to a Sustainable Lifestyle in Norwalk, CT

As residents of Norwalk, we are blessed to live in an area rich with diverse natural environments—from the coastal serenity of Calf Pasture Beach to the lush trails of Cranbury Park, and the expansive views at Oyster Shell Park. These picturesque settings are not only vital to our local wildlife but are also crucial to maintaining the ecological balance of our community. Embracing an eco-friendly lifestyle is essential to preserve these natural resources for future generations. This guide offers practical steps for Norwalk residents to minimize their environmental footprint and promote sustainability in daily life.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Minimizing waste is crucial. Consider reducing your consumption by buying in bulk and avoiding products with excessive packaging. Opt for quality over quantity—durable products may cost more upfront but often lead to savings and less waste in the long run. Before throwing things away, think about whether they can be reused. Donate old clothes and furniture to local charities or sell them at a tag sale in Norwalk. Reusing items not only reduces waste but also saves resources and energy that would otherwise be used to produce new items. Norwalk offers comprehensive recycling programs that go beyond just paper and plastics. Familiarize yourself with the city’s recycling guidelines to ensure you’re recycling correctly. Remember, incorrect recycling can contaminate waste streams, making the whole process less efficient.

Sustainable Transportation

Walk or Bike

Norwalk is a walkable city with plenty of bike paths, including the Norwalk River Valley Trail. Opting for these modes of transportation not only reduces your carbon footprint but also keeps you fit. Since 2017, the Norwalk Bike/Walk Commission has been improving our city’s biking and walking capabilities to ensure they are safe and accessible for all Norwalk residents. Check out their interactive map to see locations of all bike racks in the city, or get involved by attending one of their monthly meetings.

Public Transportation

Utilize Norwalk’s public transportation systems. The Norwalk Transit District buses are a greener alternative to driving, and using them helps reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. See the schedules, maps, fares, services, and plan your trip at norwalktransit.com. 

Carpool

If driving is unavoidable, consider carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. This not only minimizes emissions but also lowers your travel costs. In addition to popular services like Uber and Lyft, the city of Norwalk recently launched Wheels2U - an affordable ride sharing program for the Norwalk area.

Energy Efficiency at Home

Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances

Look for appliances with the ENERGY STAR label to ensure they meet energy efficiency guidelines. Although the upfront cost might be higher, the long-term savings on energy bills can be significant.

Smart Thermostats

Installing a smart thermostat can help reduce energy consumption by adjusting heating and cooling automatically when you’re not home.

Solar Panels

Norwalk’s sunny days are perfect for solar energy installations. Solar panels can significantly reduce your electricity bill and carbon footprint. Local incentives and federal tax credits can help offset installation costs.

Water Conservation

A small drip from a leaking faucet can waste over 100 gallons of water a year. Regularly check your plumbing for leaks and repair them promptly. Collect rainwater in barrels to water your garden. This not only saves you money on water bills but also reduces runoff pollution. Gardening with native plants is beneficial as they are adapted to local environmental conditions and require far less water, fertilizer, and pesticides.

Support Local and Sustainable Businesses

Norwalk, CT Farmers' Markets

Support local farmers by shopping at farmers’ markets. Norwalk has several, including the one at Cranbury Park. Buying local not only supports the local economy but also reduces the environmental impact of transporting goods. Read More: Urban Farming: Growing a Greener Future for Norwalk, CT

Eco-Friendly Products

Choose products from local businesses that use eco-friendly practices and materials. This not only supports sustainable business practices but also helps in reducing the overall environmental impact.

Conclusion

Living an eco-friendly lifestyle in Norwalk is not only beneficial for the environment but also enhances your quality of life. It connects you with the community through local businesses and shared initiatives. Every small change contributes to a larger impact, making Norwalk a better place for everyone. Start with one or two changes, and gradually incorporate more into your lifestyle. Remember, a sustainable future begins with the choices we make today.
“I am determined to make Norwalk the greenest City in Connecticut,” said Mayor Rilling. “Addressing the threats of climate change cannot wait. It’s our responsibility to take a proactive approach…on behalf of our children, grandchildren and future generations and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Join the Movement

Subscribe for more tips on sustainable living and to connect with local environmental events and initiatives. Let’s work together to make Norwalk a model city for sustainability.  

Revitalizing Veteran’s Park: A Blueprint for Tomorrow

Norwalk is on the brink of a transformative project that will reimagine Veteran's Memorial Park (Vet’s Park) into a beacon of resilience, environmental stewardship, and community engagement. The City of Norwalk with the help of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, are commencing a redesign project for Vet’s Park. This ambitious project aims to harness the power of green infrastructure, nature-based solutions, and living shorelines to not only combat climate change impacts but also to elevate the quality of life for its residents.

Project Vision

At the heart of this redesign is the commitment to prepare Vet’s Park for the challenges of stormwater management, flooding, and erosion while enhancing its 36-acre waterfront expanse. By integrating flood-adaptive public spaces, the initiative seeks to guide future implementation plans that will bolster coastal habitat, improve public shoreline access, and increase the park's resilience to environmental adversities.

The Challenge & Solution

Once a thriving tidal wetland, Vet's Park has faced decades of ecological neglect, manifested in erosion, flooding, and diminished habitat value. Today, the park is plagued with:
  • Chronic erosion
  • Lack of stormwater management
  • Recurring coastal flooding
  • Saltwater inundation
The City’s solution revolves around a comprehensive site assessment and the creation of conceptual design plans. These plans envision a park that is not only a recreational haven but also a front-line defender against sea level rise, offering a restored coastal marsh, native plant habitats, and innovative stormwater management techniques. The conceptual plans include the installation of green infrastructure around the northern portions of the park to protect it from flooding impacts, reduce the volume of stormwater runoff, and improve the quality of the runoff water through capture and filtration systems. The southern portions of the park would be reverted back into a protective native plant habitat. A “buffer” design would provide room for sea level rise migration of the coastal marsh, give rise to migratory and native bird habitats, and be partially accessible with a boardwalk.

Community & Ecological Impact

The redesign of Vet's Park is poised to redefine its role within the community and the broader ecosystem of Norwalk Harbor. By transitioning areas of the park into native plant-dominated habitats and installing living shorelines, the project will enhance: 
  • Biodiversity
  • Improve water quality
  • Provide essential habitats for local wildlife
Furthermore, the initiative will reintroduce the park as a vibrant community asset, where recreation, accessibility, and ecological responsibility intersect.

Engagement & Education

In partnership with The Maritime Aquarium and the City’s Recreation & Parks Department, the redesigned park will serve as an educational platform, connecting urban residents with the natural splendors of Long Island Sound. Through hands-on programming and stewardship opportunities, the project aims to foster a sense of community ownership and environmental awareness among Norwalk's residents.

Looking Forward

As we embark on this journey to revitalize Veteran's Memorial Park, we are guided by a vision of sustainability, resilience, and community enrichment. The project not only aims to restore the park's ecological integrity but also to create a space where nature and community thrive in harmony. We invite the residents of Norwalk to join us in shaping the future of Veteran's Park, a future where the legacy of our veterans is honored through our commitment to preserving and enhancing our natural heritage for generations to come. Stay tuned to Norwalk Tomorrow for updates on this exciting project, as we work together to make Veteran's Park a model of urban resilience and environmental stewardship. Click here to subscribe to our email list and receive the latest news and announcements.

Norwalk’s Flood Resilience Project: Green Infrastructure for Salt Marsh Rehabilitation in South Norwalk

The City of Norwalk, in partnership with The Norwalk Land Trust, is developing preliminary designs aimed at revitalizing the South Norwalk salt marsh and implementing innovative green infrastructure to enhance flood resilience. This ambitious project, situated within the urban core of South Norwalk and encompassing five acres in and adjacent to the Village Creek Estuary, is designed to not only rehabilitate a degraded salt marsh but also to significantly improve stormwater management, thereby reducing the risk of flood damage to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Revitalizing the Salt Marsh for Future Generations

Historically, the Village Creek estuary has suffered from extensive development and neglect, resulting in the loss of two-thirds of its original salt marsh area. A key focus of the rehabilitation effort will be on a three-acre section in the northwesternmost portion of the estuary, which has been isolated and degraded due to an old bermed roadway. This area has seen a significant loss of native high marsh plant species and an invasion of Phragmites australis, a common reed that undermines the ecological integrity of salt marshes. The project aims to remove the historic fill and reintroduce native vegetation, thereby restoring the natural tidal flush and enhancing the marsh's resilience to flooding.

Green Infrastructure: A Sustainable Approach to Stormwater Management

In response to the challenges posed by episodic roadway flooding and the need for improved stormwater quality, Norwalk plans to employ green infrastructure within its road rights-of-way and public parcels. This includes the installation of bioswales, rain gardens, tree boxes, and canopy trees along city streets, as well as the incorporation of pervious pavement and detention basins in new developments like the neighborhood school at 1 Meadow Street Extension. These measures are designed to reduce runoff, filter pollutants, and increase the absorption of stormwater, thereby mitigating flood risks and enhancing the quality of water discharged into the salt marsh.

Community Engagement and Resilience Building

Understanding the vital role of community support and engagement, the city is committed to working closely with local residents, businesses, and stakeholders throughout the project. The Maritime Aquarium will provide support through their strong knowledge of the salt marsh habitat and professional staff of scientists, and local government departments will collaborate.  South Norwalk, with its diverse and vibrant community, stands to benefit significantly from these efforts. By addressing flood vulnerability and enhancing environmental quality, the project aims to create a safer, more resilient, and more livable neighborhood for all.

A Vision for the Future

This initiative is not just about addressing current challenges but is also a forward-looking effort to prepare Norwalk for the impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise and more frequent and intense storm events. By restoring the salt marsh and implementing green infrastructure, Norwalk is taking a significant step towards a sustainable future, ensuring that the city remains a resilient and thriving community for generations to come.

Public Arts and the Role It Plays in Economic Development

As cities continue to grow and evolve, the role of art in public places becomes increasingly important. Not only does it add beauty and character to urban spaces, but it also has a significant impact on economic development. Here in Norwalk, CT, we have seen firsthand how commissioning public art can benefit our city and its residents. Our community's identity has been strengthened by groups like the Norwalk Arts and Cultural Commission and the Norwalk Historical Society that support the city in creating colorful murals, traffic graphics, and interactive sculptures in Norwalk, CT.

The Benefits of Public Art

Commissioning public art can bring numerous benefits to a city, including:
  • Attracting tourists and visitors: Public art has the power to draw people in and make them want to explore a city. This can result in increased tourism and economic growth.
  • Enhancing public spaces: By adding art to public spaces, we can make them more engaging and enjoyable for residents and visitors. This can also lead to a sense of pride and ownership among the community.
  • Encouraging dialogue and interaction: Public art often sparks conversations and allows people to connect in unique ways. It can serve as a catalyst for meaningful discussions about relevant social issues.
  • Supporting local artists: Commissioning public art provides a platform for local artists to showcase their talents and contribute to the community's cultural landscape.

Norwalk's Art Commission

The Norwalk Arts and Cultural Commission is an essential part of our city's public art initiatives. They understand the significant impact of art on economic growth and play a crucial role in enhancing Norwalk's cultural scene. The commission is at the forefront of our public art efforts and is instrumental in enriching Norwalk's cultural landscape. Composed of 11 Norwalk residents appointed by the Mayor and Common Council, the commission brings together artists, architects, educators, and passionate community members. This rich tapestry of perspectives helps to ensure that each piece of art commissioned embodies our community's shared values and aspirations. The core function of the commission is not just to select and oversee the installation of artwork, but also to ensure that each commissioned piece speaks to the heart of Norwalk. Through their work, the commission aims to inspire creativity, foster community dialogue, and enhance the visual appeal of our city. Monthly commission meetings are held on the 1st Tuesday of every month at 6:00 PM and are open to everyone.  Their efforts have contributed to the vibrant public art scene in Norwalk, transforming our city into an open-air gallery that beckons visitors and instills pride in residents. This is a testament to the power of art in driving economic development and enhancing the quality of life in our city.

Norwalk, CT Public Art

One of the remarkable aspects of Norwalk's public art initiative is the diverse backgrounds of the artists it features. Our city's public art scene is a canvas where the local and international confluence happens, resulting in a vibrant cultural mosaic. Many local talents like Duvian Montoya, David Boyajian, and Raf Santaella (aka @5ivefingaz) have contributed immensely to the city's public art landscape. Montoya's mural, "Circus Coming to Town," humorously and nostalgically captures the city's historic link to the Ringling Brothers’ circus, while Boyajian's "Pinwheel," an elegant, twisting metal sculpture, adds a touch of abstract beauty to Mathews Park. Norwalk Tomorrow Staircase on Martin Luther King Drive Norwalk's art scene has also been enriched by artists with distinct voices. One such example is "The Promised Land,” painted by Lauren Clayton, a Stamford-based artist with Norwalk roots.. Her murals, located in two locations - the pump station at the intersection of Wilson and MLK Avenues, and the renovated staircase leading down from the South Norwalk train station - were created to honor MLK’s legacy and build a sense of community.  This mixture of diverse artistic expressions from local and international artists strengthens Norwalk's cultural scene while contributing to its economic growth. Public spaces for art make our city more engaging and enjoyable for residents and visitors, leading to a sense of pride and ownership in the community. 

Join Us in Shaping Norwalk's Future

Public art has the power to captivate people and make them want to explore the city. Art enhances public spaces by making them more engaging and creating a sense of pride and ownership in the community. Commissioning public art provides a platform for local artists to showcase their talents and contribute to the cultural landscape of the community. We invite you to join Norwalk, Connecticut public art initiatives. There are so many ways you can get involved - attend meetings and events, share your thoughts on social media, or even submit your ideas for future projects. Let's work together to make Norwalk an even more welcoming and vibrant place! #SupportNorwalkArts  You may follow Norwalk arts initiatives on on Facebook and Instagram for more updates, or email sgodeski@norwalkct.gov with any questions you may have. 

Green Roofs and Urban Heat Island Prevention

Have you ever walked around your city during a hot summer day and wondered why it feels warmer than the surrounding countryside? The answer is the urban heat island effect, which is a phenomenon that occurs when cities are significantly warmer than their surrounding rural areas. Heat islands can cause serious health and environmental problems. Fortunately, there are ways communities can reduce the heat island effect, one is through the installation of green roofs. In this blog post, we will discuss how green roofs can help prevent and mitigate the urban heat island effect in Norwalk, CT.

What is the urban heat island effect?

The urban heat island effect is caused by the large amount of asphalt, concrete, and buildings that absorb and radiate heat in urban areas. As a result, cities can be up to 10°F warmer than the surrounding rural areas. The heat islands can increase energy consumption, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, and they can also have a significant impact on human health, particularly for vulnerable populations like the elderly and children.

How can green roofs help prevent the urban heat island effect?

Green roofs are roofs that are covered with vegetation, soil, and other materials that protect the building from the elements and help regulate temperature. Green roofs can lower the temperature of the building and the surrounding area by absorbing and promoting the evapotranspiration of water, and reducing the amount of heat absorbed by the building. In addition, green roofs can absorb air pollutants, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide a habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. Read about Norwalk, CT’s Street Canopy Project

How are green roofs installed or added to structures?

Installing green roofs is easier than you might think. Local building codes and zoning regulations may require a certain percentage of green roofs for new construction, retrofitting, and renovation projects. Moreover, there are several companies in the area that specialize in green roofing and can help you install and maintain a green roof. Green roofs require proper planning, irrigation, and maintenance, but they are an excellent investment for homeowners, businesses, and communities that want to reduce energy costs, improve air quality, and promote sustainability.

What are the benefits of green roofs, beyond reducing the urban heat island effect?

Green roofs have numerous benefits that go beyond mitigating the urban heat island effect. For instance, they can improve stormwater management by reducing runoff and preventing flooding. They can also enhance the aesthetic value of buildings and create new green spaces for people to enjoy. Green roofs can even improve the value of the property by increasing its energy efficiency and ecological footprint. Green roofs are one tool communities can implement to reduct the urban heat island effect. They can help reduce energy consumption, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, while also providing numerous other benefits.

Green Roofs in Norwalk, CT

Norwalk is implementing new zoning regulations in early 2024 which will require a Green, Blue, or Solar-equipped rooftop in some cases. Other zones will offer development bonuses for projects that include Blue, Green, or Solar-equipped roofs as well as other sustainability measures. If you are a homeowner, a business owner, or a community leader in Norwalk, CT, consider installing a green roof on your property and contributing to a more sustainable and healthy environment. Let's work together to promote green infrastructure and make our city a better place to live, work, and play.

The Norwalk Complete Streets Project

After a successful completion of the Transportation Master Plan, the City of Norwalk is putting efforts into motion to improve the accessibility, safety, and convenience of the streets in Norwalk, CT. To that end, the department of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking is commencing The Norwalk Complete Streets Project. In this article, we'll give you an overview of this project, a comprehensive timeline, and opportunities for involvement.

What Are Complete Streets?

Norwalk CT Complete Streets Elements Image “Complete streets” are designed and operated with the safety, mobility, and accessibility needs of users of all ages and abilities in mind. They are streets that are safe and convenient for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and drivers of all ages and abilities. The Norwalk Complete Streets Policy and Design Manual will help build a network of complete streets through the development of two critical documents:
  1. A Complete Street Policy, Ordinance, and Integration Plan: This document will institutionalize and streamline the integration of complete streets elements into future municipal transportation planning and land use decisions. The ordinance will establish procedures for evaluating street projects to ensure that they meet the needs of all users. The integration plan will provide recommendations for the procedures of additional City departments which will be affected by the adoption of complete streets.
  2. A Complete Streets Design Guide: This will guide the design, construction, and implementation of the complete streets ordinance. The design guide will include recommended lane widths, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, stormwater management techniques, and other strategies for different types of roads.

Why Complete Streets

Complete streets planning is about more than mobility choices. It’s about the examination of how transportation infrastructure impacts the ability of residents and visitors to access employment and key services, enjoy recreation and cultural amenities, and live healthy lives, among many other factors. The implementation of complete streets policies and guidelines is deeply tied to municipal priorities: should the city prioritize equity, safety, livability, and connectivity in transportation decision-making? This plan will build upon the numerous planning efforts the city has already undertaken to promote safety and accessibility for all roadway users, and will incorporate the aspirational goals of the recently completed Transportation Master Plan. This initiative will maintain the high level of community engagement for a complete streets policy in the city. The plan will promote economic sustainability and resiliency through sound design and policy recommendations for balanced development. Finally, it will provide the City of Norwalk with a toolbox and strategies to implement complete streets improvements in a responsive and efficient manner.

Project Timeline

  • Existing Policy Review, Best Practices Research, and Stakeholder Interviews (Winter - Spring 2023)
  • Network Analysis (Current)
  • Policy Development (Current)
  • Walkability Workshop, Public Workshop, and Demonstration Project (Current, continues through Fall 2023)
  • Design Manual Development (Fall - Winter 2023)

Stay Informed and Get Involved

It is our goal for residents, business owners, and stakeholders to be able to give input and collaborate on the creation of the Complete Streets Policy and Design Guide. Opportunities for collaboration and engagement will include: Steering Advisory Committee: A group of local leaders and public officials that will be among the first to review study documents and provide feedback before they are finalized.  Online App/ Survey: A survey to help the project team identify participants’ familiarity with complete streets elements and agree with the manual’s goals and vision.  Workshop: The project team will hold a workshop to educate residents about complete streets, gather input on what it’s like walking, biking, taking transit, driving, and parking in Norwalk, and provide input into the plan for the demonstration project. The workshop will allow participants to have direct input into the design of streets. Demonstration Project: The City will be sponsoring a demonstration project, which will allow the public to see one of the plan’s recommendations in place as part of a temporary installation. The public is invited to give feedback about what is and is not working before more substantial investments are made. Check this webpage regularly for updates on opportunities for community engagement. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please contact the project team using: CompleteStreets@norwalkct.gov Or visit the Norwalk, CT Transportation, Mobility, and Parking website.

Urban Farming: Growing a Greener Future for Norwalk, CT

Urban farming is one solution to the increasing demand for food production in cities. As the world population continues to grow, we face a challenge to create sustainable food systems that can accommodate the demand for healthy food options. In this blog, we explore the benefits of urban farming and share ways Norwalk residents can incorporate gardens in their apartments and neighborhoods.

Sustainable Food Production

One type of urban farming seen in cities is called Vertical Farming, a modern method of growing crops in vertically stacked layers using artificial lighting, controlled temperature, and irrigation systems. This technique can produce up to 90% more food per square foot than traditional farming and requires less water and pesticides. Other types of urban farming can include community gardens, farmers markets, rooftop gardens, or as small as a garden in your own apartment.  By incorporating urban farming in cities, we can improve food access while lowering our carbon footprint. Urban farming allows for a decrease in transportation costs and reduces the need for preservatives and chemicals often used in mass production crops.

Support Your Neighbors through Urban Agriculture

Urban farming has the potential to create a resilient local food economy. By supporting local farms, we're investing in our community's health and vitality. Urban farming provides income opportunities for residents and reduces the reliance on food imports, creating local jobs in the community. As consumers, we can support local farms by shopping at farmers' markets and participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Through these programs, families can receive a weekly supply of fresh vegetables and fruits straight from their neighborhood.

Urban Garden Hacks: How to Start a Garden in Your Apartment

Apartment living doesn't mean we can't join the urban farming movement. There are plenty of ways to incorporate gardens in our apartments, balconies, and windowsills. Container gardens, indoor vertical gardens, and hydroponic setups can bring a variety of vegetables and herbs to your kitchen table. Starting an apartment garden can seem daunting, but it's easier than you think. With the right tools and some patience, anyone can grow their own food. Local nurseries or hardware stores can provide advice and starter kits to make the journey a little smoother. Check out these apartment garden ideas on Pinterest. mason jar hydroponic gardens

Connecting Communities through Urban Farms

Urban farming can bring people together, creating a sense of community around food. Participating in urban farms and community gardens can connect people from diverse backgrounds around a shared interest in sustainable food production. It can also create opportunities for educational programming and cultural exchange around food traditions. Community gardens are often managed through a partnership between local government, nonprofits, and residents. By participating in the management of these gardens, residents have a voice in the food system and can contribute to a more sustainable future for their community. If you’re interested in getting involved with a local garden community, look no further than Fodor Farm. A historical landmark dating back to 1809, Fodor Farm is now the home of sustainable gardens, food and garden demonstrations, and a newly updated event venue. On the grounds you’ll find 300 working plots and gardens that Norwalk, CT residents can rent for the season. Click here to learn more about Fodor Farm. Urban farming is a vital solution for creating sustainable food systems in cities. Norwalk residents can benefit from the economic and environmental advantages of urban farming by supporting local farmers, starting their own gardens, and participating in community gardening programs. By investing in urban farming, we can reduce our carbon footprint, support our local economy, and foster a sense of community around food.

Sustainability and Resilience Plan for Norwalk, CT

The Redevelopment Agency for the City of Norwalk (City) is working with a consultant to develop a Sustainability and Resilience Plan that will serve as a roadmap for the City to implement a clearly defined and equitable set of sustainability goals as outlined within the City's Plan of Conservation and Development.

The Community Resilience Building Workshop Summary of Findings

One of the major first steps towards creating this Sustainability and Resilience Plan was the Community Resilience Building (CRB) Workshop held in May 2022. In early 2022, the Redevelopment Agency began a series of discussions with The Nature Conservancy about conducting a Climate Resilience Building (CRB) workshop to engage with community members and define strengths and vulnerabilities within the City of Norwalk. This workshop was facilitated by The Nature Conservancy, Western Connecticut Council of Governments, and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency in partnership with Sustainable CT.  The leading objectives of this workshop included:
  •     Defining top local, natural, and climate-related hazards of concern
  •     Identifying existing and future strengths and vulnerabilities
  •     Prioritizing actions for the City
  •     Identifying opportunities to collaboratively advance actions to increase resilience alongside residents and organizations from across the City, and beyond
The City of Norwalk benefited from a unique “anywhere at any scale”, community-driven process called Community Resilience Building (CRB) (www.CommunityResilienceBuilding.org). The CRB’s tools, other relevant planning documents, and local maps were integrated into the workshop process to provide both decision-support and visualization around shared issues and existing priorities across Norwalk...Using the CRB process, rich with information, experience, and dialogue, the participants produced the findings presented in this summary report including an overview of the top hazards, current concerns and challenges, existing strengths, and proposed actions to improve resilience to hazards and climate change, today and in the future. The publication draft of the CRB Workshop Summary of Findings was published in September 2022 and is available for review by clicking the link below. The Community Resilience Building Workshop Summary of Findings

Calf Pasture Beach Parking Lot and Green Infrastructure Project: A Step Towards Sustainable Development

Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk Connecticut In Norwalk, CT, the Calf Pasture Beach Parking Lot and Green Infrastructure project is an excellent example of how sustainable development can be achieved through the integration of green infrastructure. Sustainable development is a concept that emphasizes the importance of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. With the integration of green infrastructure into urban development, we can mitigate these impacts while still creating livable and functional spaces. In this blog post, we will discuss the Calf Pasture Beach Parking Lot and Green Infrastructure project, its benefits, and its potential to inspire similar projects in other areas.

About the Project

The Calf Pasture Beach Parking Lot and Green Infrastructure project is a collaborative effort between the Norwalk Department of Public Works and the Norwalk Recreation and Parks. The project aims to transform the existing parking lot at Calf Pasture Beach into a sustainable and functional green infrastructure system that will reduce the amount of polluted stormwater runoff entering Long Island Sound. The project involves the installation of a permeable pavement system(3125 sf), and eight bioretention areas and the planting of native vegetation(~21 trees, 59 shrubs, and hundreds of perennials/grasses). The permeable pavement system will allow stormwater to infiltrate into the ground, reducing the amount of runoff that enters the nearby waterways. The bioretention areas will provide additional treatment of stormwater through a natural process of filtration and absorption. The native vegetation will help absorb stormwater, provide a habitat for wildlife, and beautify the area. [gallery columns="4" ids="2189,2190,2191,2188"]

Benefits of the Calf Pasture Beach Project

The Calf Pasture Beach Parking Lot and Green Infrastructure project has numerous benefits. Firstly, it will improve water quality in the Long Island Sound by reducing the amount of polluted stormwater runoff entering the waterways. This, in turn, will help to protect aquatic life and create a healthier environment for recreational activities. Secondly, the project will increase the amount of green space in the area, providing a more aesthetically pleasing and functional space for visitors. The addition of native vegetation will also provide a habitat for wildlife, contributing to the overall health of the ecosystem. Lastly, the project demonstrates how sustainable development can be achieved through the integration of green infrastructure. By transforming an existing parking lot into a sustainable and functional green infrastructure system, the project is an example of how we can mitigate the negative impacts of urban development while still meeting the needs of the community.

Potential for Similar Project

The Calf Pasture Beach Parking Lot and Green Infrastructure project has the potential to inspire similar projects in other areas. As urban areas continue to expand, it is becoming increasingly important to integrate green infrastructure into urban development. The benefits of green infrastructure are numerous, including reducing stormwater runoff, improving water quality, creating habitat for wildlife, and improving the overall aesthetics of the area. By showcasing the benefits of green infrastructure, the Calf Pasture Beach Parking Lot and Green Infrastructure project can inspire other communities to follow suit. The project is a reminder that sustainable development is possible and that it is up to us to take action to ensure a healthy and prosperous future for ourselves and future generations.

Conclusion

The Calf Pasture Beach Parking Lot and Green Infrastructure project is an excellent example of how sustainable development can be achieved through the integration of green infrastructure. The project demonstrates how we can mitigate the negative impacts of urban development while still meeting the needs of the community. The project has numerous benefits, including improving water quality, providing habitat for wildlife, and improving the overall aesthetics of the area. In addition to the above benefits, the Calf Pasture Beach Parking Lot and Green Infrastructure project will also include the addition of a safe and protected pedestrian boulevard and a redesign of the entrance and exits to improve access and exit flow. The new pedestrian boulevard will provide visitors with a safe and enjoyable space to walk, run, or bike, away from vehicle traffic. This will recreate a beach walk from sand to surf over thermoplastic imagery designed for Norwalk. The redesign of the entrance and exits will improve traffic flow, reduce congestion, and enhance safety for all users. The integration of these additional features highlights the importance of considering all aspects of sustainable development, including the safety and accessibility of the space. By creating a more accessible and safer environment, the project will encourage more people to visit and utilize the area, contributing to a more vibrant and active community. The success of the project has the potential to inspire similar projects in other areas, contributing to a more sustainable city and livable future for all.  

What is Blue Urbanism and Why Does It Matter?

Norwalk Connecticut water front picture We are living in a time when the global average temperature is rising, the sea levels and flooding risk due to climate change are increasing, and the quality and level of our water resources has become threatened. Prolonged drought is contributing to shortages on one hand, with extreme weather leading to increased rainfall, floods, mudslides and hurricanes at other times. It’s during this era that Blue Urbanism calls us all into action. At its core, Blue Urbanism asks us "how we terrestrial urbanites" can steward and take care of these vital waterways around us - rivers that give life to fish species as well as plants; lakes that not only provide drinking water but also recreation for city-dwellers; beaches over which many children learn about nature from awe to respect; estuaries with stunning natural beauty enriched by human craftsmanship—the list goes on. Through Timothy Beatley’s book Blue Urbanism, he highlights imaginative ways each person can make a difference in order to help develop healthier coastal cities where people feel safer playing outdoors and no longer fear contamination or loss of their natural habitats - developing habitats for marine wildlife, implementing new tools or practices to clean up waste and pollution, restoring and developing waterside locations to cultivate resident and tourist connections, and more. In this blog post, we explore why it matters that Norwalk Residents come together to understand what Blue Urbanism means and harness its capacity – so come join us!

What is Blue Urbanism?

Blue Urbanism has been gaining traction in the field of urban design as a framework for “living lightly across the land and waterscape”. Timothy Beatley, PhD, coined this term in 2005 and ever since it has been praised by architecture professionals for its ability to create thriving cities with an emphasis on sustainable development practices. Timothy's vision for Blue Urbanism involves integrating urban sites with the surrounding water features, fostering regenerative ecosystems that are self-sustaining and resilient in nature. His emphasis is not only on developing positive relationships between humans and our environment but also between different communities and social classes. Timothy's ideas have become increasingly popular due to increased awareness about climate change, as well as improved urban designs that are designed around sustainability. Blue Urbanism will continue to shape the way cities are developed, enabling smart growth initiatives that benefit everyone from citizens to business owners alike -all while protecting some of the most fragile ecosystems on earth!

The Need for Blue Urbanism and Its Impact

In recent years, urban planners and city officials have begun to recognize the importance of blue urbanism, which emphasizes the preservation and protection of water sources within and around cities. Through various initiatives like connecting parks and public spaces to bodies of water and cleaning up waterways, blue urbanism can foster an improved relationship between people and the rivers, lakes and oceans carved out by nature in our constructed environments. This is an important step towards managing our climate crisis responsibly while also reaping the economic, cultural, recreational and health benefits that access to clean water facilitates.

Challenges to Blue Urbanism

Blue Urbanism poses a visionary approach to urban development, ushering in a greener and healthier future. However, there are numerous challenges posed by making this vision a reality. The planning and implementation phases require extensive interdisciplinary research to ensure that all stakeholders - such as industry partners and communities who call the city home - are truly supported by this transformative shift in how we build our cities. Financing is also another great challenge, requiring strategic investments from both the public and private sectors if this sustainable urban model is to thrive. Lastly, Blue Urbanism must be developed from within the community – which means engaging and working with local citizens in order for them to understand their environmental responsibility and create meaningful urban spaces for themselves and for future generations.

Embracing Blue Urbanism Through Education, Engagement, and Stewardship

Norwalk is embracing Blue Urbanism by educating the public on water health, engaging in activities to protect our water resources, and creating an environment conducive to stewardship of Norwalk Watershed. Through collaborations with local organizations, Norwalk aims to foster better understanding of our watersheds and provide hands-on opportunities that empower citizens to take protective steps. Norwalk recognizes the power of citizen-centric solutions and will continue investing in educational programs and community engagement strategies that offer citizens the chance to participate in environmental stewardship efforts. In doing so, Norwalk is committed to preserving Norwalk's waters for generations to come.

Successful Examples from Around the World

Blue urbanism is an approach coastal cities and city development groups can seek to find the balance between the protection, enjoyment, and proper use of water resources. Across the world, numerous cities have explored this developing way of looking at waterfronts, with stunning results. In Baltimore, the city and its residents have partnered with BioHabitats and the Living Classrooms Foundation to develop Oyster Gardens and Floating Wetlands that now span an area of approximately 2,000 sq. feet. These initiatives support their local marine habitats, remove pollution, and serve as educational tools. From creating efficient stormwater management systems and mangrove reforestation initiatives in China to rebuilding hurricane-devastated towns in Cuba, successful examples of blue urbanism are popping up everywhere. In these projects, locals often take a leading role in recreating their own environments while city planners and architects bring innovation to the processes, allowing for responsible and beneficial development with exceptional beauty.

In Conclusion

Blue urbanism offers a great opportunity to improve our lives and the environment. By looking out for the health of our oceans and watersheds, we can ensure that future generations have access to clean water and healthy ecosystems. Furthermore, this approach can help reduce the carbon footprint in our cities by utilizing natural infrastructure and features such as parks and green roofs that each contribute to a healthier urban environment. With blue urbanism leading the way, we can make positive changes that will benefit both current and future generations. If you have questions or want to get more involved in our initiatives, contact us today!