April 30, 2019
The East Norwalk Transit Oriented Development Plan effort took a big step forward in March as area residents met with planners for the first visioning workshop with the public. About 80 people attended to learn about the planning process, goals of the plan and to give their input and share ideas on how they envision the future of the area.
East Norwalk Transit Oriented Development Area
Following a short presentation from the consultant team, Harriman, attendees were led through a series of group exercises. These exercises were meant to engage the community in how they use this area on a day-to-day basis. This information, coupled with interviews with key community stakeholders such as business and property owners, neighborhood associations and advocacy groups, will help the consultant team and the City develop questions and areas to focus on during the planning process.
The first exercise allowed participants to think about their daily patterns and the most frequent routes they take within the East Norwalk neighborhood. The second exercise was a more formal discussion of how the community uses the area, including challenges and opportunities faced by the public. The third exercise captured the community’s aspirations for the area and the kind of amenities they would like to see within a 5-minute and 10-minute walking distance of the train station.
Overall, the group said they liked the small community, village feel of the East Norwalk neighborhood. They also liked the access to open spaces such as Taylor Farm, Veteran’s Park and the beach. Factors they would like to see addressed in the area included broken infrastructure, uneven sidewalks and lack of crosswalks, traffic control, especially the number of trucks, and what was seen as too many gas stations.
There were several aspirations for the East Norwalk TOD area that came forward as priorities during the exercises, including open spaces such as a small parks and playgrounds, and more commerce such as retail shops and restaurants. Within the village center, a grocery story was the most desired amenity. A large number of participants also expressed the desire to have a post office within the village center. A community garden was the most desired amenity at the village edge – within a 10-minute walking distance from the train. Less desirable to include in the future was additional housing, with many participants expressing a strong aversion to adding more housing, particularly anything taller than 3-4 stories.
Participants were also asked to complete comment cards to gain further feedback. Some of the comments are below:
We need smart development at the train station that improves walkability and encourages small businesses (café at train, small market). We need a small park in the center of East Norwalk you shouldn’t have to go to the beach or the Green to enjoy public space.
The repair of existing infrastructure is the place we should start. Cleaning up areas and adding clean affordable landscaping in spots that can use it.
East Norwalk occupies some 1/3 of Norwalk’s coastline, a significant geographic reality conclusive of the maritime tradition of East Norwalk; an aspect which must be championed in the effort to preserve the uniqueness of East Norwalk as a small community.
Keep the area a beach/maritime community. Add more walkable retail/ restaurants/small office space. Zoning changes to fit vision.
The full results from the visioning workshop and other evaluations have been synthesized by the consultant team, who have prepared a full summary of the insights gained and major takeaways. Draft vision principles are being prepared that will guide and shape the future direction for the area.
The City is looking for input on this plan. If you were unable to attend the visioning workshop and are interested in participating, click below to a survey to give your input.