Decision Nears on Old Norwalk Road Sidewalk Extension to Kiwanis


Residents last week voiced support for a proposed, 825-foot sidewalk extension that would finish connecting Main Street and Kiwanis Park, saying it’s a much-needed safety measure for pedestrians already traveling in the roadway along the eastern leg of Old Norwalk Road.

Kiwanis is a popular spot for kids with its playground, basketball courts, YMCA summer camp and preschool, making the sidewalk extension—from the Old Norwalk Road Bridge (over the Fivemile River), along the south side of the street—“essential,” Main Street resident Mary Flaherty said at the June 18 Town Council meeting.

“As it stands now, it’s going to attract nuisance. It’s so close to the schools, you are going to have kids walking there no matter what you do,” Flaherty said during a public comment period at the meeting, held in the Sturgess Room at the New Canaan Nature Center’s Visitors Center. “And I see them now walking down, ducking around the bushes like this”—here she pretend-shuffled sideways—“so it is really just fabulous that this is before you and I encourage you to move it on its way as quickly as possible.”

“We’re kind of in a dangerous situation now, so the sooner the better,” Flaherty added.

Department of Public Works officials are hoping to start construction—which will involve street as well as sidewalk work—in August, and are giving the project a timeline of about 60 days. Construction is expected to cost about $176,000 all in, split roughly 50-50 between sidewalk and road work, Tiger Mann, assistant director of the DPW, said during a presentation on the project.

Construction of the sidewalk has been discussed for more than 10 years, since the last Plan of Conservation and Development was adopted in 2003. Engineering studies are done, and sidewalks that connect neighborhoods with downtown—including the widely discussed Main Street sidewalks that now run to Farm Road—are touted in the POCD now under revision (see the section starting on page 69 here, the Planning and Zoning Commission will review the document at its 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday).

Town Council member John Engel asked whether there were plans to replace three trees that must be removed to make the sidewalk extension happen. Mann said there were not, noting that two of those three trees are dying (one likely dead, up on the corner at Main Street). Though the sidewalk project calls for a 3-foot-wide grass strip between the sidewalk and street for much of it, that strip would be a bad place for a tree to be planted, as it eventually would outgrow the spot and its roots likely would disrupt the sidewalk itself, Mann said.

Right now, Old Norwalk Road along that stretch ranges from 22 to 24 feet wide—with the sidewalk installation and accompanying road work, it will be 24 feet wide throughout, Mann said.

“There are virtually no property impacts,” he said. Permission is needed from three or four residents along the road in order to change the topography in front of their properties by grading for the sidewalk, he said.

The Town Council’s next meeting is scheduled for July 16.

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