I hope you will enjoy the season with friends, family, and loved ones. As we get ready to close out 2019 and head into 2020, I want to thank the voters of Norwalk for electing me to a fourth term as Mayor. I am grateful for your continued support and the trust you’ve put in my team and me to lead our city forward. I officially began my next two-year term November 19, 2019 and I am excited for what we have in store. Before we look ahead to 2020, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of what happened in 2019.
Perhaps the biggest news of the year happened just this month! On December 9, we announced plans to build a new Norwalk High School. The plan, which includes 80% state funding, is a unique situation for our community, and will save taxpayers more than $100 million. We are fortunate to have this opportunity with strong financial resources that will not delay other much-needed school infrastructure projects. Stay tuned in 2020 for more on the proposed new Home of the Bears!
Also this year, we launched the Mayor’s Dashboard, the first of its kind interactive dataset in Connecticut. Norwalk is a data-driven city, and we make decisions based on facts, trends, and information. I am incredibly proud of what we put together. We did not use a consultant or canned package, but rather, relied City staff to develop a Dashboard that is reflective of what we hear from the community. We are displaying this information directly on our homepage to clearly show our commitment to accountability, transparency, and continuous improvement. If you haven’t already, please visit norwalkct.org/dashboard and let me know what you think.
Additionally, in 2019 we finished the reorganization of City government, the first of its kind in Norwalk in 30-plus years. The reorganization streamlines services and offers greater transparency to our residents. As part of that plan, we also built-out a new Community Services Department to meet the needs of residents. Norwalk is a great place, and it should be that way for all people – especially those who need a helping hand. It is incumbent on us to ensure that no one falls through the cracks of an overworked, underfunded, and complex safety net system. Our new department has already made a difference and continues to coordinate services and referrals with Norwalk’s robust nonprofit sector.
I am excited for 2020 and what’s ahead. We recently adopted our 10-year strategic plan – the Plan of Conservation and Development – that will help guide development, budgeting, growth, and decision-making. At the same time, we are undergoing a rewrite and update of the City’s Zoning Regulations – a task that has not been done for more than 30 years. We are gathering feedback from stakeholders to help inform this process. Also, in 2020, we will be moving our permitting process online to make things more convenient for residents and businesses. I know getting a permit for a special event can be cumbersome, and this new technology investment will help streamline that process.
Also on deck is planning for a 25,000-square-foot expansion of the Norwalk Public Library. This project will help make our library a model for all public libraries in the country. It will provide additional public spaces and be an anchor of future economic development in the area. We are also launching a Small Business and Main Street Program to help support our local businesses and enhance residential quality of life. You can learn more about this initiative by visiting norwalkct.org/smallbusiness.
It is my honor to be your Mayor. I wake up every day believing in Norwalk and the progress we’ve made together. I love this city and am truly grateful for the continued opportunity to serve our entire community. I look forward to keeping our momentum going in 2020. This is indeed an exciting time for Norwalk and I am optimistic about what the future holds. From my family to yours, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.