With a little over 100 days in office under his belt, Mayor Harry Rilling delivered his State of the City address Monday, reflecting on issues brought up during his campaign and looking ahead in Norwalk's future.
"While we have been faced with many significant challenges since taking office, I am pleased to report that Norwalk is on the move again," said Mayor Rilling.
The City's infrastructure was a key issue during Rilling's campaign.
On October 2,2013 Then-candidate for Mayor, Rilling stood on Woodward Avenue and said the city's current administration wasn't treating Norwalk's roads properly.
"You want to make sure our roads are as clean as they can possibly be; that potholes are filled in; that sidewalks are inspected on a regular basis, and that the City of Norwalk leadership works with the citizens to help them to get their sidewalks repaired" he said at the time.
During the State of the City Address, Rilling said, "We all know what the severe weather has done to our streets and sidewalks. Many roads have buckled and there are many large pot holes that need to be taken care of. I will meet with the DPW Director to review the proposed paving plan and make appropriate changes based on the conditions of our roads and sidewalks rather than just an arbitrary schedule that needs to move forward."
Development of South Norwalk remains one of Rilling's priorities. In November, Rilling met with business owners in South Norwalk to hear their concerns.
"We can help the business owners down here. We can help the residents down here and we can try to start improving because they say across the board, their business is down 33% and it's a concern to them" he said back then.
During the State of the City Address, Rilling said, "We are also looking a business improvement district, which will be a taxing district that business owners in South Norwalk will be a part of that will help fund some of the initiatives that we want. Cleaner streets, security and those kinds of things so that people can feel comfortable and South Norwalk can get back to what it was on its way to being at one point."
Mayor Rilling also gave an update on the search for a new Economic Development Director. Former Economic Developmetn Director Tad Diesel retired in January. Afterwards Mayor Rilling created an 11-member task force whose first job is to hire a new Development Director.
During the announcement of the Business Advisory Council, Rilling said, "We're looking for someone who will aggressively market the City of Norwalk by reaching out to potential investors, potential businesses, trying to draw people into Norwalk.
Now Mayor Rilling says, "Hopefully in the next month we will have someone on board and fully operational. That Business Economic Director with work with the Business Advisory Council, work with the Redevelopment Agency and my office and encourage people to invest in Norwalk, to bring new businesses in and to assist the other businesses that are here."
In addition, Mayor Rilling vowed to work locally and in Hartford to secure funding for Norwalk Public Schools.
"But I have to warn you that fully funding the Board of Education's request will not produce the resources our children need because state funding of local education remains fundamentally inadequate, especially for Norwalk, Stamford and other major urban cities in our region."