Norwalk's Mill Hill Historic Park improvements broke ground on Thursday.
Mayor Harry Rilling joined Senator Bob Duff and members of the Norwalk Historical commission to announce that the start of phase one in the city's multi-year Master Plan improvements, will now include accessibility for those with disabilities.
"People that before who could not enjoy this treasure that we have here in Norwalk, they'll now be able to come here and enjoy it and see things they weren't able to see before," said Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling.
Construction on the upper site of Mill Hill will improve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines. The $144,000 project, funded by the city's capital budget process is scheduled to be completed in the fall. It will include new pavement, walkways, ramps, fencing and handrails, along with new accessible entrances to the location's three buildings; the Town House, the "Little Red Schoolhouse", and Governor Fitch Law office.
"We've never had any ADA access into these building and we operate programs for the public, so it's really really important," said Norwalk Historical Commission Chairman David Westmoreland. "We literally had to carry and lift people's wheelchairs up the steps to get them into the building."
The Norwalk Historic Society building was the former city hall from 1835 to 1913, its current parking lot on the hill will be transformed into a park green area.
"Their will be an ADA accessible sidewalk that will go a little ways down the hill and allow people with accessibility issues to actually go down into the graveyard, and we're going to have a little overlook terrace with a low seating wall that you can sit and look out over the Norwalk harbor."
"This is a gem of Norwalk, one of the wonderful parks that we have," said Rilling. "And one of the things that really separates Norwalk from other places."
Restorations will also span to the buildings around Smith Street, the Old Norwalk jail, the original department of public works barn. The project was designed by Gill and Gill Architects of Norwalk and Joseph Koelbel, Landscape Architect of Brooklyn, NY.