The What: This Week in Southwest Connecticut

The What is your look around southwest Connecticut—from Greenwich to Fairfield—for the week of March 7.

The What: This Week in Southwest Connecticut
Warm summer days are closer than we think! Photo by Kelly Prinz.

March 7

Happy Monday!

This week, almost all of the municipalities are working on their budgets, holding public hearings, or doing some type of reviews, so if you’re interested in having your voice heard, this is a great time to get involved.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening in our communities.


Mayor Caroline Simmons is presenting her first proposed budget to a joint meeting of the Board of Finance and the Fiscal Committee of the Board of Representatives on Wednesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. Interested members of the public can tune in virtually or call in at 1-646-558-8656 using webinar ID: 850 4816 6168.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation will be hosting a public information session on the plans for the Stamford Transportation Center on Monday, March 7 at 7 p.m. The goal of the project is to “perform a comprehensive evaluation of the existing Stamford Transportation Center complex and provide recommendations and conceptual improvements that will lead to enhanced access and increased public transit use,” according to CTDOT. The department stated that it is aiming to “develop a master plan that provides a new vision of the Stamford Transportation, transforming the complex into a best-in-class facility.”

The Stamford School District is continuing its public information sessions across the city on its proposed $400 million, 10-year facilities plan. This week, the district will hold meetings on Monday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Now that Mayor Caroline Simmons has been in office for about three months, her chief of staff, Bridget Fox gave a “Legislative Priorities” overview to the Board of Representatives’ State and Commerce Committee on March 2.

Some of those top priorities included investing in innovation, retaining businesses and attracting new ones, and addressing infrastructure needs.

Fox emphasized that the city’s location between New York and Boston meant that “we have a really unique opportunity to retain talent and companies here in Stamford.”

All of these include a “focus on developing a city that is forward-thinking and prepared for the future.”

Courtesy of the City of Stamford

Looking ahead, Fox said the city wants to work on easing its permitting process to make it easier for small businesses in particular, providing funding to some small businesses through COVID-19 federal funds, and creating a small business welcoming committee.

Learn more.

Other meetings this week include:


The Board of Estimate and Taxation will begin its evaluation of the mayor’s proposed budget this week, hosting review sessions on Monday, March 7 at 5:30 p.m. and on Tuesday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m. On Monday, the board will review the budgets of the following departments: Community Service, Health, Library, Youth Services, Human Relations, Public Works, and Recreation and Parks. On Tuesday, the board will review the budgets of the Chief Financial Officer, Tax Assessor, Tax Collector, Accounting and Treasury, Management and Budgets, and Information Technology. The Norwalk Common Council has capped the budget at $414 million, but the Board of Estimate and Taxation is in charge of determining the actual budget, so long as it falls at or below the cap.

The Common Council is unveiling a new ad hoc committee this week—the Sustainability and Resilience Committee. The committee will meet for the first time on Tuesday, March 8 at 6 p.m. and will be discussing a climate action workshop led by Adam Whelchel, director of science at The Nature Conservancy, an environmental organization.

Easier access to transportation, new development, and neighborhood improvements could be in the future for the South Norwalk Train Station and the area around it, according to a new study conducted by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and its consultants VHB and RKG. On March 3, the Common Council’s Economic and Community Development Committee got its first look at the plan, one of the first steps in the process.

Courtesy of the City of Norwalk

Ken Schwartz, a senior vice president at VHB, said that because there were more than 8 acres of publicly owned land around the station, there’s a chance for a “transformative and unique opportunity” for the area.

The goals of the plan include:

  • Optimizing publicly-controlled assets to create a cohesive, integrated neighborhood
  • Balancing land use with community needs
  • Pursuing an adaptive reuse of the train station and infill redevelopment
  • Improving transit components and infrastructure
  • Focusing on equity, affordable housing, parking, historic preservation, sustainable development, and complete streets

Learn more.

Other meetings this week include:


The Board of Selectmen finished days of review and approved a preliminary $342.7 million operating budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year with a 2-1 vote.

Selectwoman Nancy Lefkowitz voted against the budget because more than $2 million was removed from the Board of Education’s budget. The Board of Education will still see an increase of $7.9 million

“I just think that the budget that they presented is the budget they need to educate our kids and for the health and safety of our kids,” she said. “I think the Fairfield School District came up with a budget that they needed and reducing it by $2 million—I think it will prevent them from doing the best job they can.”

Selectman Thomas Flynn stated that he was against adding back the funding for the Board of Education because it was still receiving an increase. Flynn also noted that enrollment has been declining in the district, while costs have not.

“What’s not coming through the budget right now is the affordability aspect,” he said, adding that many residents can’t afford a large tax increase. “What is the best possible school system that we can afford—that’s what's not coming through in these budget discussions.”

The approved Board of Selectmen budget is very similar to the initial one proposed by First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick.

The Board of Finance will now begin its review of the budget and will be holding its first public budget session on Thursday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Learn more.

The Affordable Housing Committee will be meeting on Wednesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. to conduct a status report of its affordable housing plan and discuss plans for an upcoming workshop on it. The committee will also review feedback from the Representative Town Meeting on its 2021 Annual Report.

Other meetings this week include:


The Board of Estimate and Taxation’s Budget Committee is hosting three meetings this week as it continues to deliberate on the proposed 2022-2023 budget for the town—on Monday, March 7 at 9 a.m., on Tuesday, March 8 at 9 a.m., and on Thursday, March 10 at 1 p.m. Members of the public can watch on the Greenwich Youtube channel.

All of the committees of the Representative Town Meeting will be meeting this week. On Monday, March 7, the meetings include: a joint meeting of the Education and Finance Committees at 7:30 p.m. (after which each committee will meet separately); Land Use Committee at 7:30 p.m.; and Legislative & Rules Committee at 7:30 p.m. On Tuesday, March 8, the meetings include: Health & Human Services Committee at 7:30 p.m.; Public Works Committee at 7:30 p.m.; Town Services Committee at 7:30 p.m.; Transportation Committee at 7:30 p.m; and Parks & Recreation Committee at 8 p.m.

Other meetings this week include:


First Selectwoman Monica McNally and Superintendent Alan Addley, along with Board of Education Chair David Dineen, presented their proposed budgets for the town to the Board of Finance on March 1.

On the town side, McNally proposed a $32.5 million budget, a 3.9% increase from the previous year, while on the school side, the Board of Education proposed a $110.6 million budget, a 3.74% increase from the previous year.

Courtesy of the Town of Darien

McNally, along with town administrator Kathleen Clarke Buch, said that they put together the budget with a focus on maintaining/increasing town services, responding to the impact of growth in town, and having a manageable increase in taxes.

McNally noted that the “town is beginning to see the positive impacts” of growth and development on the grand list, or the list of all taxable properties within the town, “but also the demand for service.”

On the school side, Board Chair David Dineen said that the Board of Education budget did five main things:

  • Supported the school district’s strategic plan
  • Made incremental improvements to the district
  • Addressed current needs of students
  • Realized efficiencies where they could be found
  • Incorporated items learned from COVID

This week, the Board of Finance is hosting a public hearing on the proposed budgets on Tuesday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Learn more.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is hosting a public information session on Wednesday, March 9 at 6 p.m. to discuss the “deteriorated condition” of the bridge in town that carries I-95 over a drainage area. According to CTDOT, “the existing structure exhibits section loss, corrosion, joint misalignment, and deformation.” The project will cost about $1.8 million to fix—all of which will be paid for using state funds—and construction is expected to start in 2025.

Other meetings this week include:


First Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Superintendent Thomas Scarice gave the Board of Finance and members of the public their first look at the town’s proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

Overall, the proposed budget for both the city and school district totals $223.8 million, with about 63% going to the school district, 34% going toward the town operations, and 3% going to “other funds,” such as the library.

Courtesy of the Town of Westport

Tooker said that the budget aimed to provide “a path for the future of Westport.” She noted that the pandemic had changed so many aspects of people’s lives—professionally, personally, mentally—and that the town would “not be returning to 2019.” Instead, she said the focus of the budget is on adapting to those changes and investing in areas that could lead the town forward.

Tooker listed five key areas that the budget aimed to address:

  • Pedestrian safety and sidewalk improvements particularly to connect residents to the downtown and to their schools
  • Flooding mitigation strategies
  • Social and emotional well-being
  • Revitalizing the downtown
  • Upgrades to recreational facilities

On the school side, Superintendent Thomas Scarice presented a $130.3 million budget, or a 3.75% increase compared to last year. Board of Education Chair Lee Goldstein noted that they were expecting to have that increase go down slightly to 3.1% due to “health care savings realization,” because they are switching health care providers, but they didn’t have all these specifics just yet.

Scarice said the main increases driving the budget were:

  • Increased enrollment at the elementary school level due to families moving into town because of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Addressing increasing special education needs
  • Contractual salary and benefit obligations

This week, the Board of Finance will start conversations around the budget with a public hearing on the Board of Education’s budget on Thursday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Learn more.

On Wednesday, March 9 at 7 p.m., the town will host a “Westport Means Business” panel discussion, led by First Selectwoman Jen Tooker. The goal is to showcase the intersection of the town’s arts community with its local businesses, something that “makes Westport’s local economy quite unique and distinctly attractive,” according to a release. Interested members of the public, particularly local business owners and those aspiring to be businesses owners, can register to attend either in person or virtually.

Other meetings this week include:

Please note: All of these agendas and information here are current as of Sunday evening. Meeting times and agendas may get adjusted throughout the week.

Thank you for reading! We apologize for being a little less active this week—we were a little under the weather so we had to take a few days off, but we’re back on our feet now and catching up. Hope you all have a safe and healthy week, and as always, feel free to leave us some feedback using this short survey, which will help inform our work.

Have a great week,

Kelly Prinz

Founder, Reporter at Coastal Connecticut Times