The What: This Week in Southwest Connecticut

The What is your look around southwest Connecticut for the week of March 28.

The What: This Week in Southwest Connecticut
Coastal Connecticut in the summer. Photo by Kelly Prinz

March 28

Happy Monday! Here are some of the top stories across our area this week:

Let’s take a look at what’s happening this week.


More than $660 million of facilities needs have been identified in the city’s school district, according to the district’s facilities master plan, developed by SLAM Collaborative. Now that the needs have been identified, the next steps include prioritizing the projects, determining how many the city can do, and figuring out how to pay for them all.

That’s why Megan Cottrell, chair of the Board of Representatives’ Education Committee, had the consultants give her committee an in-depth presentation on the plans, describe the community feedback received so far, and detail possible next steps. Cottrell said that they needed to “make sure our branches of government communicate on this plan.”

The most notable aspect of the plan calls for closing four schools and building one new one, along with major improvements at Westhill High School and Turn of River Middle School.

Dolan and Cloonan middle schools would be closed, along with Toquam and KT Murphy elementary schools. Hart, Roxbury, and Westover would be transformed from K-5 schools into K-8 schools, and Hart and Westover would become intradistrict magnet schools. There would be a new 1,050 seat South Stamford school, which would be an interdistrict school—meaning that 25% of the seats would go to students outside of Stamford.

That South Stamford school would then be eligible for an increased reimbursement from the state, which could cover up to 80% of the project.

This realignment would help address some schools that were underutilized and some that were over-utilized, while also taking schools offline that needed substantial work, Kemp Mohardt and his team from SLAM Collaborative described.

The plan has identified more than $660 million in facilities needs. Mohardt estimated that the city could bond about $300 million over 10 years to help pay for these projects. How to cover the rest is still a work in progress. The city is working with its state legislative delegation to get the state to reimburse as many of the projects as possible, and city staff members are also working to identify other potential sources of funding.

This week, on Tuesday, March 29 at 6:30 p.m., the Planning Board at 6:30 p.m. will receive that presentation and have a chance to ask questions about the proposal.

Learn more.


The Board of Representatives’ Fiscal Committee and Board of Finance will continue their budget reviews this week. On Monday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m., the Fiscal Committee will hear from the EMS, senior center, social services, public safety, health, and wellness and the Stamford Partnership. On Wednesday, March 30, at 5:30 p.m., the Fiscal Committee will hear from economic development, the Stamford Museum, the Stamford Arts and Culture, the History Center, and the Downtown Social Services District.

The Board of Finance will hear from the operations, engineering, facilities and park maintenance, transportation, and traffic and road maintenance on Monday, March 28 at 7 p.m. On Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m., the Board of Finance will hear from the administration office; controller; assessment; tax collection and administration; solid waste; fleet management; land use bureau; and building department.

On Thursday, March 31, at 7 p.m., the Land Use and Redevelopment Committee will review two recent Supreme Court of Connecticut decisions related to the city—High Ridge Real Estate Owner LLC vs. Board of Representatives and in The Strand/BRC Group, LLC., et al vs. Board of Representatives. The committee will also be continuing its review of the Allure patio collapse and the city’s policies around new construction.  

Other meetings this week include:


A joint efficiency study that reviewed operations of both the city and school district found a potential $30 million in savings, but also about $21 million in needed investments.

Evergreen Solutions LLC, the company who conducted the study, presented an overview of its findings at the Common Council meeting this week.

The study’s purpose was to “ensure that all programs, operations, and the structure of the City and Norwalk Public Schools are operating at maximum efficiency, creating the most good for all of its citizens.” This meant not only finding areas to save money, according to Evergreen Solutions’ president Jeff Ling, but finding ways to redirect resources, better communicate, and work together.

One overarching issue noted was that the “discord between the city and Norwalk Public Schools regarding the budget is unproductive and infighting has resulted in a serious breakdown in communication.” The consultant recommended opening the lines of communication between the two earlier in the process and sharing more information with each other.

Another big issue was the state of the city’s technology resources.

“The lack of resources, staffing, and citywide planning for technology is negatively impacting every department, program, and function in the city,” the report noted.

Besty Ressel of Evergreen Solutions, when asked what would be a priority for reinvestment in the city, said “technology, technology, technology.”

The third “cross-cutting” issue was that there were huge facilities needs, particularly on the school side, which based on a 2021 Facility Assessment, has more than $430 million worth of repairs.

The plan is to utilize this study to guide both current and future budget discussions. The Board of Education will meet on Thursday, March 31 at 6 p.m. to discuss and review the results of this study collectively.

Learn more.


The Board of Estimate and Taxation will hold a public hearing on the city’s proposed budget on Tuesday, March 29 at 6:15 p.m. Read more about what’s in the proposal.

Other meetings this week include:


More than 30 Fairfield community members gave the Board of Finance their thoughts, opinions, and comments on the proposed $342.7 million budget. Almost all of them spoke up in support of the school district’s budget, with a handful also advocating on behalf of the town’s senior citizen services.

In the preliminary budget approved by the Board of Selectmen, about $116 million was allocated to the town’s side of the budget, just under $200 million was allocated to the school district, and about $26.5 million was set aside for shared expenses. This is an increase of more than $7 million for the school district, but it's about $2 million less than what the Board of Education asked for.

Parents, teachers, and students said that now was not the time for there to be cuts to education, after the last two years of disrupted education due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the Board of Finance will hold two budget meetings. The first will be Monday, at 7:30 p.m., where it will get any final questions answered and begin discussing the budget. The second meeting is where the board will vote on the budget, and that will take place on Thursday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. From there, the budget heads to the Representative Town Meeting for final approval.

Learn more.


The town’s Affordable Housing Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 30 at 6 p.m. to review the draft of its affordable housing plan, consider any recommendations following a joint meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission, and potentially refer it to a public hearing.

Other meetings this week include:


After months of conversations, fine tuning of requests, and putting together proposals, the Board of Estimate and Taxation will be doing its final work on the $31.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds this week.

The Board of Estimate and Taxation will hold a public hearing on both the ARPA funds and the 2022-2023 town budget on Monday, March 28 at 7 p.m. The board has a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 29 at 9 a.m. to vote on the ARPA funds.

Learn more.


The Board of Estimate and Taxation is also working on the budget this week—with a hearing on the budget also scheduled for Monday, March 28 at 7 p.m. The board is hosting a budget workshop on Tuesday, March 29 at 9:30 a.m. and has its Decision Day scheduled for Thursday, March 31.

Other meetings this week include:


More than $6.4 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds have officially been approved for projects in Darien. The Representative Town Meeting gave final approval for the projects this week, after the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance approved the plans.

RTM Budget and Finance Chair Jack Davis praised the efforts to support mental health and COVID-19 recovery efforts which are “very much in the spirit of the act” as well as the town’s investments in infrastructure.

“They’re not sexy—nobody is putting a bumper sticker on their car saying, ‘I support the sewers,’ but these projects need to get done,” he said.

Learn more.


Darien is considering eliminating all references to gender in its town charter and the town code of ordinances. The RTM is hosting two public hearings this week to allow members of the community to share their opinions. The first will be in person on Monday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m., while the second will allow for remote participation on Tuesday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Other meetings this week include:


Members of the public can weigh in on the proposed budgets for the town and school district this week. The Board of Finance budget hearing for the town will be on Tuesday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m., while the Board of Finance budget hearing for the schools will be on Thursday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m.

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!

With spring and summer here, Coastal Connecticut Times is looking to get out on the road and meet with community members. If there’s an event, meeting, group, or fair you think we should be at, shoot us an email at We’d love to start meeting many of you in person.

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