With the promise of inclement winter weather, there was little public participation at Thursday's Common Council Planning Committee's public hearing regarding the 2013-2014 capital budget.
Only three members of the public spoke. Instead, several department heads briefed the committee on their budget requests.
Among them were Norwalk Public Library Executive Director Chris Bradley, Director of Recreation and Parks Mike Mocciae and Fire Chief Denis McCarthy.
The only request that received any public backlash was Mocciae's request for $750,000 to replace the pier at Calf Pasture Beach, in addition to $650,000 given for the repair last year.
Mocciae said the pier would be built 3 feet higher at the shore than it is now, and 5 feet higher at its end point -- done to keep up with "hurricane standard" measurements.
Diane Lauricella, a Norwalk resident who spoke at length about the funding request for the pier, said the city needed to go "back to the drawing board" regarding the pier.
Lauricella said after looking through four documents provided to her by the Dept. of Recreation and Parks, she did not feel enough "due diligence" had been done in studying the pier's repair.
"This is not good enough for something that will cost $1.2 million," she said.
Other than that, the evening's meeting was a quiet affair.
McCarthy requested an additional $400,000 to complete renovations to the Westport Ave. fire station. That money comes on top of $600,000 the department had already been given for the project.
The fire department also wants to realign its manpower at the Westport Ave. station and include a ladder truck at the site to improve response to Cranbury.
Bradley, the night's first speaker, spoke to the need to maintain the integrity of the main library building, suggesting a five year plan is the best plan of action. The library has requested an additional $86,191 in its funding for mechanical repairs to the main library and South Norwalk branch.
"We have to start looking into the future," Bradley said. "But for now we at least want to make sure we can maintain what we have and find a plan for the next five years."
The public hearing was held at the same time as the Board of Estimate and Taxation held another of its budget review sessions, which will continue through March 13.
On April 1, the Planning Committee will make its budget recommendations to the entire Common Council.
On April 9, the Common Council will set the final cap on the budget. The current recommended cap sits at just under $295 million, with a potential $16 million coming in federal and state grants that would push the cap to about $311 million.
The final budget will be set on Monday, May 6.
The full recommended budget can be found online at this link: http://www.norwalkct.org/DocumentCenter/View/4264