The weather wasn’t all that was hot yesterday.
More than a dozen residents gathered in the driveway of a Hiawatha Lane Extension home. Representatives of the development, site planning and construction companies involved in the 157-unit housing complex that will soon be built there had invited neighbors. The goal was to explain the building process, and listen to concerns.
Some of the concerns had been aired already. Residents are worried about trucks navigating the narrow roads; safety of children; noise; drainage and runoff.
Gus Pappajohn, president and CEO of A. Pappajohn Company, the Norwalk-based builders; Pete Romano, principal of LandTech, the Saugatuck civil engineering firm, and David Walsh of Summit Development explained the timetable — demolition of several homes will begin in 2 weeks, and last approximately 2 years — and described how they’ll handle issues like parking, school buses and culverts.
Other concerns have been aired earlier, throughout the nearly 20 years since a smaller development was first proposed. They involve traffic on nearby Saugatuck Avenue, and the displacement of residents from one of the least expensive neighborhoods in Westport.
Pappajohn, Romano and Walsh noted that those issues were already adjudicated. The town of Westport settled with Summit after years of litigation, allowing the development to proceed.
Several neighbors said angrily that they had not had a chance to air those concerns during the approval process. Construction officials replied that as an 8-30g application — one that addresses affordable housing in towns that do not meet a state minimum — issues like traffic are not part of the discussion.
“It’s been a long and contentious process,” Romano acknowledged. “But we’re here to talk about the future, not the past.”
For nearly an hour, residents peppered the builder, engineer and developer with questions about the future. And the past.
They looked at architectural plans and renderings of the 3 buildings. They asked again. Pappajohn, Romano and Walsh repeated their promises to keep disruption as minimal as possible; to be available at all times, and to continue to keep the neighbors informed throughout construction.
And then — with the sun and their anger still hot — the meeting ended. The neighbors walked home, past several now-empty homes and a new chain link fence.
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