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Send Hoyt St. Sidewalks Bill to Neighborhood

Here's a solution to the Hoyt Street sidewalk project!

For several years now the residents of Darien who live along Hoyt Street near the Talmadge Hill Railroad Station have been asking, no, demanding, that sidewalks be built there.  They argue, fairly, that it’s not safe to walk that busy highway to get to the station.

This stretch of Hoy Street, part of state Rt 106, is under the control of the CT Dept of Transportation. has surveyed the area, polled the neighbors and lobbied the CDOT to do something to help.  Because the train station and Rt 106 straddle the New Canaan town line, the neighbors and the past three Darien First Selectmen have tried to enlist that town’s support, to no avail.

A recent CDOT estimate that sidewalks would cost $1 million was rejected by neighbors as over-priced (not that CDOT has much of a track record at building anything under budget).  Radar speed detectors have been placed along the road, cops have handed out tickets, and still there’s speeding, but no sidewalks.

Do you have a sidewalk in front of your house?  Chances are pretty slim that you do.  I don’t have them, though I live within walking distance of the Noroton Heights station and see dozens of daily commuters walking there, albeit not on a busy state highway.

So why does the Hoyt Street crowd jump the queue to be most deserving of pedestrian-friendly investments?  For no reasons other than their persistence and their constant clamor.  Good for them sticking up for what they believe.  I just don’t think Darien taxpayers should pay for their sidewalks.

I have a solution:  let them pay for the sidewalks themselves by creating a “taxing district”.

There are plenty of precedents.  Think sewer districts or business improvement zones.

Draw a one mile circle around the train station and assess the property owners who will benefit by having those sidewalks a reasonable charge, payable over time.  Those residents will see their property values increase because their homes will be more commuter-friendly.  They’ll be able to know their kids won’t get killed walking / biking to the park / school.  They’ll enjoy all the sidewalks’ benefits, so let them foot the bill.

Mind you, I do think the Town needs to do more sidewalk planning and construction.  But there should be objective criteria about where they are built including housing density, proximity to schools and public services (like train stations), road dangers, etc.

Just because you yell the loudest doesn’t mean you should win.

Editor's note: This article originally was published Friday. The time stamp has been changed for layout purposes on the Home page of Darien Patch.

John Sini June 25, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Thanks! That's the first time I have heard those figures.
sebastian dangerfield June 25, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Cassandra-- Surely you can see the difference between what you intend to use and what is available to use. No one outside of approximately 55 homes would EVER use the sidewalks. (my number is off--but the point is no one gets a ride over to hoyt street to walk the rest of the way to the train station. it is soley for the use of those residents. PAddle courts may not be your cup of tea--but that doesnt mean you or your kids or your houseguests would never use them. I dont pay for a sewer on Nolan Lane--- because Ill never have the chance to use that sewer. The fact that I never call the cops , doesnt mean that I dont have their services at my disposal. Sidewalks are needed in many places--- along much of Hollow tree , along pear tree point road that winds around dangerous curves-- on brookside on mansfield etc. If people moved to hoyt street to take advantage of talmadge hill --bravo you bought aware of the train station, but also of the lack of sidewalks. The alternative would be to travel to noroton heights like people who live in other neighborhoods.... Why did you move there, if its such a concern? why not get a cab to TH station? Answer- you dont want to spend the money- the value isnt there. Exactly.
Holly Schulz June 26, 2012 at 07:49 PM
See Peter Firmin's answer above (this data was collected via the Town-run neighborhood opinion survey during Spring 2011; I'm sure you can get a copy from Public Works or Planning & Zoning).
Robert Kernen June 28, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Well put, Cassandra. The notion that "hey, you're on our own" is one of the most toxic and destructive in our society today. Regrettably, I'm sure the people on Hoyt Street will remember the opinions of Mr. Cameron and some of the others here when projects come up in other neighborhoods. And that's sad, too.
sebastian dangerfield June 28, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Sorry Robert What I think is toxic, is when you realize you have an isolated problem, and then demanding that all of society should pay for it. That is what is wrong with our new society. We all should have a greater say in what we spend our money on. No one is denying your right to build a sidewalk. What they are saying is, pay for it yourself. There are probably 100 streets of varying busyness in Darien with no sidewalks. Its time to stop the concept that society and communities should pay for the few. Taxi cabs are available. If you NEED to commute from Talmadge Hill , instead of Noroton Heights- be my guest. But dont say "its more convenient for me-and now I want that convenience made more accessible. " They are closing down post offices, --aware that some people may be inconvenienced. Noroton Heights should be on that list, in my opinion. Again--no one is saying you cant build them yourself. Just that the rest of the town doesnt want to pay for it. Vote on paddle courts if cassandra wants to-- maybe it doesnt serve enough people. No problem--the idea would then to be charge more to the players and if the paddle players do not think its worth it--then you get rid of them.

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