Rowayton’s official name is the Sixth Taxing District of the City of Norwalk (6TD) and I am one of the three Commissioners that are elected to run the 6TD. We oversee 3 full time, 8 part time and 9 seasonal employees as well as 20 acres of property and a total of 8 buildings. In addition, we work with the City of Norwalk to assist our residents with everything from crime to historic preservation to traffic to property taxes to potholes.
In the 1920s, the 6TD was originally created as a lighting district within the City of Norwalk. Over time, we started to provide services that were not being provided by the City including garbage collection, as well as financial support to the Rowayton Library and local volunteer fire department. These services continue to be at the heart of today’s 6TD.
We have grown from a small, part-time entity to a $1.8 mm a year business. As such, we now have actual offices – located above the Rowayton Library and accessed from the outside stone staircase – and have our own website at www.Rowayton6TD.com.
On March 1, we had our annual town meeting and our budget for the coming fiscal year was approved by those residents in attendance. The Rowayton share of your taxes (about 5% of your total property tax bill) will increase by an average of $18 per household. The biggest parts of our operating budget include: 23% for payroll, 19% for garbage pick-up and disposal, and 11% for our contribution to the Rowayton Library.
In the coming fiscal year, we will see a big increase in our capital budget and this will be to finish re-building the Community Center. There is a long history to this property. Originally, part of the Farrell Estate, it later became where the Remington Rand 409 was developed – the 5’ tall, 7’ long business computer prototype, which was the first of its kind. In 1966, “The Barn” and its six acres of property at 33 Highland Avenue were bought by the 6TD for $142,500.
The property sat largely untouched for 40 years until a renovation of the Library in 2006. In 2008, the 6TD Commissioners created a Long Term Planning Committee which, after a series of community discussions known as charrettes, developed an evolutionary multi-phase multi-year plan that is currently under way.
The first stage began in 2011 with the slate roofs and copper gutters. Subsequently, the rest of the exterior was restored, the electric system was completely upgraded, we connected to the sewer and built new 6TD offices. Then, there was the construction of a new exit driveway and the installation of some environmentally friendly parking. Last Fall, we fixed the drainage around the building and re-built the courtyard.
Voters have now approved proceeding with the final phase of the renovation of the main building. The plan is to remediate all asbestos, upgrade the final part of the HVAC and renovate the entire interior. This is a major undertaking that we expect will take at least 6 months to complete.
The majority of the Community Center will be closed to the public and events on the property will be limited. While this will be an imposition to all, it will ensure that the renovation gets done as quickly as possible. The result will be a more up-to-date, more user friendly building with better lighting, better circulation and better space. We hope you will all agree.
With longer days, warmer temperatures and the arrival of April, it will not be long before we all start to see more of each other around town.
I look forward to seeing all of you.