The city held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new fire station at the Whittlesey Avenue construction site, which formerly held Home Lumber. The local dignitaries included retired firefighters and chiefs and current politicians, school officials, city and county employees.
“There are so many people who gave their time and energy to make this day possible,” Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan told the crowd.
The mayor thanked fire Chief John Soisson for his “sometimes relentless effort to make this project move forward.”
Former Mayor Sue Lesch convened the Blue Ribbon Committee in 2008 to consider what it would take to make a new station a reality. The committee originally included 22 community leaders and included as many as 40 people when Duncan reconvened the group in 2015.
Committee member Dave Bleile said it was the passion, contributions and dedication of all those people that “lead us to where we are today.”
Joe Weithman, of Mull & Weithman Architects, Inc., said he has never seen a community come together with so many donations for the construction project. He and Soisson thanked many individuals and companies for their contributions and the time they have dedicated to the project.
“We are humbled to be part of this process,” Weithman said.
Soisson credited three investors for “stepping up” to purchase the Home Lumber property and holding onto it while the city made the necessary decisions about the station.
“Without these people, we couldn’t get this project off the ground. … I hope I can give back to the community what you’ve given,” the chief added. “There were many times when we doubted that we’d get here.”
Soisson also credited Capt. Aaron Lynch and Lt. Curt Stang for the countless hours they spent going over paperwork, catalogs and documents about details to build the station.
Also the chief thanked his “two families” — the firefighters, whom he said “understand the spirit of Norwalk,” and his wife. Soisson said there were times when his wife would be talking to him while they watched television at home and he would be “zoned off in fire station land.”
The current station was built in 1912 at a cost of $10,000.