By SCOTT SEITZ
Reflector Staff Writer
Several Norwalk city council members are looking forward to tonight’s discussion about the recently-announced possibility the city might obtain additional land near the proposed soccer complex on the city’s north side.
The Sofios sisters, who originally sold the city 22 acres at a discounted price, have now said they will donate another 7 1/2 acres, valued at $55,000, to create a wetland habitat within the city limits that included a walkway.
The city could then use that donation as a grant match if it then decides to apply for an Issue II grant to purchase more land from Randy Homan, of Huron, who was planning a 60-home allotment near the complex.
The city council members who spoke Monday all sounded in favor of applying for the grant.
“If this is something we can accomplish without paying cash out of our pockets and the grant will cover the cost, I am in favor of it,” Councilman Harry Brady said.
“Now I know that nothing is free and those grant dollars are tax dollars, but if we don’t get those grant dollars and use them, they will go to someone else,” Brady said. “The city would be absolutely stupid to not try and get some of those dollars back.”
“I think it’s a win-win,” Councilman Dwight Tkach added. “I haven’t figured out any downside.”
Tkach knows there could be naysayers in tonight’s council audience.
“I welcome any kind of discussion from any angle,” he said. “Everybody has a right to their opinion, but we’re voted in to do what is best for Norwalk and I think we do a pretty good job at that. Are we perfect? No.”
“I expect we will have discussion as the administration makes a presentation and provides some of the details and opportunities there,” said Steve Euton, council president.
“If folks are interested, they should come out and hear the details,” Euton added.
Euton isn’t expecting a rowdy crowd.
“But you never know the night you’re going to remember,” he said. “Sometimes the most important decisions are the quiet ones.”
Council members are bracing themselves, though, for possible audience participation tonight because the original purchase of the 22 acres drew much public feedback.
The soccer complex and proposed addition falls into Councilman Scott Krichbaum’s first ward.
“I welcome discussion on it,” he said. “It sounds like, the grant we would apply for, the project would be completely funded. That makes it a lot more appealing that way. If we’re going to apply for it we need to do it soon because I think the deadline is June 30.”
Krichbaum had voted against the purchase of the first 22 acres.
“We’ll see how the discussion goes,” he said.
Councilman Chris Mushett said anytime the city has a chance to purchase land at very little cost it should be considered.
“We need to look at jumping on something like that,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of downside.”
What about park maintenance when all is said and done?
“I’m sure there’s going to be some maintenance involved,” Mushett said. “But the plan is to make this a passive park with routine maintenance, but not a lot.
“We have someone willing to donate and then we can take that donation as a matching grant — that’s really maximizing our resources,” Mushett said.
“Land is a finite resource and we have a great deal laid on the table. I think we should give it every consideration.”