By Arnold Adler
NORWALK — City officials are considering a plan to honor residents and local organizations at three or four special community meetings a year instead of doing so during regular City Council meetings.
“The events would widen the city’s capacity to show appreciation for accomplishments such as sports league championship titles, landmark birthdays and anniversaries, and business longevity, as well as student accomplishments, organizational awards and many other successes,” said Vickie S. Yoshikawa, the city’s communications and public affairs manager, in a report to the City Council Aug. 7.
“At the same time, regular City Council business items could be discussed using greater efficiency of time, with guests and members of the public able to hear and be present for topics affecting their families without being pressed to stay late into the evening,” she added.
“It would take a lot of coordination with all the groups in town constantly doing something,” said Councilman Tony Ayala. “I don’t want to conflict with other groups. If it is not closely coordinated it will be complicated.
Ayala said he wanted to make sure all worthy individuals were honored, but said if it was a large group it might take a special meeting to honor them all.
“We need structure and more input,” he said.
Mayor Jennifer Perez agreed, telling staff to “report back with a well-rounded approach.”
Councilman Leonard Shryock was not sure about a special meeting, saying “there is something prestigious when an Eagle Scout or someone is honored at (an official) council meeting.”
Yoshikawa said the idea stemmed from a community meeting in February conducted by a consulting firm.
“On May 12, City Council heard a presentation from Evan Brooks and Associates reporting results of the Community Congress event held on Feb. 3,” Yoshikawa said. “One of the items discussed under community outreach was increased community engagement through events that celebrate accomplishments and achievements of residents, businesses and organizations serving Norwalk.
“At each regular meeting of the City Council, a segment of the meeting is dedicated to special presentations. However, frequently, numerous presentations are requested or must fall on the same meeting date due to limited availability or scheduling conflicts, significantly delaying the discussion of business items.
“The City Council’s special recognition of individuals and organizations play a crucial part in the city’s efforts to engage citizens, build partnerships and increase city interaction with the community,” Yoshikawa added. “Creating a meeting that would emphasize the importance and value of each honoree’s efforts to improve the community allows the City Council an opportunity to give undivided attention to those who make Norwalk a better place to live,
“The establishment of a special meeting with the sole purpose of celebrating our community would provide a forum specifically devoted to honoring individuals and organizations making a positive impact, reaching notable benchmarks or creating opportunities in Norwalk.
“This celebration would memorialize the achievements of people in the community through presentation of awards and recognition, with meeting dates set each quarter to recognize accomplishments for the prior three months.”