Moynihan seeks Norwalk files about water projects
NEW CANAAN — Any member of the public can file a Freedom of Information request to obtain access to data from public authorities.
It’s odd, however, when an elected official files a request from another public authority.
In a May 23 letter addressed to First Taxing District General Manager Dominick DiGangi, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan requested documents regarding certain projects from the Norwalk municipality.
These projects include “modifications” and “upgrading” of the John E. Riordan Water Treatment Plan at 270 Valley Road, the Grupes Reservoir Dam and — the property that originally brought New Canaan officials to negotiations with the Norwalk municipality — the 19th-century house at 1124 Valley Road.
Moynihan said he didn’t ask the First Taxing District for the documents before filing the Freedom of Information request with them.
“We want to know now what their plans are,” Moynihan said at a meeting with local media last Thursday. “My lawyer’s advice was to be aggre
James Fulton, attorney and trustee for the First Taxing District, said they would comply with the FOI request save for the items relating to the precise location of the water treatment facility citing security concerns.
“We will show (Moynihan) everything except for records that are exempt from disclosure. We would never disclose to anyone the location on a piece of our property regarding our water facility. It’s important that that remains secure information,” Fulton said in a call Tuesday afternoon.
Fulton said that he hoped Moynihan and DiGangi could meet soon so the latter could explain and deliver the information requested.
The FOI request from New Canaan’s first selectman is the latest development in what has been an ongoing back and forth between the town and the Norwalk municipality since a 19th century house on 1124 Valley Road was slated for demolition in mid-May.
An intervention from town officials including Moynihan and Town Council Chairman John Engel — and the threat of enacting eminent domain — led to Norwalk withdrawing its demolition permit May 2.
However, the First Taxing District doubled down on its position that the 4-acre property on which the house stands is not for sale, rejecting a $1.2 million offer made by Moynihan days before.
“They are known to be a very difficult party to deal with which is why we have taken the stance we have,” Moynihan said. “We need to understand what their plans are.”
And about public officials filing an FOI with each other? That’s a rare occurrence, according to Thomas Hennick, the Freedom of Information Commission public education officer.
“My experience has been that this does not occur very often,” Hennick said via e-mail Monday afternoon. “Typically (public) officials are willing to exchange non-exempt records without making formal FOI requests.”