Pontian Society of Norwalk looks to install commemorative monument



NORWALK — The Pontian Society of Norwalk is seeking to install a monument celebrating its history and heritage at Freese Park.

“We are writing to you to explore the possibilities of placing a monument or memorial in a prominent location in our town, for all to see,” Theodorus Giapoutzis, president of the Norwalk Pontian Society, and Kathy Tsilfides, secretary of the society, wrote in a letter to Mayor Harry Rilling last year.


The proposal was discussed at the Common Council’s Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee last week as it will be going before the Arts Commission and could come back before them in the near future, Nick Roberts, the city’s director of recreation and parks told the committee.




“We envision a sculpted monument on a solid piece of granite or marble depicting the exodus of our people,” the letter read. “They left their homelands of more than 2,500 years, taking with them only the few belongings that they could carry, leaving behind them their homes and over 353,000 dead relatives.”


Roberts said that the original proposal is in the process of getting scaled since the initial submittal was “huge.”

“It’s huge,” he said. “It has to be scaled down to the size of the park.”

Right now, after working with the society he said they were talking about a proposal within the 5 feet by 8 feet range with a height of 6 feet.

The Greek community in Norwalk has been growing over the past 40 years, according to the Pontian society’s letter, which is why they are asking for a monument.

“We are entering a stage where most of our population is becoming third generation,” the letter read. “In our desire to help maintain our heritage by teaching our youth and educating those who are not aware of our history, we have undertaken an attempt to create a lasting symbol of our people.”

The society stated that 85 percent of the Norwalk Greek community comes from the Pontian heritage, which traces its roots back to the mid-eighth century B.C.

The group initially wanted to place the monument at the Norwalk Green, but has since moved the proposal to Freese Park, Roberts said. If it was approved to go there, it would be located near the sidewalk along Main Street.


Committee chair Michael Corsello questioned the location since the city has a specific area, Heritage Park, for monuments like this one.

“I question why it’s not being put at Heritage Park,” Corsello said.

Roberts said because the society’s offices are located at Isaac Street and there’s a lack of parking at Heritage Park, which is along West Avenue, they requested to have it at Freese.

The intial proposal estimated that the monument would cost about $85,000.

Corsello said he wanted the committee to have a chance to review the park’s master plan, which was put together by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency a few years ago, before voting on it. Roberts said that the city’s Arts Commission would need to review and approve it before it came back before the council members.


kelly.kultys@hearstmediact.com



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