STAMFORD, Conn. -- Mirella Liotta was facing a soul-crushing wait at the Norwalk Department of Motor Vehicles office Wednesday when she discovered the solution to her problem: A new appointment-only DMV office in Stamford was opening Thursday morning.
She immediately tossed her ticket away, left the line behind and went out to her car to make her appointment online.
"I am so happy," the Stamford resident said as she changed the registration on her vehicle and recalled her trip to the Norwalk office Wednesday. "I had at least 20 people in front of me, and I was already there an hour-and-a-half."
On Thursday, not only did she breeze in for her appointment - she was the third person served - but she also helped Stamford Mayor David Martin to cut the ribbon to officially open the new office.
Joining Liotta and the mayor in the festivities were Motor Vehicles Commissioner Melody A. Currey; state Sen Carlo Leone, D-27th District; and state Rep. Gerald Fox III, D-146th District.
The new Stamford Photo License Center will take some of the pressure off other local DMV offices, Currey said.
"We look forward to this as a relief valve for the Norwalk and Bridgeport branches as well as a super convenience for the residents of Stamford or anyone in the surrounding area, who would like to schedule an appointment," Currey said.
Facing a budget shortfall, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell closed the Stamford DMV office in April 2009 as a cost-cutting measure.
The new office will cut back on trips to Norwalk for city residents, Martin said, and he thanked Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the DMV for their work in returning an office to Stamford.
He believes the office, located at 137 Henry St., in the Lathon Wider Center in the city's South End, will become very popular.
"I am trusting that over time you will need some expansion because I think there will be a lot of demand here," Martin said.
The 2009 DMV office closure made it more difficult for local residents, who then had to go to Norwalk, Leone said.
"We have missed DMV, and we welcome you back to the city," he said. "We think it is going t be a success and, I, too, think it is going to expand in the future. And we will work to give you whatever you need to make that happen."
The DMV office is part of Malloy's push to reverse Republican closures, Fox said, as he pointed to J. Wright Technical High School and the Stamford DMV office as examples of the state's commitment to the city's growth.
"Under this administration we have been able to do so," he said. "It is a great day here for the people of Stamford."
The new office is a pilot project of operating an-appointment only office, Currey said. People can walk in, but they have to fill out their information on a computer in the office. They will be given an appointment that could be the same day or another day. Residents can also sign up online for an appointment.
"We are planing on six customers every 15 minutes," Currey said.
The new Stamford Photo License Center offers the following services:
• Noncommercial driver's license - Renewals, duplicates, and name changes; • Learner's permits - Duplicates and name changes; • Nondriver ID cards - Renewals, duplicates and name changes; • Registrations - Renewals, duplicates and name changes; • Plate returns and cancellations; • Disabled parking permits - new, renewals and replacements; and • Driver histories.
The office will be open Tuesdays through Fridays with extended hours on Thursdays. Appointments can be made online at www.ct.gov/dmv/Stamford .
If the Stamford office is successful, the idea could be expanded to other DMV offices throughout the state in the next year, Currey said.
The state is renting the space from the city for $1 per year.
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