Downtown Westport: Amazing Tunnel Vision

Word on the street — er, in the tunnel — is that the pedestrian walkway between Parker Harding Plaza and Main Street will soon get a major makeover.

The grim, grotty passage — reminiscent of the spot in A Clockwork Orange where the Droogs attack a tramp, though ours is a lot scarier — is the setting for a new art installation.

The Parker Harding pedestrian tunnel. Not lookin' real good.

The Parker Harding pedestrian tunnel. Not lookin’ real good.

As is often the case with great stuff in town, Miggs Burroughs is involved. And, as he so often does, he is donating his services.

In typically clever Miggs fashion, he’s calling the original work of contemporary art “Tunnel Vision.”

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association and Win Properties, the walkway’s owner — who knew it had such a thing? — are sharing the cost of cleanup, painting and new lighting. Westporters Scott Rochlin (general contractor) and Rick Hoag (architect) are also involved.

Miggs Burroughs

Miggs Burroughs

Miggs plans a “highly immersive and memorable experience for tunnel-goers of all ages and persuasions.” He promises “a rewarding emotional journey,” not just a passage from Onion Alley to the dumpster.

Tunnel Vision is scheduled for unveiling at the WDMA’s “Art About Town” opening night street party on May 22.

All of Westport rejoices.

The Droogs don’t.

24 responses to “Downtown Westport: Amazing Tunnel Vision

  1. Ruth Kalla Ungerer

    Something similar should be done at the train station. That tunnel is pathetic! Perhaps the Westport Art Center could coordinate a program for children to become involved in the beautification of that unsightly mess.

  2. David Schafffer

    Ah, what memories of experiences in that tunnel as a youth. Now if you want to talk about “the good old days” . . .

    But glad to hear this, defintely a good thing to happen to the town.

    • Janice Beecher

      Oh yeah, David!!! I remember painting parties to fix up the tunnel. And lots of other good stories. We need to ‘preserve’ that tunnel for future generations! What else is left?

  3. I can remember doing my own “Artwork” in that tunnel while growing up in Wspt in the 60’s-70’s :-)

  4. Correction…. Thanks for the coverage Dan (and you scooped everyone) but it was actually the creative minds in the WDMA Office who originated the concept and the project name “Tunnel Vision”. I want WDMA to get the credit they deserve for this great project. Thanks

  5. Gloria Gouveia, Land Use Consultants

    Thanks, Dan, for sharing the good news. I immediately marked the opening date on my calendar.
    Municipal management and meetings, plans and reports, committees and consensus, may be necessary to execute some “Town-centric” improvement progects, but isn’t it refreshing to see what can be accomplished by a group of likeminded people working together in the spirit of an old fashioned barn-raising?
    Bravo, all!

    PS A big Gold Star to Ruth Kalla Ungerer, for her observation and suggested solution. Nothing says “Welcome to Westport” with less propriety than the Saugatuck station tunnel and its unintended usefulness as a site to test the level of one’s breath-holding skills.

    Another site for a barn-raising, anyone?

  6. Jodyb2@me.com 484.571.1278 mobile via my iPhone

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  7. Darryl Manning

    What will happen to the murals (on the left side of the photo) that the kids of Westport created in the 1990’s? I hope they will be saved and remounted somewhere.

    • Hi Darryl. Good thought. I contacted Totney Benson who curated the mural and she only wants a souvenir piece of it, and then I contacted Kathie Bennewitz who is the town curator, and she contacted the schools, but sadly, no one has room for it. I photographed the entire mural as a digital archive so it will be preserved that way. If you, or anyone reading this blog, knows anyone or institution that might want it, please let me know. Thanks

  8. PS to Gloria and Ruth, there are also plans underway to rehabilitate the train tunnel this Spring and Summer, but I am sworn to secrecy.

  9. Hi Miggs – What about the new Y or the Bedford Square Development project? Maybe they can repurpose the mural? I’m guessing if David Waldman got approached, he could come up with a creative location for it. My kids walk through the tunnel all the time and love that mural!

    • Great suggestions and I will try to raise some awareness, but I believe that the rightful owner is Totney Benson and Kassie Foss (the artist) along with the town, so I have no say in the matter at all, but I would like the mural to find a home and I will help with the search. There would have to be a budget for removing and transporting it carefully and some restoration.

    • David A. Waldman

      Nice idea. There may be a few possibilities in Bedford Square to display the murals. I will look into it.

      • Thank you, David. That would represent good lineage. Also, congrats on Java. I don’t think Todd Rippo (?) knows in what he’s got himself involved. Beautiful renovation.

  10. Janice Beecher

    Thanks, Miggs. Personally, I have very fond memories of that tunnel and its many incarnations. That was before it was even Harder Parking Plaza.

  11. Sharon Paulsen

    This is super cool and I’m looking forward to the unveiling in May!! This tunnel sure has seen many incarnations over the years – glad to see the renewed interest for more generations to enjoy. After all, Westport/Saugatuck was born an “artist town”, so rock on Miggs and all involved for keeping creativity alive!
    I believe I read something about the possible “revival” of the train station tunnel (was it in the post about the new coffee shop on the Northbound side), with perhaps WAC involved?

  12. Excellent and many thanks to Miggs and others for these initiatives. One off-topic comment inspired by Ms. Gouvea’s “Nothing says ‘Welcome to Westport’ with less propriety than the Saugatuck station tunnel” comment. I would argue the sloven Westport Taxi crew provides a challenging level of impropriety for those visitors to town spared the trip through the train tunnel.

    • Gloria Gouveia, Land Use Consultants

      Thank you, Mr. Ryan,
      I listen and learn. As a recovering idealist, I try to recognize the possiblity that sometimes flaws can serve as a necessary foil, but in consideration of the weary traveler, it’s too bad we can’t offer them a more welcoming method of transport. Unfortunately, not even Miggs has the art to fix all of our problems, although it appears that he’s making a good start.

  13. Knowing Miggs involvement with everything he does for Westport and his unlimited creativity…it really shoud be fantastic!

    • Thank you all, and the DMA, for your confidence and support. I’ve lived here since 1950 and also have fond memories of “the Arcade” as we called it. It is an honor to have been invited to participate in its upcoming “facelift”. Come May 22, we can all celebrate the light at the end of the tunnel.

  14. Darryl Manning

    Great idea about the new Bedford Square. Though I no longer live in Westport (am now a Black Rocker along with many other Westport transplants), I would be happy to help with saving the murals and helping to raise the funds for the move and restoration. My son and his school mates were so proud of their work. We had dinner at Acqua over the holidays and enjoyed looking at the mural once again. Please keep me “in the loop” on this.

  15. Remember a man (possibly homeless) was found murdered in the very same tunnel? I think it was 1987 or 1988.

  16. I suspect when the WDMA office hatched the idea for “Tunnel Vision,” the next thought to follow was…Miggs. Miggs is all of Westport’s go-to creative genius. Looking forward to the unveiling in May.