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- Downtown’ s Hidden Oasis
- Downtown Merchants: It’s Not Easy Being Green (And Red)!
- “It’s A Wonderful Life” Indeed!
- Westport’s Cubans React To Thaw
- Grilled Cheese Eatery Bites The Dust
- Breaking News — Java To Close
- Mark Naftalin Named To Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
- Despite What It Looks Like, Compo Acres IS Open For Business This Holiday Season
- Open Space — For Buses?
- Lights Float Across Main Street
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DISCLAIMERThis blog is personal opinion, and is not representative of the views of the Westport School District or Board of Education.
Category Archives: BeachImage
Westport is filled with alert “06880” readers. Many have emailed me recently, asking, essentially: WTF is up with the Minuteman statue?
After a frenzy of restoration activity in late summer, our beloved town symbol has remained wrapped in plastic. On Halloween, no one turned him into a ghost or pirate. It’s Christmastime — but no Santa hat. Easter is far off, but already we’re worrying the Minuteman won’t wear his traditional rabbit ears.
Hold your fire (ho ho ho).
The Minuteman is all spruced up. The hang-up is the fence around him.
It was in very bad shape. (No surprise. Like the Minuteman, it’s over 100 years old.)
According to Francis Miller — a Hamden conservator working on the project — final touches include galvanizing, light abrasive cleaning, painting, installation, then grade adjustment. Target date for completion is the end of the month.
Organizers want to unveil the entire project at once, rather than piecemeal. So — someday next year — the Minuteman will again look like this:
As an alert “06880” reader, Fred Cantor has seen comments on every side of every debate about the changing nature of Westport.
As someone who came to Westport in 1963, Fred has seen many of those changes himself.
An accomplished attorney, film and play producer and writer, Fred has spent years taking photos around town. Recently, he asked Staples grad Casey Denton to help create a video of those shots.
Fred’s goal was simple. He wanted to document his belief that the essence of Westport’s beauty and small-town New England character — which his family discovered upon moving here over 5 decades ago — remains alive and well.
The video opens with long-ago Westport scenes. There are photos of mom-and-pop stores, the kind that filled Main Street back in the day. Obviously, that’s changed.
But most of the photos are from the recent past — many taken within the past year. And, Fred notes, they are “timeless Westport scenes.” Churches, barns, the Saugatuck bridge, the Minuteman and Doughboy statues, the Mill Pond and cannons — we are surrounded by wonderful history and spectacular beauty.
Fred knows that family businesses are very much with us. From long-time establishments (Oscar’s, Mario’s) to relative newcomers (Elvira’s, Saugatuck Sweets), there are more here than we realize.
Finally, Fred wanted to show that institutions like the Library, Westport Country Playhouse and Levitt Pavilion have been significantly upgraded over the years. The entire community benefits, Fred says, from “the strong commitment to the arts that existed when my parents brought us here over 50 years ago.”
Fred knows this is the perspective of just one near-native. But, he says — as health problems limit how far he can go from home — he is glad he can notice and appreciate more than ever what is right around all of us.
This morning, “06880” posted Betsy P. Kahn’s photo of a gorgeous Old Mill sunrise.
This afternoon, Bart Shuldman went for a walk nearby.
Here’s what he saw:
Yeah, it’s nice that people carry plastic bags so they can pick up after their dogs.
But you can’t just leave it there for someone else to dispose of.
That’s just bulls***.
The snowstorm predicted for Thanksgiving fizzled out. The days since Wednesday have been gorgeous.
Betsy P. Kahn captured this morning’s sunrise at Old Mill Beach. What a wonderful way to keep this holiday weekend going so well.
Old Mill’s loss is the Westport Country Playhouse’s gain.
Positano’s — the much-loved-but-too-seldom-visited restaurant kitty-corner from Elvira’s — is closing at its Old Mill Beach location. “06880” broke that news 2 months ago.
But it’s reopening in February, next to the Westport Country Playhouse. That’s the space was occupied for 8 years by The Dressing Room. The Paul Newman-created restaurant closed last January.
Positano’s has been owned and operated by the Scarpati family for more than 15 years. Owner Giuseppe Scarpati was born on the island of Ponza, Italy. He learned to cook from his father, who studied with master chefs in Italy and was one of the island’s leading fisherman. Giuseppe focuses on all-natural cooking.
Under chef Michel Nischan, the Dressing Room was Fairfield County’s 1st farm-to-table restaurant.
So Positano’s stands poised to carry on that natural tradition — right next door to the 83-year-old Playhouse, with its own venerable history.
But the question remains: Will the tradition of an Old Mill Beach restaurant now be history, replaced by a large and imposing private home?
Ever since the Wright Street and Gorham Island buildings were erected in the 1970s — and those were quite some erections — Westport has been consumed by construction.
Even so, 2014 stands out as a landmark year.
Here are some of the developments — as in, real estate developments — that have occurred in the past few months. Or are occurring right now.
- The Y moved into its new home. The Kemper-Gunn House is being moved across Elm Street to the parking lot, and Bedford Square will soon rise downtown.
- The Levitt Pavilion finally completed its renovation. Nearby, plans for Jesup Green — with possibly reconfigured parking, a new Westport Arts Center and a renovated library — are in the works. And, of course, committees and commissions have been talking all year about new ideas for all of downtown.
- Across the river, Save the Children has skedaddled. That fantastic waterfront property will be redeveloped, such as the adjacent Bartaco/National Hall buildings have been reimagined recently.
- Compo Acres Shopping Center is being renovated. The Fresh Market shopping center — and the one across the Post Road, with Dunkin’ Donuts — will get a facelift (and new tenants) soon.
- Applications have been made for housing on the site of the Westport Inn. Across town, there are rumors of new housing on Hiawatha Lane, near I-95 Exit 17.
- Senior housing has been shot down on Baron’s South. But it won’t remain undisturbed forever.
- Phase II of Saugatuck Center has been completed. Phase III — on Railroad Place — is coming down the tracks.
That’s a lot — as in, lots of building lots.
And nearly 2 months still remain in this year.
P.S. Oh, yeah. The beach too.
Alert “06880” readers have noticed earth movers and boulders on Compo Beach.
Don’t worry: Renovations — if they happen — are far in the future.
This is part of a long-planned shore stabilization and dredging project on the south side of the marina.
Note: Vehicle access to the west end of the beach will be restricted soon. Pedestrians can walk along the beach.
While discussion about the Compo Beach renovation plan has died down recently — the calm before another storm, perhaps — a subset of users has been quietly at work, hoping to save their beloved section of sand.
It’s not a group known for their political activism: skateboarders.
But there’s a grassroots effort in town to save the Compo skate park. On Saturday afternoon — the final weekend of the beach’s skateboard season — they sponsored a skating party, with pizza and a DJ. The weather was fantastic, drawing luminaries like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Compo Beach Improvement Committee member George Franciscovich.
The skaters will be out in force this Thursday (October 30, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall) for the next Parks and Rec Commission/Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee meeting. It’s listen-only for the audience, but they want to hear what’s in the works.
Some teenage skaters have formed their own committee. They want to present their side to town groups like Parks & Rec, the Compo Beach committee and the Westport Youth Commission. (The skate park itself was an outgrowth of a Youth Commission objective, back in the day.)
They’re figuring out how Compo’s skate park can be brought up to date to enhance its appeal and safety, and lower maintenance costs.
They’re marshaling plenty of good arguments. They’re learning how to participate in town democracy.
They may wipe out once or twice. That’s part of the process.
If so, they’ll get right back up. They hope to be standing — and skating — at the end.