Category Archives: Environment

Stew’s Lucky Turkey

Alert “06880” photographer Lynn U. Miller was at Stew Leonard’s yesterday morning.

(“Don’t ask why anyone in their right mind would be at Stew’s the morning of Thanksgiving,” she says.)

She spotted this gigantic billboard:

Stew Leonard's 1

The lucky turkey is not — as at least one customer thought — the bird selected for dinner at Stew’s home.

No — the “lucky turkey’ is actually on display in an enclosure at the entrance to the World’s Largest Dairy Store.

(Photos/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photos/Lynn U. Miller)

The lucky turkey — which lives to celebrate another day — is named Madison. Someone at the front desk told Lynn she (the turkey) is named for Stew Jr.’s daughter.

Sure, President Obama can pardon a turkey. Far more impressive for Stew to do so — saving countless kids from asking their parents, “Is that our dinner?”

Turkeys Of The Week

Slowly — v-e-r-y slowly — the Minuteman folks are doing what they promised weeks ago: reclaiming uncollected newspapers from driveways, and dropping uninterested “subscribers” from the rolls.

But they’re not the only profligate plastic-and-paper scourges in town.

Alert “06880” reader Susan Iseman spotted this sight today, near her North Compo Road home:

North Compo inserts

Downtown, she saw they’d been strewn everywhere. Inside were flyers, advertising Turkey Day sales:

North Compo inserts - 2

It’s bad enough that marketing gurus have decided stores should open on Thanksgiving Day.

Now they’re forcing themselves on us the day before, too.


From A Tiny Acorn…

Several interesting sculptures frame the Westport Library’s lower entrance, near the Riverwalk and Taylor parking lot.

But the most eye-catching of all was created by Mother Nature. A massive oak tree sits on Jesup Green.

The other day, Lynn U. Miller captured it in all its autumnal beauty.

Oak tree near library - Lynn U Miller

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Gloria Drifts Away

For years, “Gloria” was a glorious sight.

Alan Sterling built the wooden oyster boat himself. He named it after an old girlfriend, and took it oystering on 150 acres of beds, between Compo Beach and Cockenoe Island. It was a tough job, but Alan — a Staples grad — loved it from the day he began, in 1964.

Alan moored Gloria in Gray’s Creek, between Compo Beach Road and the Longshore exit. Some winters, he lived on the boat. It was cold — but it was home.

On July 4, 2014, Alan died of a massive heart attack.

Since then, Gloria has just kind of drifted. She was Alan’s baby, and now he’s gone.

The other day, “06880” reader Bruce McFadden spotted Gloria abandoned, on the Gray’s Creek shore.

Gloria, on the Gray's Creek shore. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

Gloria, on the Gray’s Creek shore. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

He wonders if anyone has plans for the boat. The Honda outboard has value. Perhaps, he says, funds from its sale could be used to place a plaque or bench at Longshore’s E.R. Strait Marina, honoring one of Westport’s last commercial fishermen.

One Man’s Trash…

Alert “06880” reader Ed Paul had already put 75 bags of leaves on North Avenue. He was worried he’d have to start blocking the sidewalk if the town did not come by soon to pick them up.

As he hauled the next group of 20 bags over the other day, he noticed a pleasant-looking older man, with a very long silver ponytail, placing Ed’s filled bags into his own pickup truck.

Ed asked if he’d been contracted by the town to remove the bags.

No, the guys said. After a pause, he said sheepishly, “You caught me in the act.”

Hauling away some of Ed Paul's leaf bags.

Hauling away some of Ed Paul’s leaf bags.

Turns out, he takes the leaves to bury his fig trees.

Apparently they need to get bent toward the ground, then staked in place. This fellow surrounds them with leaves and compost, keeping them above the frost line in winter.

Ed learned something. And that gave him idea.

If anyone else needs extra leaves to bury their trees, he says, feel free to stop by and help yourself. The bags are on North Avenue, just south of Cross Highway — across from the ABC house.

Take only the leaf bags, though. Nothing else is up for grabs!

Just A Minute, Man!

In September, “06880” passed along a press release from the selectman’s office. Starting immediately, the Minuteman would be delivered directly to the driveways of people who previously requested the newspaper, rather than via US mail.

Happily, the delivery folks would travel the same route 3 days after tossing it, picking up all papers not already “retrieved by subscribers.”

There was even a number to call for removal from the mailing list: 866-361-9064.

Calls (of course!) “may be monitored or recorded, for quality assurance.”

Well, the Minuteman’s quality assurance department should cover a lot more than phone calls.


I got 2 emails on the same day this week, both complaining about continuing Minuteman hassles.

One said:

We always liked getting the Minuteman, but when they switched to driveway delivery we called to get taken off the list. I really don’t like having a “kick me” sign in the driveway.

It came anyway. We called again to get taken off the list, and waited to see if the paper got picked up. By Day 6 it still hadn’t, and today another one was delivered. So we’ve called again.

Is this experience of the Minuteman not following their promise to the town widespread?

The 2nd email echoed a similar complaint: The subscriber had asked to be taken off the delivery list. Nothing happened.

So: Are these 2 just isolated cases? Or is the Minuteman’s customer service a continuing issue, 5 weeks after the original promise? Click “Comments” below.

Or write a letter to the Minuteman editor: 1175 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880.




They’ve Been Working On The Railroad

In mid-September, “06880” reported on the removal of a number of scrub and pine trees, on both sides of the Greens Farms railroad station tracks. They were endangering high voltage lines, and could not be trimmed.

Now there’s more work being done at the station. An alert reader sent this photo:

Greens Farms train station

“This is so close to the water and wetlands,” he says. “A lot of birds migrate through here. And a lot of warblers live in there.”

Rest easy. It’s temporary.

According to Foti Koskinas (the deputy police chief who oversees maintenance and operations of the Greens Farms and Saugatuck train stations on behalf of the town), an approximately 180 square foot area of hillside — bordered by parking spaces, the parking lot driveway, train tracks and New Creek Road — is being worked on.

It had been filled with tree stumps, railroad ties, bolts, debris and garbage.

This weekend, the area will be cleaned up. Plantings are going in. The sidewalk under the tracks is being replaced. Four additional parking spots will be added.

It should all be ready by Tuesday. The birds will return shortly after.

Jeff Simon’s Salt Marshes

Growing up in Westport, it’s hard not to be influenced by the water. Some kids simply enjoy the beach. Others learn to sail, kayak or paddleboard.

Jeff Simon’s love of the Sound went even deeper.

From the age of 2, he was fascinated by tidal pools. Over the years he developed a great appreciation for our marine coastline and wildlife.

He graduated from Staples High School in 1964, then earned a degree in biology from the University of Miami.

That led Jeff to the Everglades, where he spent a year producing, directing and shooting his first film: an ecological study of that rich, diverse ecosystem.

It’s been over half a century, but he has not stopped.

One small example of Jeff Simon's great work.

One small example of Jeff Simon’s great work.

Jeff has photographed sea turtles, manatees, puffins, whales, salmon, the Florida Keys, salt marshes, artificial reefs, the Bay of Fundy and Chesapeake Bay. His work has appeared in Life, the New York Times, National Wildlife, Natural History and  many other magazines and newspapers.

(He also was director of photography on “Ace Ventura,” won an Emmy for the TV pilot of “Miami Vice,” went 18,000 feet below the ocean surface in a Russian submersible, recorded the Doors’ infamous Miami concert, and shot Marilyn Chambers before she became a famous X-rated actress. But those are other stories.)

Jeff Simon, in front of the Russian Mir 2 submersible.

Jeff Simon, in front of the Russian Mir 2 submersible.

Jeff is back in Westport. He videotaped Tracy Sugarman‘s riveting Memorial Day speech in high def, and donated it to the library. He’s also filmed the Concours d’Elegance car event, and made another on Connecticut wineries. Some of  his best work has come using large-format cameras.

But he’s never strayed far from Long Island Sound. Jeff’s latest project includes a new version of his original salt marsh film.

His goal is to spotlight the value of salt marshes, especially as nursery grounds for valuable seafood, migrating and residential birds, as well as barriers against storm damage.

The film is aimed at science centers, museums, and city and state governments, so they can make better decisions about the fate of salt marshes.

They’ve changed a lot since Jeff first became interested in them, back as a Westport kid in the 1950s.

He’s doing his part to make sure they don’t change any more.

Baron’s South: A New View

Many Westporters enjoyed yesterday’s spectacular weather the usual autumn way: Apple-picking. Leaf-peeping. Your kid’s sports-game-watching.

A few folks spent the day working. A small work crew assembled at Baron’s South, for a 3rd clean-up of that town-owned, heavily forested downtown property.

Organized by Wendy Crowther and Morley Boyd, they made a big dent removing invasive trees, overgrown underbrush and climbing vines. They also cleared a main pathway that descends from Golden Shadows — “the baron’s” old house — into the deeper woods.

Slowly, they opened up the viewsheds from the mansion. There’s much more to do, but already it’s become easier to imagine how magnificent the hills and dales of the wooded landscape once were.

Crowther says the clean-up work reveals a view of Golden Shadows not seen since the town purchased the property in 1999.

Golden Shadows - Wendy Crowther

The ultimate fate of Golden Shadows — and what to do with the entire 22-acre property — has not yet been decided.

But whatever happens, a small group of Friends is ensuring the place looks great.


Hillspoint Hassles

In recent weeks, “06880” has highlighted the sorry conditions of our bike lanes, and the railroad station parking lot.

Today, sidewalks get their turn.

Alert reader Kaye Leong walks frequently along Hillspoint Road, to Old Mill. She sees “overgrown shrubs, uneven and cracked roads, and speeding cars despite speed limit of 25.”

She asks: “Can’t the town do something? Is there an ordinance for overgrown shrubs that prevent use of the sidewalk?”

Hillspoint Road - Kay Leong

(Photo/Kaye Leong)