Category Archives: Library

Sam Vail, Fukushima, And Why Westporters Should Be Very, Very Worried

For better or worse, Westporters are experts at the NIMBY game. Cell towers, group homes, a new synagogue — there are tons of good reasons those things should go in your back yard, not mine.

In 1967, we thought we took care of the NIMBY nuclear power issue for good. A utility company’s plan to build a nuclear power plant on Cockenoe Island — a mile from Compo Beach — was defeated (despite many Westport proponents). We now own the rocky isle.

So — as tragic as the 2011 failures at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were — they generated little concern here. After all, Westport is 6,578 miles — one vast ocean, one large continent — away.

Of course, as “60 Minutes” made clear last Sunday, the disaster is far from over. The crippled plant still releases high levels of radiation daily. It seeps into ground soil, evaporates into the air, and leaks into the Pacific.

Children are particularly vulnerable to radiation. And — because wind and ocean currents know no borders — even affluent, suburban Americans may be at risk.

Sam Vail knows the dangers well. A native Westporter, his career took him to the very same Fukushima plant that continues to spew poisons today.

He is very, very worried.

After graduating from Staples in 1982, Sam learned commercial diving at the Florida Institute of Technology. He joined an Essex, Connecticut company that cut and welded dams and other underwater structures — including power plants.

In 1989 he became certified to work on nuclear reactors. Soon, he was sent to Fukushima. He returned a couple more times. It was lucrative work — but the more Sam saw, the more worried he became about the safety of nuclear power.

Watching news coverage of the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent power plant disaster was “mind-blowing,” Sam said last week. He was about to leave for Costa Rica — he’s now a solar power consultant — but he wanted to talked about what he’s seen.

The start of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

The start of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

“The first reactor that blew up was the first one I’d worked on over there,” Sam noted. “I knew how bad things would be.”

The more he’s learned over the past 3 years, the more worried he’s grown.

“This is the worst man-made industrial accident in the history of the planet — hands down,” Sam said. “I’m not a physicist. I just helped fix the reactors. But I don’t think they can entomb this. It’s an incredibly serious situation.”

Sam is surprised that — notwithstanding the “60 Minutes” report (which focused on the life of one displaced farmer) — scant media attention has been paid to the ongoing Fukushima crisis.

On Tuesday, April 29 (6:15 p.m., Westport Library), he’ll do his part to raise local awareness. The World Network for Saving Children from Radiation is showing “A2-B-C,” a documentary about the aftermath of radiation exposures.

Cockenoe Island, off Compo Beach. In 1967, it almost became the site of a nuclear power plant.

Cockenoe Island, off Compo Beach. In 1967, it almost became the site of a nuclear power plant.

Immediately after the film, Sam will join a Q-and-A session. Other panelists include Mariko Bender (a Fukushima native now living in Connecticut), and Dr. David Brown, a Westporter and Fairfield University professor who is an expert in environmental ethics and toxicology.

“This isn’t about politics,” Sam said. “It’s about the health of our planet. The particulates are already here.

“Five years after Chernobyl, there was a spike in thyroid cancer and other thyroid abnormalities.

“Well, Fukushima will make Chernobyl look like a tea party.”

Sam applauds environmental organizations that are trying to educate people about nuclear power (including the dangers of not-very-far-away Indian Point).

His library appearance is another way to do that. Sam Vail will be in his home town, half a world away from the Fukushima nuclear reactors he worked on.

But in many ways, Fukushima is also in our back yard.

 

 

 

Wise Words, From Bob And Judy Rosenkranz

Just over 3 years ago, Bob Rosenkranz retired after a long career as an endodontist on Boston’s North Shore. Married half a century, he and his wife Judy — a former phys ed. teacher — had to decide, “What do we do after we grow up?”

They figured they’d split time between their 2nd house in Vermont, and a gated community in Florida.

Their daughter Robin, son-in-law Matt Leon and 3 grandchildren — Jake, Josh and Jessica — had lived in Westport for nearly a decade. Whenever Bob and Judy visited, they stayed in Norwalk hotels. They’d take the grandkids to the usual dining spots — McDonald’s, Swanky Frank’s — and the tried-and-true recreational areas, like the beach.

Bob and Judy didn’t know much about Westport. But one day, they had dinner — by themselves — at Positano’s. They saw a Richard Dreyfuss performance at the Westport Country Playhouse. The next day, they took the train to New York, and stayed overnight. Both had grown up in Brooklyn. They remembered the city from the 1960s. It had changed dramatically, for the better.

Not the "wise men" Judy and Bob met. These guys don't play tennis.

Not the “wise men” Judy and Bob met. These guys don’t play tennis.

Judy — who played tennis with women 20 years younger at home — and Bob visited the Westport Tennis Club. They saw a bunch of older guys playing — quite well — and heard talk about the “Wise Men.” A man named Otis spent an hour chatting with them. “In Massachusetts, no men play tennis in the morning,” Bob says.

Judy broached the subject with Robin and Matt: How would they feel if she and Bob moved to Westport? The “kids” were all for it.

Judy and Bob talked to a realtor, but weren’t sure what they wanted. A rental? Condo? Nothing felt right.

Through a series of coincidences — including friend-of-a-friend stories — they bought the perfect house, off Partrick Road.

Then things really started to happen.

Bob and Judy found great new friends with older couples. They joined 2 film groups. The Fairfield University extended education program. A book club. A bridge group.

Bob joined the Y’s Men (he now knew how it was spelled). He joined 2 regular tennis games, plus 1 of platform tennis. He plays bocce. He hikes.

These are the "Y's Men." They are a very active group. The only thing they don't do is ride camels.

These are the real “Y’s Men.” They are a very active group. The only thing they don’t do is ride camels.

“I don’t know if these guys are former Fortune 500 CEOs or cobblers,” he says. “It doesn’t matter. They’re great!”

He is inspired by Y’s Men like Kurt Rosenfeld and Gun Moen, who is 87 and still skis, plays bridge and poker, and hits the speed bag.

Judy hooked up with a Manhattan art tour group, led by Westporter Joyce Zimmerman. She got involved with the Y’s Women.

She too plays platform tennis — outdoors, in January. She’s also in 4 other tennis games.

Bob and Judy Rosenkranz, in a rare quiet moment at home.

Bob and Judy Rosenkranz, in a rare quiet moment at home.

The couple dines out often. They love Westport’s restaurants, including Jewish-style delis Gold’s and Oscar’s. (In their previous life, the nearest deli was 35 miles away, in Newton.) They call the choices in supermarkets “phenomenal.”

As for shopping, it’s “fantastic — accessible and easy.”

They show off the library, beach — and many other parts of Westport — to out-of-town friends. They are awed by Staples Players performances, and love the Playhouse (especially the recent Harlem Dancers show).

I should note here that Judy and Bob are 2 of the warmest, most outgoing and funniest people that I have ever met. They also seem to have found a fantastic balance between doing things as a couple, and on their own. Still, their excitement about their new home town is astonishing.

“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Judy says.

“I don’t have enough hours in the day,” Bob adds. And then he starts describing all the great hiking spots he’s found, like Sherwood Island in the off-season.

Many longtime Westporters have never been to Sherwood Island State Park. The Rosenkranzes love it.

Many longtime Westporters have never been to Sherwood Island State Park. The Rosenkranzes love it.

What’s nice to hear — beyond so many great words about Westport – is that, as Judy says, “people who have been here 30 or 40 years are opening up their lives to new people like us.”

But don’t think the Rosenkranzes spend all their time playing tennis, dining out and going to shows. They’ve cooked dinners for the Gillespie Center, done other volunteer work, and are always on the lookout for ways to give back.

Plus, of course, there are the grandkids. Judy and Bob were “mesmerized” by a recent Long Lots music concert (“there was no dissonance at all — and they had a whole ensemble with steel drums!”), and they are faithful attendees at endless soccer, baseball and lacrosse games.

Nor do they just travel between Westport and New York. They recently returned from a trip to Patagonia. (The region, not the store.)

But Bob and Judy always come back — physically, and during our conversation — to the wonders of their new home town.

“We love it here,” they keep saying.

Almost as much as we love having them here.

 

Westport And Diversity: Staples Students Have The “Write” Stuff

Today’s “06880″ theme is diversity. There’s more of it in Westport than you think. Stories posted in the past few hours include Khaliq Sanda’s stirring speech reflecting on 4 years here as an A Better Chance scholar, and Clay Garner’s career as a Westport teenager-turned-Chinese-musician-star.

Of course, another story noted that Westport’s wealthiest neighborhood — Coleytown — is 91.7% white, 3.1% Asian, 2.7% Latino and 0.9% black.

TEAM-Westport-logo2Recently, TEAM Westport — the town’s multiculturalism committee — joined with the Westport Library to sponsor an essay contest. High school students were invited to reflect on the fact that 30 years from now, racial and ethnic groups currently in the US minority will collectively outnumber whites. Students were asked to describe the benefits and challenges of this change for Westport as a whole, and themselves personally.

25 students responded. Tonight the winners — as judged by Westport educator Dr. Judith Hamer; Yale University’s Patricia Wei and teen services librarian Jaina Lewis — were announced. And celebrated.

The young writers addressed a host of challenges. Many were optimistic, even inspired.

Top prize — and $1,000 — went to Staples junior Megan Root. Her tremendously insightful essay — titled “Diversity: The Maestro of Innovation” — explored what she misses by living in a community that is 93% white. She knows that while her teachers pose many important questions, she does not hear answers from a variety of perspectives.

First prize winner Megan Root is congratulated by (left) TEAM Westport chairman Harold Bailey, and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

First prize winner Megan Root is congratulated by (left) TEAM Westport chairman Harold Bailey, and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

Megan described the value of “a symphony of ideas.”

It’s a little like being able to hit new keys on a piano, shifting your hands and stretching your fingers so you can play different octaves. Every starts in the middle C position. It’s easy and comfortable and you learn the basic skills.

But all the interesting music, the songs with real power, make you strain for the high G and reach for that low F. Entering a majority-minority world is like starting to reach for those far-off notes.

It will be a challenge, unfamiliar and uncomfortable, but ultimately it will open up a whole new book of music. No one wants to be stuck playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Taught by the maestro of diversity, I hope to learn Mozart and Vivaldi.

Megan looks forward to being exposed to more diversity, as the population changes. “I don’t think I can really complete an education in life until I join bigger, more varied conversations,” Megan wrote. “America’s diversity means access to culture and traditions and ideas from every corner of the globe.”

Eliza Llewellyn reads her award-winning essay.

Eliza Llewellyn reads her award-winning essay.

Eliza Llewellyn — Staples senior, and class valedictorian — won 2nd prize, and $750, for “No Longer 91 Percent.” She’s grown up in a multicultural family — part Welsh, part Chinese — and has hope for America’s future.

“Beyond economic strength, a mix of ethnicities will make us more tolerant and empathetic toward others,” Eliza said. “Rather than recoiling from a gay couple or crossing to the other side of a street from a black man in a hoodie, we can learn to see these individuals as people rather than a blanketed ‘other.’”

She concluded, “I am more than a Westporter, or even a Chinese-European. I am a citizen of the world.”

Third prize winner ($500) Kyle Baer was less optimistic. In “Westport: A Bubble Refuses to Pop,” the Staples junior wrote that Westport’s near-total whiteness “sets Westport back from the rest of the nation in terms of its cultural richness.

“To be stuck in an upper-class, all-white town in the coming years will be a significant disadvantage to students. We have little choice but to evolve, or risk losing our appeal as a family-friendly town. Yet the path on which Westport is headed shows, as of yet, no signs of diverging.”

Kyle is right: Westport is homogeneous. But — as the very fact that he won a prize by writing about diversity, in a contest sponsored by his town’s multicultural committee — shows, at least we’re looking at that path he says we’re on.

Kyle Baer with his proud grandparents, Ed and Pearl Baer.

Kyle Baer with his proud grandparents, Ed and Pearl Baer.

(Click here for Megan Root’s essay; here for Eliza Llewellyn’s, and here for Kyle Baer’s.)

Robert Lambdin’s Old Mural Gains New Life

Westport has a poor batting average for saving old homes.

But when it comes to preserving murals, it’s all grand slams.

Restored murals by John Steuart Curry and other noted artists hang in our public schools, fire station and Town Hall.

The Westport Art Rescue Committee — led by the late Mollie Donovan, her sister Eve Potts, Judy Gault Sterling and Ann Sheffer, among others — saved Robert Lambdin’s WPA-era “Pageant of Juvenile Literature” when Saugatuck Elementary School was converted to senior housing. It’s now on display at the Westport Library, admired by hundreds of people every day.

Lambdin also painted the grand “Saugatuck in the 19th Century” — actually 3 works. Two — dating to 1964-65 — were installed in the handsome main lobby of Westport Bank & Trust Company, which commissioned the work.

They remained there as the local bank was swallowed up in a series of takeovers by now-forgotten, bigger ones. The building — in the heart of downtown — is now Patagonia. The cool, functional clothing store has lovingly preserved Lambdin’s murals.

Robert Lambdin's old-time murals lend a touch of Westport history to modern-day Patagonia.

Robert Lambdin’s old-time murals lend a touch of Westport history to modern-day Patagonia.

The other “Saugatuck in the 19th Century” painting was hung at Westport Bank & Trust’s Charles Street branch — in the heart of Saugatuck. It was painted around 1969, when the branch opened.

That large mural depicts a lively Saugatuck. It shows agriculture, stables, the railroad and river trade; businesses like Elonzo Wheeler’s button factory; the Bridge Street bridge, and the Saugatuck Bank (Westport Bank & Trust’s forerunner), whose founding partners included Horace Staples.

Though the view was composed with artistic license, Lambdin conducted painstaking research. Town residents modeled for him, including (at the center) Captain Serano Allen.

Robert Lambdin's Saugatuck mural.

Robert Lambdin’s Saugatuck mural. Hover over or click to enlarge.

The Saugatuck mural was a point of pride in the neighborhood, even as the branch lost its local roots. Eventually it became a TD Bank.

When TD (whatever those initials stand for) closed the branch last November, the mural’s future was unknown.

The building is being sold. The mural is headed for storage.

But — thanks to town art curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz, and the Westport Arts Advisory Committee — “Saugatuck in the 19th Century” has a new life.

After touch-up work, it will hang in Town Hall. An exhibit is planned too.

The gift from TD Bank is valued at $25,000.

But you can’t put a price on preserving history.

Last Thursday, the mural was removed from the old bank building.

Last Thursday, the large mural was removed from the old bank building.

TEAM Westport: Celebrating 10 Years of Diverse Progress

Growing up in Tennessee, Harold Bailey attended segregated schools.

The Supreme Court decided Brown vs. Board of Education when he was 6, but Bailey’s city integrated its schools s-l-o-w-l-y: one grade at a time. Not until 10th grade did he and his black classmates have the chance to attend school with whites — and even then, it was by choosing vocational offerings.

He and some friends wanted to be engineers. So they took drafting classes, adding as many academic subjects as they could. “That’s how we ‘integrated’ the high school,” Bailey — now a longtime Westporter, a business executive with IBM and other companies, and a former Brown University trustee — says.

Harold Bailey, today.

Harold Bailey, today.

White parents yelled; white students pushed the few black students into lockers. In late November, 1963 things came to a head. Everyone expected a big fight — but the next day, President Kennedy was assassinated. Bailey and his other friends talked to administrators when school resumed; things settled down.

Half a century later, Bailey recalls that “profound experience. It had a seminal effect on me.”

Realizing that racial prejudice has negative effects on members of the majority as well as minorities, he’s worked all his adult life to bring people together.

In the early 2000s, Bailey’s wife Bernicestine McLeod Bailey — owner of an IT consulting firm, and a Brown trustee emerita — talked with then-first selectwoman Diane Farrell about the need to address diversity in Westport. Local realtor Cheryl Scott-Daniels had the same idea, at the same time.

The "Jolly Nigger Bank," as described in the Westport Library exhibit.

The “Jolly Nigger” bank, as described in the Westport Library exhibit.

In February 2003, the Westport Library recognized Black History Month with a display of “black memorabilia.” Unfortunately, Bailey says, it was filled with “kitschy, offensive” items like a “Jolly Nigger” bank.

“There was no context,” he recalls. “Nothing showed how far we’d come.” Library director Maxine Bleiweis was away. When she returned, she immediately closed the exhibit. But damage had been done.

Bailey and other African American leaders in town met with library officials. (Bernicestine had just been named the first black library board member.) Soon, Farrell appointed a “Multicultural Steering Committee.”

The 16 original members — including Bailey and his wife — worked hard. Fairfield University professors led intense discussions on the history of race in the US. “We read 100 pages a week,” Bailey says. “We talked about the experiences of Chinese Americans, Hispanics and American Indians, and why Middle Easterners are considered ‘white’ here. It was intense.”

The group  evolved into TEAM Westport. (Member Ivan Fong came up with the acronym: Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism. Miggs Burroughs contributed the logo.) Farrell named it an official town commission. I was the 1st white male to join (representing the LGBT community). Al Puchala  and Nick Rudd followed.

TEAM-Westport-logo2“We never wanted to preach,” Bailey — the 1st, and so far only, chair — says, as TEAM Westport celebrates its 10th anniversary.

“Our aim is to work with different organizations, in a way that’s natural for Westport. And to have fun.”

Over the past decade, TEAM Westport has hosted an event on the former slave ship Amistad, and sponsored discussions at churches and synagogues.

They organized speakers for Staples High School US History classes: men and women who lived through segregation, were interned as Japanese-Americans in US camps during World War II, and suffered discrimination as Hispanics.  One year, all sophomores saw the Westport Country Playhouse production of “Thurgood,” starring James Earl Jones.

TEAM Westport brought a jazz master to work with the Staples band, as well as a black chef, authors and playwrights. The group also worked on issues of integrity and race relations with principal John Dodig. Each year, TEAM Westport presents 1 or 2 graduating seniors with scholarships, in recognition of their work around diversity issues.

2013 TEAM Westport scholarship winners Rusty Schindler and August Laska pose with Harold Bailey and then-1st selectman Gordon Joseloff.

2013 TEAM Westport scholarship winners Rusty Schindler and August Laska pose with Harold Bailey and then-1st selectman Gordon Joseloff.

The group also partnered with the Playhouse during “Raisin in the Sun,” sponsoring 24 lectures and discussions on topics like race and housing, and talkbacks following other productions. This fall they’ll offer programming around “Intimate Apparel,” the capstone of the 2014 Playhouse schedule.

TEAM Westport has awarded “Trailblazer” honors to people like Andy Boas, who works with Bridgeport schools; former superintendent of schools Claire Gold, and longtime pediatrician Dr. Al Beasley.

TEAM Westport Trailblazers (from left) Andy Boas, Claire Gold, Dr. Al Beasley.

TEAM Westport Trailblazers (from left) Andy Boas, Claire Gold, Dr. Al Beasley.

Earlier this year, TEAM Westport organized 7 weeks of panels around the famed “Eyes on the Prize” series. The group is also sponsoring an essay contest for high school students, on the theme of America as an increasingly pluralistic country.

Some of TEAM Westport’s most crucial work is done out of the limelight. “If someone is treated the wrong way by a merchant in town, or there is some sort of incident in one of the schools, we can talk about it,” Bailey says. “Maybe we can help get a resolution. That’s so rewarding — especially as we see children grow.”

Looking back on 10 years as Westport’s low-key, but very important, official multicultural organization, Bailey says, “So many people have told us, after a discussion or event, how touched they were. They say, in various ways, that what we do has enabled them to connect the dots of their lives — and talk about it all. That’s when we realize we really are making progress, and moving in the right direction.”

Some TEAM Westport members in 2010, at the home of longtime supporter Ann Sheffer. Front row (from left): Dolores Paoli, Patricia Wei, Stephanie Kirven, Susan Killian, Amy Lin-Myerson, Catherine Onyemelukwe. Rear: Barbara Butler, Glenn Lau-Kee, Nick Rudd, Harold Bailey, Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, Stu Losen.

Some TEAM Westport members in 2010, at the home of longtime supporter Ann Sheffer. From left: Dolores Paoli, Barbara  Butler, Patricia Wei, Glenn Lau-Kee, Stephanie Kirven, Nick Rudd, Susan Killian, Harold Bailey, Amy Lin-Myerson, Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, Stu Losen and Catherine Onyemelukwe.

Dewey Does Downtown

Bedford Square. The library. Westport Arts Center. The Levitt. The new movie theater. National Hall. Save the Children.

Those projects — costing $200 million or so — are all in the pipeline. Some are more advanced than others. But even if just some come to fruition, the look and feel of downtown is about to change dramatically.

Hard to believe that Westport has never accepted a detailed, operational plan for downtown development.

Or even commissioned its own traffic study.

After being sworn in as 1st selectman in November, Jim Marpe formed a Downtown Steering Committee. Adding members from various sectors — architects, elected officials, members of the Planning and Zoning Department, the Public Works director, representatives of the Historic District Commission and Downtown Merchants Association, plus a downtown resident — he gave them the charge: Pick up where the Downtown 2020 group ended.

Downtown Westport comprises a very small section of town. But its impact -- economic, aesthetic and psychic -- is huge.

Downtown Westport comprises a very small section of town. But its impact — economic, aesthetic and psychic — is huge.

“We have diverse views and opinions,” says the committee’s new chairman, Dewey Loselle. “We’re not stacked in any one particular way. I think that gives us legitimacy in everyone’s eyes, and a means to move ahead.”

The committee has already contracted with the RBA consulting group. As they analyze their traffic and parking study — all previous ones have been conducted by developers — they’ll examine all sides of the issue. Does downtown Westport have enough parking? Too much? Is it in the right places? Should we charge for spots?

That analysis will lead to design questions. If we move parking away from the river, for example — opening up green space — does that mean we should deck the Baldwin lot?

The committee will then look at how downtown can become “more vital,  functional, aesthetically pleasing and pedestrian-friendly,” Loselle says.

They’ll also study streetscape issues: sidewalks, lights, public spaces. And, of course, traffic patterns and flooding.

Mitigating frequent flooding is an important concern for the Downtown Steering Committee.

Mitigating frequent flooding is an important concern for the Downtown Steering Committee.

The goal is to have a draft plan ready in 6 to 8 months. Then comes the real debate: how to get everything done. What are the priorities? Who will take charge? Where will the funds come from?

All meetings will be open to the public. Important design workshops are also planned, where Westporters can look at different lighting fixtures, facades and sidewalk motifs, and provide input.

And there will be charrettes — open sessions where participants brainstorm collaboratively in small groups. (Parks & Rec sponsored a very successful charrette in November, as part of its Compo Beach study.)

Dewey Loselle

Dewey Loselle

“We want everyone to participate — not just the same people you see all the time,” Loselle says.

“They’re great citizens and volunteers. But we’re interested in people who are not always engaged in the town, because they have young kids or are very busy. They’re the ones who will be here for many more years. They’ll really be impacted by this. We need to hear their voices too.”

With “high citizen participation and acceptance,” Loselle says — including collaboration with 2 other entities, the Downtown Planning Subcommittee of the P&Z, and the Historic District Commission’s Village District Steering Committee — “I’m very excited that we can make this succeed.”

In fact, this may be downtown Westport’s last chance at success.

“We have a real opportunity here,” the chairman notes. “If we can’t get a master plan done now, we probably won’t for a long time to come.”

He pauses.

“We can guide what’s going on. Or we can let it happen to us.”

The iconic view of downtown Westport. All Westporters are invited to enhance the area, for years to come.

The iconic view of downtown Westport. All Westporters are invited to enhance the area, for years to come.

New Party Time In Westport

Though Election Day is far away — right now, it’s far more important to make it to spring — politics is always in season.

In Westport, the news is a new political party. The Coalition for Westport just became our town’s 4th official party, joining Democrats, Republicans and Save Westport Now.

Coalition for WestportThe party focuses on “activities that impact on downtown improvements,” Baron’s South, the Compo Beach Site Improvement committee, the proposed library and Westport Arts Center projects, and beautification efforts throughout the community, plus transportation issues that relate to each of those.

Chairman Mike Nayor and CFW member Denise Torve attended the 1st Downtown Steering Committee meeting as observers, and spoke. They’ll also attend Planning and Zoning Commission meetings, and report back to the CFW.

The party was formed when “it became apparent that dissatisfaction existed with the level of progress being undertaken in town,” Torve says. “Projects were discussed for years, and nothing happened.” She was a member of the Downtown Merchants Association from 2001-04, and says many of the ideas talked about then are still debated.

Downtown Westport is one focus of the new political party.

Downtown Westport is one focus of the new political party.

“There was also a concern that  Westport would go the way of over-development, and the path chosen seemed to be that of least resistance: do nothing,” Torve adds.

“No one in the Coalition favors large-scale development. We advocate for growth that respects the past and embraces the future.

“We plan to voice support or opposition when appropriate. In the long term, we would like to see a P&Z that plans as much as it zones. We support a P&Z that provides a framework for planned and controlled growth, one that can guide developers and residents. We have a role to play with respect to the continued evolution of our town, and we plan to do so.”

No, Not A New Sculpture…

…just a clever solution, by a resourceful Westport Library patron.

Library bike

Remembering Roy Dickinson

Longtime Westporter — and always-ready-to-work civic volunteer — Roy Dickinson died yesterday, from a heart condition.

Roy served as a Parks & Recreation commissioner, president of both the Westport Historical Society and the Y’s Men, and deputy moderator of the RTM.

Roy Dickinson

Roy Dickinson

He was also a director of the Aspetuck Land Trust, a member of the Republican Town Committee, and an active member of the Green’s Farms Congregational Church. He was deeply involved with the Westport Library too.

As Historical Society president, Roy was instrumental in developing Woody Klein’s book on the history of Westport. At the WHS, he was a major force behind the completion of the Octagonal Barn.

Roy had a long career with Pfizer. As an executive in their water purification area, he brought water to areas of the world with limited access to it.

A memorial service will be held at Green’s Farms Congregational Church, at a date to be announced.

(Thanks to Pete Wolgast for this background information. Roy Dickinson co-chaired Pete’s campaign for 1st selectman in 1993.)

It’s Heeere! Obamacare Takes Over Westport!

This is not a story about Obamacare. I am resisting the impulse to make jokes like: The Republicans hate it so much, they’re furious the website doesn’t work well enough for people to sign up for it.

No. This is a simple public service message.

This Tuesday (January 28, 5 to 9 p.m., Westport Library McManus Room), personal help is available for enrolling with Access Health CT, Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace.

Individuals, families and small businesses can ask questions about coverage they need, or want. There’s no obligation — just help navigating a complex subject in our own back yard.

The assistance is one-on-one. And it’s free.

They don’t call it the Affordable Care Act for nothing.

Sorry. I said I wasn’t going to go there…

(For more information on Tuesday’s event, click here.)

Obamacare