Category Archives: People

Billy Shot Me — And Your Business?

There it is. After googling a business, you find — along with links and directions — a tab inviting you to “See Inside.” One click brings up handsome, wide-angle exterior and interior views of the store or office that you can pan, rotate and zoom in on — just like Google Earth.

You might think — if you think about it at all — that the owner did a nice job hiring a good photographer who can stitch photos into 360-degree views, then had his webmaster post them nicely.

You’d be wrong. As with all things Google, a very regimented, standardized tool runs the program they very boringly call “Google Business Photos.”

A screenshot of part of The Spotted Horse's virtual tour. Clicking on one of the circular arrows on the bottom images brings up the panoramic view.

A screenshot of part of The Spotted Horse’s virtual tour. Clicking a circular arrow on the bottom images brings up the panoramic view. (Click or hover over to enlarge.)

To get those images posted with a “See Inside” link — available through generic search, Business Pages and clicking on a Google Maps icon — a business owner must use a Google photographer.

The photographer’s training process takes 6 months. The certification process is very rigorous. Mistakes made at the pixel level must be fixed.

Just half a dozen Connecticut photographers have gone through the long process. Westport’s Billy Scalzi is one of them.

A 40-year area resident, he was an institutional bond broker who owned 2 companies. He left Wall Street in 1996, to become a real estate speculator. Photography is Scalzi’s 3rd career.

Billy Shot MeHis company is called Billy Shot Me. Using a DSLR camera — and the same technology as Google Street View — he takes Google Business Photos all over the state. Locally, he’s shot The Spotted Horse, Mumbai Times, Picture This and Volvo of Westport. (He’s also done all the rest stops on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway. The owner is very proud that they’ve all been renovated.)

Outside of Westport, Scalzi has shot doctors’ and dentists’ offices — even a psychiatrist’s. (“He wanted that little balloon man in Google Maps,” Scalzi says.)

Scalzi’s fee begins at $350. But that’s the only charge. Google offers its service for free. And because business owners can embed the photos on their own website and in social media, they’re available to users who find them even through search engines like Bing or Yahoo.

On his own — and gratis — Scalzi is shooting and creating virtual tours of Compo Beach, Longshore and Grace Salmon Park. He wants those to be available to anyone who clicks their links on Google Maps.

Taking a virtual tour before you go — to a restaurant, car dealer or psychiatrist’s office — appeals to some people.

To some business owners too — though not all. “It’s simple marketing,” Scalzi says. “I’m amazed that half of all businesses in the U.S. don’t even have websites.”

Billy Scalzi's 360-degree view of Picture This gives potential customers a great idea of what they'll find.

Billy Scalzi’s 360-degree view of Picture This gives potential customers a great idea of what they’ll find.

 

Cockenoe Kodachrome

It’s been decades since Bill Whitbeck lived in Westport. (Westport, Connecticut, that is. He’s now in the beautiful seaside town of Westport, Washington.)

But he remembers fondly his days on Cockenoe. That’s the island a mile off Compo. (Which Westport now owns, having bought it in 1968 to save it — and us — from a proposal to build a nuclear power plant there. Click here for that unbelievable story.)

Still, he did not realize how many times his family visited Cockenoe until his father died, and the Whitbecks examined thousands of old 35mm slides.

It seemed like every other roll of film taken during the summers showed camping on the island.

The other day, Bill sent some of the images, from 1958 to ’60.

Bill Whitbeck's sister Joanne, neighbor Bobby Bittner, Bill (waving) and his mom, at the highest area of the sandbar. 1958.

Bill Whitbeck’s sister Joanne, neighbor Bobby Bittner, Bill (waving) and his mom, at the highest area of the sandbar in 1958.

“We brought tents, camping gear and food for the weekend,” Bill recalls. “We’d camp on the western side’s long sandbar. From current photos I’ve seen, it’s almost gone from erosion.”

Other prime campsites were nestled in the trees on the southern side of the island, on higher ground with little trails leading to them. Those sites were usually snatched up first. But if Bill’s family got there early enough on Friday afternoon, they snagged a site for the weekend.

Bill Whitbeck (with pail), his mother, sister and a neighbor digging clams on Cockenoe’s sandbar, now almost totally gone.  This stretch between the sandbar and the higher part of the island in the distance was covered at high tide, though it was shallow enough to walk between the two in 1958.

Bill Whitbeck (with pail), his mother, sister and a neighbor digging clams on Cockenoe’s sandbar, now almost totally gone. This stretch between the sandbar and the higher part of the island in the distance was covered at high tide, though it was shallow enough to walk between the two in 1958.

I was struck by the quality of the colors, and composition of the photos. I told Bill that they seemed like a Life magazine spread on the Kennedys at Cape Cod.

“The colors haven’t faded after almost 60 years,” he agrees.

“Kodachrome film used layers of dyes, as opposed to silver halide crystals found in other transparency films, like Ektachrome of Fujichrome. The silver crystals give most film their ‘grain’.”

Bill Whitbeck, his sister’s fiance, and 2 sisters on the 16-foot outboard his father built. This was its maiden voyage. It was so new, he had not yet installed the windshield. The photo was taken inside Cockenoe’s bay, a perfect anchorage, surrounded by the island’s horseshoe shape. Check out the wooden boats -- there was no fiberglass in 1959.

Bill Whitbeck, his sister’s fiance, and 2 sisters on the maiden voyage of a 16-foot outboard his father built. It was so new, he had not yet installed a windshield. The photo was taken in Cockenoe’s bay, a perfect anchorage, surrounded by the island’s horseshoe shape. Check out the wooden boats — there was no fiberglass in 1959.

In 1994, Bill took his dad for one more walk around the island. He died a few years later.

Breakfast on the south side of Cockenoe, in 1959. The bay is behind young Bill Whitbeck. In the distance to the left is Sprite Island; Saugatuck Shores (still undeveloped) is to the right.

Breakfast on the south side of Cockenoe, in 1959. The bay is behind young Bill Whitbeck. In the distance to the left is Sprite Island; Saugatuck Shores (still undeveloped) is to the right.

Looking east from the camp site in 1959. Some large Army-style tents are on the beach. Families would set them up, then stay on the island for weeks at a time. They made runs back to town once or twice a week for supplies. Whitbeck remembers during a few summers, enterprising young boys would go to Cockenoe on Sunday mornings with blocks of ice, and copies of the Sunday New York Times, Herald Tribune and Daily News, to sell to boaters and campers on the island!

Looking east from the camp site in 1959. Some large Army-style tents are on the beach. Families would set them up, then stay on the island for weeks at a time. They made runs back to town once or twice a week for supplies. Whitbeck remembers during a few summers, enterprising young boys would go to Cockenoe on Sunday mornings with blocks of ice, and copies of the Sunday New York Times, Herald Tribune and Daily News, to sell to boaters and campers on the island.

 

 

Plastic Bag Ban Sponsors Respond

In 2008, RTM members Jonathan Cunitz, Liz Milwe, Gene Seidman and Jeff Weiser sponsored the “retail bag ordinance” banning plastic bags in Westport. In response to today’s post about the new CVS bags, they sent this message to “06880”:

RTMWe remain proud of the enlightened action that the Westport RTM took 7 years ago to act responsibly with regard to plastic bags. Ever since Mel Sorcher and Don Wergeles first brought their concerns to our attention, and after nearly a year of organizing, engaging the community, and legislating, the RTM overwhelmingly passed the Plastic Bag Ordinance by a vote of 26-5 on September 2, 2008.

We have been gratified by the strong support that our Plastic Bag Ordinance has gained in the town. It also is gratifying to note that while the ordinance was inspired by a similar, earlier ordinance in San Francisco, ours has been a guide for a number of other towns that have adopted ordinances since 2009.

We conservatively estimate that the town of Westport has eliminated 15 million plastic bags from circulating in our environment, creating a problem in our rivers, Long Island Sound, the Atlantic and beyond. Many Westporters say they are very proud that our town has the distinction of being a leader in the environmental movement, by being the first town east of the Mississippi to ban plastic bags at retail.

CVS bag 1

The CVS bag shown and mentioned in your article this morning directly and intentionally circumvents the spirit of the Plastic Bag Ordinance. While the CVS bag may be technically “legal,” it is certainly contrary to the intention of the law. It’s a way for the plastics industry to stay in the business of providing unnecessary bags.

It is worth noting that the only way plastic shopping bags can be recycled is if the consumer returns them to a grocery store. The recycling rates at grocery stores are well below 10%. The CVS bags will jam Westport’s single-stream recycling machines and continue to be a nuisance, stymying Westport’s recycling efforts.

Westporters have gotten used to bringing reusable bags to the grocery store — and they’ll get used to bringing reusable bags to CVS and Walgreens, all the while being responsible and proud citizens of the environment.

We know that even little efforts make great impact, and show our children that we care about the environment. The plastic bag ban has proven to be successful and should continue to be enforced.. CVS will respond to public pressure. So, next time when you are in CVS, just say no to their plastic bags!

 

Recycling The Bag Ban At CVS

In 2008, when Kim Lake served on Westport’s Green Task Force, the group prodded the RTM to ban plastic bags. The 26-5 vote made this the 1st municipality east of the Mississippi to enact such legislation.

Despite fears ranging from deforestation to the cost of potential litigation, Westporters adapted easily. We now tote reusable bags without a second thought, and find it archaic that out-of-town merchants still use plastic bags.*

So the other day Kim did a double take. Instead of a paper bag, she got this at CVS:

CVS bag 1

I got a similar bag last week. I was surprised too.

Kim — who in addition to being an alert “06880” reader, is also an attorney — fished out the old ordinance.

The CVS bag meets — even exceeds — the legal standards, she says. Any retail reusable bag must have at least 40% post-consumer recycled material. This one has “at least 80%” — according to the bag, anyway.

But read the fine print. It’s “designed for at least 125 uses.” We’re advised to clean the bag by rinsing it, then hanging it upside down to dry.

Yes, and after doing that, you and I will read the 57,000-word terms of service before clicking “agree” the next time we download a new version of iTunes!

CVS bag 2

Kim wonders how “reusable” this plastic bag really is. “It looks a lot like a disposable plastic bag that the rule was written to eradicate,” she says.

What do you think? Is this the beginning of the end for Westport’s plastic bag ban? Does the ordinance need revision? Or should we just bag this whole environmental thing? Click “Comments” below to weigh in.

*Except at Stew’s.

“Highway 61 Revisited” — Revisited

Harvey Brooks — the legendary bassist who played with Miles Davis, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Richie Havens, Stephen Stills, John Sebastian, Seals & Crofts, Boz Scaggs, Judy Collins, Loudon Wainright III, Phoebe Snow, and Phil Ochs — now lives in Israel.

But for many years, he was a Westport resident. Before that, however — perhaps most famously — he was in the studio with Bob Dylan. They recorded the groundbreaking album “Highway 61 Revisited” exactly 50 years ago today: July 28, 1965.

Today, Brooks posted this story on Facebook. It’s one his many Westport friends — and countless Dylan and Brooks fans around the world — will enjoy.

———————————————————–

It was July 28, 1965. I was playing a gig in Manhattan. During a break, I went next door to eat at the Burger Heaven, when I got a phone call from Al Kooper. I’m playing on this album with Bob Dylan and they need a bass player – are you doing anything?

That phone call would change my life.

The next day — 50 years ago today — I drove from Queens to Manhattan. I was soon in an elevator on the way to play for Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” album at Columbia Studio A at 777 Seventh Avenue. I opened the door to the control room, took a deep breath and entered.

Highway 61 Revisited

The first person I saw was Albert Grossman, Dylan’s manager. Grossman had long gray hair tied in a ponytail and wore round, tinted wire-rimmed glasses. I thought he looked like Benjamin Franklin. A thin, frizzy-haired guy dressed in jeans and boots was standing in the front of the mixing console listening to a playback of “Like a Rolling Stone.” I assumed it was Bob Dylan, though I didn’t know him or what he looked like at the time.

When the music stopped, Albert said, who are you? I told him who, what and why. Dylan said “hi” and went back to listening. Al Kooper then came in to make the official introduction. It was all very cryptic and brief.

I walked into the studio, took out my Fender bass and started to tune it. My instrument was strung with La Bella flat wounds which I still use. I plugged in the Ampeg B-15 amplifier which was provided by the studio. It sounded warm and percussive. The B-15 was my gig amp as well.

Though I was only 21 years old, I had already played many club gigs with a range of performers. I had worked with varying styles and felt I could adapt to about anything on the fly. So I was comfortable in the studio, and ready for anything Dylan could throw my way.

Suddenly, the studio door burst open. In stormed Michael Bloomfield, a moving ball of energy. He wore penny loafers, jeans, a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves and had a Fender Telecaster hanging over his shoulder. Bloomfield’s hair was as electric as his smile. It was the first time I had met or even heard of him.

Harvey Brooks and Mike Bloomfield - recording Highway 61

Harvey Brooks (sitting) and Mike Bloomfield (lying on the floor).

At the first session, Joe Macho Jr. had played bass. He had been replaced by Russ Savakus who Dylan didn’t like either. Dylan wanted someone new for the rest of the sessions. Kooper recommended me to Dylan. Dylan needed to be comfortable with his bass player. Kooper knew I had a good feel and adapted quickly.

For Dylan, it was not enough to be a skilled studio musician. He wanted musicians who could adapt quickly to his style. I admitted to him that I hadn’t heard any of his music before the session, but was really impressed by “Like a Rolling Stone,” which I first heard when I walked into the studio.

“Well, these are a little different,” Bob responded. I assumed he meant from his past work, but Bob was bit vague. He gave me a crooked smile and then lit up a cigarette.

New producer Bob Johnston, a Columbia staff producer from Nashville, was already producing Patti Page when he got the Dylan assignment.

Johnston had a “documentary” approach that allowed him to capture fleeting moments in the studio. Frustrated by the technical bureaucracy at the Columbia studio, he ordered several tape machines brought into the control room, so he could keep one running at all times in order to capture anything Dylan might want to keep. That tactic worked quite well.

Harvey Brooks (left) and Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan's manager.

Harvey Brooks (left) and Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan’s manager.

Though the first session for “Highway 61 Revisited” had been only 2 weeks earlier, a lot had happened in the interim. “Like a Rolling Stone,” recorded at the first session, had been released and caught on like fire.

Only 4 days earlier, Dylan had been booed when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival. It was a pivotal time in his career. He was beginning the transition from being a “pure” folk artist to a rock and roll performer.

Now we were at the 2nd session, my 1st, uncertain of what was on Dylan’s mind. In a few minutes he came out of the control room and started to sing the first of 3 songs we would work on that day.

Dylan sang the first, “Tombstone Blues,” a few times. There were no chord charts. It was all done by ear. As a habit, I made a few quick chord charts for myself as I listened to him perform. Everyone focused on Dylan, watching for every nuance. Then, the band went for it.

As we began recording, Dylan was still working on the lyrics. He was constantly editing as we recorded. I thought that was a really amazing way that he worked. His guitar or piano part was the guiding element through each song. Every musician in that room was glued to him. We would play until Dylan felt something was right. His poker face never revealed what he was thinking.

Harvey Brooks (left) and Mike Bloomfield, when they played together in Electric Flag (a few years after the Dylan session).

Harvey Brooks (left) and Mike Bloomfield, when they played together in Electric Flag (a few years after the Dylan session).

It might have taken a couple of takes for everyone to lock in. There were mistakes of course, but they didn’t matter to Dylan. If the feel was there and the performance was successful, that’s all that mattered. In real life, that’s the way it is. If the overall performance happens, there is always something there. Bob would go into the control room and listen. Johnston may have been the producer keeping the tape rolling, but it was all Dylan deciding what felt right and what didn’t.

Bloomfield’s fiery guitar parts accented Dylan’s phrasing. He was a very explosive guitar player and didn’t settle back into things. He was aggressive and a little bit in front of it. My goal is finding a part that makes the the groove happen. Dylan set the feel and direction with his rhythm. My bass parts reflected what I got from him.

Most of my early playing experience had been in R&B bands that performed Wilson Pickett and Jackie Wilson tunes, or songs by the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Playing with Dylan created a totally new category. I call it “jump in and go for it.”

We recorded “It Takes a Lot to Laugh” and “Positively 4th Street” the same way. Masters for the 3 songs were successfully recorded on July 29. (“Positively 4th Street” was issued as a single only.)

At the close of the session that 1st night Dylan attempted to record “Desolation Row,” accompanied only by Al on electric guitar and me on bass. There was no drummer. This electric version was eventually released in 2005, on “The Bootleg Series Volume 7″ album.

Our producer had a love of and even a bias toward Nashville musicians. It became an underlying topic during the session about how good they were. He kept talking about how cool Nashville is. I felt his comments were disparaging to us. I felt Johnston thought of us as New York bumpkins in a way.

This Nashville bias played into “Desolation Row.” I thought the version without drums that I did with Al that night was slower and definitely more soulful. We really liked it. Clearly, Johnston thought otherwise. On August 2, 5 more takes were done on “Desolation Row.” However, the version of the song ultimately used on the album was recorded at an overdub session on August 4.

When I left the studio after the final session, I didn’t have a sense of whether or not we had created a hit record. I did know, however, that all the songs felt good. They felt solid. I now understand that’s why “Highway 61 Revisited” was a successful record. In all the takes Bob chose, he made sure he got what he wanted from each song. He knew what he wanted. It’s an amazing talent that really knows what they want.

Harvey Brooks today.

Harvey Brooks today.

Benvenuto, Positano!

When Positano closed on December 31 — the victim of rising rents and tough parking — Westport lost one of its last waterfront restaurants.

We’re left now with only Rive Bistro. (And Joey’s by the Shore — the best beach concession anywhere.)

But the restaurant gods giveth, as well as taketh.

Positano is adjacent to the Westport Country Playhouse.

Positano is adjacent to the Westport Country Playhouse.

Positano opened last night in its new digs, next to the Westport Country Playhouse. So — after 18 dark months — theater-goers now have a great, convenient spot for a pre-show meal or post-show drink.

And the rest of us have another excellent restaurant to savor.

The cast is the same. Joseph Scarpati still owns Positano. He still cooks alongside his son Fernando, a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef. His daughter Aida remains involved too.

The new Positano is bigger than the former spot on Old Mill Beach. There’s a full sit-down bar, which it lacked before. There’s room in the back for private parties. And a patio in front. (Despite being on the beach, zoning issues inhibited outdoor dining at the old place.)

Without any fanfare, Positano opened last night. These women were the first customers for today's lunch.

Without any fanfare, Positano opened last night. These women were the first customers for today’s lunch.

The focus is still on authentic regional Italian cuisine. But the prices are lower than before.

The previous restaurant — The Dressing Room — was Paul Newman and Michel Nischan’s showpiece. The Scarpatis have honored their sustainable vision.

EcoChi, the designers, have reused the original Alabama barn wood found by Newman. Lighting fixtures, dining chairs, even table settings — all are designed with environmental integrity in mind.

Positano serves lunch from 11 a.m., and dinner from 4 p.m., 7 days a week. It’s worth checking out– even if you have to drive from Old Mill Beach.

This arresting artwork hangs on the Positano wall. The lemons represent the prized Amalfi Sfususato lemon, so sweet it's meant to be eaten raw. The Italian village of Positano is on the Amalfi Coast.

This arresting artwork hangs on the Positano wall. The lemons represent the prized Amalfi Sfususato lemon, so sweet they can be eaten raw. The Italian village of Positano is on the Amalfi Coast.

Dorian Kail Does The White House

Yesterday’s “06880” post about the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act — and the formation of a possible town commission on disabilities — resonated with Dorian Kail.

The Westport native manages the professional wheelchair division at New York Road Runners (including the marathon). She’s been awed by the accomplishments of the men and women who use wheels to run.

One of her top athletes — the fastest wheelchair marathoner of all time — is Tatyana McFadden. She won a lawsuit against her high school to allow wheelchair participants in sports.

Last week, McFadden invited Kail to the White House, to celebrate the ADA’s anniversary. McFadden and Kail met the president; Kail also had a quick conversation with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Bob Dole (who as a senator helped pass the ADA).

Dorian Kail and Vice President Joe Biden.

Dorian Kail and Vice President Joe Biden, at the White House.

Thanks for all you’ve done, Dorian. Keep on pushing — and keep helping these remarkable athletes run.

Dorian Kail and Tatyana McFadden stroll through the White House.

Dorian Kail and Tatyana McFadden stroll through the White House.

Former senator Bob Dole -- now 92 years old -- asked for a selfie with Dorian Kail.

Former senator Bob Dole — now 92 years old — asked for a selfie with Dorian Kail.

Cathy Beaudoin’s Amazonian Fashion Adventure

Cathy Beaudoin’s first job out of college was at Macy’s.

She hated it. The recent Trinity College (history major) grad would cry in the stock room. “My feet hurt, and I didn’t like my job,” she recalls.

Beaudoin had grown up in Westport. At Staples High School (Class of 1981) Cathy Lewis was a cheerleader, gymnast, volleyball player, and Inklings photographer.

Fortunately, the Macy’s gig did not last long. She spent the next 10 years at Ogilvy & Mather, in direct response marketing.

She laughs at her next career move: Banana Republic, in California.

Beaudoin was back in retail — but with a marketing lens. She developed a customer database, from scratch.

“I had no fashion background,” she recalls. “I was the unsexy, quantitative one” in the company.

Cathy Beaudoin

Cathy Beaudoin

Five years later, Beaudoin moved on to a much bigger job at the Gap. She was given an idea — build a shoe brand — and the result was Piperlime. It was a rare opportunity, she says, “to start something from the ground up, but within the safe confines of an established company.”

Six years ago, Amazon came calling. They wanted Beaudoin to once again create something entirely new. But Amazon is not an apparel company. They’re only the largest internet-based retailer in the nation.

Beaudoin loved living in San Francisco. She and her husband Sean, a novelist, had a new baby. But the challenge — build “Amazon Fashion,” again from scratch.

“I’ve had a blast,” she says. “I’ve never worked with people so intelligent. Every time I walk in a room, I feel like I’m surrounded by the smartest people I ever went to school with.”

Her work, the pace, the “staggering way we give our lives to it — weirdly, I enjoy it all,” Beaudoin says.

Adding fashion to Amazon was not like adding another product line — books, say, or appliances. Clothes and shoes are completely season-dependent — with a crazy timeline.

“None of the algorithms Amazon built are applicable to fashion,” Beaudoin notes. “For a company like this, which believes so strongly in its formula and playbook, this was counter-cultural.”

It was also necessary, she says.

“That’s the work I’m most proud of: being a voice in the wilderness, and making this thrive.”

Amazon Fashion logo

Beaudoin is also proud of growing her team, from 200 people to well over 1000 “amazing” people; carrying almost 3,000 different brands of shoes, clothing, watches, luggage and handbags, and achieving “astronomical” growth rates in both the men’s and women’s business.

Amazon is divided into Kindle, cloud computing and retail. Retail has 4 divisions; Beaudoin leads the Fashion portfolio from Seattle, and 2 sub-divisions based in New York: Shopbop.com and MyHabit.com.

Of course, not every idea works out. Many, in fact, flop.

“Amazon genuinely encourages you to fail,” Beaudoin explains. “If you achieve all your goals, the premise is that your goals are not tough enough. You’re not taking enough risks. That’s this culture.

“I’ve done tons of things that didn’t work. Customers didn’t care, or we didn’t execute well. There’s no shame in it.”

Clearly though, plenty of ideas work out — very, very well.

Cathy Beaudoin, in action.

Cathy Beaudoin, in action.

Yet for all she’s achieved — and her many years based on the West Coast — Beaudoin still considers Westport “home.”

Her parents are still here. But this is also the place, she says, where “I became me. I have memories of my friends, the Minnybus, pizza, the beach. It was an idyllic, wonderful place to grow up. It’s still home base.”

Many friends from Staples — Coleytown Junior High and Burr Farms Elementary School, even — have not left, or left and returned. She sees them everywhere, every time she is back. Her next visit is a few days away.

So what was Amazon Fashion’s president’s own fashion style, back in the day?

“No one in high school would have thought I had any style,” she says. “I was a fan of high-heel clogs.”

And now?

“Classic business lady-like. And spare.”

Art And Artois

After sketching Bridge Square yesterday, Jim Chillington prepared to relax.

Jim Chillington - Bridge Square

Checking Out The Mansion

In the heart of Saugatuck, it’s hard to miss: Every day, the former Mansion Clam House moves closer to its new incarnation as Parker Steak House.

The substantial portion of townsfolk who don’t like restaurant changes wonder what’s ahead. Owner Chris Costa — a longtime Westporter who bought the property from his uncle’s estate — sends this reassuring message to all:

I’m glad that my family contributed to Westport’s individual character for many years with the Mansion. It’s my intent that the building and grounds retain some of the salty dog touches that I too enjoy.

I intend to replace the fisherman on the roof. We are searching for a new mannequin now, and some foul weather gear. The old one was beyond repair for safe installation.

The quirky Mansion Clam House fisherman will be back -- in some form -- at the Parker Steak House.

The quirky Mansion Clam House fisherman will be back — in some form — at the Parker Steak House.

We will do parking lot and dock work too, once the structure is complete.

My passion for the individual character and spirit that has endeared Westport to me is alive and well. I too sometimes lament the homogenization of the beige stone and shingle world the town seems to have become.

We need individuality and diversification. The cookie-cutter thing doesn’t work for me.

I need to respect and balance the tenant’s design and wishes, and collaborate with things that can work to add all the character people fondly remember.

Work proceeded last month on the former Mansion Clam House. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

Work proceeded last month on the former Mansion Clam House. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

Not the least of that will be some very good food. To be clear: It will not solely be a steak house! While that is a focus, seafood of course will be well represented.

The operator is a great guy, very open to listening to customers to get them great food at fair prices and a welcoming atmosphere. He’s in this for the long haul.

I am too. This is not a trendy one-hit-and-done, in-and-out.

Time will tell. At the end of the day, the people are the voters.

We set the stage. They come. Everyone learns. Evolutions occur. And a good balance is achieved!

(Hey, “06880” readers! If you know where Chris Costa can find a good fisherman mannequin, click “Comments” below.)