Category Archives: Places

New Sign Gets In The Spirit Of Things

On Friday, driving from the Y on the sparkling new Merritt Parkway Exit 41 ramp, I saw a guy with a truck putting up a sign.

Check it out — it’s the sparkling new white one, at the bottom of all the others.

Merritt Parkway sign

Call me crazy, but I’m guessing this is not an official — or legal — Department of Transportation project.

No Safe Harbor On Saugatuck Shores

Saugatuck Shores was on the agenda at a recent board of selectmen meeting. They considered 2 petitions: one for speed bumps on Harbor Road, the other against.

Alert “06880″ reader Gene Borio doesn’t have a horse in that race. He lives on Canal Road, a 600-yard straightaway. That’s where he’d like to see speed bumps. Or at least a speed-activated sign (which residents have requested, to no avail).

But Gene has another issue with Harbor Road: the new sea wall. In his opinion, it’s waaaay too close to the road. Strolling, jogging, biking, dog-walking — all are now life-in-your-hands situations.

In just half an hour the other day, he saw:

Harbor Road 1

Harbor Road 3

Harbor Road 2

While Gene was taking these photos, a contractor asked what he was shooting.

“The beautiful view, of course,” Gene said.

“And the sea wall. I think it’s too close to the road.”

“Yeah!” the contractor replied. “Why couldn’t they have moved it back 3 feet?!”

Gene thinks that would be tough. But, he says, 1 1/2 to 2 feet could be doable.

As for the traffic photos: “There’s a lot worse than this going on every day,” he says.

Like this shot:

Harbor Road 4

There are no cars nearby — but there could be.

And that’s without speed bumps.

 

Honoring Our Veterans

Veteran’s Day is Tuesday, November 11.

Many veterans live quietly in “06880″-land. And we’d like to give them their due.

If you’ve got a photo and/or story about a man or woman who served their country — recently or long ago; still living, or no longer with us — send it along (dwoog@optonline.net). We’ll post this special tribute on our veterans’ special day.

Plaques, memorials and a statue fill Westport's Veterans Green.

Plaques, memorials and a statue fill Westport’s Veterans Green.

 

A Developing Story

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.
The west side of the Saugatuck River is also part of the new downtown plan. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer for DowntownWestportCT.com)

The west side of the Saugatuck River includes the old National Hall and the relatively new Wright Street building. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer for DowntownWestportCT.com)

  • 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.

 

Halloween Update: Live From The Epicenter

An “06880″ reader who wishes — for obvious reasons — to hide behind a mask of anonymity wrote at 4 p.m. today:

Greetings from Oak Street, the epicenter of trick or treating for Weston children* whose families cut through here to avoid the light on Main St. and Clinton.

I just put 475 candy bars into baskets. I ran out last year at 7 p.m. Now I am pondering not the ethics of this Weston tradition, but an etiquette question:  Would a sign saying something to the effect of “happy to be of use to you and your family again this year; now would you consider slowing down that Range Rover, and maybe stopping at either of the stop signs the next time you blast past my house?” be okay?

*Scientific fact:  My neighbor taught elementary school in Weston for 30 years. She said 75% of the kids she saw were from Weston.

"Hah! We live in Weston, where there's 2-acre zoning. Your houses are MUCH closer together!"

“Hah! We live in Weston, where there’s 2-acre zoning. Your houses are MUCH closer together!”

Happy Friday!

And what better way to welcome the weekend than with Stacy Waldman Bass’ photo of this morning’s sunrise over the Sherwood Mill Pond?

Sunrise over Mill Pond - Stacy Waldman Bass

Enjoy the day!

Another View Of Baron’s South

No, this is not another political view of the town-owned property that was — until a recent Planning & Zoning Commission decision — a possible site for senior housing.

This is a historical photographic view:

Baron's South - back in the day

Alert “06880″ reader JP Vellotti found this shot of what is now the site of Fairfield County Savings Bank, on the corner of the Post Road and Compo Road South.

This view was taken from the current site of Winslow Park, across the Post Road, by the daughter of then-owner Dr. Ruland. JP got the photo from his grandson.

It’s interesting to note that the handsome architecture mirrors that of the buildings still on the west side of Baron’s South — the law and other offices on Imperial Avenue.

A Beautiful Bridge — If You Can See It

Every day, alert “06880″ reader Jane Sherman drives over the small North Avenue bridge that crosses the Saugatuck River.

And every day she is dismayed to see the weeds and grasses that have grown up along it, since its reconstruction last year.

The North Avenue bridge. (Photo/Jane Sherman)

The North Avenue bridge. (Photo/Jane Sherman)

She called Public Works. They told her there is no money available for maintenance. They’re busy trimming trees on Easton Road, and doing other jobs to protect public safety.

Jane says, “I’m distressed. I feel like stopping and weeding the area myself.”

But she knows they’ll just grow back. Weeding is not a one-time job.

“This bridge is beautiful and new,” Jane says. “What a shame that Westport intends to let the site deteriorate.”

Westfair Village: Westport’s Throwback Neighborhood

Right after World War II, local real estate developer B.V. Brooks Sr. built Westfair Village for beneficiaries of the GI bill.

Located on an old onion farm directly behind Westfair Shopping Center — Brooks’ strip mall opposite what is now Stop & Shop — Westfair Village’s circular streets featured modest Capes on 1/3-acre lots. He named the roads “Westfair” and “Fairport” — combinations of Westport and nearby Fairfield — as well as “Dexter” (the nickname of his son, B.V. Jr.) and “Brook” (presumably short for his own last name).

In the nearly 70 years since then, Westfair Village has seen many changes. Homeowners added 2nd floors, rebuilt their interiors, and enlarged their small houses. Some became teardowns, replaced by bigger homes (though none qualify as “McMansions”). Large trees provide shade, on once-open lots.

Westfair Drive today. (Photo/Google Maps)

Westfair Drive today. (Photo/Google Maps)

But 7 decades have not changed one element of Westfair Village. It is still a true neighborhood. Mothers push babies in strollers. Kids ride bikes. Folks take after-dinner walks. Everyone looks out for each other.

There are block parties, holiday parties, and welcome-to-Westfair parties.

In a 21-century touch, there’s also an active website through which residents share news, advice, and recommendations for doctors, lawn services and babysitters.

John DeLibero bought his house in 1983, for $102,000. The other day, he and his partner Ron Johnson invited me over to see the neighborhood they love.

John DeLibero (left) and Ron Johnson in the back yard of their Westfair Village home.

John DeLibero (left) and Ron Johnson in the back yard of their Westfair Village home.

Ron grew up in one of the 1st suburban subdivisions, in Huntington, Long Island. Everyone knew everyone else. There was the same small-town feeling when he lived in Washington, Connecticut.

In Westport, he says, “people lead more independent lives.” John adds, “It’s hard to know your neighbors when you live on a street that everyone races down at 40 miles an hour.”

That’s why they love Westfair Village. No one drives quickly; the streets are too narrow and curved for that.

With houses close together, they really do know everyone else. And it’s a diverse mix: doctors, retirees, actors, financial folks, house painters. Plenty of people work from home.

The neighborhood has gone through cycles. Returning soldiers and their young wives raised families. Kids grew up; some moved away, others bought nearby. The parents stayed — some until they died.

Today the homes are once again filled with young families, just starting out.

One of Westfair Village’s attractions is affordability. Prices rose from $350,000 a decade ago to $1.125 million (new construction) just before the meltdown. Prices for original (rebuilt) homes are still shy of $600,000.

This home in Westfair Village started out as a Cape. The 2nd floor was added later, and the floor plan -- the same in every home -- was reworked.

This home in Westfair Village started out as a Cape. The 2nd floor was added later, and the floor plan — the same in every home — was reworked.

Building lots are another story. Two homes on Brook Lane recently sold for about $2.3 million.

But Brook Lane is on the far edge of Westfair Village. Mostly, it looks not substantially different than it has for the past 70 years.

The homes are a bit bigger. The foliage is lusher.

Yet up and down the circular roads, kids still play, parents still chat, and couples still stroll.

It’s not a place that time forgot.

Just a place where time moves — wonderfully – a bit more slowly.

 

Poop Plea

Haskins Preserve is an astonishing site on Green Acre Lane (off South Compo Road) administered by Aspetuck Land Trust. Its 16 acres are filled with woods, meadows, ponds, dams, and a spectacular assortment of rare trees.

Many Westporters have never heard of it. Those who have, treasure it as an oasis of beauty and solitude.

Most do, anyway.

Dog waste is a mounting problem at the Haskins Preserve. And it’s not just droppings on trails and paths. Some owners actually take the time to wrap waste in plastic bags — then leave them lying around.

Some sleazeballs “hide” the poop behind rocks and trees. Others are more brazen. They dump the dumps within sight of a sign saying, “Please remove dog waste.”

Steward Jamie Walsh has posted a video documenting this spectacularly rude and seriously obnoxious behavior.

Why don’t the stewards just put garbage cans at Haskins Preserve?

“We’re a volunteer organization, with a limited budget and resources,” Jamie explains. “It’s not practical for someone to empty them on a regular basis.

“And it would attract wildlife that would feast on the remaining garbage, which would then be strewn all over the parking lot.”

Haskins is a preserve — not a park. Is it too much to ask that if you bring your dog with you, then you take your dog’s business out?

For some Westporters, the answer is apparently: yes.

Haskins Preserve: no place for dog poop.

Haskins Preserve: no place for dog poop.