Category Archives: Saugatuck

Bridging Saugatuck

Everyone in Westport calls it (redundantly) the “Bridge Street bridge.” No one uses the official “William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge” name. (He was a popular cop who, for years, theatrically directed rush-hour traffic at the Riverside Avenue intersection.)

In a while, though, everyone in town will be talking about it.

Preliminary discussions between local and state officials have begun regarding repairs — or perhaps replacement — of the 131-year-old, 287-foot structure.

It’s the oldest surviving movable bridge in Connecticut. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It carries 16,000 vehicles a day.

Maritime commerce in long-ago Saugatuck — and upriver, downtown Westport — depended on the bridge’s ability to open. It was a tedious, hand-cranking process.

It also put a lot of stress on the bridge — stress that’s been aggravated by tremendous vehicular traffic, and occasional collisions with vessels. Now its girders are rusting — and possibly cracking.

An idyllic shot of the Bridge Street bridge. Usually, it's filled with traffic.

An idyllic shot of the Bridge Street bridge. Usually, it’s filled with traffic.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has identified serious deficiencies with the Bridge Street bridge. They’ve got their eyes on it. (And many others — our infrastructure is not exactly healthy.)

Renovation or replacement would entail considerable disruption to a structure vital to our town. (Repairs a while back resulted in a temporary span being constructed adjacent to the permanent one. That’s when a much-needed northbound turning lane was added, coming off the bridge by the old Mansion Clam House.)

There’s no question something must be done. When it is, will other issues be addressed — like the congestion that currently clogs Saugatuck for hours each day?

Will there be discussion of (let’s say) using some of the land at (let’s say) Rizzuto’s parking lot for a roundabout, moving traffic continuously through without a light? It’s been done elsewhere.

“Improvements” are in the eye of the beholder. Would you like to see the old truss bridge remain? Would you prefer a completely new structure?

If you have ideas on how to improve the Bridge Street bridge — and the traffic mess on and around it — click “Comments.” Please use your real name. Feel free to add thoughts on when and how you use the bridge, and what you think of it.

The Bridge Street bridge and environs, as seen on Google Earth view.

The Bridge Street bridge and environs, as seen on Google Earth view.

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.)

 

Sweet Saugatuck

Some people might see this as a perfect summer afternoon: relaxing at the plaza by Saugatuck Sweets.

Others might see the cellphone and the I-95 bridge.

What do you think? Is the ice cream cone half empty, or half full?

Lazy hazy days

World Orphan Disease Community Gets A Local Push

MadisonMott is a relatively small Westport branding and marketing firm with a big portfolio.

madisonmott logoFrom funky Saugatuck digs, they handle logos, identity development, web design and massive content management platforms. Clients like the Yale School of Music, a French wine seller and a Puerto Rican property love MadisonMott’s blend of hip creativity and pure professionalism.

ClearPharma is a fledgling Westport company seeking to make a big name in the “orphan disease” world. They’re creating an online software platform called onevoice. It’s designed to build communities by providing the 2 things that patients and families who suffer from 7,000 rare illnesses most crave: emotional support and curated disease information.

Despite its international scope, MadisonMott is proud of its local roots. And onevoice creator Dan Donovan — a native Westporter — likes to use as many local resources as he can.

Their partnership was solidified thanks to Staples High School soccer. Donovan captained the state championship 1981 team. MadisonMott founder/CEO Luke Scott also played for the Wreckers, graduating 10 years later.

onevoiceShowing a flair for learning about new and totally unfamiliar subjects, Scott and his team jumped into the project. MadisonMott first created a logo for onevoice.

Very quickly, they moved onto more technical challenges. The online platform — to be rolled out later this year, linking thousands of diseases that pharmaceutical companies traditionally have not cared about, and medical researchers overlook. To promote the platform, MadisonMott built the product website. “It’s the coolest site I’ve ever seen,” Donovan says.

Donovan brought Scott to trade shows, including the World Orphan Drug Conference in Washington, DC. They left with 69 leads — nearly all of them solid. Donovan credits a lot of the success to MadisonMott’s deep understanding of what onevoice is trying to accomplish.

“They’re as much a part of us as my own team,” Donovan says.

“And they’re almost part of us,” Scott agrees.

A screen shot from the onevoice platform.

A screen shot from the onevoice platform.

“This is a very tangible thing,” Donovan — who had a long career in pharmaceuticals, then formed his own company focusing on medical publications — says.

“We’re meeting patients and families who are impacted every day by rare diseases. This is so meaningful.”

“We’re a marketing and branding company,” Scott says. “But it’s nice to know we can help impact lives.”

The marketing industry has already paid notice. The Connecticut Art Director’s Club presented MadisonMott with 2 gold awards, for the OneVoice logo and website.

Soon, the entire orphan disease community will take note too.

Missing Fisherman Found

Many Westporters were sorry to see Mansion Clam House start morphing into Parker Steak House.

But lobster, shrimp and seafood aren’t the only losses. The Mansion fisherman — a mannequin that sat on the roof for years — disappeared as soon as construction began.

Yesterday, an alert “06880′ reader walking past the enclosed dining area beween Mansion and Julian’s’ spotted what she thinks is the fisherman — or at least, his legs — in a container.

(Photo/"Saugatuck Cindy")

(Photo/”Saugatuck Cindy”)

The rest of him is in the bottom of the container, somewhat smashed up.

If the fisherman could be salvaged, that would be quite a catch.

 

Extras! Extras! Needed At The Duck!

John Francis Sullivan is a Westport native, Staples grad, and Los Angeles filmmaker. His next project is “Taste of Life” — a romantic comedy about a single dad who meets online dates at the same comedy club/cabaret/restaurant.

On Thursday, he needs a few extras for a scene he’s shooting.

Okay — full disclosure: The scene is part of his crowd-sourcing fundraising on Indiegogo.

Still, it’s a chance to kinda/sorta be in a movie. Plus, it’s at the Black Duck — and Sullivan is offering a free drink or two.

If you’re interested, head to the Duck this Thursday (July 9) at 6 p.m. Look for the cameras. Sullivan will take it from there.

Action!

You can be a star!

You can be a star!

 

Pulling Into An Actual Parking Spot Is So Overrated

For most Westporters, yesterday evening was a chance to relax just a little bit longer, after a wonderful Independence Day weekend.

One driver though was apparently so stressed, he or she could not be bothered to use a parking space — even though most were empty, in the Saugatuck Craft Butchery/Garelick & Herbs parking lot.

Yes, this is an actual parking job. No, there was no one in the car.

(Photo/Jamie Braun)

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

Did the driver have an immediate need for ice cream at Saugatuck Sweets? A drink at the Whelk?

Most times, these “entitled parking” photos evoke at least one defender, who points out a legalistic or otherwise morally suspect reason the driver may have parked as he or she did.

No one can dream up an excuse for this one.

The Way We Were — And Are (Sequel)

If you’re like most “06880” readers, you enjoyed this morning’s photographic trip down memory lane.

You admired the photos. They jogged memories — or, if you’re a newcomer (or just young), you tried to imagine the Westport of yore.

If you were Mark Potts though, you headed straight to Google Street View.

Mark — a 1974 Staples grad who co-founded WashingtonPost.com, served as editor of Philly.com, and is a consultant with clients like the Los Angeles TimesVariety and Silicon Valley startups — now lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

But his heart is still here. And one of his many hobbies is taking creating “then and now” images with “06880” photos. (Click here for last October’s shots.)

Today’s batch was tough, he says. A few unusual photo angles could not be duplicated (the Merritt Parkway shot, for example, was taken from the side of the road). And Mark couldn’t figure out where the Post Road import car shop was.

But the rest worked out fairly well. Enjoy his trip back in time — and back to the present.

Then and now 1 - Saugatuck

Then and now 2 - train station

Then and now 3 - train station

Then and now 4 - downtown

Then and now 5 - Merritt Parkway exit 41

 

The Way We Were

For some reason, people have started emailing me great photos of the Westport of yore.

I know plenty of “06880” readers like them. Longtime residents, expats, even recent arrivals appreciate seeing where what’s changed in our town — and what hasn’t. (Click on or hover over any photo to enlarge it.)

So, without further ado:

A dealer called simply “Foreign Cars” did business on the Post Road near the Southport line, just past Barker’s (or, as we know it today, Super Stop & Shop).

Foreign cars - 1950s - Post Road
This looks familiar: near the train station. In the 1950s, it was Frank Reber and Charlie Cole’s Imported Cars. This photo, and the one above, came from Hemmings Daily, thanks to David Pettee.

Frank Reber and Charlie Coles Imported Cars

A few years earlier, this was the scene around the corner, at the train station. There’s Black Horse Liquors on the corner. The newsstand was Baer’s.

Train station 1950s - courtesy Debbie Rosenfield
Here’s the eastbound view. Both photos are courtesy of Debbie Rosenfield.

Train station 1950s eastbound - courtesy Debbie Rosenfield
This 1949 view of downtown comes (as do all the photos below it) from the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut, via Brian Pettee. Colgan’s Pharmacy was where Tiffany sits today. Across Taylor Place was the trolley-shaped diner. Opposite that — hidden by trees — was the small park behind the old Westport Library. And that car in the middle of the intersection? It was turning onto the Post Road from Main Street, which had 2-way traffic.

Downtown 1948 - copyright Thomas J. Dodd Research Center UConn
Main Street Mobil occupied the current site of Vineyard Vines. In the distance you can see what for many years was Westport Pizzeria.

Main Street Mobil station 1949 - copyright Thomas J Dodd Research Center UConn
Back when the Merritt Parkway was for motoring, this was the signage (watch out for those jagged edges!).

Merritt Parkway exit 41 sign - 1949 - copyright Thomas J Dodd Research Center UConn
And when you came off Exit 41, this is what you saw. Underneath the “Westport” arrow, the sign says “State Police 3 mi.” The barracks were located on the Post Road where Walgreens is now — opposite the diner. Pretty close to I-95 — though in 1949, the “Connecticut Turnpike” had not yet been built.

Merritt Parkway exit 41 - 1949 - copyright Thomas J Dodd Research Center UConn