Tag Archives: Saugatuck Shores

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.

 

A True Saugatuck Shores “Find”

Alert — and proofreading — “06880” reader Jeff Manchester was strolling around Saugatuck Shores yesterday.

For the 1st time, he looked closely at a sign he’s seen often:

Saugatuck Shores sign

Good to know it won’t cost us a cent to launch or trailer park at Canal Beach!

Calming Saugatuck Shores

Every neighborhood has its own traffic concerns. Folks living near the Bayberry Lane/Easton Road intersection are debating a roundabout and stop signs. On North Kings Highway, speeders have slowed considerably since speed humps were installed.

The other day, Janet Tatusko checked in with a report from Saugatuck Shores. A lot is happening in that lovely but well-traveled corner of town.

A petition called “Lines and Signs” has helped bring walking lines and guardrails. Signs — including arrows, “Bus Stop Ahead” and “Curve Ahead” — have been installed.

Trees have been cut back, to improve sight lines. Neighbors initiated an educational campaign (“Drive Like Your Kids Live Here”).

"Drive Like Your Kids Live Here," says a sign near the beginning of Harbor Road.

“Drive Like Your Kids Live Here,” says a sign near the beginning of Harbor Road.

But drivers still speed, Janet says — and walkers are afraid they’ll be pinned against the guardrails on blind curves.

A traffic survey last August showed that 32,274 vehicles entered Harbor Road. 27,109 exceeded the 25 mph speed limit. One driver reached 65.

During the school year, Janet says, “over 28 kids would normally be out there — except not one mother will let them. So a big bus comes down tiny Covelee Road, and stops at each home. No one can walk, jog, bike, etc. It’s another Shake Shack waiting to happen.”

A guardrail separates  Harbor Road from the water.

A guardrail separates Harbor Road from the water.

Harbor Road is a residential street — but also the main route to Saugatuck Island. There are 200 homes, and a yacht club at the end.

Interestingly, the recent sewer project helped. Potholes have slowed cars and trucks considerably. However, truck traffic has increased since last fall, as construction vehicles heading to homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy are a constant presence.

Janet, Frank DiScala and others are figuring out what’s needed to help walkers, bicyclists, joggers, moped riders, pets and kids.

They’ve worked closely with Police Chief Dale Call, the Fire Department, Public Works and the Department of Transportation. Recently they met with First Selectman Gordon Joseloff. The Fire Department has agreed to put in a speed hump.

Harbor Road is narrow, windy -- and very, very scenic.

Harbor Road is narrow, windy — and very, very scenic.

But Janet, Francis and the others have not forgotten aesthetics. They’d like to see potted plant holders in the middle of the road. (Think Soundview, the Compo Beach exit road.)

They’re talking about a park-like entrance to Harbor Road and Saugatuck Shores, including an elevated planter box, flowers, and welcome signs.

Sounds like some solid solutions for a neighborhood that feels under siege — for reasons both natural and man-made.

But what a shame that we have to put up signs — anywhere in town — reminding each other to “Drive Your Kids Live Here.”

Harbor Road continues over a canal. This handsome sign marks the entrance to Saugatuck Island.

Harbor Road continues over a canal. This handsome sign marks the entrance to Saugatuck Island.

Living In…Saugatuck

The New York Times Sunday real estate section holds a strange fascination for people in the tri-state area.

It doesn’t matter if we’re actively buying or selling, or dying in the same house our great-grandparents were born in. Like realtors drawn to obituaries — that means a potential listing! — we pore over the real estate pages. We can’t help reading about pets in co-ops, which Brooklyn neighborhood is next on the hot list, and of course who paid how much for what.

Every Sunday, the Times singles out a town or neighborhood for its “Living In” feature. This Sunday, it will be Saugatuck.

Bridge Square rocked last September, at the "Slice of Saugatuck" festival. (Photo by Terry Cosgrave)

Bridge Square rocked last September, at the “Slice of Saugatuck” festival. (Photo by Terry Cosgrave)

Titled “What I-95 Hasn’t Put Asunder,” it describes the mid-1950s construction of the Connecticut Turnpike as “a battering ram.”

Houses came down; so did a church. Blacktop replaced Turtle Pond, a favorite place to ice-skate. A rumbling overpass halved Franklin Street, a residential locus for Italian-Americans (who today account for about 20 percent of the population).

“You know that progress has to happen,” said Cathy Romano, whose childhood home, a porch-wrapped wood-frame house on West Ferry Lane, became a dorm for highway builders before being razed for a parking lot. “But it was traumatic.”

Yet Saugatuck — which before the Italians arrived was the commercial center of Westport — has reinvented itself. And the Times takes notice.

Bustling and dense, with a number of restaurants and some shops, Saugatuck can feel almost urban, especially when compared with leafier, sleepier Westport areas like Coleytown, which has two-acre residential zoning. But there are plenty of people who would rather be squeezed in than spread out.

Yards away from the bustle, a serene Saugatuck scene. (Photo by Bobbi Liepolt)

Yards away from the bustle, a serene Saugatuck scene. (Photo by Bobbi Liepolt)

The piece describes the Gault family’s “$18 million attempt to ease the effects of I-95’s divisive presence: Saugatuck Center, a mixed-use four-acre redevelopment project….In a community with hardly any housing beyond single-family homes, 27 new apartments amount to a lot.”

The Times includes Saugatuck Shores in its Saugatuck roundup, which seems a stretch. But here’s the connection:

Recovery of another kind is on the minds of some homeowners in Saugatuck Shores, a low-lying, compressed area. Hurricane Sandy dealt it a punishing blow, as have other big storms.

The houses perched atop carports seem to have come out unscathed. But more modest properties — especially along Harbor Road, which is separated from Long Island Sound by a jumble of boulders — seem hurt. On a recent visit, a few had plywood in their windows, and the storm had strewn oysters across lawns.

Hurricane Sandy devastated Saugatuck Shores.

Hurricane Sandy devastated Saugatuck Shores.

Because this is the Times real estate section, money matters. Readers learn that the most expensive home on the market — a 5-bedroom 2000 colonial on a 2-acre waterfront lot with a tennis court — is listed at $10.99 million.

Last year, the average price for all 29 single-family homes sold in Saugatuck was  $1.22 million. Hopefully, some of those sales were by families who held on — and thrived — in the decades after I-95 sliced through.

Finally — buried at the end of the story — was some intriguing news. There are 1,064 reserved parking lots at the train station, and the waiting list is 4 years. But — who knew? — the town is planning “an online effort to cull outdated names.”

(Click here to read the entire New York Times story on “Living In Saugatuck.”)

For many people, the Black Duck epitomizes Saugatuck. (Photo by John Kantor)

For many people, the Black Duck epitomizes Saugatuck. (Photo by John Kantor)

The Scene On Saugatuck Shores

Bob Zappi took this photo at 10:30 a.m. today, on Harbor Road:

So much for reports yesterday that Saugatuck Avenue and Saugatuck Shores would have power by now…

Very Cool House Hunters

Bill and Hillary Clinton are selling their house in Chappaqua.

And it’s 80 to 90% certain they’re moving to Westport.

A realtor — who for obvious reasons will remain nameless — said the former president told her they moved to New York state primarily so his wife could run for the Senate.

But several factors are behind the upcoming move.

For one, Fairfield County’s tax burden is significantly lower than Westchester’s. (“I’m amazed he told me that,” the realtor said.)

Future Westporters?

In addition, last summer Bill fell in love with sailing. He and Hillary lived in Milford while both attended Yale Law School, and he has called their rental cottage at the beach “one of the best places we ever lived.”

But why Westport and not, say, Rowayton or Greenwich?

“The Clintons have several friends in Westport, and always loved coming here,” the realtor said.

The Clintons' former home.

“And when we drove through town and I told him all about the development in Saugatuck, his eyes lit up. He said, ‘This might sound silly, but it’s kind of like when I put my office in Harlem. It was the right feeling at the right time.'”

The realtor said the Clintons have looked at property in Green’s Farms and Saugatuck Shores. Bill liked a house very close to Compo, but Hillary thought the area was too “public.”

The realtor said Bill is doing most of the research into Westport. (“I understand that,” she said. “Hillary’s got a full-time job.”)

The Clintons' current home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

The realtor was struck by the former president’s interest in local issues. “He’s got a very clever sense of humor,” she noted. “He said, ‘Maybe if I get back into politics, I’ll run for the planning board (P&Z). It looks like that’s where the action is.”

I had to ask: Did she tell Bill about “06880”?

Yes! she said. He loves it — including the comments.

In fact, he told her, “If we move here, I have to meet the Dude!”

(To see photos of 3 of the homes the Clintons are considering, click here.)

A Saugatuck Shores Saga

Dan Williams and his family moved to Saugatuck Shores in 1997.  This year, they and their neighbors were mandated to go on a town sewer line.  The hookup was done in late August — a week before Hurricane Irene hit.

That Sunday, 4 feet of water filled the streets.  A bit seeped into the garage.  But the house had been raised by the previous owner, so there was no damage inside.

Like the rest of Westport, the Williamses waited for power to return.

At 8:30 Tuesday night, it came back on.

Pumps throughout Saugatuck Shores roared to life at once.  Tremendous pressure filled the sewer line.

A check valve — attached by a hose and clamp — is supposed to prevent outside sewage from flowing back into the tack.

Dan’s clamp failed.  It ripped off the line.  Sewage poured into the tank at enormous speed — and found the closest exit points.  They were a pair of 1st-floor toilets, and a tub.

Sewage shot out “like a volcano,” Dan says.

And it kept coming.

“There was no way to shut it down,” Dan says.  “We tried to shut the power off — nothing worked.”

The house was destroyed.  Everything on the 1st floor was lost.

It finally stopped only when the 130 or so tanks in the neighborhood were empty.

Into the Williams’ house.

His “wonderful” neighbors rushed over.  The used shovels, brooms, mops — anything to get the estimated 6,000 to 9,000 gallons of sewage out of there.

“I can’t thank them enough,” Dan says.

He has harsher words for the sewer line engineers.

“There should have been 2 check valves,” Dan notes.  “In the planning stages, one of my neighbors was an outspoken opponent of only 1 check valve.  And he’s a pump expert — that’s his job.”

A small part of the damage to the Williams' home.

The Williamses — Dan, his wife Stacy, 2 teenage girls and an 11-year-old boy — vacated their ruined home immediately.  They stayed with friends for a couple of weeks.  Now they’re in a rental house.

His kids are “better,” he says.

But Stacy is “an absolute mess.  This was her home, her decorations.  It’s all gone.”

Dan did not go to work for 3 weeks.

“No one knew what to do,” he says.  “We had to figure everything out.  We had to rip the house apart, start reconstruction, get a cleaning company to verify it will be okay — there was so much to do.”

His insurance company was no help.  “They were inundated” after the storm, Dan says.  “Getting someone here was a headache.  It’s been almost impossible to talk to anyone.”

What about the town?

“What about them?” Dan counters.

Brian Thompson — the Public Works Department’s lead engineer on the project — “did a wonderful job holding my hand that night, and the day after,” Dan says.

“But he’s the only one from the town I’ve heard from.”

The pump manufacturer — E/One — has already replaced area residents’ setups with stronger hoses and clamps, Dan says.

No one from the company has contacted him.  “I’m sure they’re lawyered up, waiting for me to come after them.”

Dan says that he has heard the town will put in 2nd check valves — at no cost to homeowners.  However, he adds, “if you haven’t hooked up to the system yet, you have to pay for (the 2nd valve) yourself.”

“We’re coping as best we can,” Dan says.  “On a good day, we can smile.”

Yet, he notes, “I still can’t wrap my head around what I need to do to go forward.

“How do I make sure my family and property will be okay?  Who verifies that?

“Will my house be devalued?  What if someone in my family gets sick?

His family, he says, is “heartbroken.”

Meanwhile, their home has been gutted down to studs and beams.  Rebuilding could take 4 to 6 months.

Reconstruction is underway on the ruined interior.

Insurance covers their rental.  But, Dan says, “they say we’re 100% covered for damage.  But we don’t know.  Can we just buy new furniture?  Will they say our contents were depreciated?

“This is the 1st time I’ve had to deal with tearing a house apart — with deconstruction and reconstruction.”

Dan spends his days talking with insurance agents and lawyers — and trying to talk with town officials.

“There’s not a lot of help,” he says.  “It’s unbelievable.”

“Not a lot of help,” he repeats, unbelieving.