Pickleballers: Beach Bathrooms Don’t Pass The Smell Test

By many measures (though not the weather), this has been a wonderful summer.

Parks and Recreation’s Compo Beach-calming plans minimized crowds, and maximized cleanliness. Innovations like the Mobi-Mat and reworking the entrance road drew raves.

A few more ideas are in the works. A walkway — similar to the one built last year between the pavilion and cannons — is set for South Beach. Bathrooms will replace port-o-potties nearby.

“Nearby” means close to the pickleball area. Constructed a few years ago, the courts have seen steadily increased use.

Compo Beach pickleball courts. Existing bathrooms are far in the background.

Recently, players put down their paddles, picked up pens, and protested Parks and Rec’s plans.

In letters to 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Parks and Recreation Department director Jen Fava and Parks and Recreation Commission chair Charlie Haberstroh, the pickleballers cite several concerns:

  • The new bathrooms “will block both the lovely views and welcoming air flow/breeze”
  • They’ll “most likely result in unwelcoming smells (sewage related, disinfectant, etc.)”
  • “Staring at the back of a bathroom is not anyone’s idea of a good time.”

One writer argues that moving the location “just 50 feet over would make a huge difference to the 100+ pickleball players in town (with more joining the sport every day!)”

Granted, this is a first world problem. Billions of citizens around the globe have no access to sanitation of any kind — let alone pickleball courts.

But it’s a reflection of the love Westporters have for Compo Beach that the location of new bathrooms creates such a you-know-what storm.

Pic Of The Day #490

20 Morningside Drive South — on Walter and Naiad Einsel’s former property — is a candidate for demolition. (Photo/Anna DeVito)

36,000 Feet

The other day, Sean van Beever was flying here from Florida, via Bradley Airport Hartford.

Suddenly, the clouds broke. The 3rd-generation Westporter looked out his window. At that very moment, he noticed the unmistakable outlines of Cockenoe Island, Compo Beach, Old Mill and the Sherwood Mill Pond.

Quickly, he pulled out his phone. The result is a remarkable photo, from 36,000 feet in the sky.

(Photo/Seth van Beever)

Mark Friedman Fights For Freedom Of The Press

Mark Friedman is not a journalist. He’s not married to a reporter, and there are none in his family.

But the Westport investment advisor is one of our town’s staunchest defenders of freedom of the press.

And — if his side business catches fire — he might become one of the nation’s strongest too.

Friedman runs a website: IHeartFreedomofthePress.com. It’s not fancy, but neither is its mission.

Mark Friedman, at Westport’s Memorial Day parade.

Freedom of the press is “the only effectual guardian of every other right,” said James Madison — it’s right there, on Friedman’s home page — and the site is devoted to recent stories about assaults on the First Amendment.

There are links to organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists, Newseum and the National Constitution Center.

And “I ♥ Freedom of the Press” merchandise, like t-shirts and car magnets.

Friedman’s respect for the Constitution and Bill of Rights was sparked when he practiced law. Then — “called to teaching” — he spent a decade at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, where as an English and history instructor he gave serious thought to those foundations of democracy.

Now, in Westport, he spends time as an RTM member, PTA and sports volunteer. Starting this fall, he’ll teach Sunday school.

Over the last couple of years, as attacks on the press mounted, Friedman grew concerned. “‘Enemy of the people’ is a Stalinist phrase. It was used to persecute,” he says.

Friedman believes that freedom of the press is important to all citizens, of any political party. He wanted to find a “non-partisan, unifying and positive” way to reinforce the notion.

During World War II, his uncle — past the age of enlistment — nonetheless joined the military. He wanted to help save democracy.

“I’m not putting my life in danger,” Friedman notes. “But the spirit is the same: fighting and honoring those who fought before us, so we could be here now.”

He worked with his wife to refine the website concept. His middle school son helped with the design.

Mark Friedman’s merchandise.

People are noticing. Last week, at a baseball game, an usher noticed Friedman’s shirt. Her son works in media, and she wanted to know how to get one.

Some people scream “fake news!,” Friedman says. But positive comments far outweigh negative ones.

His goal is to get Americans to think about the concept of freedom of the press — and the patriotism and courage of reporters.

The Newseum has a memorial to journalists killed in the line of duty. Most are in far-off places. Now, Friedman says, “it’s chilling that reporters face hostile crowds here. Things could turn violent.”

He hopes not. But if they do, he’ll fully support the journalists who cover that breaking news.

Pics Of The Day #489

The evening sky was gorgeous last night, near the Westport buoy … (Photo/Lawrence Zlatkin)

… but this is New England, and weather changes rapidly. A few minutes earlier, this was the scene at Winslow Park. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Remembering Rachel Doran

Two weeks ago, “06880” reported on Rachel Doran’s battle.

The rising senior at Cornell University  — a National Merit Commended Scholar, talented Players costume designer, and founder of “Rachel’s Rags,” a company that makes intricate cotton and fleece pajama tops and bottoms — was in critical condition.

In July she was diagnosed with Stevens Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, a rare reaction to common medications that resulted in severe burns to 95% of her body. She then developed Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome — another rare and life-threatening syndrome.

Rachel Doran

Last night — surrounded by her family — Rachel died peacefully. Her family said:

 True to Rachel’s spirit and with the same fervor she had for everything she took on, she fought the most difficult health issues with tenacity and grace.

At this time Alan, Lisa and Ellie ask that you keep Rachel’s memory close to your hearts as arrangements are made to celebrate her amazing life. Her beauty, kindness, style and wit were second to none. We will cherish the light she brought to so many people along the way.

Services will be held Wednesday (August 22, Temple Israel), at a time to be determined.

Photo Challenge #190

Westport is chock full of kayaks.

They’re stacked at Compo Beach, Longshore Sailing School, Downunder, and docks and driveways all around town.

But the kayaks in last week’s Photo Challenge were some of the most visible. They’re stored at Schlaet’s Point — specifically, in the little private park (supposedly) for Bluewater Hill residents only, next to the house at 259 Hillspoint Road with the massive stone wall and 3-flag pole.

We all pass by them often. But only Matt Murray, Rich Stein, Joelle Harris Malec and Sarah Hock knew exactly where they were. Kayak kudos to you! (Click here to see Amy Schneider’s shot.)

Here is this week’s Photo Challenge:

(Photo/Bob Mitchell)

If the location rings a bell, click “Comments” below. And if you’ve got the back story to it, let us know too.

Remembering Carol Mata

Longtime Westporter Carol Mata died last week, at 73.

She was an entrepreneur, starting a doll-making business in Peru, and an Ecuadorean handcraft store in Westport called El Rondador. Carol also managed many rental properties. 

She was a host mother to many foreign exchange students throughout the years, and an adopted mother and grandmother by countless people around the world. 

She was an accomplished entertainer, party organizer and self-taught chef. She welcomed hundreds of people into her home with warmth, elegance and epicurean treats. 

Carol was also deeply involved in Westport activities. Her daughter — Staples High School art teacher Angela Simpson — sends along this remembrance:

Last week, Westport and the greater community lost a humble and generous servant. Carol Mata, a resident of Westport for approximately 50 of her 73 years, passed away peacefully but unexpectedly in her sleep.

Carol Mata

Carol’s generosity extended beyond her kindness to her family. She dedicated her time and talents to the Westport Woman’s Club (in particular the Yankee Doodle Fair), ran Fairfield Prep annual auctions, fundraised for Staples marching band uniforms, and always opened her pocketbook to support charities, especially Al’s Angels and Caroline House.

She was a fixture at St. Matthew’s Church in Norwalk, where she served as a eucharistic minister, delivered home-cooked meals to those in need, and assisted with accounting and event planning.

She also served for years as a CCD instructor at Assumption Church in Westport. She took her lesson planning very seriously, and was delighted to have one of her own grandchildren in her class.

Carol’s philanthropy extended outside Fairfield County, and even outside the country, but her greatest gift was her genuine care for all people. She did so much for so many, and never expected recognition.

Carol was a breast cancer survivor, and understood the importance of cherishing family and friends. From Carol you could count on original, personalized Christmas cards, along with her signature “Christmas Coffee Can Cake,” heartfelt and handwritten thank-you notes, and multi-course gourmet meals served from chafing dishes, always accompanied by beautiful floral arrangement.

Carol will be missed by many. But the many organizations and individuals that she touched are the better for her efforts.

Westport School Calendar: A Work Of Art(s)

In 1976, Westport artists honored America’s bicentennial with a special calendar.

Howard Munce, Hardie Gramatky, Randy Enos, Al Willmott, Ward Brackett, Stevan Dohanos and others contributed sketches of Old Mill Beach, the Compo cannons, old Town Hall, the railroad station, even the revered Minnybus.

Proceeds helped fund Bicentennial events in town, and the purchase of artwork for the Bicentennial art collection.

Hardie Gramatky’s illustration of Old Mill, for the 1976 Bicentennial calendar. The original is being donated by his daughter, Linda Gramatky Smith, to the Westport Public Art Collection.

Inspired by that project, the Long Lots PTA launched a Westport Schools Calendar in the early 1980s. Student artists submitted work. Filled with dates of key school and district activities, it quickly became a major fundraiser.

In 2018 we’re a lot closer to the Sestercentennial than the Bicentennial. But the Westport Schools Calendar is stronger than ever.

In 2015, the LLS PTA handed the project over to Friends of Westport Public Art Collection. Proceeds now support the amazing collection that hangs in every school, and many town buildings.

This year, over 200 local students — from kindergarten through 12th grade — submitted art for the calendar. A committee chose a colorful image by Greens Farms Elementary School 1st grader Jack Steel for the cover. GFS 4th grader Kasey Feeley’s homage to the district as a thank-you to teachers graces the inside cover

Jack Steel’s 2018 cover art .

Each of the 13 months features wonderful student work — in full color.

The young artists were inspired by their schools, sports teams, activities and nature. Like their professional predecessors in 1976, their images relate powerfully to Westport.

“In an era when we all keep our calendars on electronic devices, the Westport Schools Calendar is a wonderful throwback,” says 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

“You can see a whole month’s events spread out in front of you, accompanied by fun student art.”

Marpe’s daughter graduated from Staples years ago. But he still uses the calendar to keep up with school events.

Staples High student Will Roschen’s image of his building is the March illustration.

The 2018-19 Westport Schools Calendar can be ordered here online (scroll down). Click here to print out the form, and mail it in.

Calendars will also be on sale at all Back to School nights, and later this month at Saugatuck Sweets and Athletic Shoe Factory.

(Hat tip: Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

Pic Of The Day #488

Longshore Sailing School adds color, on a gray day (Photo/William Armstrong)