Bury The Wires? Not So Fast!

Recent tree cutting by Eversource and Metro-North at the Westport train station evoked a predictable response: Bury the power lines!

It sounds doable, though probably expensive.

Recent tree removal (and overhead wires) at the Westport train station. (Photo/Matthew Mandell)

But that’s not the only issue. A Westporter with long experience in areas like this writes:

To “burying the lines” — and not just those owned by Eversource, but also phone (now owned by Frontier) and cable (Optimum) — you’d need to:

  • Get all 3 companies working on the project simultaneously
  • Get 100% of every house, building, traffic signal, street light, closed circuit TV camera, fire siren, crosswalk signal, etc., to agree to go underground
  • Every existing overhead service would need to be prepared for the new underground connection in advance (and all work on private property up to and including the meter box and service panel at the home or building is the responsibility of the owner — costing at least several thousand dollars for just a simple home (200 amp, which is not the average with today’s large homes)
  • Once all are agreed 100%, the underground system would be installed in conduits in trenches alongside or within the street, including pad-mounted transformers (boxy containers roughly 3 x 4 feet by 3-foot high, located along the street on the shoulder of the road)
  • Each home or building owner would trench from the transformer pad to the location on the house or building where the meter would be (all trenching on private property is done by the home or building owner’s contractor, paid for by the owner)
  • Once all is ready (as in 100%), the system would then be transferred to the new underground wiring from the overhead
  • Only when all the above is done 100%, and every building is operating on the new underground system (electric, phone and cable), can the old overhead system of wires, poles and transformers be removed.

If all this sounds very complicated, very expensive and nearly impossible: It is!

Which is why the overhead system we look at continues as the source for somewhere around 90% of most towns’ residences and commercial buildings in this area.

Cables on South Compo Road. Burying these lines is far easier said than done. (Photo/Morgan Mermagen)

Pic Of The Day #1743

Reeds in the Saugatuck River (Photo/Susan Leone)

“06880” Podcast: State Senator Will Haskell

In March of 2018, I was the first journalist to write about Will Haskell’s State Senate campaign.

He still had not graduated from Georgetown University.

Now he’s completing his 2nd term in Hartford. He’s the author of a new book: 100,000 First Bosses: My Unlikely Path as a 22-Year-Old Lawmaker.

And he’s the latest guest on “06880: The Podcast.”

The unlikely politician, writer, and 2014 Staples High School graduate spoke candidly — and spectacularly articulately — with me at the Westport Library about his path since graduation. He also talked about what’s ahead when he “retires” from the General Assembly.

Click below for a fascinating half hour with one of Westport’s most intriguing citizens, of any age.

Roundup: Airport Drivers, Food Drive, Catch A Lift …

====================================================

One of the most frequent topics on Westport Facebook sites is airport drivers. People constantly ask for good, reliable (and not break-the-bank) people.

Frank Pataky’s name always comes up.

I’ve always driven myself to the airport. But last week, headed to Kansas City out of Newark — I’ll do anything to avoid a connecting flight, and that was my only option — I decided to try him out.

Frank has been in business for over 20 years. He and his drivers drive your car to and from airports (and Florida, or anywhere else you need it taken, with or without you).

I’m now a huge fan. Frank’s brother Daryle was prompt, professional, and a great conversationalist. Plus, he knew Newark well enough so that last night he met me at the far less congested 2nd floor departures area, rather than the arrivals zoo below.

Frank has no website. So keep his Facebook page and cell (203-767-1083) handy. I sure will.

Newark Airport. Frank and his employees drive there, so you don’t have to.

=======================================================

Speaking of Facebook: Marcy Sansolo, the “What Up Westport” creator, organized a food drive yesterday, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

She says,” I don’t think there’s a box of cereal, bag of pasta or single diaper to be found in a 30 mile radius.”

Congrats and thanks to Marcy, Lisa Marriott, Nancy Lewis, Sue Goldman and everyone else who helped or donated.

Marcy Sansolo jumps for joy at the “What Up Westport” food drive. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

======================================================

Catch A Lift — the national organization that helps post-9/11 combat veterans help rehabilitate physically and emotionally — adds to its already strong Westport presence with a Super Bowl event. Sunday, February 13 is the date of the “Coffland Hero Challenge.”

It’s a special “Workout of the Day” for all ages and fitness levels. Westporter Adam Vengrow is looking for host gyms. Virtual at-home workouts are also available.

Email a.vengrow@ven2port.com for more information, and watch the video below:

 

=======================================================

It was a cold weekend in Westport.

It was even colder in Burlington, Vermont: minus 2 degrees.

But Nicho Ader joined friends for a (quick) dip in Lake Champlain. The University of Vermont graduate is a former Staples High School wrestler. He’s obviously a very, very tough young man — on and off the mat.

Nicho Ader (3rd from left) and friends.

=======================================================

Speaking of water: Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows some strange patterns in the Nash’s Pond ice. Natural? Manmade? Interesting!

(Photo/Jay Petrow)

=======================================================

And finally …  today in 1536, England’s King Henry VIII suffered an accident while jousting, His brain injury may have led to erratic behavior later (and possible impotence).

Alexandra: “All It Takes Is One Friend”

I like to start the week off with an uplifting, inspiring story.

This one is different. It’s more like “let’s look at ourselves in the mirror.”

A neighbor who asked to be identified by her middle name — Alexandra — writes:

Moving to Westport several years ago from New York City, I assumed it would be easy meeting other new moms. I used to sit with my stroller in the park there, and meet others all the time.

But meeting new friends since moving here has been anything but easy, even before the pandemic hit.

I was told it gets easier once kids are in school. But not with a pandemic. We aren’t allowed into the building, and the friendliness of some of the moms are in question.

In the fall, my 4-year old would take too long to get his mask on at drop-off. I was often honked at or given the look of death by other moms for being too slow.

As we all sit enclosed in our cars for an hour at the pick-up line, I wonder: Do other moms feel this lonely?

I’ve tried it all: baby/toddler groups, classes, play dates. For various reasons, the last play date would make any sane person not want to try one with strangers again. And the “new mom” groups felt too cliquey.

Sure, I’ve met some moms at playgrounds. I even made a friendship that way.  But dates with her turned out to be hours of her complaints. She blamed her problems on living in Fairfield County, and eventually moved away.

Kids love playgrounds. But some moms find them lonely.

Then there was the mom I met at a playground who moved from the Bronx. It was the best conversation with a mom I had all year. We talked for an hour about great pizza, good food and how hard it was to meet a new friend in this area.

She told me her own horror stories about mom groups. At the end of our talk I thought we should exchange numbers. But she said, “Just stay alone. Stick to yourself. It is much better. Trust me.”

Her words echoed often, as I tried again to meet a new friend. My desperation made me turn to Facebook. In a mom group I crafted a post stating how hard it is to meet others.

But in the end I felt embarrassed. Who wants to publicize they lost their job years ago, have been home ever since, and though they love being a mom more than anything, it can get lonely as heck sometimes?

So I searched. Did other new moms here have this same problem?

It turns out someone posted about this once in a group. She got 163 responses.  Surely I am not alone in this lonesome boat.

When all efforts failed, I’d repeat that mom’s words — “it’s better to be alone” — and remind myself that my loner existence has its perks.

It wasn’t always this way.  I used to have a lot of friends.  I assumed they would all always be there — just like my mom’s friends she met when I was little. They all still get together, in their late 70s.

But life gets in the way for people. Some friends have faded away over time. I find myself thinking that anyone who has a truly good friend for a lifetime doesn’t know how lucky they are.

Alexandra’s son.

In late February of 2020, I felt especially beaten down, leaving a playground after attempting to chat with a group of moms who weren’t too friendly.

Little did I know, in a matter of days our country would shut down. My world would feel even smaller. Meeting new people became impossible.

I walked my toddler down Main Street. He suddenly bolted from my hand. He ran at lightning speed, almost cutting a lady off. He fell and cried hysterically. The lady came up to me. I assumed she would tell me to get better control of my kid. I apologized that he got close to her.

But this kind woman just wanted to make sure he was okay. Luckily he was, but still crying. She led us to a bench and told me to wait a few minutes.

She returned with 2 huge hot chocolates with whipped cream. She was the cheeriest person I’d seen in ages. She handed me a chocolate bar and says, “chocolate makes everything better.”

She declined my offer of cash, and said, “It gets easier once they’re older.” In a flash, she was gone.

She was right. It does get easier once they’re older. But this kind stranger did not realize what she also taught me that day. It’s something I think about 2 years later. There are nice moms out there.

Hopefully when life gets better in springtime, I can meet one.

All it takes is one.

Pic Of The Day #1742

Beach rules (Photo/Jonathan Prager)

Photo Challenge #369

No, Cobb’s Mill Inn has not moved to Sherwood Mill Pond.

That might not be a bad idea — it’s one place as picturesque as the longtime Weston restaurant/event space. From 1934 through 2016, diners enjoyed a waterfall, wildlife, and the ever-changing seasons at the former pond-side sawmill and gristmill.

A “Cobb’s Mill” sign now hangs in Westport. It was the subject of last week’s Photo Challenge.

Eagle-eyed “06880” readers — and, obviously, avid nature lovers/walkers — John Richers, Molly Alger, Alfred Herman, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Harry Brady, John Moran and Judy Katz all knew it can be found on the side of Clark Hanford’s house.

He lives in the far corner of the Old Mill Beach parking lot. His house is the funky one on the left — with a tiny electric car in the yard — as you head to Sherwood Mill Pond, and the pedestrian bridges leading to Compo Cove.

I’m not sure how the historic Weston sign ended up in Westport. But it’s fitting that it sits a few yards from another “old mill,” delighting all who pass while reminding us too of both our agricultural and gustatory pasts. (Click here to see Cathy Malkin’s photo.)

Here’s this week’s challenge. If you know where in Westport it is, click “Comments” below.

Hint: It does not come from Weston.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Roundup: School Visitors, Stop & Shop, Lunar New Year …

======================================================

With COVID cases decreasing, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice has announced that as of January 31, visitors will be allowed back in buildings. All visitors will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test administered 72 prior to the visit.

=======================================================

Stop & Shop may still be confounding customers with its “redesign.” But they are on the ball with one thing. Last week, “06888” called the supermarket out on their flyer, which announced their “reopening” (though they never closed) as taking place in “East Westport.”

This week, they got it right:

Now, if we can just figure out where they moved the coffee to … (Hat tip: Beth Keane)

====================================================

In just a year of operation, AAPI Westport has made its mark on Westport.

Next up: a Lunar Year celebration. It’s set for the Westport Weston Family Y, on Saturday, February 5 (1 to 3 p.m.).

On tap: crafts, games and a cooking demonstration (dumplings!). Everyone is welcome.

The event is free. Registration is recommended, but not required; click here.

=======================================================

Congratulations to the Staples/Stamford/Westhill girls ice hockey coop team. They’re the Ruden Report Team of the Week, following a great 0-0 tie against powerhouse Darien.

The girls practice at 5:30 a.m. — in Stamford — once a week. But you can catch them working out on Fridays after school, at the Longshore PAL rink.

The Staples/Stamford/Westhiill girls ice hockey coop team.

=======================================================

Ever since COVID struck, Westporters have discovered the wide open spaces and beauty of Sherwood Island State Park. Fred Cantor took this “Westport … Naturally” photo last week.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

======================================================

And finally … today is the birthday of Chita Rivera. The actress/singer/dancer is 89 years old.

Recycling: What “Can” I Do?

Our next Question Box is not yet full.

But alert — and environmentally conscious — reader Frank Sisson’s email is important enough to warrant a special spot.

And an answer.

The other day, he wrote: “What are the rules about what should properly go into our blue bin recycle containers?

“My wife tends to put anything metallic or plastic in (while I think that only plastics with the special recycle triangle symbol on the bottom are allowed), and sometimes she doesn’t rinse food remnants out as well as I think we should. (I often retrieve things out of the bin and wash them clean before putting them back in.)

“And is all paper okay, or just newspaper, paper bags and magazines (even magazines, with all the color photos and staples, might be questionable).

“Is there a clear list of rules you might have access to?  I am sure many other Westporters could use this guidance.

“Also: What about batteries — As, AAs AAAs, 9-volt, the little button batteries, etc. Should they go into the regular trash, the blue recycle bin, or be dropped off at some special place for disposal (maybe the fire station?).

“I let mine accumulate in a cardboard box at home, but don’t really know where they should be go. Someone told me recently that storing them at home could be dangerous, and a fire hazard.”

I contacted Sustainable Westport — our town’s advisory team. They directed me to a website and app: RecycleCT. Click on or download it; then type in the name of any item (lithium battery, pizza box, whatever), and it will tell you how and where it can be recycled.

In addition, Sustainable Westport has an Instagram handle: @sustainablewestport. It includes a fun series of video tours that show what can be recycled at the Transfer Station on the Sherwood Island Connector (pro tip: batteries included!).

The transfer station is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon. If you haven’t been there, check it out. It’s one of the most popular (and friendly) spots in town

Sustainable Westport also welcomes questions directly — just email admin@sustainablewestport.org. They’ll answer quickly — and address them in future videos.

 

Pic Of The Day #1741

The view from Schlaet’s Point (Photo/Ivy Gosseen)