The Sounds of Saugatuck Silence

Plans are proceeding for the redevelopment of Saugatuck.

(Courtesy of Westport Patch)

A nifty artist’s rendering is on display, showing in gauzy architect-vision the “new”  Riverside Avenue.  Phase I — planned for completion in early 2011 (known in Chinese as The Year Pigs Fly) — includes 4,000 square feet of retail space, 5,000 square feet of offices, and 6 residential apartments.

The buildings will be called “Marsh” and “Tide,” which is better than faux English names like River Crossinge or Ye Olde Westport Place, yet ignores the area’s long Italian heritage completely.

The concept is sound:  bring back a small, bustling, pedestrian-friendly environment (though underneath the dark, massive I-95 bridge).  But already small, bustling businesses like De Rosa’s and the Saugatuck Barber Shop have been vacated.

Arguments can be made for and against such “progress.”

Yet — and this is what “06880” can’t understand — why is no one talking about this?

Westporters are passionate about many things.  Dogs on the beach, Parks and Rec’s online registration crashing for a few minutes, putting a group home on town-owned Post Road property — those get our backs up, and set our fingers typing.

For months, though, Saugatuck has been balanced on the edge of change.  A new neighborhood is coming.  What that means for all of us — wherever we live, whatever our heritage, how often or little we go there — is a matter of intense importance.

And incredible silence.

9 responses to “The Sounds of Saugatuck Silence

  1. Maybe it’s because people are looking forward to the area being revitalized.
    It has always been a little dumpy there – and whilst DeRosa’s was a bustling restaurant when my husband and I arrived in 1983, (people used to line up to get in on the weekend) it has not been like that in years.
    The Saugatuck Rowing Club was a very nice addition to the area, so I don’t think people are too worried that the new buildings will be out of character. It appears that the powers that be are trying to make it warm, inviting neighborhood.

  2. Loretta Santella Hallock

    I remember picking my Dad , John Santella, up every night after work in the sixties. I was driving his big Chrysler at the time and parked right in front of his Riverside barber shop. We live just across the bridge off Imperial Ave. It was so difficult trying to pull that big car out onto Riverside Avenue during train time. That was almost 50 years ago. Good Luck with the train traffic!

  3. The Dude Abides

    Yawn! A new commercial development in Wesport? What else is new? A few more SUV’s on the road? The town has been selling out since Stauffer Chemical moved here in the 70’s.
    They argued that it would keep the tax base down and now we are arguing about the tax base.

  4. Larry Perlstein

    Why does new development always mean that the long-standing business must be pushed out? I’m all for nicer looking, more cohesive neighborhoods but it is businesses like DeRosa’s. Doc’s Coffee, etc. that give the neighborhood its charm. With Mario’s and surrounding stores as one anchor and the Mansion Clam house and surrounding restaurants as the other anchor, that area is ripe for a nice walkable strip filled with independently owned retail. Who knows, maybe we would get an independent bookseller — or how about a nice Indie movie theater!!

  5. Maybe what was old can be improved upon for the better… Those who are behind this development are old time old school Westporters who I ithink hope and believe they would only want the best for their hometown and let’s give them a chance. What was there was no pretty view by any means.

    • Loretta Santella Hallock

      Believe me my comment had nothing to do with the old time old school Westporters. I am also a third generation Westporter.
      They are a great family. I just think Riverside Avenue might not be able to handle more traffic.

  6. As I recall, there was a lot of discussion back when this was first presented. The argument was between those who thought that we were losing our heritage and those who thought that the area is ugly. At this point, I think that most people believe that the Gault’s will do a good job, and that change is better than stagnation.

  7. Loretta Santella Hallock

    I’m sure they will do a wonderful job!

  8. Pingback: Designing A New Downtown « 06880