Grilling The Barbecuers

Like a long cookout, this summer’s controversy over barbecues at Westport Housing Authority properties has simmered for a while — but may once again burst into flames.

A few weeks ago tenants at Hidden Brook, Sasco Creek Village and Hales Court learned of a ban on grills. The reason:  a Sasco Creek fire in July  destroyed 2 trailers.

Residents countered that 1 case of negligence should not result in wide-scale penalties.

A Housing Authority resident recently contacted “06880.”  The email said:

I live in Hales Court.  Well I did, until I was relocated while they demolished the houses and built new ones.  I got a letter from WHA a couple of weeks ago, as did the rest of the people that rent from them, regarding barbecues on the property.  They will no longer be allowed on any property owned by WHA.

There was a meeting with just the residents of Hales Court, and we discussed it.  They have built decks/patios on all the new houses. The Westport Housing says it is a public safety issue.  I said I didn’t agree with them.

They cited an incident that happened in the trailer park on the 4th of July.  A person with a gas grill, but using charcoal in it, had the grill up against the trailer.  Apparently the trailer caught fire and destroyed another trailer.  Luckily no one was hurt.

I grill all the time and have never had a fire.  I don’t know anyone who has.  I understand the standard is a grill must be 10 feet from a building.  Although I’m sure there are some fires, just as there are a million other home accidents.  It doesn’t mean it is a public safety issue.

They went on to point out an explosion with a gas truck, and how horrible that was.  I would say that is a terrible accident, but nothing to do with us.  We are getting new gas lines underground for our new houses — what about the recent gas line explosion in California?  Are we to consider the gas lines unsafe?

You can see where I’m going with this.  There are so many things — candles, stoves, etc.

They invited us to go to board meeting on Monday (Sept. 20, 7 p.m. at Canal Park).  They said they are still deciding.  Of course I plan to speak up, but I don’t want to be considered a troublemaker.

For that reason, the writer asked that I not use his or her name.

First the residents fear their grilling rights will be taken away.

Then they worry that if they speak up, they might lose their homes.

This is a journey down streets of our town that most Westporters seldom see.

17 responses to “Grilling The Barbecuers

  1. The Town website identifies these APPOINTED individuals as the Board Members who apparently made this decision:

    Balian, Marie
    Phone: 203-227-5164
    Knapp, Kathryn
    Phone: 203-222-1762
    Wauchope, Kathleen
    Phone: 203-454-7726
    Newberg, David
    Chair
    Phone: 203-454-3915
    Nixon, Jeffrey
    Phone: 203-454-3610

    I wonder if they have removed grills from their private residences ?

    After all… DUH

  2. The Dude Abides

    The enormity of the issues confronting this town and nation are beginning to become overwelming. I know nothing about the Westport Housing Authority but it would seem that they are getting a pretty good deal on shelter and perhaps grilling should not be a focal point. However, grilling can become addictive and I am sure that a good ole burnt (or perhaps “blackened” would be a more suitable term in Westport) burger can really make a fall day watching the NFL games. Perhaps a central location within the site where a group-grill-in could be managed and perhaps alleviate the issue altogether. CAUTION: The American Cancer Society has determined that “charring” your dead animal (assuming it is dead) on the grill can lead to a higher rate of colon cancer. So keep flipping!

  3. I agree with the initial comment. This seems like a silly over reaction. Someone starts a fire because they: 1. use a grill improperly and 2. have it closer to their house than they are supposed to have it. It seems pretty simple to me that a blanket ban on barbeque is a silly over reaction. Shoot, I fly planes almost every week. People die in plane crashes. Should they be banned? It’s a logical fallacy called “argument um ad absurdum” take any situation, amplify it and you can come to almost any extreme conclusion. Life has risks. Even barbecuing has risks. But it is a genuine american ritual. To deny people the “right” to barbecue is to capriciously remind them that they are under the control of the town. It’s mean spirited. Funny as liberal a place as Westport is, I guess it’s just too much fun not to remind poor people who’s the boss. You go for it you rich folks on the Westport Housing Authority! Those poor folks need boundaries and instructions from their betters to know how to live safely.

    If we subsidize their housing, we should have the right to limit the pleasure they get out of every day life. It’s our right as rich people! We should consider limiting how much beer they drink because you know, when people drink bad stuff can happen as well!

  4. Remember what Thomas Jefferson said,
    ‘A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.’

    • The Dude Abides

      Jefferson also owned slaves and refused to free them.

      • Completely irrelevant to the topic and is the same Saul Alinsky tactics that are use today by the left to discredit a critic oran opposing view point.
        Come on Dude you are better than that!

  5. “No Barbecuing”? Barbeque is a noun, not a verb. Who makes these signs?

  6. It’s also a transitive verb… as in:

    “I’m gonna BBQ your fat -_- if you don’t throw away your grill!”

  7. Who pays the insurance bill? That’s who should decide what is permitted on these properties.

  8. If there is a signed leases, it should be the terms of the lease that determine what is permitted.

  9. Not allowing grills is ridiculous! We live in AMERICA PEOPLE! Agreeing with what the letter said, bad things happen and it’s a tragedy when they do. The housing authority should not have the right to take away their tenants right to grill, its un-American. They don’t call America the “land of the free” for nothing!

  10. The Dude Abides

    Well they don’t allow cooking fires in many of our national forests either so I am not sure your bold statement holds true of America. Alittle compromise and tact seems to be in order here. Since I possess neither, I will leave it to the bureaucrats or Jeffxs’ suggestion that the lease contractual terms should govern is a good one.

  11. A lease can either be a balanced and fairly negotiated contract or a “take it or leave it” document. In this case, it is the later, and therefore should not be used as a lever to legislate behavior that is considered normal and customary.

    Check out Kirk Lang’s article:
    http://www.fairfieldcitizenonline.com/default/article/Fired-up-crowd-asks-Westport-Housing-Authority-to-668372.php

  12. The Dude Abides

    Thank you for the link to the Lang article. After reading it, it would seem that more is involved here than merely cooking out a hot dog or hamburger. It is a question of governmental housing versus the rights of subsidized tenants. After some experience with being a landlord of Section 8 tenants, I find little sympathy. Despite some entries on this blog to the contrary, this is somewhat contrary to my nature. Consequently, I have to go to Jeffxs here. Abide by the rules or move on. I don’t think the WHA is being mean here. Stove broiled dead meat is probably better for you anyhow.

  13. I wa thinking about it, if the WHA will not let you have a grill outside, bring it inside! (lol) So I was thinking , don’t/wont the houses have a gas stove? They have an open flame, the only difference is that on a stove you use a pot or pan.

  14. The Dude Abides

    I would have to surmise that cooking over any type of grill inside would pose a bigger threat than outside. If this controversy was only be about grilling, I do believe that they could create a common area where everyone could cook and it would be safe. To the contrary, I believe the tenants are being sick of being told what to do. I think I would be too. Fortunately, I only have an attractive woman to run my life and not the WHA.