Robbie Guimond: For Safety And Commerce, Raise The Bridge

Robbie Guimond has lived and worked on the Saugatuck River for more than 20 years. Since 1996 he’s owned and operated Bridgebrook Marina, one of the last old New England boatyards. He lives there with his wife, Taryn Bolotin, and 3 young daughters. 

“We love Saugatuck, and have invested our lives in this community,” Robbie says. “We plan on raising our girls here, on this river.”

Robbie Guimond, at work.

Robbie Guimond, at work.

With the Bridge Street (aka William Cribari) Bridge back in the news — a new state Department of Transportation report favors rehabilitation over replacement — he sent “06880” some thoughts.

As a river worker, he has a special perspective:

Listening to all the chatter about the bridge, I’ve noticed something missing from every single discussion: the river underneath.

People who don’t live on the river don’t truly understand that the height of the bridge strangles the flow of boat traffic up it. I understand that if you don’t use the river for the many recreational sports it offers, or any of the restaurants, or if your home isn’t on the river, or if you don’t enjoy recreational boating in the area, then you may not care about the river.

But you should. The river from Bridge Street to Route 1 was once a thriving waterway. The library has an abandoned bulkhead/stairway to show us what could be, and what has become. Life on this river has dissipated over the years, due to the lack of dredging and the Cribari Bridge low clearance for boat traffic.

Boats moored on the Saugatuck River, south of the bridges. They can access the railroad bridge -- but not the Cribari swing bridge, Guimond says.

Boats moored on the Saugatuck River, south of the bridges. They can access the railroad bridge — but not the Cribari swing bridge, Robbie Guimond says.

Why doesn’t the Cribari Bridge match the height of the railroad bridge? Just a few feet higher and the majority boats could pass under. The difference in this height would allow regular day boats to travel for recreational use during all tides.

Just as important, it would allow safe passage for the marine police and rescue boats to get under and have access to the boaters, kayakers, paddle boarders, rowers and anyone else on or near the river.

I’ve never heard a whisper of concern for the safety of the people who are out on the water in cold temperatures, and in early morning hours or after dusk. Mere minutes could make the difference in saving lives when you’re on the water. We would love to see the bridge clearance height raised to meet the clearance of the railroad bridge. It seems obvious.

Robbie Guimond says a higher bridge, and dredging, would allow fire boats to help in the event of an office fire. Foreground: abandoned docks at Rive Bistro restaurant.

Robbie Guimond says a higher bridge, and dredging, would allow fire boats to help in the event of an office fire. Foreground: abandoned docks at Rive Bistro restaurant.

To really breathe life back into this river, dredging would need to be addressed. The town has discussed this project for years, but has not allocated money to do so.

Raising the bridge height, along with dredging, would promote access to restaurants on the river all the way to downtown. For example, the Five Mile River in Rowayton thrives with activity.

Most boaters think the Black Duck is their only option in Saugatuck. With the impending Railroad Place Development and the massive Gault project, wouldn’t it be great to offer a seasonal “water taxi” that would create a unique, transient- oriented attribute. People could arrive by train and take a water taxi to any of the restaurants on the river. Or to the Levitt Pavilion for a show, or all the way downtown to the shops that could use some more patronage (minus the parking).

This is our one chance to get it right. We hope everyone can see what a treasure the river actually is, and plan for our growing and changing community for generations to come.

Robbie Guimond asks, "How high would property values go if bigger boats could access the Saugatuck River?"

Robbie Guimond asks, “How high would property values go if bigger boats could access the Saugatuck River?”

107 responses to “Robbie Guimond: For Safety And Commerce, Raise The Bridge

  1. tom kashetta

    Robbie hit the nail on the head. Could not agree with him more !!!!!!!

  2. Michael Calise

    The dredging of the river is more important to the vitality of Westport than any downtown project. It is truly unfortunate that this much needed project has been continuously overlooked in favor of “feel good sidewalks” and many other down town “improvements” Its time to face up to this long overlooked project.

  3. Morley Boyd

    The low information crowd will slurp this up. Nice work Jim and Dewey. See you guys on the 15th.

    • Robin Weinberg

      As a member of the low info crowd on this river issue – I’m interested to hear the other views. Can you give us a summary, Morley?

      • Morley Boyd

        Sure, I can summarize the ugly truth behind this entire issue with one word: density.

        • While I understand your passion for the bridge, I don’t get the density thing. All im trying to express is the current height or lack there of. If a restoration is to be done ,Great but set it on piles that are a few feet taller and lets the river work again. its a shame to have so many unused slips and private docks for something as simple as 3 or 4 feet of height. they tried in 89 to improve it but fumbled big time. Also lets maintain our resources. its just ridiculous that in a few weeks we can find 1.5 million for curbs and landscaping of a parking lot but not take care of this treasure. IMHO

    • The only “ugly truth” here is that.Morley Boyd continues to bully our town leaders and their staff with his conspiracy theories and personal attacks.

      • Robbie claims on Facebook that (1) 1st selectman Jim Marpe owns a boat that docks at his marina and (2) Dewey Loselle has consulted with him about the bridge. Wouldn’t those statements comprise a reason for thinking this piece originated with the administration?

        • Bart Shuldman

          Werner-are you a teacher in Westport?

        • Werner, jim and his boat partner stay for the winters only so they pass thru twice a year . im sure you don’t think I wrote this from anything other then my perspective. I offed to schedule an opening for there 25′ boat to pass thru the swing bridge but the email clearly states openings are not an option not even twice a year.

          Thanks Robbie

          I’ve got a shot at getting the boat out at 3” of tide which provides enough clearance above the radar arch and clearance below the keel at the same time.

          I stopped trying to get the bridge opened two years ago after several failed attempts on the part of the DOT guys…. Even after the bridge allegedly been “repaired.”

          Thanks
          JK

          • Werner Liepolt

            As I mentioned one could easily construe consultation between Robbie and members of the administration BASED ON Robbie’s comments on the Exit 17 group. And that is what I do construe.
            Personally, for the three winters I stored my sail boat at Robbie’s Bridgebrook Marina and could not have been more pleased with the way he runs his yard.

        • Bart Shuldman

          Werner-is your issue NIMBY-Not in my backyard? Boaters and Westporters don’t get the benefit because of the unlikely case a semi might drive by your house?

          By the way-how does a semi make a turn onto a rebuilt bridge from Riverside Avenue into Bridge Street? Will making the bridge higher make it easier or just as impossible?

      • Morley Boyd

        Thank you Selectman Kaner for that polite advisory. I’ll presume that, as my representative, you’re speaking for the administration. In that regard, I do have one small question: you seem uncharacteristically quiet about the $400,000 Transit Oriented Development grant that you just received this week from Hartford. Just to refresh your memory, that would be the money earmarked for the (over) development of Saugatuck and, of course, the replacement of the existing bridge to allow access by 18 wheelers. Shouldn’t you be crowing about this developer friendly pork fest?

        • Bart Shuldman

          Morley–you continue to post untruths and very misleading statements. Is it your desire to be known as someone who has no credibility and spews nonsense.

          Your latest diatribe confirms only one thing-you are a nasty person who will stoop to any level to get attention.

          I will hope that all Westporers understand the continual issue with Morley.

          • Carolanne Curry

            Really Bart
            I think Westporters really do get it….
            Not necessarily your way…

      • Carolanne Curry

        Avi,
        Funny you should use that word,”bully”.
        While you have already established your expert credentials as a bully yourself, it however, doesn’t then compute that everyone else who may disagree with your insensitive, ill-conceived projects like Baron South and Hiawatha Lane LLC, are also bullies…now we can add the BRIDGE.
        You don’t understand preservation, you don’t understand conservation, you don’t understand controlled growth and you certainly don’t understand the danger and destruction that the currently proposed plans for the BRIDGE
        will bring to Saugatuck……

        • Bart Shuldman

          Carolanne. How is replacing or rebuilding an old bridge not an act of safety? How does widening a very narrow bridge increase growth in Westport? How does raising the height of a bridge which benefits many, an act of effecting controlled growth? What controlled growth are you speaking about?

          From my perspective, since you speak about the many in Westport, the arguments and scare tactics look too similar to what happened to the Y. And despite the scare, the Y moved and traffic never developed and many get to enjoy the new Y.

        • Carolanne – I never said anything about the bridge. I have no idea where you’re coming from.
          Regarding Baron’s South, I proudly advocated for affordable senior housing, as did the prior administration. A group including Morley Boyd passionately fought against affordable senior housing adjacent to the senior center, leaving the vast majority of Barons South as open space.
          Regarding Hiawatha Lane – this is where you live and you have publicly opposed affordable housing located near you. Given your role on Planning and Zoning I think it would be inappropriate for you to influence the P&Z’s deliberations that Cathy Walsh is scheduling.

    • Morley Boyd continues to disseminate misinformation, innuendos, and conspiracy theories. The $440,000 grant for the Saugatuck Master Plan is a significant win for Westport residents, and has been lauded by both Democratic and Republican leaders. Westport’s non-partisan Representative Town Meeting (RTM) approved the submission. The elected RTM members represent every Westport district. Many Westporters have already enjoyed the improvements that have brought new life and vitality to the Saugatuck area. And yes, the citizen-centric planning will look at ways to improve pedestrian and bicycle access.

      • Morley Boyd

        Selectman Kaner, is there some reason why you are now hiding behind the RTM and the Democrats?

      • Werner Liepolt

        Ok but the real bottom line is what this project will do to property values. Here is a link to what is going on in Norwalk. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2016/05/norwalk-property-owners-put-conndot-on-hot-seat-over-walk-bridge-plans/

      • John F. Suggs

        1st Selectman Marpe, On some level, these numerous personal attacks on residents by an elected member of your Administration, reflects on you. I would like to know do you support these attacks?

        Best, John F. Suggs
        RTM District 5

        • Nancy Hunter Wilson

          I agree. An elected official giving subjective views in this format is shocking, unheard of, truly unprofessional.

          • Bart Shuldman

            Nancy-it is refreshing to see a leader stand up and speak to their views and ideas. The fact that some people chose to attack those views should not stop that leader from commenting back,especially if the poster (Morley) is wrong and posting things that are not true.

            Is social media only ‘one way’? In John’s world he does not believe in open and free dialogue. He does not like someone having emotion and heart. He does not like a leader speaking back so the residents understand the issue from his point of view. John’s world allows Morley and others to give their negative and mostly misguided view and not allow the feedback we deserve to read

            And Warner has been ‘ugly’ during this conversation. It is appropriate to bring forward that the attacks are not warranted. In John’s world he only likes to see those posts, whether negative and ugly or not, to go on. John does not like the feedback that goes against this bad behavior.

            Life in Canada has got to be real boring given your constant focus on Westport.

            • Nancy Hunter Wilson

              An elected official should be supplying facts without rants or insults.
              I leave the rants and insults to you and others.

        • Bart Shuldman

          John-shame on you. Trying to stop free speech, which is the intent of your post, is horrible and shameful. Is it the truth you did not like?

          Avi needs to be applauded for standing up to Morley and Warner.

          Please enlighten us all, how did you vote on this issue? Since some seem to be hiding their NIMBY, please let us know, so we all get to try and understand your intent.

  4. Right now its a struggle to get through the narrow winding river with all the docks sticking out at different angle.. Rowers and small boats struggle to get through, If you add lot of larger boats traffic to the area it would be a problem.

    • Philip ,the river is plenty wide for all to enjoy, the bridges get tight as well as the area by the riv* . That said, it could be argued that the rowers looking to the rear and moving faster then the 5 mph speed limit make things kinda tricky (that’s another story) . But im for all to have use of this treasure not just the few. When we say larger its more of a taller (and i mean only a few feet taller) as really big boats can not clear the rr bridge. in fact the boats im referring to would be no wider then the small lower profile boats eg. (sea ray sundeck 21 ) on the river now.

  5. I second Philip’s comment. Anyone who’s rowed or kayaked on the river knows how narrow and tortuous this stretch of river is. Adding more and larger motorboats would force out the human powered boaters with their wakes, and most certainly lead to accidents. The water taxi thing is far fetched. This is not a particularly scenic route, lined as it is by the office buildings. Why not build a decent bikeway between downtown and Saugatuck instead? The current routes (Riverside and Imperial Aves) are extremely bike unfriendly.

    • Michelle Benner

      I love the bike path idea! Westport needs a wonderful bikeway, it would be such an amazing, useful addition to our beautiful town. Get The Bike Lady involved 🙂

      • I’m on it, that is I’m (newly) on the bike-ped subcommittee of the Downtown plan.
        Interestingly the CT Bike-Walk Summitt was held a week ago in New Britain. About 80 people from the entire state in the room 😦
        I wrote about what I learned in my blog this week(https://westportbikerentals.com/2016/06/2016-bike-walk-summit-held-in-new-britain-last-week/)…but to summarize, in order for the idea of bike lanes to STICK, we need buy-in from our leaders and our community. In order to get that buy-in we need policy that favors walkers-bikers (and that will be uncomforatble for some), projects that make it safe for walkers & bikers (with absolutely no excuses), and education so that people know the trade-offs (and buy-in). Liveable, walkable, bikeable communities are healthier ( for obvious reasons), have a lighter carbon footprint (for obvious reasons), usually are more appealing in the real estate market (which everyone likes),have better economies (walkers & bikers pay attention to what’s happening around them & they tend to spend more $ downtown) and they are accessible to EVERYONE ( this is huge, IMHO)
        But there will be trade offs…and we may need to change the way we do things and BUILD things. Are we ready? I am.
        I am honestly not sure how we progress from surveys & meetings to making it happen, but I’m am trying to learn.
        My guess is that we need absolutely committed leaders (politicians, businesses, families, community leaders, schools, volunteers, etc). We need to show up & have a unified message: we want our town to be liveable, bikeable, and walkable for EVERYONE.

        • Jerry MacDaid

          I think safe biking paths would be wonderful. The unfortunate thing is, I would hazard to guess that the majority of Westporter’s don’t ride bicycles and are uninterested in walking extended distances. Further, the majority of even those that say they support bike/walking paths (and who wouldn’t until they understood the personal cost/implications) would opt to hop in their cars to travel within Westport 80% of the time even if paths were safe and present unless they happened to live within a block of where they want to go.

    • Peter ,are you saying our river and waterfront is not scenic? What river do you use? I’ve always wondered why the human powered boats are in the narrow navigation channels when the mud flats on all side have a copious amount of space and boats that need the depth can not access. A side note, Maybe a bike path as well along the ugly river .

  6. Cynthia Williams

    If she truly wants the historic district sign, I should think we could place it inside the fence on our own property. we can ask Joe. It is probably good to get it and take with us.

  7. Phillip Perri

    I am curious, exactly where in the latest DOT report does it state that the “Department of Transportation report favors rehabilitation over replacement”? If anything it appears to imply the opposite stating “The more detailed investigations conducted as part of the RSR process have revealed substantially more structural deficiencies and significant highway functional deficiencies.” Am I missing something?

    • No you are not. there is a great deal of wishful thinking on the part of those who want to preserve the bridge. The big picture is; the DOT wants to spread some pork. It is very hard to get between those who want the pork and the DOT. If the DOT were to prevail, there would be a new much larger bridge capable of carrying overflow traffic from 95. It is hard to find anyone in Westport who thinks this is a good idea, but there seem to be many in the Malloy regime who favor transforming Saugatuck into a traffic hub.

  8. G.H. Damman

    Dan I agree with Robbie The present unsafe and dangerous ” historic ” bridge acts as a closed door The temporary bridge should have been left and the old one removed The big picture has been shoved aside in the name of preservation Give Robbie a gold star !

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  9. Jack Whittle

    I don’t dispute the point that Robbie Guimond’s marina operation would benefit from a higher underpass at Bridge Street. However, I often run my boat (21′ Sea Ray) up the Saugatuck to the area of Saugatuck El when a nice scenic cruise is called for by my passengers, and aside from the 2 hours around high tide we can get under the bridge just fine – and I am not the only boater that does this. Bigger, taller boats would definitely experience a shorter window of access unless the bridge is opened, but that’s been the case for over a 100 years.

    As for dredging the Saugatuck up to the Post Road (and beyond, as I’ve urged to 2 administrations now) – this should definitely get moved from the “dreamy” list to the “going to happen” list; aside from the obvious visual improvement this would lead to enhanced recreational activities (rowing, kayaking, SUPing, canoeing, etc.) on the River closer to the downtown area.

    • Jack, not only my place but the other 60+ commercial boat slips unused north of the bridge, not to mention the 40+ slips at private residences. whats the waiting list for docks at compo? 7+ years. Please note the type of boats in the photo behind the new saugatuck center, hardly huge ” big” boats just regular day boats that would never venture to the rive , Parker, or even the vfw for dinner.

  10. ConnDOT’s plan is here. http://www.ct.gov/dot/lib/dot/documents/dbridgepubs/158-212_RSR_20160601.pdf

    It offers no improvements to the river. It does not fulfill Robby’s dreams.

    It replaces a historic structure with an open road for 18 wheelers onto Greens Farms road from Saugatuck to Exits 18 and 19. It brings the density of commerce to Wesport’s residential neighborhoods.

    It replaces the tight squeeze our school busses feel with a the potential for tractor trailers lined up every morning.

    It does nothing for recreation. In the name of the East Coast Greenway it replaces one of the two Westport landmarks the Greenway lists.

    It does nothing for traffic on or the health of the river. It has been and remains the responsibility of the town administration to get the river’s dredging on the Corps of Engineers list. ConnDOT doesn’t plan to do anything.

    The ConnDOT plan that goes forward from the meeting next Wednesday will indeed affect Westport completely. Perhaps redefining it as a hub of commerce.

    Speak out on Wednesday June 15 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall. Send letters and emails to the project lead. Priti.Bhardwaj@ct.gov

    Remember what the administration and your representatives have or haven’t done when election time comes around.

    • While i understand the Big truck issue, as a commercial trucker myself the tractor trailers on I95 are not going to venture over any bridge new or old. there just to long and professional drivers know this. The other “Big ” trucks use the bridge daily in its current configuration. The truck traffic issue is thin at best. but im sure a height restriction could be designed into any plan the DOT has .

  11. Dennis Stahursky

    I happen to agree with Mr Guimond and Tommy Kashetta. Westport has the Saugatuck River and it long ago put this town on the map. It is a natural resource that should be constantly monitored and improved as necessary.
    Weston has Devils Den. You have a whole river. Which would you rather enhance? Get on it people, before the river becomes a slow, stagnent, smelly embarrassment.

  12. Having spent more than 26 years on the WPD, one of my last assignments in the early 80’s was running the Marine Division.Prior to that, I spent many years on Marine patrol and in the early 60;s was assigned to one of the two boats then operated by the Department to patrol the waters. It was an 18-foot lapstrake outboard donated by the Bedford family and my job was to patrol the river on weekends. That’s right. The River was so busy with boating that weekends required a special patrol while the larger Police Boat patrolled the outer waters. A long list of dedicated officers, special officers and auxiliary officers worked the marine division over the years and in those early years, marine patrols ran from Memorial Day until mid-October, 7 days a week from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.. Patrols were cut back over the years due to budgeting. I still recall then Captain Rosenau telling me that in earlier years, one of the large oil companies had offered to dredge the river all the way to the Post Road Bridge for the rights to put a marina there and sell boat gas. – Dick Alley

  13. I enjoy and value the river as much as anyone. What the ConnDOT plan does is make ugly the one remaining good feature on it. It destroys the William F Cribari Bridge.

    The ConnDOT plan and the $440,000 bribe… er, grant touted by our local and state politicians puts Saugatuck in line to be a Malloy transit hub… An exciting concept that has brought the state the Stamford RR parking garage fiasco, the Fast Bus To Nowhere project, and the desolation soon to be known as the Norwalk Walk Bridge boondoggle. This is the group that has closed the North Ave bridge that services three of our schools… apparently forever.

    Lousy references, a terrible track record, a virtual guarantee to destroy property values, and they’re getting a pass from our local politicians to flood our residential neighborhoods with the traffic they can’t manage on I95.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Governor Malloy and the leadership in Hartford has squandered hundreds of millions of dollars for the bus for no one and a train from New Haven to Springfield that might be used by 2,200 riders a day. This is all happening while we watch delay after delay on Metro North for 150,000 riders a day.

      The best thing any one can do is not vote to re elect Rep Steinberg who has been a proxy for what is going on in Hartford. Not only is he very involved in these horrible decisions but he voted twice to raise taxes on the residents in CT which is crumbling the state. He helped drive GE to move.

      You want to make change-we need to make change. You cannot blame anyone anymore if you decide to reelect Steinberg.

      As for what is going on in Westport-our financial condition has been the best!!!! The best in CT!!!! We are paying down debt. We have dealt with the pension problem by getting some on defined contribution plans while using a realistic discount rate. Pensions are over 85% funded. And Jim and Avi have dealt with OPEB, a disaster they inherited from the Joseloff/Helen days!!!!

      • Helen Garten

        Gee Bart, you really are a broken record. Except that you’ve changed your tune, since you used to quote me about the need for pension reform. And what does this have to do with the Cribari Bridge?

        Facts are:
        1. The “OPEB” of which you speak is the town’s liability to pay for retired employees’ future medical benefits, a contractual promise made long before I even moved to Westport.

        2. Our pension trust is 85% funded, but that is actually lower than it used to be. We were almost 100% funded when I and Avi joined the Board of Finance. That’s what volatile markets and changing demographics among our retirees can do to a town. Our OPEB fund, a trust fund created to fund future liabilities, is woefully underfunded, but unlike you I do not blame the other political party for that. We only created the trust eight years ago and are playing catchup. I personally think we should use these good times to put more money in the trust.

        3 The entire Board of Selectmen, including myself, has been very involved in the budget process this last three years. I applaud Jim for that..

        Now, the Cribari Bridge. The DOT seems determined to open the bridge to large trucks. I don’t think this is a partisan mentality. I think it is a “builder” mentality. If the community comes together we can send a clear message to DOT that we do not want that..

        • Helen, what do you want to do as an alternative to the bridge and its disrepair? Again my preference is a restoration of some type with the height issue addressed but ive never heard your position on a preferred plan. and if you would indulge, any input n the lack of river maintenance?

          • Helen Garten

            I favor preserving the historic character of the bridge. Neither of the DoT-proposed alternatives do that, and both open the bridge to large trucks. I understand your position, but raising the Cribari Bridge to the height of the railroad bridge would have a negative effect on the Bridge Street neighborhood. The swing bridge was in place back in the days when there was a lot more marine activity on the river. Yes, it has to be opened for large vessels, but that’s true of a lot of bridges that span rivers (Mystic, etc). As for dredging, if it can be done in an ecologically sensitive fashion, I support it.

            • thank you for the response Helen, its refreshing that you are open to a conversation unlike other posters who stay silent when asked simple questions. I agree with you on character preservation if possible but can you elaborate on the negative effect of raising the clearance 4 ‘ and id be curious on your input concerning the 60 or so unused slips especially with the 7 + year waiting list at town marinas.

              • a quick google shows the mystic bridges have mandatory on call openings as well as every 40 minutes in season. are you suggesting this is a comparable to the schedule here?

                • What you trying to say? This makes no sense.

                  • Werner Im sorry you are getting confused so let me try to clarify . Helen suggested openings are a option using mythic as a example . Manned bridges and automatic openings like mystic are not what we have here . She also suggested that the raising of the bridge would adversely affect the bridge st .neighborhood. I asked why.
                    i also asked about the unaccessible boat slips that could be available which would alleviate the waiting list at town docks especial for new residents. I commended her for responding and adding her insight.

                    • Bart Shuldman

                      This bridge has reached is useful life. The erector set is rusting away and will continue over time to become a hazard. This is a constant theme in CT and eventually this bridge will need to rebuilt.

                      The fear-mongering that semi’s will take over over our roads just because the bridge is widened is ridiculous. It sounds just like those that tried to stop the Y from moving by saying it would cause too much traffic. Never happened.

                      Helen, our third Selectman is against the need to rebuild an old bridge. She states her reason is based on semi’s traveling our neighborhood streets. Some are joining the notion that semis will invade Westport. Too bad.

                      The safety of those using the bridge is paramount. Widening the bridge is clearly needed as SUV’s and other small trucks making passing on the bridge very tight. And raising the height could help save a life.

                      Eventually the erector set will be rebuilt. Hopefully sooner than later, and before it becomes a bridge that is closed as it becomes too dangerous to use.

            • Bart Shuldman

              Helen-just curious. Were you against the Y moving-or for it?

        • It is always refreshing when you chime in Helen, because you are smart and extremely level headed….and always put principles before partisan politics!

        • Bart Shuldman

          Geez Helen–for someone who continues to say you did such a great job–you lost the Board of Finance Chairman when the party changed, as Westport tax payers wanting and needed change, and then you lost the Selectman election. Westporters knew exactly what was going on and voted accordingly.

          If you can, please back up ‘your’ facts regarding the pension funding. The figures I show do not support your ‘theory’ the pensions were fully funded. Different what you say, you were using too high a discount rate and not meeting at ARC requirements. It was not until the new Selectman came in were the necessary ARC payments made, making current residents pay for the damage that had been done for years..

          As for OPEB–I am sure you remember you were using an actuarial firm with NO municipal experience and had left hundreds of people off the counting that should have been included. You ran the Board of Finance and left Westport with over a hundred million dollar issue. You have to remember that.

          As for your ‘own’ thoughts you were supportive of changing to defined contribution plan, you know you sat at the table when Joseloff tried to get his own pension reinstated. How could you be advocating for non-union 401k plan when you were proposing the pension plan for the leader of Westport? If you had succeeded, Westport would have had a bigger liability just to meet Joseloffs bill.

          But it is nice to read that you now support the Jim and Avi with a disciplined approach to the budget and spending in Westport. Spending grew a lot when you were running the BofF, pensions were underfunded and using too high a discount rate (and yes you are right, especially after the deep recession), and OPEB was a disaster–leaving Westport tax payers with a huge bill.

          No onto the bridge issue. The erector set needs work and we should all hope nobody gets hurt until it is fixed. We watch as bridges in CT are creating huge issues and infrastructure left rotting. Raising the bridge to the RR height is a smart thing to do. It would help alleviate the waiting list for boat slips and bring it to modern needs and it could help save lives. And the truck issue is just scare tactics because you cannot support needed change. Kind of like the Y would cause all kinds of traffic if it moved, which it did not.

          • Nancy Hunter Wilson

            What is your work/title? Outsiders want to know.

          • Helen Garten

            Bart, debate on issues is one thing, but I won’t respond to partisan vitriol. You keep bringing up Gordon’s pension when you know the facts. Robbie, I am happy to continue the discussion with you off line.

            • Bart shuldman

              Helen. Let’s be honest. It’s not about partisan-it is about what is right (and good) for Westport. We are one of the highest taxes communities due to past decisions. Please-debate if you can. We have over $400 million in obligations. If we compare our costs to other towns around us we are one of the highest-if not the highest. Seniors feel the effect of the property taxes to pay it all.

              Finally we are addressing the costs while keeping the schools we need. This is about Westport and the changes we had to make.

              Hopefully we will not fall back. Just look at the states issues to understand what happens.

              • Bart, would you please edit this so it is comprehensible?

              • As you have probably discovered, I am a retired English teacher. I have lots of experience with writing and teaching students how to write. You do not write well, and I will point out the flaws in your writing for your benefit. I hope you will accept my helpful criticism.

                • Werner we are doing our best to communicate here, please save the report cards until after the meeting. : )

                • Werner – I don’t think I know you. But writing publicly about someone “you do not write well” is a form of cyber-bullying.. You are personally humiliating someone in public. I hope you didn’t resort to bullying like this when you were a teacher at Staples and didn’t agree with someone’s opinion in a paper.

            • Thanks helen, id love to discuss further and will be early to the meeting.

  14. “one remaining good feature” ? Its talk like that the has left this river in the rear and things like parking lot landscaping to the front. I do not argue the DOT has to be guided in this but to spend the 20/ 30 million on either a restoration or a replacement and not take the opportunity to match the RR bridge clearance would be a huge mistake. Mr alley’s post is a perfect example on how this river has been forgotten or shall I say neglected.

    • You’re blaming me for the failure of three or four administrations of Westport to get the river dredged? You’re cuckoo.

      • Suggesting that this bridge is the only attribute that makes our river great is absurd. In my opinion it is a cool looking span , that said if upgrading (restoring or replacing) potentially allows things like breathing new life into existing waterfront restaurants , public access to seasonal slips , transient dockage at the Levitt pavilion ( also a riverfront feature) and substantial property value increase for the hundred or so Riverfront homes could be possible I choose to upgrade .

        • Bart Shuldman

          Robbie it is called progress. It is called adding value to living in Westport. Your points are spot on.

  15. Toni Simonetti

    For those expert in all things river, does dredging affect wildlife habitats, food sources and the wellbeing of native plants along and in the river? I see a lot of wildlife on the river north of Bridge Street, and so that is why I ask.

    • The dredging would ONLY be in the narrow areas of the navigable channel and NOT the entire river or mud flats, this has been dredged before just not recently. Most don’t know but there are two channels up river by to Rt1 , the split is just before the Levitt , one heads to the eastern shoreline and one along the western shoreline. As to your question im sure the excavation of any federal waterway channel has some impact but it is minimized im sure to balance the argument of to do or not to do. Compromise is inevitable when shared use is involved .

  16. Glenn Payne

    It does seem odd now that it’s pointed out that our river, one of the unique aspects of our town is ignored. Ironically it is central to our town flag ” the river, which is central to Westport’s character and its history” (per town website). I would guess that given a choice between building a bridge that effectively severs any ability to visit downtown via water and a waterway that speaks to our shipping heritage most folks would pick the latter and a bridge that is safe and works (the superstructure can be as fancy as a smart designer can make it).

    As to the urban myth that trucks will use Greens Farms Road in lieu of the freeway: I checked with a friend that drives 18 wheelers. Printable responses to the idea that he’d choose a surface street over a freeway to get from NY to Boston were few; gist of his response was “why would I do that?” So can we please put this inane myth to bed.

    Dredging would be a great idea. If not for rising sea levels we could soon have a dirt track not a river (what a legacy!). Paying for it needs to be creatively managed, but it was smartly done at the Compo marina.

    • The truck drivers would use the bridge in a second if they could when there was an accident or a tie up on 95.

      Arguments to the contrary not withstanding, this is most certainly a political issue. The DOT reports to Molloy. Malloy is an elected official who promised to spend $100 billion on transportation, with absolutely idea how we will pay for all of that pork. The bridge is a but a small piece of that promise.

      Perhaps those who would save the bridge, could find a way to make the cost of saving the bridge HIGHER than the cost of replacing it. That would help Malloy deliver on his ridiculous promise.

      • I can assure you that at some point the random 18 wheeler will wander the wrong path over this bridge but to say that 65′ tractor trailers will frequent this road over Rt 1 in the accident scenario is misleading and just plain wrong. They are too long to navigate the road before and after the bridge period. it is a scare tactic and a poor one at that. i get the character argument but at the same time a cleaver classic design could work as well. thanks for posting thou and not about bike paths and pork politics.

  17. You have no idea what the what the approaches to the bridge will look like after the DOT has done its worst.

    • Nor do you know if you will live long enough to see them. I.E. Our endless North Ave bridge project, the almost decade long Stamford RR station parking garage, the Norwalk Walk Bridge project that is driving local businesses to despair…

  18. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    The water taxi idea is positive but, like having a female president/vice president package, that would be too much to ask.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Maybe you should think about electing a female Prime Minister in Canada before you start worrying about a US Pres/VP. And no, Kim Campbell’s 6 months in 1993 do not count as “being elected”.

    • The water taxi, the dredging, the beautiful River: none of that is attached to the ConnDOT bridge replacement. It is all on the first selectman, and neither he nor his predecessors has delivered.

  19. Michael Hannan

    Robbie is correct. The issue isn’t about trucks or bikes they will still be there.. It is the river and our environment. As westport residence we are are obligated to come together to protect are resources. The saugatuck river is one of our best assets. Dredging will not only create safety and boaters access to more areas. It will create fish more areas to spawn to repopulate the environment. It is truly a no brainer. Thanks Rob !!

    • Do you think the ConnDOT proposal promises dredging the river? I wish it did. It promises nothing positive for the river, only the demolition of the one historical structure that makes it remarkable.

      • Malloy’s minions are arguing that if the bridge is made wider and higher, traffic flow will not increase. If anyone believes that, I have a bridge I would like to sell them.

        • We seem to be entering a strange, distorted place where we’re supposed to believe that ConnDOT can succeed despite its impressive record of failures, that a river will magically dredge itself, that property values will not fall when 18 wheelers roll down residential streets…

        • Michael, i agree the traffic is rough here, we sit on our porch and watch the lack of flow at 5pm . but imagine if bridge openings were scheduled 4 or 5 days in a row at 445pm. if there are no issues it takes a total of 25 minutes to complete the operation start to finish. Dead stop for a half hour at 5pm everyday ..there has to be a way to improve.

    • Great point Mike ,,Deeper upriver waters contribute to local fisheries and spawning. I never thought of that ,if the fish thrive so does the river.

    • Dredging the river is not on the table. The issue is the nature of the bridge that best suits the people of Westport.

  20. Doug Weber, born in Westport in 1958

    Let’s get back to reality here. Westporters do not want more traffic, faster traffic on Bridge Street and most Westporters–by a 4 to 1 margin–want to save the iconic Saugatuck Swing Bridge.

  21. Robert Sperry

    ” your right Rob ” – ”where’s the conspiracy here” – I’m a long time non resident boat owner so there’s no political or personal gain or lost here I’ve had a boat north of the bridge for the past 16 year’s the bridge is a definite inconvenience , repaired & replaced two tops , the DOT ‘s going to have to do something with the bridge any way whether it be restored, rebuilt , replaced , raising it a little over 40 ” to make the river a safer more functional water way for all , it’s a non issue , the river going to continue to fill it self in any way so it may as well be dredged that will just make more room for every body , make it safer for shallow draft person propelled craft that live on the river and use it daily , what you people need to do is come together cohesively ” this ain’t no spelling bee ” , put the nonsense behind and work together and do what’s right for the bridge , the people that go under it , and it’s environment ” it’s a no brainer ” just do it “

    • Who will pay for the dredging? How many people will benefit. How many will be forced to pay? It does seem like no brainer. Don’t raise the bridge for the benefit of a small special interest group.

  22. Please do not turn Bridge Street into 4th lane of I95.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      It already is for non-truck vehicles. On days where there is really slow traffic on I-95, westbound Bridge Street gets backed up past South Compo. I been there when traffic is backed up Greens Farms Road to Valley some mornings. Very frustrating since I’m just trying to get downtown and not even across river where the bottleneck is.

      For trucks, I’d imagine Robbie is correct. They’d prefer the Post Road.

  23. This discussion has run its course. Comments are now closed.