“06880 + 50”: Mike Greenberg’s Vision

The Westport Historical Society‘s new “06880 + 50” exhibit — visions of Westport in 2067 — is fun. It’s thought-provoking. It’s clever.

Over a dozen local architects contributed ideas. From a reimagined river to out-of-the-way parking for driverless cars, it’s more focused on what’s really possible than an idealistic Jetsons world.

Many of the concepts deal with downtown. One firm took a different approach.

Michael Greenberg & Associates built on their founder’s lifelong association with Westport. The Staples High School graduate grew up in a town filled with artists and other creative people. He believes Westport remains a community that embraces “progressive change,” committed to taking care of the planet both environmentally and socially.

A map of Westport — circa 2067 — shows only arterial roads (white) remaining. The rest of the town is broken up into relatively self-sufficient “quadrants.” Click on or hover over to enlarge.

He’s seen builders embrace the “bigger is better” model, but believes it will end. Single family homes on 1- and 2-acre lots, with driveways, pools and manicured lawns, are environmentally wasteful, Greenberg says.

That lifestyle has created isolation, and a disconnect not only to nature but to each other, he adds.

So Greenberg — who reveres barn and antique materials — envisions a Westport that goes back to its roots. He imagines smaller homes, surrounded by open space, community farms, and places to care for the elderly and young.

These “new villages” will develop, he thinks, as millennials (and the generations that follow) realize the importance of downsizing and living responsibly.

A rough sketch of one quadrant. It is bounded by Roseville Road, Long Lots Road, North Avenue and Cross Highway. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

In the WHS exhibit, Greenberg explains, “the smart and concerned folks of Westport” will establish a new “Farm Zone.” New homes — on the edges of main roads — will surround working farms.

Everyone will pitch in to help traditional farmers. Produce would be available at indoor/outdoor markets. Greenhouses would further support independent sustainability.

Some historic homes will be repurposed to house farm workers and town employees. Others will be retrofitted for day care, crafts and lecture halls.

Main roads will be kept, but “infill” roads — all our lanes and cul-de-sacs — will be eliminated. Pedestrian and bike trails will take their place.

Housing will be clustered in new “quadrants.” Higher density of units and elimination of secondary roads will dramatically increase open space, used for recreation, biking and hiking trails and sculpture gardens. Kids could play — and get dirty.

New homes — modular, for ease of construction and minimization of waste — will emphasize efficiency and quality, not size.

Mike Greenberg’s houses, as shown in the Westport Historical Society’s “06880 + 50” exhibit.

Power comes from solar, wind, geothermal “and sources not yet invented.”

Greenberg created a sample “quadrant,” now mounted on the WHS exhibit wall. It’s bounded by the post Road, Long Lots, North Avenue, Roseville Road and Cross Highway.

“As a citizen of the planet, I am excited that the way we live now will not be the way we live in the future,” says Greenberg.

“The people of Westport will be leaders in making this concept into a reality.

“Now is the time to meld the past with our future. We have to move away from this wasteful, unhealthy present. We have to move as if our lives depend on it — because they do.”

A more detailed view of the Roseville/Long Lots/North Avenue/Cross Highway quadrant (above). Click on or hover over to enlarge.

12 responses to ““06880 + 50”: Mike Greenberg’s Vision

  1. Whatever respect I had left for the Westport Historical Society is gone.

  2. I remain perplexed as to why the Westport Historical Society is focusing on the future rather than the past. Though this is an interesting project, it seems more suited for exploration and display via a different Westport organization.

  3. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I coined the name “Westport Hysterical Society” years ago on social media. What’s missing here is that a place formerly very special (to steal a tag line from Eve Potts’ book) did not get that way as a result of someone’s master plan. It was what you get when people grow together over multiple generations.

  4. Hi Morley, Wendy and Eric-

    I am not sure from your comments why the WHS is doing something inappropriate by devoting a limited time in their space to an exhibition that looks to visions of future possibilities for Westport.

    The WHS has presented so many well thought out exhibitions of Westport’s past. It makes perfect sense, at least to me, that sooner or later the Historical Society would attempt a glimpse of possible futures for our town.

    We can be amazed or horrified by these presentations- but after all- we try to learn from the past so we can plan for a better future. We can’t and shouldn’t be frozen in time.

    • Steve, WHS has done material damage to its credibility as an organization whose stated mission is to educate residents about the importance of preserving Westport’s historic built environment and cultural heritage. For whatever reason, WHS abandoned its post to throw in with developers and the like. Please don’t make it worse by attempting a verbal comb-over. Especially with preservationists. That’s just insulting.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      Steve, I’ve watched how these things work going back to the days when monstrosities like the Wright Street office building and the Gorham Island iSore were built. Anticipating the public outcry, the permits were granted quietly many years before the developer came forth with the specifics that irretrievably scarred those beautiful and historic locations. I guess the WHS is well within its rights to get involved like this and suppose the bright side is that its out in the open. I just hope this isn’t already a fait accomplis that will fall on deaf ears because the people who truly made history in Westport are almost all dead or relocated to other less spoiled venues.

  5. David J. Loffredo

    Hasn’t this firm designed and developed some of the largest homes in town? This smells like a “do what I say, not what I do” exercise, kind of like when Mike Bloomberg complains about climate change before hopping on his private jet.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      Fred, with all due respect I think its a fair statement that the Yale students of 70 years ago would have been appalled at what has actually transpired since then. “Develop” or “Devolve”? I guess there’s a qualitative difference in those words and if you accept that premise you’ll have to live with the difference.

  6. 70 years ago the New York Herald Tribune (and the local Westporter-Herald) reported on a presentation made by Yale students to the town of Westport regarding ideas for the future development of the town. The students were invited by the Citizens’ Planning Association of Westport.

    What’s fascinating is that, in part, their proposal mirrored what Michael Greenberg envisions.

    Specifically, according to the detailed story in the Westporter-Herald re the Yale presentation, one concept was “keeping the ‘pleasant country character’ of Westport, partly through establishing more localized areas, each with its elementary school, small shopping center and ‘green spots.'”

    Some of the Yale students’ proposals came into being, either in whole or part (and, again, the specifics below are from the article in the local Westport newspaper):

    “Filling in the river behind the stores on the west side of Main Street for parking and traffic relief.”

    “Building a town center in Jesup Green with a new Town Hall and library and an amphitheater to follow the natural lines of the green.”

    “To build a suitable playground in Saugatuck.”

    There were naturally great concerns at that time too about addressing the terrible traffic on what was then called State Street.

  7. Wonderful. Our very own Coop City right here in Westport that can be accessed by High Speed Rail.

  8. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    My last comment was intended to follow Fred’s. EWB

  9. Thank you 06880 and to the WHS or whatever venue may have offered – to showcase Our Architects’ vision of Westport +50 — imagine Year 2167… Mike’s team vision is inspiring, green, sustainable, unique, with character of our Town – and we’ve seen some very talented “downsizing” by MGA +12.
    The Opening was sold out — I like WHS for fact that Exhibits stay up for long time. Be positive, change can and should happen.

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