[OPINION] Intersection Issue Trumps Daybreak Approval

This Thursday (December 14, Town Hall, 7 p.m.), the Planning & Zoning Commission discusses a proposal for 12 homes on the former Daybreak Nursery property. Earlier today, “06880” described the project. Neighbor Bonnie Dubson opposes the idea. She writes:

Daybreak Nurseries is sited at a crossroads: the notoriously dangerous confluence of Main Street, Weston Road and Easton Road. It is the unavoidable cross-your-fingers blind merge, hope-for-the-best junction that is an unfortunate part of our daily commutes.

A plan has been proposed to develop the property, which is within spitting distance of the Merritt Parkway Exit 42 interchange. The specifics of the plan are not important here. Suffice it to say that the proposal has both proponents and detractors. But regardless of the details, this Westporter believes any proposal concerning the Daybreak property should be tabled until Westport and the Connecticut Department of Transportation remedy this dangerous intersection.

Over the years, plans have been floated to upgrade the intersections’ existing stop signs to traffic lights, or create a series of traffic circles, but not one of these measures has been implemented.

A roundabout proposal for the Main Street/Weston Road/Easton Road intersection. Click to enlarge.

The time to act to mitigate this unsafe intersection is now.

Now is the time for a “Longshore moment” – such as in 1960, when the town’s leadership envisioned the future benefits of purchasing the private club and then opening it to the public.

While we will never get an 18-hole golf course out of the 2.18-acre lot, the former nursery presents a golden opportunity to re-envision and redesign the Exit 42 gateway into Westport.

We have a chance to repair a dysfunctional intersection and inject some much-needed green space into this corner of town.

Several new homes are proposed for the former Daybreak Nursery, at the corner of Main Street and Weston Road.

Westport’s leadership can opt to be near-sighted and rubber-stamp this development for the short-term gain of bolstering the town’s coffers. Electing to do so is tempting, but this choice is riddled with unintended consequences:

Exacerbated traffic; an intersection that poses imminent danger to drivers and pedestrians; huge liabilities for the town because this imminent danger is actually avoidable.

An intersection makeover requires finagling, and working with state agencies. It will take a huge investment: time, money and patience.

Let’s ask ourselves: What is our shared vision for the future of Westport?

Mine is simple: I want to preserve the small-town character and integrity of Westport, and the safety of its residents. Voting to approve this development means that the Daybreak intersection may never be fixed. Once something is built there, the opportunity will lost.

Approving the development is tantamount to throwing our hands in the air and saying, “oh well, there is nothing that can be done.”

But I think our elected officials can rise to this challenge. They won’t duck and run when things get tricky.

“Daybreak” signals new beginnings and fresh starts. Daybreak is ready for an intersection do-over. Act now.

35 responses to “[OPINION] Intersection Issue Trumps Daybreak Approval

  1. I totally agree, Bonnie. That intersection is insane and dysfunctional not to mention dangerous. I hope the deciders will feel the same and do something to remedy the situation.

  2. Are there data supporting the descriptions of the intersection as “notoriously dangerous”…”unsafe”? DOT must have some factual info.

  3. Arline Gertzoff

    This intersection has been listed as one of the ten worst in the state. No building should be permitted until it is fixed properly.Round abouts have been cited as being equally dangerous.I have lived nearby this disaster for 61 years and amazed that there have not been more accidents.

  4. So , what’s stopping the Town and State from building the Rotory?

  5. The proposed development is not actually relevant to the traffic problem – there is no way that 12 units create more traffic than the garden center did. As I posted in the Facebook thread, I could only find 2014 data, but the average daily trips was 17,800 at the busiest part of that intersection. If you assume that all 12 units have two cars, the 24 additional cars passing, say, 6 times a day would be 144 trips (I think that’s generous) so you are talking about 0.8% increase. Or 1.9% if you measure at the less busy sides of the intersection. I’d like to see the updated statistics for the number of vehicles traveling through that intersection per day because it’s probably up a bit from 2014, but you are still talking single digit percentages. This took 5 minutes of googling. If you use the traffic excuse to oppose a development without even trying to find the data, it’s just an opinion. http://www.ct.gov/…/policymaps/adt/2007-2014pdf/158adt.pdf

  6. Bonnie, I am very familiar with the site, having grown up nearby on Easton Road. I still am unclear on how you think the town’s acquisition of this property can help ease the traffic patterns and congestion at the intersection of Weston Road, Easton Road, and Main Street.

    The proposed cluster housing adds a microscopic increase to the traffic situation–so I fail to see how turning the site into a park has any real impact on the situation.

    It would be great to come up with a solution, if possible, to ease the traffic problems by the Merritt. But, right now, I can’t begin to envision what the town’s possible acquisition of the former Daybreak site will contribute to a solution.

    Finally, I read with great interest how Mary Gai embraces the cluster proposal (given her background and the fact that she is an immediate neighbor). When looking at these situations, in part I try to put myself in the shoes of the most affected neighbors and what their reasonable expectations would be as property owners facing a text amendment. I know Mary well–and we don’t always agree on issues–but, in this instance, I find her arguments pretty persuasive.

  7. I should add that, due to health issues, my wife and I have sold our home in Westport and will be moving to Southern California to a furnished rental to test the waters out there, so to speak. But it is possible we could wind up back in this area. So, obviously we have a personal interest in the creation of more senior housing in town.

    Based on the projected taxes, it sounds like these units would be out of the price range we would be considering. But, in general, I think the creation of some more senior housing would be beneficial to the town (whether or not we ever return here).

    • I’m curious — what would be the approximate cost of these units?

    • Jill Turner-Odice

      Fred…as somebody who lived.in Socal for 25 years, I can’t imagine ehy anybody would choose to live there…
      Wildfires, earthquakes and as a U.S. citizen you are the minority.
      I hated living there…it certainly was not how I always pictured California…
      Unless you want to live in Mexico ( which is what Southern California pretty much is) and can speak spanish.
      The healthcare there is pretty crappy and the triple digit heat for weeks at a time is a real killer…
      We just moved to Maine and live it here. What a nice thing to not have to worry about getting robbed or assualted everytime you leave your home! Just my opinion…but after living in both places, I would choose Westport over there in a heartbeat

    • Hi Fred, congrats on your move. I moved to Santa Monica two years ago from Westport and love it. Where will you be landing? If you need any questions answered…don’t hesitate to reach out.

  8. This intersection desperately needs traffic mitigation by the state (which owns/controls Route 136 and Route 57). Any building on this land without a permanent traffic solution, like the proposed roundabout, already in place, is a disaster. Any housing units would add to traffic and the school population, assuming anyone is foolish enough to purchase a unit in such an impossible location at high risk for imminent domain by the state.

    • Why doesn’t Westport just deny housing to anyone with children? I lived in Westport for over 37 years. During that period the town made heroic efforts to prevent families with children from moving into town; hence the $10 million dog toilet known as Winslow Park. Why not pass an ordinance denying access to the Westport school system to any family who buys a house and has school age children? It would be the progressive thing to do; social engineering and all that.

      • Because then it’s not public school. Part of the taxes that people pay go to the school system, and if they are denied access, then that is unfair. You cannot simply deny access to the public schools in town, especially considering there is only one high school. Unless of course, this comment was sarcastic in which case let’s do it.

        • Well then; just deny families with children access to Westport. Put families with children on the list of demographic classifications Westport finds unacceptable.

        • How about portable classrooms until the town raises the funds needed to expand existing school populations? Too unsightly?

  9. Green space versus Senior Housing.

  10. Town owned property can end up being all sorts of things. Never, ever trust municipalities to do what is best for a neighborhood because they must act for the greatest good..(for the entire town rather than just a neighborhood) Remember that, please. The small town character you want so much will be accomplished by Able. It will FINALLY look like a residential community instead of “what the hell is this, and this..?” when you come into town off the Parkway. It’s not 12 buildings, also remember that. It’s 7 buildings done with taste and with sufficient landscaping to provide privacy for its owners. All of Main Street will look like it belongs in Westport. No MORE unsightly end of Main Street!!

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      Mary you have a unique perspective which is in everyone’s best interests.

  11. Americans don’t know how to use a roundabout. Only Europeans do, better change the plan.

    • Maybe they could learn?

    • Dick Lowenstein

      They work just fine in Massachusetts and upstate NY (Albany)

      • Dick-where are all your political friends to help stand up and support this project? Was it just easy to say they wanted senior housing but never build them? Was it just sound bytes?

        Should this property be used for commercial building(s) instead? Or 4 or 5 big houses which can be easily developed on 2+ acres?

        Sad to see them all run away when it comes time to really support our seniors.

        • Dick Lowenstein

          We’re talking about roundabouts at this moment, not housing (For housing, go to the next post.) So, Bart, what is your opinion on roundabouts? What is your recommendation regarding traffic control at this intersection?

          • Dick. Thanks for asking the question about the intersection. In order to seek a solution I would like to know how many accidents occur every year and compare that to other intersections in town. While this intersection is not ideal, it would help to get the facts.

            I also do not believe adding the 12 much needed senior housing will cause any more traffic. My worry would be for a commercial site that would cause much more traffic. Senior housing is a great solution for the property in regards to worrying about traffic. But this is my opinion. However I live close to the Y and remember all the 06880 blogs about the threat of traffic to our area of Westport. It NEVER happened. That is why I believe the discussion of traffic is mute.

            Finally, I am not sure our town can do anything to a state road. Do you know, or does anyone know whether Westport has authority over this state road and can make changes? Facts are always important.

            Dick—Happy healthy and safe holiday.

    • Roundabouts are easy to use. I’ve driven several in Europe and had absolutely no problem. They’re certainly a lot easier and safer than the current mess.

  12. This is why some past and present Westporters are so frustrated, that a very, very wealthy town argues about “green space vs housing” when you can have the luxury of both. You have everything and more.

    What does it take to make Westport happy?

  13. In the last many, many years, when the traffic at the intersection has grown to the current, “dangerous”, level, Daybreak has done little or no business and generated little or no traffic….otherwise it would still be there. The new housing will generate more traffic than Daybreak ever did as it slowly went down the tubes.

  14. A roundabout for that intersection makes eminent sense.It is the proven, safest and most efficient solution all over the world for complex intersections.

  15. Just another Westport town issue that seems so simple yet gets convoluted and taken in multiple different directions.

    Original point wasn’t to debate the pros/cons of SoCal living but rather how to resolve the traffic issues at a moronic intersection. I recognize it will involve the state given the roads, but why can’t the town leadership tackle this problem?

    Isn’t this exactly the type of issue our local government should attack? It affects just about everyone in town who has ever traversed this area and this construction project has created the perfect opportunity. Bathrooms and sidewalks at Compo, water towers on North, etc. Here is a no brainer opportunity to solve a real town issue. Let’s take advantage and make it happen!!