Roundup: Outdoor Dining, P&Z Records, Food Drive …


Love outdoor dining? Think it’s too intrusive?

On Thursday, March 11, the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing. They’ll consider a text amendment that would continue outdoor dining for over 80 restaurants — which would otherwise expire March 31 — until further notice.

The text amendment would also be expanded to include certain retail businesses.

Click here for the full document. Click here for the retail portion

The March 11 meeting will be livestreamed at 6 p.m. on, Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.

Comments can be emailed before the meeting to, or during the meeting to You can offer live testimony during the meeting if you request a link from by noon on March 11.

Romanacci’s Xpress was one of several Railroad Place restaurants with outdoor dining.


Speaking of the P&Z: Did you know that Westport has digitized its back-office land use permit process?

Users can search for and view records — free! — by clicking here. It even comes with a handy how-to tutorial:


The last Farmers’ Market of the winter is an important one.

On Thursday, March 11 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), the Market partners with Sustainable Westport to replenish 2 food pantries: Homes with Hope’s Gillespie Center, and  Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Both are running low.

Non-perishable items (canned goods, rice, beans, pasta, jams, sauces, etc.) can be dropped off at Farmers’ Market (Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Road).

It’s rare to see canned food at the Westport Farmers’ Market. A week from tomorrow, it will be a very lovely sight.


The other day, Positive Directions hosted Senator Chris Murphy, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

They joined Westport Human Services, Kids in Crisis, Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance, NAMI and Fairfield Public Schools for a discussion on behavioral health needs during COVID and beyond.

Senator Murphy heard ideas he’ll bring to Washington. Other leaders shared best practices. Click here to learn more.


Seth Van Beever is a proud son of Saugatuck.

Actually, a proud great-great-grandson. His great-great-grandfather, James Barnes Sr., was the first tender for what is now called the William F. Cribari Bridge.

Seth has followed the debate over the 133-year-old bridge’s future closely. So when he saw a photo of an innovative solution — a road in the Netherlands goes under the water, so boats can sail above it — he thought of us.

(Photo courtesy of @alic3lik)

That’s thinking waaaaay outside the bridge — er, the box.


We dodged a bullet Monday.

High winds throughout Connecticut led to 18,000 power outages statewide. As of last night, there were still 4,600 Eversource customers without power.

Here in Westport, we had outages in only 3 scattered, small locations. As of last night, the only folks still without power here wee on Pheasant Lane, off Meeker Road.


Nancy Vener took this photo from Saugatuck Shores. Stony Point is on the left; Longshore, on the right.

But what’s that blue light? She said it showed up on several photos, at different heights. If you know, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Nancy Vener)


Juanita Watson — a 30-year Westport Public Schools employee — died last Thursday. She most recently worked in Pupil Services.

Juanita Watson


And finally … on this day in 1931, President Hoover signed a congressional act making “The Star Spangled Banner” our official national anthem.

For decades, it was sung the same way. During the 1968 World Series, our Weston neighbor Jose Feliciano broke tradition with this version.

The national anthem has never been the same.


14 responses to “Roundup: Outdoor Dining, P&Z Records, Food Drive …

  1. Joel Treisman

    Dan, the blue/green dot showing in the photo is not a UFO. The explanation is much less exciting. This often shows up in photos taken with smart phones (and cameras) when photographing something bright (often, the sun). It’s caused by the light refracting inside the lens of the device. You can edit this out pretty easily with the “healing” function of most photo editing apps. Cheers.

    • Thanks, Joel. Interestingly, this morning I got a similar photo from another woman, wondering the same thing. Two in one day … after never having gotten anything similar?

  2. Rozanne Gates

    Having lived in The Netherlands for 6 years, I got used to living in a sane and brilliant country. The Dutch do not think of themselves as thinking “out of the box” – they just simply think sanely and practically. They understand that in order to have a functioning society, there has to be a public-private partnership mentality. They use their public funds for the public good. This country has decades to go before it can catch up to the standards set by the European countries when it comes to infrastructure, public transportation, public welfare, and living standards.

  3. Donald Bergmann

    Again, I will mention my probably whimsical thought for the Cribari Bridge. If the Saugatuck River ever gets dredged, could the channel be made deep enough under the bridge to allow boats that otherwise might not be able to make it under the bridge be able to do that at low tide.
    Don Bergmann

  4. Robbie Guimond

    Don, maybe I can explain the clearance issue or at least try…. so please bear with me.

    Current clearance at avg high tide is roughly 5′ or “bump your head if you don’t duck” height. Lets use a very common boat, say 21′ center console with the usual “fixed” T- Top.

    That boat arrives at the bridge hypothetically at mid tide (incoming ) and proceeds under the bridge.

    It will take 6 hours before that boat can return under the bridge as the incoming tide closes the clearance until it returns to mid-tide (out going).

    Dredging isn’t an issue at the three bridge locations , all have over 7′ depth at low tide. most boats going up the river would have a max draft of 4′.

    Excavating the depth to say 10′ will not help the boater waiting 6 hours to return under the bridge. He will still be stuck but with 10′ of water depth instead of 7′.

    For perspective lets add a timeline…. say a boat departs at 5:30pm, that boat can not return home til 1130pm. Also if the boat misses the 5:30 departing time (and they will) they can not use the boat as they are trapped.

    An example is last summer a Parker Mansion patron got trapped after attempting to sneak under also damaging his t-top. He was sorta lucky as I had scheduled an opening for my boat and he waited 30m or so for the bridge to swing and made his passage althou still pissed about the damage , sadly for the Parker Manson he will never return by boat again.

    Dredging the channels on the river is desperately needed but the only thing that will allow boats in most common configurations is a scheduled opening (2 hr min notice), or an adjustment of bridge height if they choose replacement.

    Openings……….Its normally my seasonal storage clients and my personal boat scheduling openings along with any barge activity. avg 15 to 20 seasonal openings.

    Last season 3 additional boats on the river started to schedule openings and my guess is will continue as more “new” river boaters will need it to swing. (i’d estimate 10 additional openings this summer)

    Fwiw, we started a group text to let each other know when we have scheduled openings so more than one boat can get through.

    Hope your well and this helps the discussion.

    • joshua stein

      @don dredging does nothing to help increase vertical clearance under the bridge for boats to pass (distance between water and bridge). dredging allows deeper draft boats (below waterline) through. but its plenty deep right in that area i think.

      @Robbie you point out something… Its 2021… there should be a web page that shows bridge openings that are requested/queued, lets one press a button to request an opening, etc.

      Regarding the tunnel, that probably won’t work. flooding will be a major concern and shut the road way down if there is a sandy-like event. There is also probably not enough distance on either side of the water to build it at a safe incline/straightaway.

  5. Robbie Guimond

    Joshua, excellent idea for the notification web page. although the 2 hour min. notice is pita.

    I believe Don is suggesting waiting for tides to drop to gain access…. but maybe im wrong.

    As for storms, both the existing bridge as well as this tunnel concept will not fair well when the next storm decides to wreak havoc. im sure you know but even a small storm can flood the bridges electrical components in its current configuration. last cost was over 3m to refurbish I believe.

    Hope your well

  6. Patty Kondub

    Love that version by Jose!

  7. Donald Bergmann

    Robbie is correct. My focus was only on the ability of a tall boat, e.g. a sailboat with mast, to get under the bridge. Whether upstream or downstream, the concept would only have relevance if the tide was low. Hence, if it did work, the boat would have to go back very soon or wait for the tide to change from low to high to low, about 12 hours. At the very least the concept might mean fewer required bridge openings.
    Don Bergmann

    • Robbie Guimond

      Don, All sail boats would need the Saga R.R. bridge as well as the Cribari swing bridge to open at any tide. Power boats with fly bridges or taller fixed structure probably need openings at both bridges as well.

      The “lower” boats with enclosures and t- tops can fit under the R.R. bridge but get stopped at the swing bridge unless tides are lower then mid tide or have a pre scheduled opening. Both these options discourage them from heading under the bridge then upriver to the restaurants , marinas, homes and hopefully soon a downtown transient landing.

      The dredging is desperately needed for sections of the river down town espsecially , but under the bridges would not qualify imho.

      As to openings , the only solution is raising the existing or design the replacement to meet the RR bridge clearance .

      One might suggest if we are to keep the existing span “on call” openings should be allowed …. although impractical imho.

      In my 30 years working on this river, neither sail boats nor large vessels would navigate up river often but the remaining boats that clear under the R.R. Bridge at any tide would definitely continue upstream if easy passage was created .

      I suggest looking at the data from rr bridge openings compared to swing bridge, its telling.

      Hope your well

  8. Jo Shields Sherman

    I remember Jaunita. She had a kind helpfulness and a quiet grace that made those who walked into that office feel welcome—and in my case—worth helping! I am sure she will be missed by everyone she worked with.

  9. Ariana Napier

    I did not know Juanita Watson but with a 30 year career in Westport is there anyone who might share more about her. It’s disappointing that after working in our school system for 3 decades, the only info to share about Ms. Watson was she last worked in pupil services.