Baron’s South Meeting Changed To Wednesday

The lead “06880” story this morning — about the future of the Baron’s South property — noted a public meeting set for tomorrow. The purpose of the session is to discuss a potential rezoning of a portion of the land.

The meeting — called by the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Zoning Regulation Revision Subcommittee — has been changed to Wednesday (July 28, 12 noon).

Members of the public can attend the virtual session via Zoom. Click here for the link.

Public comments can be made during the meeting. Comments can also be sent prior to the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov.

Vegetation surrounds a Baron’s South pathway. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

10 responses to “Baron’s South Meeting Changed To Wednesday

  1. Diane Johnson

    Dan, thank you, as always, for informing us of important happenings in Westport. I’ve just sent an email to the P & Z committee members in support of keeping this designated open space OPEN. We need more nature and less pavement, not to mention the topography of Barons South lends itself to hiking trails and NOT paved sport courts.

  2. John F. Suggs

    This last minute decision by the P&Z Chair, Ms. Dobin, to cancel tomorrows scheduled meeting and reschedule it just 24 hours later is disconcerting. Many people, myself included, had arranged our schedules well in advance to attend tomorrow. So to find out that it has been abruptly cancelled because Ms. Dobin had not read the meeting announcement last week for her own meeting and thus only realized today when 06880 ran a story on it that it was scheduled for tomorrow instead of Weds as she had mistakenly believed is disappointing but also understandable. These things happen. But what is not understandable is why basic common courtesy was not followed which is typical in such a situation ie cancel the meeting and then reschedule it a week or two later to enable people to adjust their schedules to attend.

    Instead, everyone is now left scrambling to clear their schedules with just 24 hours notice. Why? What is the rush?

    A concern has existed – which is now deepened by this unusual course of events – that Ms. Dobin wishes to rush to a decision on her proposal to rezone Barons South from its current passive open space in order to do it during the “dog days of Summer” when school is out, Westporters are away and no one is paying attention to what the P&Z is doing. Why else reschedule this important meeting – in July – with just 24 hours notice?

    Ms. Dobin please slow down this express train. Already in just this one day on Dan Woog’s blog many people have raised some fascinating alternative suggestions to your rezoning plans. Please stop your headlong rush and listen. That is true leadership.

  3. Stanley Witkow

    Development of Baron’s South is Westport’s equivalent to cicadas: every seven years or so somebody gets a bug up their *** about Baron’s South and suggests an alternative use: first it was a big box YMCA, then a big senior housing development; this time it seems like bocci ball and “organized active recreation.” The reason is always the same: Baron’s South is under-utilized. And the hollowness of this argument is always the same: it’s underutilized because the park is hidden with limited signage, there’s very limited accessibility and parking and it’s horribly maintained. So before we make any decision about changing the character of this amazing town asset, why don’t we explore its current deficiencies and correct them: make the park more accessible (a new trail or entrance from the senior center, maybe) and expend the appropriate funds to maintain this wonderful urban oasis. Maybe seven years from now instead of yet another attempt to ruin this unique property, we’ll be able to enjoy the sound of cicadas.

  4. Leave…it…alone.

    The Barons property, also known as, “Golden Shadows,” is to remain in its original state.

    You know what I would love to see? Is the buildings restored, gardens restored, pollinator pathway planted, pedestrian paths repaved such as the original driveways, and turned into an art museum with different displays in each building.

    Or, the furniture and artwork of the home like the Dumbarton home in Georgetown.

    • Michael Calise

      It’s a Golden Headache. all the buildings should be demolished and the property should be returned to its former pristine glory. All we need is a decent entrance area!

  5. Donald Bergmann

    I have e mailed the P&Z expressing my support of pure open space and added a note of contempt for any proposal that would increase pavement, noise and lighting. Also, as to “pollinator pathways”, one of my many nieces initiated and developed the first pollinator pathway in Seattle, also the first in the world. Her name is Sarah Bergmann.

  6. A solution to the Baron’s South problem was offered to Planning and Zoning 2 years ago, A committee chaired by Leonard Everett Fisher and comprising Miggs Burroughs, Larry Silver, Niki Ketchman, Carole Erger-Fass, Ed Gerber, Ellen Naftalin and Kathie Bennewitz and myself proposed that the property be used for a Museum of Westport Art, first addressing the historical background and eventually receiving Museum status and then growing into the present.. The first meetings with zoning were successful and the proposal passed, but complications arose, the zoning board changed ,I heard that the Board of Finance had a negative view of the project, and the proposal failed.The Westport Art Center, was supposed to be housed in the largest building while the Museum would be in a smaller one. An architect was hired by the Art Center and developed plans to configure new galleries that would not alter the existing building.Questions arose that the interiorof the main building (which wrongly has been said to be listed as an historical landmark) should not be changed, even though it’s now decrepit. It’s much more complicated than I can write here. Leonard Fisher prepared a video for Zoning that address the history of art in Westport, which as we all know is amazing, and showed the many important artists from 1900 on who changed the face of American art with their work, beginning with Arthur Dove. Perhaps the plan could be revived and solve, once again, the Baron’s South problem. .

  7. Katherine M. Kosiba

    I was on the P&Z subcommittee today.
    The StoryWalk is not an organized librarian storytelling event; it is a passive recreation activity that parents can do with their young children we put in at our open space park in Colchester where the books are about nature, wildlfe, gardening and are changed by the library every 8-10 wks through the year and individuals/groups may donate money towards the purchase of the books.

    I want to share information about the national movement of a StoryWalk. It is stations with cut laminated pages of a children’s book either temporary with tomato stakes, OR pinned to trees, OR in store window or as permanent stations for parents to walk and read the story to young children (or as the child is learning to read, for the child to read to the parent) – combining nature and literacy. More information may be found on how it started in VT. https://www.kellogghubbard.org/storywalk

    Here are several articles about the creation of the StoryWalk in Colchester (another partnership)
    https://www.courant.com/community/colchester/hc-cr-colchester-eagle-scout-0504-20170504-story.html
    https://www.theday.com/article/20180729/MKT03/180729351
    – Colchester StoryWalk brochure: https://www.colchesterct.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif4286/f/uploads/colchesterstorywalkbrochure_2019.pdf
    – Colchester Parks and Rec web page on Cohen Woodlands https://www.colchesterct.gov/parks-facilities/pages/ruby-and-elizabeth-cohen-woodlands

    The Eagle Scout who installed Colchester’s permanent StoryWalk did fundraising – for the stations’ cost, he figured the unit cost of all materials then set a donation station cost for a person to buy a station. An engraved stone was put in front of each post as a commemorative piece.
    The terrific thing is for the small children, they stand on these stones to better see the book’s pictures! What a great unplanned bonus! The Scout purchased 20 StoryWalk stations (rather than building out of wood which would have had a limited lifespan) and installed them with his troop. Here is the manufacturer of the StoryWalk stations he purchased. https://bdexhibits.com/storywalk-solutions/

  8. Katherine M. Kosiba

    What I did not hear on today’s P&Z committee call was the value to children’s development, health and wellness of spending time in nature: naturalized spaces to walk, run, explore. As a child growing up in Westport (our family moved to Westport in 1955 and I graduated from Staples in 1972) , being outside in nature are some of my best,vivid memories along with gardening with my parents and going to a rustic camp for several weeks in rural NH. These experiences had a very positive effect on me, and developed an interest in the environment, nature and gardening for a lifetime.

    We had the opportunities for a lot of natural play outside in all seasons – my sisters and I explored the “Pine Forest at the corner of North Compo and Cross Highway owned at that time by the Jansen’s (Patty was in my elementary school class) where we walked along a dirt portion of Hickory Hill to get there where there were many wildflowers, honeysuckle lining the way along with a small field/meadow to go through filled with butterflies flitting as we went past. (I have to mention we walked to Evergreen Parkway to the pond at Deadman’s Brook which was bordering what is now Winslow Park which we also explored the fields walking along the paved roads a few times as youngsters)

    Around the corner from our Juniper Road home on Caccamo Lane where new houses were being built and they hit ledge, they created what we called “the Rock Quarry” where we found all different kinds of small rocks and brought a few different ones home, then our mother took us to the Westport Public Library on Harding Plaza to take out a book to learn about the different kinds or rocks we found. We’d sit outside watching and listening to the birds, we’d look up at the clouds float by, climb trees, walk on stone walks, jump over or balance walk on downed trees trunks, and so much more. We were outside for hours every day mostly in our own 3/4 property which also had trees, stone walls, gardens, with a naturalize area in the way back. While we had a swing set, it was only occasionally used. There was a natural curiosity about the things we saw that turned into learning opportunities. Finding a toad, a frog, a turtle, seeing a rabbit, Monarch/Swallowtail butterflies and other wildlife we didn’t expect was like winning the lottery to us as children.

    I hope that town residents, Westport Parks and Rec and the Westport P&Z consider the importance open space, with natural features, can have on a child to visit, explore, learn and relax from the actions, noise, stresses and electronics of daily life and be a child outdoors.

    There are many articles on the subject (I can share a few I have used for our garden club Farmers’ Market booth and at children’s events at our open space park – Cohen Woodlands, if anyone is interested) There are also national best sellers on the subject like: “The Last Child in the Woods – “Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv OR National Wildlife Federation’s – Connecting Kids with Nature – The Green Hour https://www.nwf.org/Kids-and-Family/Connecting-Kids-and-Nature
    Another important consideration is to be able to ensure the next generation of stewards of the land, people filling careers related to the environment/farming/horticulture and more, children need to develop a connection and appreciation of nature in any of the many forms.

  9. Katherine M. Kosiba

    Today on the P&Z meeting call, someone referenced the Colchester Ruby and Elizabeth Cohen Woodlands as a “heritage” park. I don’t know the context in which that reference was made.

    Cohen Woodlands is an open space park with some passive recreation amenities that residents and visitors enjoy in many different ways to be out in nature.

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