[OPINION] Townwide Effort Needed At Baron’s South

Longtime residents and Westport Preservation Alliance founders Morley Boyd, Wendy Crowther, Helen Garten and John F. Suggs are passionate about honoring and saving Westport’s historic structures and open spaces. Over the years they’ve served on many town commissions and committees 

Though Baron’s South — the town-owned property between South Compo Road and Imperial Avenue, not far from the Post Road and downtown — has always been on their radar screen, they are now very worried about its future. They write:

What should we do with Baron’s South?

This question has haunted the wooded, hilly, 22-acre parcel in the heart of town since we acquired it in 1999.

In 2016 it was zoned as passive open space.  Shortly thereafter, an extensive tree removal project took place, and a landscape plan was commissioned but never finalized. Since then, the town has largely ignored the property.

As a result, Baron’s South is rarely visited by the public. The weeds are taller than the deer, and the former pathways are disappearing behind encroaching overgrowth.

Vegetation surrounds a Baron’s South pathway.

In fact, many Westporters don’t even know where Baron’s South is.

Now the Planning & Zoning Commission is considering rezoning swaths of the property for active, organized recreation. This could mean bocce courts, swimming pools, even new buildings.

These are worthy ventures. But aren’t there already plenty of places in Westport to get active? And wasn’t the goal of the “open space” designation to permanently preserve and conserve this unique, centrally located piece of green infrastructure so that all Westporters could enjoy its quiet and natural beauty?

There’s no doubt that Baron’s South needs an infusion of energy. But why isn’t harnessing passive energy the goal?

Let’s form a town and citizen-driven cooperative to direct resources and passive energy toward the restoration and conservation of this incredibly special property. With the guidance of local environmental organizations like Earthplace, Wakeman Town Farm and Sustainable Westport, let’s engage children, parents and grandparents to work side by side to gradually remove debris and invasive plants, install beneficial native plants and trees, create pollinator meadows, improve the park’s many entrances, and build pervious paths to lead us to its interior rooms.

Golden Shadows, the home of former property owner Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff.

Along the way, we and our kids can learn to notice and appreciate the park’s wildlife and beneficial insects, rather than fear them. We can learn the value of native plantings, water conservation, biodiversity, and sustainability. We can come to understand the negative impacts of monocultures, climate change, pesticides and herbicides.

Passive open space requires active management and attention. Re-committing ourselves to this goal is the change that is needed.

As anyone who has ever done yardwork or gardening knows, the work can be as physically challenging as any ball game and as meditative as yoga. Bring your energy, your calm, your curiosity, your children and your save-the-planet sensibilities to bear on this great park.

Let’s save Baron’s South for a better good — the good that comes from quiet places, thoughtful passive-use planning, hard work, and the wisdom of Mother Nature.

The next meeting of the Zoning Regulation Revision Subcommittee takes place via Zoom at noon tomorrow (Tuesday, July 27). The public can participate. To get the Zoom link, call 203-341-1076 or email mperillie@westportct.gov.

(Want to learn more about Baron’s South? Click here for stories from the “06880” archives.)

Wildlife amid the growth at Baron’s South. (Photos/Wendy Crowther)

52 responses to “[OPINION] Townwide Effort Needed At Baron’s South

  1. Michael Brennecke

    The true beauty of barons south was pretty much destroyed when they logged it. Maybe the town can get local landscaping, contracting and building companies to each take a small piece to plant and groom, much like they do at certain intersections in town now.

  2. I think it’s a wonderful idea… I’m happy to help bring life to this neglected property.

  3. IMO…the grounds should be converted into an arboretum with walking trails, and the main house and out buildings restored and converted for use as an event space for weddings, meetings and educational purposes.

  4. The clearing of the trees was indeed disturbing. They paved paradise…..I’ll be calling for the Zoom link and I appreciate the effort of those organizing the effort to preserve this gem – an oh too rare piece of open space in Westport.

  5. Michael Calise

    The behind the scenes story of Baron’s South has been a sad one indeed. It began with a stumbling years long effort to acquisition and continued with a devious mean spirited profit seeking effort by a small group of people to fully develop the property. But for the Republican minority on the P & Z this property would be fully developed today and gone forever. Unfortunately some in Westport still see it as a development site which accounts for its current neglected condition. The P & Z members who fought valiantly and succeeded in rezoning the property to passive open space are no longer on the P & Z and a new movement is emerging to chip away at this irreplaceable treasure of open space. Neglect such as is occurring always leads to a call for development to provide new cover for uncovered sins. We in Westport need to stand up for the preservation and continued acquisition of open space The treasured gem of Barons South along with Barons North (Winslow Park) are a green belt for all Westport residents present and future and it needs to be preserved no matter the effort required. This property desperately needs a permanent untouchable open space and maintenance designation!!!!

  6. Donald Bergmann

    Baron’s South has been on my radar for years and years. Many possibilities were proposed, e.g. the new Y and senior living. What has never been proposed and what should be rejected immediately is to add sport courts and other items that involve pavement, noise and disturbance of the beauty of these many acres. Bathrooms and lighting are likely to follow and the pristine appeal of Baron’s South will disappear. Even concepts of adding exercise stations along pathways, suggested by Avi Kaner a long time ago, are problematic. Our Parks and Recreation Dept., in this case Dir. Jen Fava, has dropped the ball, first with direction not to spend any money from our First Selectman, Jim Marpe, and then CV 19. The presence of Golden Shadows has also been miss used to preclude planning. Plans are now apparently being discussed and the P&Z Commission, under Chair Danielle Dobin, appears to be heading for development. Baron’s South needs some simple trails, some cleaning up and grooming, as well as welcoming entrances along the existing pathways from the Post Rd., Imperial Avenue and Compo Rd. South. The effort will not be expensive and will be remembered forever and fondly by today’s and future Westporters. Join with Wendy, Morley and all others to create a beautiful space in which people can walk, laugh, smile and dream.
    Don Bergmann

  7. Richard Bortolot

    This needs to be a visible campaign issue for candidates running for selectman, ZBA, Planning and Zoning, RTM, etc. All candidates should be required to address their plan for this incredible property. We need to vote in the people who will protect and preserve it in a way that each of us can enjoy in perpetuity.

    • Jack J Whittle

      Richard – I agree with you. And I am happy to report that:

      1. I was on the P&Z and among the group of commissioners that fought very hard to rezone Baron’s South as Open Space;

      2. I am running for a seat on the P&Z in the upcoming election, and you can certainly trust that my position on the matter of keeping Baron’s South as Open Space has not changed since then – and I fully support restoring and conserving this wonderful property as Morley Boyd, Wendy Crowther, Helen Garten and John F. Suggs suggest;

      3. It is no secret that the current effort to re-zone Baron’s South and develop different portions of that property is being led by the current chair of the P&Z, who is also running for re-election in November.

  8. mary schmerker

    My very first thought was: “Come on Westport, you can do this”. However, given my age before that thought I had to be sure that I was oriented to the right place. Back in my day when Staples was on Riverside Avenue we always refered to the mansion on the corner of the Post Road and South Compo Road as the Sanatarium. As children we were never quite sure just who was there but thought perhaps it was people who got Tuberculosis. I do think that our parents tried to protect us and not scare us. We did know several people who had been hospitalized for a long time and then recovered. Most of my memories and thoughts are about the “back side” of the property on Evergreen Avenue. The father of a good friend of my grandmother was Mr. Sylvester Foster’s daughter, Alama Foster Bam Davis. Mr. Foster’s house was on Evergreen Avenue. He did become President of the Sanitorium. What I considered his property may actually have been a part of the Sanitorium. It was a wonderland to me. He had bee hives and oh my that honey was wonderful. He had a green house full of wonderful plants. The property was beautifully maintained. My grandmother would occasionally take Mr. Foster somewhere for his daughter and from time to time I could go along and even get treated out to lunch at a real resturant! That is a small piece of the history of Baron’s South but large in my own history. WESTPORT, you saved Cockenoe Island. WESTPORT you saved Longshore. WESTPORT can do this ! I wish there would be a rallying cry that is universially supported like there was for Cockenoe.
    There are so many reasons to save this property. Having a large piece of property dedicated to green space, park land, and what I am going to call passive recreation, for lack of knowing what else to call it, is perhaps more important today than ever before. A quiet place to relax, breathe, think, enjoy the everyday pleasure of birds, bees, woodland animals native plants and flowers. Back in my day Betty Roberts (Mrs. Elliott Roberts), Lucy Adams, ( Mrs. Alexander Adams) would have gotten groups together to tackle portions of the task. Saying this I do not mean to down play or over look the heroic efforts of Morley Boyd, Wendy Crowther, Helen Garten or John Suggs. They have worked diligently to try and preserve this property and so much of historic Westport. They need the town to get behind their efforts. The town….the elected and employed officials…the different service and youth organizations and the citizens.Rally around Baron’s South Westport! I do not know why so many are complaicent today. What can I do from afar? If anyone has any ideas I am open…..
    FInally, I need new glasses so please forgive what I am sure are many spelling errors.

  9. Werner Liepolt

    We should be grateful we have 06880 as a channel for information about the Baron’s South and other town-owned properties. It is infuriating to see how neglected town properties are. For example the dead trees and weed filled shrubbery along the library/Levitt Pavillion walk by the river.

    It is doubly infuriating to hear that decisions about how to special purpose and rezone our resources about being made in the dark.When elected officials act this way they lose our trust.

    Let’s have an open town wide discussion about preserving our natural resources.

  10. I agree with Richard — this needs to be openly addressed and debated as a campaign issue!! This is an incredible town Jewel and our leaders need to fight to preserve it.

  11. Count me in to help restore walking trails on Baron’s South. A peaceful, meditative spot for nature walks right in the middle of town is worthy of all our efforts!

  12. Connor Jabbari

    As the future generation, climate change is an existential crisis facing our world, open spaces can help reduce its impact.

  13. There was one error in this opinion piece….Baron’s South is used non stop by hikers and kids riding their bikes. it has become part of a great walking loop in the downtown area which we (P&Z) envisioned when we rezoned this property passive open space. The ball was certainly dropped by Parks and Rec. The landscape design which was funded by BOF about 3 or 4 years was never presented or implemented. Why?

    There is a major disconnect happening in Westport. We have an open space acquisition fund and team and we have a P&Z now running in the opposite direction/

    We have nearly $1,000,000 in the designated open space fund but yet we can’t maintain the space that we have. I’ve heard rumors of a $500,000 plan for Riverside park, but we can’t cut the grass for the hikers on Baron’s South-or implement an existing landscape plan?

    Why?

    The conversation about rezoning needs to stop. The real issue is the lack of maintence.

    Let’s go back to square one. We need to see the landscape plan, fund it and implement it so that all of Westport can enjoy our version of Central Park.

  14. Cornelia Fortier

    Thank you to these four for shining a light on Baron’s South and promoting its preservation as open space. We totally support them in this. As development increases in Westport, as it seems to be doing, this oasis becomes even more important.

  15. As I wrote the above I received a Town generated notice from P&Z about the Zoning Regulation Revision Subcommittee for Wednesday July 28 at 12 pm.

    Focus is to be rewriting the regs. regarding Baron’s South. This change is the first step .

    Please attend via zoom.

  16. During our Covid shutdown last winter, Baron’s South property provided me with a peaceful and natural surrounding in which to walk. I sometimes met others like me who enjoyed the natural setting, and saw a deer or two. I hope it stays that way …. open and available without adding anything. We have plenty of places that provide recreation and activities: the Y, the beach, etc.

  17. My husband and I often walk the trails at Baron’s South, at least once a week either together or separately. I rarely come upon another person and have never seen a person biking which I do not think would be safe due to the uneven surface of the trails. A couple of years ago the trails were badly overgrown with weeds. I took a few photos and sent them along with an email to Jen Fava, head of Parks and Rec. I was thrilled a week or so later to discover that someone from Parks and Rec had put weed killer on the trails and they had become much easier to walk on. I don’t think they are badly overgrown at the moment but I’m sure Parks and Rec would put weed killer on the trails again. I am strongly again development of the property. There is no place to park and vehicular access from Compo and Imperial would be cumbersome at best. It’s really delightful to have these short trails available in the middle of town.
    Molly Alger

    • Michael Calise

      Weed Killer OMG!

      • OMG is right. What happened to the town being pesticide free? The town and DEEP did an environmental clean up of this property last year during COVID and now another department uses pesticide? OMG

        Just cut the grass .

    • Wendy Goldwyn Batteau

      Weed killer?!!!! The town is not to be using pesticides/herbicides on public lands. c

  18. Open space open space open space!

  19. In regard to previous post, “weed killer” (and I’m thinking we are talking about Round Up type products) is not something conducive to Westport’s participation in the pollinator pathway.

  20. Katherine M. Kosiba

    As a former resident of Westport, now living in Colchester CT, we have a 206 acre open space park (3 parcels acquired over several years), Ruby and Elizabeth Cohen Woodlands that is well used as open space/passive recreation with community involvement. The park is within a CT DEEP Officially Designated Connecticut Greenway.

    Over the years,
    – Boy Scout Eagle projects have created three short hiking trails for individuals and families. One of the Scouts created a park map. .
    – A town employee designed a wooden gazebo with another employee building it.
    – Boy Scout troops have built picnic tables that are placed in the shade near one of two ponds on the property.
    – In 2010, Colchester became the first town in Connecticut to become a certified Community Wildlife Habitat (CWH) through the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) . Our CWH large sign commemorating this community action, with an informational kiosk on the back, is at the park’s parking lot Cohen Woodlands is one of the individual certified Wildlife Habitat properties with the NWF.
    – As an Advanced Master Garden project I redeveloped an abandoned butterfly pollinator garden in 2014 with assistance and now ongoing maintenance by member volunteers of the Colchester Garden Garden Club and UConn Master Gardeners/interns in need of community service for their certification.
    – In 2017, the Cragin Memorial Library and several non profit organizations in town joined together to create a temporary StoryWalk trail; then offering the project of building permanent StoryWalk stations as an Eagle Scout project that was completed in Nov. 2019 and is a popular activity for families with young children.
    – Soon after our Colchester Garden Club created a children’s garden at the start of the StoryWalk which has now grown in size with paver paths added (Sept 2020) to the large circle garden so children may get closer to the plants and visiting insects, with new plantings continuing to be added this summer and fall.
    – One of the local Boy Scout troops is undertaking this year the trail maintenance of two of the trails including repainting the fading blazes and adding more on one of the newer trails for better viewing by hikers.
    – A recent Eagle Scout project just completed renovation of the wooden gazebo and informational kiosk reroofing, places rotted benches, floor and other supports, and painting.
    – Another Eagle Scout project this summer is building cement/wood slat benches for four areas of the park that need seating as a respite for visitors. – The Public Works Dept mows grassy areas and paths through the fields for visitors to walk more easily, and weed whack the garden edges and around the StoryWalk stations. They also take care of any tree maintenance.
    – The Colchester Garden Club, in partnership with the Public Works Dept., has undertaken a multi-year conservation project to cut two large stands of Invasive Japanese Knotweed working to weaken/eliminate it in this Greenway area.
    – The most recent development in regard to this open space park is that a Wildlife Management Plan/recommendations was prepared and delivered to the Town of Colchester by students of Dr. Ortega’s Wildlife Management Course (NRE 3335) from the University of Connecticut. Many of the recommendations are in process or in the planning phase with local community groups, and others under consideration by the town.

    This Park is very popular with residents, with more visitors discovering this gem of an open space park all the time. It’s a park for all seasons – hiking, visiting the butterfly pollinator garden, parents fishing with children at the ponds, families visiting the StoryWalk, older residents bringing their chairs to enjoy nature in the shade, picnicking, photography, community groups holding events/activities in the open mowed field areas, Scout troops having outings/activities, school groups coming on educational field trips, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and more.

    I welcome you to become familiar with Colchester’s Cohen Woodlands and all it has to offer as an open space/passive recreation site through this town web page and the brochures included. You can see what may be possible for Westport and the Baron’s property with the engagement of interested and committed volunteers partnering with the Town of Westport to plan and deliver improvements as well as identify ongoing or as needed maintenance through partnerships. https://www.colchesterct.gov/parks-facilities/pages/ruby-and-elizabeth-cohen-woodlands

    Ruby and Elizabeth Cohen Woodlands Park Brochure and Map (I created the brochure with a map updated by the original scout and his father, and input from the Town’s Park and Recreation, and Public Works Dept, and I personally print and restock as needed at the park).
    https://www.colchesterct.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif4286/f/uploads/cohen_woodlands_park_and_trail_map_brochure_2021.pdf

    Colchester Garden Club – Butterfly Pollinator Brochure: https://www.colchesterct.gov/parks-facilities/files/cohen-garden-brochure

    Colchester StoryWalk Brochure: https://www.colchesterct.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif4286/f/uploads/colchesterstorywalkbrochure_2019.pdf

    I would be happy to meet with Westport Preservation Alliance founders Morley Boyd, Wendy Crowther, Helen Garten and John F. Suggs OR members of Westport Planning and Zoning commission or other interested individuals/groups to provide a guided tour of Colchester’s Ruby and Elizabeth Cohen Woodlands to share what has developed over time for our residents and visitors, and maybe inspire some of the same for the Baron’s property. All the best.

    Katherine M. Kosiba,
    Colchester Garden Club – President
    Advanced Master Gardener
    Community Wildlife Habitat of Colchester (Co-chair)
    Colchester StoryWalk Committee (member)
    Staples HS Class of 1972.

    • Katherine, I had no idea there was a designation called” An Advanced Master Gardener.”

    • Wendy Crowther

      Katherine, it is such a pleasure to read your thoughtful comments and to learn about the great skills and knowledge you’ve accumulated since our days on the Staples H. S. courts and playing fields. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. My colleagues and I would very much like to connect with you regarding your work in Colchester. If it’s okay with you, I’ll have Dan share your email with me.

      • Katherine M. Kosiba

        Dear Wendy, Thank you for your kind comments. After leaving my post here, I read with interest information about the Westport Preservation Alliance and its team, to find you listed, and see all you have done too.
        Yes, I welcome Dan to share my email with you, and I’ll look forward to connecting. If I can provide any more information that may help I’m happy to do so,
        If you and others would like a site visit to Cohen Woodlands or hear about another town project to develop a passive recreation riverside park (6.4 acres) on the site of a former paper mill (brownfield) along the Jeremy River where two greenways meet, I can share that information too. In addition to picnic tables, pavilion, engraved commemorative granite benches, granite capstones for some of the mill walls to create additional seating, mowed grass walking areas with native plantings throughout the park, we are also planning some educational kiosks at the site including the history of this section of town, the history of the mill (3 generations of family), the environmental impact of removing the 200+ yr old mill dam on the river and wildlife, and about native/invasive plants, I’d be happy to share information on this new park project too (I’m on that town committee – Norton Park https://www.colchesterct.gov/norton-park-committee)
        Warm regards,
        Katherine M. Kosiba

  21. Great ideas, Katherine!

  22. Have some people already forgotten that not that many years ago there was a hard-fought battle to preserve Baron’s South as open space? Although I no longer live in Westport, I urge all who do to never abandon that victory.

    Restoration may be be a project, done over time, perhaps section by section, but it is a project that calls for public discussion and support. As a number of commenters suggested, this may offer the opportunity for volunteer effort (scouts; landscapers, for examples) to speed the restoration, but why not encourage public participation?

    Baron’s South is unique and irreplaceable and deserves to be treasured and preserved as open space now and for future generations..

  23. Wendy Goldwyn Batteau

    Good idea, Morley, Wendy, Helen, and John. I hope many Westporters will join the zoom meeting and speak out against this potential destruction of open space.

  24. Werner Liepolt

    06880 recently ran a great piece about the Ceriale’s concern with the removal of trees… Considering the way they have managed and care for their extraordinary property, the town would miss a great opportunity for guidance if it did not tap their knowledge and guidance in creating thoughtful directions for the Baron’s South property.

  25. SO MANY INTERESTING IDEAS. SHOULD CONSIDERATION ALSO BE GIVEN TO THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ANIMAL ZOO AND/ OR A BIRD SANCTUARY [AVIARY]

  26. Chip Stephens

    Saving Barron’s South was the pinnacle of my time with the P and Z. It was a hard-fought fight for an important piece of Westport’s dwindling OPEN SPACE for everyone. Two statements that will forever stick in my head from the hearings one great and one not so:
    High School girl who stayed out way too late to get her view in (we met routinely till midnight for that application) In her words:
    The Barron’s property is a jewel that is magical ! Friends and I can wander in this undeveloped field and woods right next to the post road and downtown and feel like we are in another quiet place far away. It gives us peace and escape. Please save it.
    Then the other view from a local land use lawyer:
    Why do we need to save more open space when we have 2- and 3-acre zoning? (Maybe because that is all mcmansion private property that the general public cannot enjoy… duh)
    Know Westport that you rank at the bottom of Connecticut in terms of wild open space set aside where you do not count developed school fields, state property and properties that you nor I can freely access. Remember at the time of the hearings we were # 3 with the least open space among all towns in CT.
    Land is not being made anymore in Connecticut and you will not see it reverting to the meadows and fields once developed. The false argument that at the time it was necessary for a private developed senior housing development. Today there is the Kowalski area privately funded and developed senior housing and 3-4 more senior projects in various stages of happening.
    Now retired from my 11 years of service to the town on the P and Z, a time I would gladly repeat if I fell back in time, I love Westport.
    Please do not let developers, politicians or those that want to, pave, light and destroy the south portion of Westport’s green belt, Westport’s central park today. Fight with all your might to preserve the green!

  27. I appreciate so many expressing their wish to preserve the open space and agree wholeheartedly with the priority on cleaning it up to make it an even better gem than it is in its current state. I hope that a plan for passive open space can be agreed upon and that the continuous debate about this property can be put to rest. I agree also that it is important to consider the adverse environmental impact should development of the property occur. I can’t be on the Zoom but am willing to volunteer to help with the clean-up should that become part of the maintenance plan.

  28. Cristina Negrin

    A long time ago when I had a catering business in Westport a stone’s throw from the property I discussed with our “selectman” then Dianne Farrell renting the home and making it a catering hall for large events similar to the woman’s club with a few rooms to accommodate brides, maids, etc upstairs. I would maintain the grounds and keep the curb appeal. It would be a good solution for the town- rental income as well as maintenance and building upkeep. I do like the sanctuary idea but someone has to pay for that?

  29. Christine Meiers Schatz

    I am open to all of the above ideas but as the parent to four younger children, all of whom are swimmers and budding water polo players, we do need more pool space in town. Those in charge of constructing the indoor and outdoor pools at our YMCA dropped the ball by not creating a 50 meter pool with a diving well.

    Maybe we could have open space and more recreational space?

  30. Lisa Podurgiel

    I could not agree more with keeping Baron’s South as open space. Even its current state—shameful as it is—is better than ANY kind of development.

  31. Andrew Colabella

    Restore Barons Properties as proposed by Chip Stephen’s and other proud longtime Westport residents have proposed.

    Why add an indoor pool and pickle ball courts? We have the Y and we have pickle ball courts already in town.

    Restore the original roadways with asphalt or tar based with gravel.
    Plant trees that were ruthlessly cut down and pollinator pathways.
    Restore the buildings and do preventative Maintanence.
    Utilize the buildings for permitted events through the town or furnish the homes with art and give tours of the property.

    This town is and was all about honoring the history and art, now we wanna spot zone and start messing with the property?

    Westport has less than 122 acres of green space. Leave it that way. Enough with the development already.

    The initiative to restore and honor our history, what makes this town Westport, to cherish by those who lived through it, and to show and embrace with new residents should be the goal. Not to move here from the city and start changing the history.

    Work with what we have an honor The Barons request, who is buried in Willowbrook.

    • Christine Meiers Schatz

      I mentioned this above and I’m not opposed to open space, but the Y pool isn’t big enough for the demand in our area because of its size and lack of diving well. A 50m pool there would be in constant use, notwithstanding the YMCA’s facilities. In Greenwich they have 2 pools less than a half mile apart, one 25Y and the other 50m with an additional diving pool, and they are usually full.

      Pools are important. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1-4, and the second unintentional cause of death for children 5-14. Swim teams use them and right now our local team has to cut scores of kids trying out every year because they don’t have enough pool space. We could have a town wide team competing in the FCSL, which could be a great point of pride for the town (New Canaan has a team but we can’t now because we don’t have a diving well). Pools also provide a safe and low impact form of exercise for us as we age.

      It’s certainly possible that complete open space would be better. I’m just writing to point out that there’s also merit to having a pool in that location.

      • Bill Strittmatter

        No question the Y would have preferred to build a 50 meter indoor pool at the time if the money had been available but, unfortunately, it wasn’t. For what it is worth though, Westport already has public pools at Longshore.

        FCSL is more of a Country Club league so not sure that it would be much more of a source of pride than the more competitive Water Wrats or Staples HS swim teams.

        • Christine Meiers Schatz

          Yes, I’m well aware of Longshore. We could still use more pool space than it provides, along with a diving well. The FCSL is not just a country club league. New Canaan has a very good team operating out of their public pool. They are one of the few towns that had the foresight to build a large enough indoor/outdoor pool with a diving well. Ideally, everyone should be able to compete in a lower-key summer league like the FCSL without shelling out big bucks for a country club membership. Even for the youngest age groups, getting on to the water rats at the Westport Y is very competitive due to the lack of pool space for larger practice groups. Given that drowning is one of the leading causes of childhood death, it would be great to have a more inclusive option. It would also be a great tie in to the senior center, given that swimming and water aerobics are low impact forms of exercise.

          Right this moment I’m sitting at a pool in Stamford and watching my kids in swim and water polo practice. It is the closest pool to Westport that is reasonably priced with a swimming/water polo/diving team in the FCSL. It’s not a country club either, for what that is worth.

          As I mentioned, I also think open space is wonderful. But I think carving out part for a pool would be wonderful too.

  32. Regina Masterson

    Baron’s South should remain as open space. It is an important part of the town’s history and it needs to be preserved and used for passive recreation.

  33. Lisa Podurgiel

    I would like to know how many people in town would benefit from an additional pool versus how many would benefit, directly and indirectly, from keeping Barons South as open space. To extend that thought, which option would more greatly benefit our collective environment or, extended further, the planet? Can we look beyond ourselves and consider the greater good?

  34. 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 context that was made in. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. Jay Walshon MD FACEP

    Katherine
    It was I who misspoke – I meant to say a recognized wildlife habitat.

    I virtually begged the P&Z to read your comments and invite your expertise to help us formulate a plan to revitalize it as passive open space. I believe that the chair Danielle Dobin stated that she has been in contact with you. I hope that is true.

    Please PM me at netmd51@gmail.com so we can discuss this further.

    Thanks

    • Katherine M. Kosiba

      Dear Jay, Thank you for the clarification. I sent the original post and my original comments via email to this committee No acknowledgement nor reply yet, but with one of Danielle’s comments during the meeting I understand why.

  37. I agree whole heartedly with the comments to preserve Baron’s South as open space and will do everything to support this effort. As others have commented, every RTM candidate must have a public and well publicized opinion on this subject, so we can vote accordingly.

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