Question Box: Answers #2

Last week’s Question Box was a smash.

Readers wanted answers to everything from Grace Salmon Park and “Bob” to our eternally renovated bridges and old/new firehouse. 

I did what I could to respond. Readers pitched in. (Click here if you missed it.)

Then you sent more. Here’s the next set of questions. I know some of the answers. When I don’t — someone else will. Click “Comments” below to help.

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I’m sure you’ve covered this in the past. But I’m curious about the history of the boat “Gloria” that I pass every day as I ride through Longshore. And what might the future hold for this venerable vessel? (John Richers)

Short answer: Yes, I’ve written about Gloria many times. Click here for some of those stories and photos.

Longer story: Alan Sterling built the wooden oyster boat himself. He named it after an old girlfriend, and took it oystering on 150 acres of beds, between Compo Beach and Cockenoe Island. It was a tough job, but Alan — a Staples grad — loved it from the day he began, in 1964.

Alan moored Gloria in Gray’s Creek, between Compo Beach Road and the Longshore exit. Some winters, he lived on the boat. It was cold — but it was home.

On July 4, 2014, Alan died of a heart attack.

After that, Gloria drifted. Michael Calise took care of it. Earlier this year, it washed up on shore. Its future is uncertain. It’s an old boat that’s seen a lot, and given many Westporters years of joy.

Just as it did for Alan Sterling.

Gloria, in 2017. (Photo/John Kantor)

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I am new to Westport, from Brooklyn. I know there is talk about revitalizing downtown, and bringing in businesses to fill some of the vacancies. I’m curious if there has ever been a survey of what people would like to see downtown? I am interested in business ownership, and really being part of the community. I wonder what type of businesses folks think would be needed and supported. (Travis Rew-Porter)

Travis, this is awesome. I don’t know of any consumer/user survey. It’s a great idea.

And readers: If you’d like to work with Travis on a business or revitalization project, click “Comments” below!

What kind of businesses do Westporters want? Great question! (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

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Does Public Works have any input into local traffic lights? The timing at Morningside Drive/Post Road has changed to prioritize the Post Road more dramatically. The green light for Morningside lasts just 3 seconds. It is impossible to cross on foot. Help! (Amy Bedi)

Unfortunately, nearly every light in town is on a state road. Those balls are in the Department of Transportation’s court.

Click here for a link to report issues to the DOT. But don’t hold your breath.

Town officials — including the 1st selectman and Department of Public Works — are in contact with the state about traffic lights. They can sometimes push things along. But they don’t hold their breath either.

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Can Westporters use the track at Staples to run, jog or walk? If so, is it time restricted? Do you need a pass? (Carmen Castedo)

The Laddie Lawrence Track at Paul Lane Field (the first time I’ve written that!) is open to all — except during the school day, or when it’s used after school by the track team, or if there is another sports event going on.

No pass is needed. But keep Fido home!

The Laddie Lawrence Track, at Paul Lane Field. (File photo; the track is now blue.)

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Is Clinton Avenue named after the namesake of Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post 399 on Riverside Avenue? (Linda Velez)

Not only have I never been asked that — I never even thought about it.

Private Joseph J. Clinton was a Westport soldier. He was killed in France just 4 days before the armistice.

That explains the VFW name. But the road off Main Street, opposite North Compo: I have no idea. Except to say that it is not named for either Bill or Hillary.

VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399.

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What happened to the time capsule that was buried at Greens Farms Elementary School for the bicentennial? I heard that at one time 3 people had plans and permission to dig it up. There is a new road in front of the school. You have a lot of fans who were involved in the project. (A passive-aggressive reader: This was sent by mail, with no name or return address.)

I addressed this in 2012. The answer was the same then: No one knows. (Click here to see.) 

But one reader responded with a back story:

I remember the time capsule at Greens Farms El in 1976. It was buried in the front lawn. All the classes/grades were asked to participate in drawings (I think that I was in maybe 3rd grade & our class drew pictures of ourselves and described our lives. We all mused how fun it would be for people 100 years later to see how we lived).

A crane dug a deep hole, and there was quite a bit of ceremony around the time capsule being buried. I’ve told people about it over the years, only to wonder if anyone else remembered it, as well:)

If anyone can dig deeper (ho ho), click “Comments” below.

Has anyone seen my time capsule? (Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Some 80 years ago I lived on 573 Imperial Avenue, at the corner of Wakeman Place. The numbers have been reset, but the house is still there. My brothers and I used to swim in the river. I remember diving off “White Rock,” which was close to the shore. Is it still there, or am I dreaming? (Karl Taylor)

You’re probably not dreaming, but I have not heard of it. Wakeman Place residents: What’s the deal?

Wakeman Place at Imperial Avenue. Karl, was this your house?

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Why did the state Department of Transportation remove and replace the trees, bushes and buffering hills from the northbound side of the Merritt Parkway, near the Westport Weston Family YMCA? It cost a lot of money. Was the outcome worth the expense? (Jacque O’Brien)

I asked State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, who serves on the House Transportation Committee. He says that location was a major staging area for projects up and down the Merritt.

Now that equipment and material has been moved in and out, it’s time to replace what was lost.

New trees on the Merritt Parkway, near the Y. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

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What first inspired you to start “06880,” and did you ever think it would keep you this busy? (Jack Krayson)

Wow! I didn’t expect an “06880” question on “06880.”

I started the blog in March of 2009. I was a columnist for the Westport News (I still am!), but realized the future of print journalism was, um, iffy. I wanted to continue to write about town people, issues, events and history. Someone suggested I start a blog.

“No way!” I said. (That’s also what I said about cell phones, when they came in. And computers, before that.)

But he showed me WordPress, a great blogging platform. I learned the basics in a weekend. Here we are, 13,000+ posts (and 136,000+ comments later).

I never dreamed it would keep me this busy. If I knew then what I know now …

… I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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Why is Westport pronounced “Wessport”? The “t” is silent! (Kevin McCaul)

My guess: It takes too long to say the first “t.”

And Wessporters are always in a hurry.

 

 

19 responses to “Question Box: Answers #2

  1. Barbara Sherburne '67

    That’s totally odd. I’ve never pronounced it Wessport but always Westport. As for businesses downtown, does Westport have a bookstore? I know where I live in Wallingford we do not, although we used to have two. I very much miss the bookstores.

    • Westport does have 2 bookstore downtown! Barnes & Noble is in the old Restoration Hardware (former Fine Arts I and II theaters), across from Patagonia (former Westport Bank & Trust). It’s smaller than its previous iteration on the Post Road (former Waldbaum’s), and there’s no cafe, but it’s definitely downtown.

      And behind it, on Jesup Road — right next to Basso (former Matsu Sushi, before that Fine Arts III theater) is the Westport Book Shop, a used bookstore run in conjunction with the Westport Library and a private venture that hires people with disabilities.

      Tons of books available at both places. And, of course, the library is right across Jesup Green!

      • Barbara Sherburne '67

        You are very lucky. Of course we have a great library and The Book Seller, which is connected to the library, but that is still not open due to COVID. We also used to have two fabulous bookstores not in the center of town, and they both closed years ago. So now we have none. Makes no sense to me.

  2. It’s because of the Connecticut accent. T’s are typically dropped. Just a guess.

  3. Steven Halstead

    Regarding the landscape question about the trees on the Merritt Parkway near the Westport/Weston Family Y, the controlling document is:

    https://portal.ct.gov/DOT/Highway-Design/Merritt-Parkway-Preservation–Landscape

    As is evident from these documents, this plan has been in place for decades and has proceeded as fast as the funding was made available through Ct DOT. The project is being done in multiple sections. The Westport section is the one which has generated this question. The Norwalk section is just beginning.

  4. Bob Weingarten

    MORE INFORMATION ON VFW POST

    Little known to Westporter’s is that Joseph J. Clinton was the son of Augusta Clinton Gaffney. Augusta built a house on Clinton Terrace in 1908 and lived in the house until her death in 1948. Part of her will was to bequeath the property she also owned where the current VFW post stands. But the Post was established for eleven World War 1 veterans. For more history on the Post, one can go to https://vfw399ct.org/

  5. MORE INFORMATION ON 573 Imperial Avenue.

    Using the photo provided by Dan, I found that this house is indeed still standing. The house is older than the 80 years discussed by the individual that asked the question. The house was built in c.1892 by Albert W.Allen and he lived in the house until sold in 1933. There is more history on this house and if anyone would like to read about it, please send email to me or through Dan.

  6. Great idea to ask the community what they would like to see on Main Street I have lived in Westport for 48 years and I even had my own shop called Critics Choice anyway let’s start a collection of ideas as to what should be on Main Street
    and Main Street will thrive again

  7. John D McCarthy

    Travis, welcome to Westport. There have been many surveys and studies done on what to do about Downtown. Here is a link to a story of one such effort https://06880danwoog.com/2014/09/17/the-future-of-westport-dont-say-you-werent-asked/

  8. Dan, the QB is the best idea since I’ve been RSS’d to 06880!
    Having left Westport before I was in too much hurry to slow down for the first t and now being 2000 miles away, what means and after most to me are those informative pieces that relate to the Westport I knew I am not saying it should go back to the 70s-80s,just that those questions and your answers keep me reading!!! Thank you.

  9. Susan Farley

    the sweetness of WSPT really came through for Al Sterling, (incl fr people he accused of poaching off his oyster beds, they def were not doing so), I hope Gloria’s maintained and used maybe to teach people how to troll for oysters without the more sophisticated equipment that definitely is not on that boat 😉 ( it’s actually helpful to know how to operate boats, planes, etc. without the more sophisticated tools so when those aren’t working – here or abroad, – you’re still good to go).

  10. could it be possible to override the existing plans for changing Main Street which so far have been implemented by devolpers and franchises and have left downtown Westport like Rodeo Drive instead of a welcoming , hometown atmosphere? (Exceptions, a few stores). ? WHAT A WONDERFUL IDEA. How can we email ideas to Travis?

  11. I’m quite certain Rodeo Drive doesn’t have storefronts that have been vacant for years. What exactly do you want retail wise? Downtown Westport is more like Coney Island.

  12. I recently discovered that I live in the house built by Augusta Clinton in 1908 on Clinton Terrace. Thanks to Bob Weingarten and the Westport Museum for History and Culture my house will have a plaque which reads “Augusta Clinton – 1908.

    • Clinton Terrace is off South Compo, just south of (and on the other side of the street from) Vani Court. It does not seem to have any connection to Clinton Avenue, off Main Street near North Compo.

  13. “Wessport” is that like “Nor-easter”? I’ve never heard that pronunciation. Trying to emulate a New England vernacular? I doubt it. Most people these days think we are part of New York. Accents have been homogenized and maybe that’s a good thing. You can debate that for some time. I much prefer a Boston/ New England accent to that of NY. The local flavor of Main St. went away with being local owned. Hedge Funds are only concerned with profits, not community. Bringing back a contemporary “Bill’s Smoke Shop”, “Greenberg’s”, or “Welch’s Hardware” is no longer viable. That goose was killed a long time ago.

  14. Small business’s can’t afford a million dollars a year in rent. So it stands to reason that whatever people would like to see on Main Street is Irrelevant. We’re either gonna get large established brands that are leaving the large malls because as it’s projected 60% of malls will Close by 2022. Or we’re gonna see an influx of shops owned by wealthy folks who already have the means to keep paying inflated rents for their passion projects, yoga and design galleries…

    As a small business owner who ran a brick and mortar company in this town. It’s pointless to try and start anything up here. Though I give credit to those who are trying.

    I have had many conversations with Dan on this topic and I believe 3 or 4 years ago I talked about the Main Street retail Armageddon that we now see.

    As I said then, we need to learn to adapt to the change in the retail space. That means stores are a luxury for business owners. I now take appointments and visit clients at their home or office. Why spend close to 130 dollars a square foot??? I keep that money now.

    Westport Landloards will continue to write off their vaccines each year, continue to take taxpayer supported handouts and relief on those losses not lose a dime on paper and Westport curb appeal will Continue to decline.

    Take as many surveys as you like, these are facts. The demographic here, though you might think could support an idlic Main Street can’t and it starts at the top. Ask any small owner on or even near Main Street. I guarantee you they are hemorrhaging cash and struggling.

    Told ya so….

  15. Juliana Sloane Fulbright

    I remember the Taylor’s across from Wakeman Place facing out from our street you were slightly to the left. I was Juliana Sloane and on 8 Wakeman Place. I do remember you but not much. The house is still there I think but a different color and siding now. Do you remember the Sloane’s?

  16. So happy to see the track and field named after two great legends. Big shout out to Andrew Colabella and his co-sponsors for his hard work and effort to honor those who have done so much for this community!

    And thank you Dan Woog for covering it!!

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