Roundup: Housing Rally, Yappy Hour, River Dredging …

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The Town of Westport, Westport Housing Authority and Homes With Hope issue this statement:

Tomorrow (Wednesday, August 18, 2021, 2 p.m., Jesup Green) we invite residents to join legislators, local providers and advocates in a call-to-action rally to address Fairfield County’s growing housing crisis, in the aftermath of and ongoing concerns related to the pandemic.

The goal of the rally is to raise public awareness of the housing crisis and remind State legislators of the urgency to act. We encourage the public to attend as a personal action to combat homelessness. Public participation sends a message to legislators that the community supports the allocation of resources to Fairfield County’s most vulnerable residents.

Housing insecurity affects thousands of Fairfield County families and individuals seeking permanent housing every day. Affordability has become the most significant barrier for moderate and lower-income households to maintain stable housing in Fairfield County. The pandemic has increased the demand for affordable housing, resulting in a lack of available inventory, and dramatically increased rents, leaving many residents without access to safe housing options.

Rally attendees will hear from a range of funders, advocates, and community providers who offer direct services to friends and neighbors experiencing housing insecurity. Research shows that the most effective strategy for solving homelessness is the Housing First approach, connecting households to stable and affordable housing through a combination of supportive services and financial assistance.

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Dredging the Saugatuck River has been a complex (and expensive) topic.

It’s still a long way from happening. But earlier this month, Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal ensured funding for several Connecticut projects in the Fiscal Year 2022 Energy and Water Development Appropriations  Bill. Included is $2.81 for Saugatuck River dredging.

The funding can help “kick start” projects that are stalled, Murphy said. (Hat tip: Robbie Guimond)

Dredging could enable more river traffic at places like Rive Bistro restaurant. 

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MoCA Westport went to the dogs last Thursday.

It was “Yappy Hour.” Canines enjoyed dog-friendly Pupsicles, while owners sipped custom cocktails from Bar MoCA.

Guests also had complimentary access to the museum’s summer exhibitions — and could ask questions of a dog trainer, provided by Pet Choice.

PAWS brought along an adoptable dog, and took home food donations from attendees.

The next Yappy Hour is Thursday, September 2. Before then, a regular (dog-free) Happy Hour happens every Thursday, at Bar MoCA. Happy and Yappy Hours are all 5 to 7 p.m.

Yappy Hour at MoCA.

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The Westport Downtown Association hosts its 3rd (and final) Summer Outdoor Shopping Days this Saturday (August 14), 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

This isn’t the traditional “sidewalk sale.” But word on the (Main) Street is that some stores will offer great deals anyway.

Main and Elm Streets will be closed. There will be a food truck, bar and live music all day long.

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The end of an era: 29 Soundview Drive is on the market.

The home — in the same family for years — was owned by Paul Lane. The former Staples High School coach died in June, just days before the football field there was named in his honor.

Generations of Westporters strolling along the beach remember “Coach” sitting on his patio, greeting former athletes, longtime Westporters, and strangers.

This summer, the house was empty. Here’s wishing the new owners as much joy as Paul and his family enjoyed there.

And as full and healthy lives as he lived.

29 Soundview Drive

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Westport Book Shop‘s 1st-ever Back-to-School Story Time features a first-ever reading.

Westport author/illustrator Sivan Hong — whose “Super Fun Day” book series focus on neuro-diverse children who overcome challenges with perseverance and bravery — will read her new book — “Emily D. and the Fearful First Day” outside the popular used book shop, on Jesup Green. She’ll read others, too.

The event is this Saturday (August 14, 11 a.m. Kids and parents should bring a blanket or beach chair. Snacks are courtesy of The Porch @ Christie’s, and Sweet P Bakery.

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David Ader submits today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo. He writes:

“Peekaboo! A curious baby raccoon watched me, Pippa and our dog as we walked past the nursery. I assume the mother was out finding a meal.”

(Photo/David Ader)

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And finally … Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a saxophonist and founding member of Kool & the Gang, died Saturday in New Jersey. He was 70. (Click here for full obituary.) 

Time to “celebrate” a life well lived!

24 responses to “Roundup: Housing Rally, Yappy Hour, River Dredging …

  1. Hi Dan, Thank you for sharing information about the Affordable Housing and Homelessness Call-to-Action Rally at Jesup Green. Quick correction: The Rally is on Wednesday, August 18th at 2pm! We’re hoping for a great turn out!

  2. Barbara Sherburne '67

    What a cute photo of the raccoon. Doesn’t it look like there is a drawing of a dog inside the tree? Well, that caught my eye before I scrolled a little farther and saw the raccoon.

  3. Robert Mitchell

    It will be great to have the river dredged, but the process will probably be a real hassle, like the King’s Highway North bridge, or the proposed Walk Bridge replacement in Norwalk.

    • Not a lot of dredging happening for $2.81.

      (“ Included is $2.81 for Saugatuck River dredging.”)

  4. The selling of the Lane House is one big moment for all us Westport Veterans. Another era draws to a close.

  5. Tom Duquette, S

    Hopefully Coach Lane’s home on Soundview doesn’t become the next “tear down of the day”. Many of my friend’s homes as well as my own have already been bulldozed and replaced with McMansions. 29 Soundview is a Westport landmark.

    • No longer “Teardowns of the Day”, but unfortunately #29 is likely to become a “Say Goodbye” over at Westport Journal. Maybe it’s me, but it seems that now anything that’s even in good standing shape, regardless of size, that wasn’t very recently built with white siding and dark windows, is “Goodbye” fodder.

  6. Patricia McMahon

    Seeing that real estate sign on Coach’s property earlier today brought tears to my eyes. The house is unique just as Paul was, and hoping the new owners honor the aesthetics of this quaint beach cottage

  7. Bill Strittmatter

    The rally on the 18th sounds like a great opportunity for all good Westporters to come out and virtue signal in support of affordable housing. Not in Westport, of course, because that would ruin the character of the town. But yes, it is a crisis that someplace else should do something about and for which we must demonstrate our support.

    I will bring up a suggestion I made on another post that would help on many fronts, including affordable housing:

    By the way, here is an idea of what Westport can consider if it actually wants to do something other than virtue signal. Track down the descendants of the individuals dispossessed of their homes in the 22 1/2 Main Street fire, offer to build (and give) them houses in Westport, provide training (if they want and if necessary) for jobs working for the town or otherwise, let their kids go to the outstanding Westport schools and jumpstart some real diversity in Westport.

    Sure, it might cost some money, but money is one of the things at least a good number of Westporters have (I’m sure a progressive taxation system could be developed to not disadvantage the less well off members of the community). And Westport certainly already owns enough property where housing could be built. Winslow Park, for example, unless a dog toilet is more important than, you know, doing something. Or swap that property for lots around town (and drop zoning to quarter acre on those lots) if you want to avoid the appearance of creating a ghetto.

    • Oh Bill, you are always so DIPLOMATIC! I have to say, I too am curious what an ultra-wealthy town, such as Westport has become, can do to address homelessness.

      Certainly any so-called “affordable” housing is in fact subsidized or price-controlled middle income housing, which means mostly white, college educated people. The residents of these units are not the type of people who would otherwise be homeless. They’d simply be living in a nice apartment a town or two away.

      I’d like to see what are the programs being advocated by the organizers of the rally, and how many people will be helped by them.

      • Bill Strittmatter

        Probably right about what qualifies as affordable. Part of why the suggestion was to track down descendants of folks basically driven out of town to help right old wrongs. 2-3 bedroom capes, like old Westport, targeted to those that might benefit from a helping hand. Or even that don’t absolutely need it but deserve compensation sort of like what Evanston, IL is trying though not the same magnitude.

    • Bravo Bill, simply bravo! And a nice, ‘Hat Tip’ to for the timeless Chuck reference!!

    • Your Winslow park idea, Bill, plus your nod toward quarter acre zoning is ever so generous and forward looking. It also would signal an end to the character of our town; the end of the very reason them of us who care about air, water and traffic quality came to the town…We’ve been here only 51 years, but I’m certain many of longer residency also applaud your fantasmagorical generosity.

  8. Bill, my wife and I spoke up a long time ago that at least part of Winslow Park seemed like a perfect site for some affordable housing (with it being right by public transit and within walking distance of shopping and some potential jobs). And I suppose the same could be said for Baron’s South. I guess I never understood why such large properties couldn’t have both open space and affordable housing.

    • Fred, I have no objection to apartments in Winslow Park — after all it once had a hospital there — but I doubt the shopping and public transit access would attract a pedestrian crowd. The closest non-luxury supermarket (Stop & Shop) is 3 miles away, and most other real-people stores like Walmart, Target and TJ Max are several miles further. Yes there is an approx half-hourly Coastal Link bus along US1, but between waiting outside in the cold and rain, and shlepping bags on the bus, it’s only going to appeal to those unable to drive.

    • Bill Strittmatter

      Fred – you and your wife were right. There is plenty of space to both develop housing and keep open space. Winslow Park and Barons South have always astounded me.

  9. Dermot Meuchner

    2.81 for dredging the River sounds like a steal.

  10. Back in the early 60s when I was a rookie, Chief Lou Rosenau once told me that way before my time, one of the major oil companies had offered to have the river dredged just for the rights to sell their fuel to boats coming up into town to shop and dine. The deal never went through.

    • Dick Alley – what a blast from the past! Remember your fishing column/radio show. My late dad consulted it religiously before taking us kids out fishing.

  11. Re: “affordable housing” in wealthy areas, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, spread both by developers, who make money on them, and public housing officials, who get jobs and power from them. The truth is these projects do little or nothing for the poor and homeless; they’re really used by the middle and even upper middle class. This article about Aspen, one of the earliest ultra-wealthy towns to provide “affordable housing” is instructive. There is nothing wrong with giving a middle class entitlement, as long as you’re honest about it.

    https://www.coloradoindependent.com/2015/06/01/in-aspen-even-doctors-need-affordable-housing/

    • Bill Strittmatter

      Even facilitating bringing back more middle class to Westport might be a plus, but you are right, as structured, much to the affordable housing doesn’t really do a lot on the inequality front. Somehow, if the town really wants to walk the talk, something more aggressively targeted is necessary rather than leaving it to developers who, not unexpectedly, are trying to maximize their returns. Westport has the means to do it…if it wants to.

  12. Donald Bergmann

    The Saugatuck dredging funding news is wonderful. I believe a shout out should go, probably there are others, to our Operations Director, Sara Harris. Sara has her plate full on many issues and the Saugatuck dredging project is one of them. We all need to continue to support Sara’s work. The project will be accomplished under a different Town Administration. Hence, I look forward to Jonathan Steinberg and Candice Savin, vying with Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore during the campaign to convince voters which is the best team to accomplish this crucial project.

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