Roundup: Ida, Newcomers, Yappy Hour …

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Last night was crazy.

Yesterday afternoon, Dick Lowenstein stuck an empty pail outside his home.

This morning, it showed nearly 7 inches of rain.

(Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

But just a couple of hours after Hurricane Ida roared away, our beaches were calm.

If it weren’t for flooded basements, tree limbs on lawns and some ponds in places they shouldn’t be, it could seem like last night never happened.

Old Mill Beach, just after sunrise. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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Lost in last night’s weather news: The Parks & Recreation Commission approved a conceptual plan for a small area of active recreation (pickleball and bocce) on the Baron’s South property last night.

The vote was 3 for, 1 abstention.

In the plan below, one bocce court is just west (below) the Senior Center. The pickleball courts abut Imperial Avenue, on the lower left side of the plan. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

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“Newcomers” groups are great — in theory. In reality, they often bring together only other newcomers.

Neighbors & Newcomers of Westport is different. The club is a mix of recent arrivals and more seasoned residents. It’s a perfect way for newcomers –and there are a ton — to immerse themselves in Westport, while meeting others in the same situation, and those who know the ropes.

N&N activities include a book club, beach walking, tennis, Girls Nights Out, meet-and-greet and other gatherings.

The new season begins with coffee at Compo Beach (September 14, 10 to 11 a.m.).

Click here for more information.

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Congratulations to Jacob Troelstra. The 2015 Staples High School graduate — and 2020 graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point — completed Army Ranger School training.

Called the toughest combat leadership course in the world, t tests physical and mental endurance of soldiers under sleep and caloric deprivation for 62 days.

Jacob now heads to Fort Campbell, Kentucky as a platoon leader.

Jacob Troelstra

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The first 2 nights of  “Stars on Stage from Westport Country Playhouse” are already wrapped.

The final two tapings — for a national television audience, after noted producer Andrew Wilk works his editorial magic — are tonight. There are 2 shows: 7 and 9 p.m. Brandon Victor Dixon (NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar, Hamilton) is the star.

A few tickets are still available. Click here for details.

Shoshana Bean shined during Tuesday’s taping at the Westport Country Playhouse. She was joined by Luke Edgemon and Melanie Nyem. (Photo/Carol Rosegg)

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Today at MoCA Westport, it’s double trouble: monthly Yappy Hour, plus the regular Happy Hour (5-7 p.m.).

It’s a great way to meet other people — and dogs — in the museum’s great outdoor space. You can also purchase cocktails from Bar MoCA (this week’s custom cocktail is Honey Lavender Bee’s Knees), and enjoy free admission to the new “Between the Ground and the Sky” exhibit.

All dogs must be leashed!

Happy scene from the August Yappy Hour.

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This Labor Day weekend should be remarkable — at least, Remarkable Theater-wise.

The schedule for the Imperial Avenue parking lot drive-in includes:

  • Friday, September 3: “Stand by Me” (7:45 p.m.)
  • Saturday, September 4: “The Graduate” (7:30 p.m.)
  • Sunday, September 5: “The Sandlot” (7:30 p.m.)

Click here for tickets and more information.

The “Stand by Me” kids.

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The Westport Weston Health District has a new director of clinical services.

Vanessa Hurta has worked in healthcare for over 17 years, including primary care and preventive cardiovascular medicine, clinical research and teaching. Her most recent position was nurse practitioner for Yale New Haven Health. She has lectured and written about hypertension and obesity.

In other WWHD news, travel and vaccination clinic operations are expected to resume by mid-September. Call 203-227-9571, ext. 224, for appointments.

Vanessa Hurta

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The Levitt Pavilion is not quite finished.

They’ve added one more (great) show: Pete Muller and the Kindred Souls. The date for the intriguing instrumental/vocal quartet is September 26th (7 p.m.).

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Pete Muller and The KIndred Souls.

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Marla Cowden, Democratic Registrar of Voters, will leave office September 13.  She has served as Democratic Registrar for 11 years.

The new Democratic Registrar is Deborah Greenberg.

Marla Cowden

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The September/October issue of Westport Magazine includes a cover story on Kitt Shapiro.

The lively owner of WEST is the magazine’s face for its fall fashion feature. There are also interviews with Instagram stars Emily Rosnick, Zac Mathias and (the biggest) little Piglet.

Particularly timely: a chat with Rob Marciano about covering the weather.

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The view from the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s fitness center is gorgeous — and ever changing. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out over woods, water — and wildlife.

Treadmill, erg machine and elliptical users are used to seeing interesting things. But yesterday’s view was particularly intriguing. And worthy of inclusion for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/William Strittmatter)

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And finally … the great, versatile (R&B, rock, funk, soul, gospel) keyboardist Billy Preston was born today, in 1946. He played with Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, the Everly Brothers, Rolling Stones, and Beatles — among others — and also achieved fame with solo recordings.

He died in 2006, age 59, from kidney and other ailments.

 

10 responses to “Roundup: Ida, Newcomers, Yappy Hour …

  1. Thank you, Marla Cowden, for your service to our Town as Democratic Registrar for 11 years. ~ Kristan Hamlin, RTM #4

  2. Thanks Marla for your service to Westport. From sal liccione rtm district 9 member

  3. I was surprised the Parks & Rec. Comm. voted to support the proposed re-zoning of a portion of Baron’s South to allow for Pickle Ball courts. My surprise reflects the fact that this was the first public discussion of this important project which, I believe, for many is controversial since a portion of the park space would no longer be passive open space.
    Don Bergmann

  4. Jay Walshon MD FACEP

    Don and all Westport Residents:,
    What occurred during last night’s PRC vote to approve the forwarding of their Proposal A to the P&Z Commission was a deplorable travesty that the entirety of Westport should take notice. While it was extremely gratifying to see so many Westport residents take the time (even remaining during the hurricane while their properties were being assaulted by rain, wind and flooding) to attend and become personally involved in an issue that has the potential to affect every Town resident – and will particularly impact the adjoining neighbors – how the PRC Chairman comported himself during the PRC vote discussion was disheartening at best.

    The fact is that overwhelming those who spoke urged the PRC to slow down this process, take the time to gather more information, request alternative options, and prioritize the preservation of the historical structures on the Baron’s South property. Several speakers urged the PRC to implement the well designed 2017 proposal which was mysteriously not even being presented as one of the current options.

    While there was near unanimous agreement for the need & support for a quality pickleball complex being constructed in Westport, there was NO compelling support for it being located on the Baron’s South property, nor any evidence presented this it warranted a hazardous and fraught rezoning which will be required for its construction at Baron’s South – and which has already intentionally resurrected the impassioned imbroglio that occurred a mere few years ago.

    On the contrary, so many cogent and valid reasons to oppose the PRC Proposal A were presented at the meeting, including: the fact that it will result in the destruction of the historical structures, lack of sufficient fire access, necessity for state approvals to alter a state & scenic roadway, violating a purposeful designation of open space being in perpetuity, the dangerous precedent which could translate to carving out rezoning slivers in all other open space designated properties, our current dearth of open space, the adverse environmental impact construction will necessitate, asphalt runoff concerns, adverse impact upon future open space donations to Town, broken promises to residents & neighbors, and more.

    What is particularly important is that Westport’s National Pickleball AmbassadorTom Lowrie, who even PRC Commissioner Kate Kirby recognized “eats and sleeps pickleball” articulated multiple reasons why Baron’s South is the inappropriate location for a Westport Pickleball Complex – including insufficient parking (there are only 15 spaces for 30+ automobiles), inadequate space for socializing and spectator viewing, lack of space for tournament play, absence of restroom facilities for players and spectators, traffic concerns, and the noise that will affect the adjoining neighborhood. In addition the lack of lighting will prohibit evening play. Mr. Lowrie further informed the PRC and the public that he had multiple alternative sites that would be better suited and less expensive than the Baron’s South property – and would not require the rezoning of an open space property.

    The public testimony gave the PRC commissioners other than Mr. Haberstroh pause. In fact, Ed Iannone, Alec Stevens and Kate Kirby seriously questioned the appropriateness of Proposal A. Both Alec Stevens and Kate Kirby stated their discomfort with pushing Proposal A ahead, and instead articulated their desire to table the vote in order to gather more information. When Mr. Iannone asked what other viable alternatives for pickleball location existed, Mr. Haberstroh prevented the public from answering the question – I know that for a fact because he continually muted me AND blocked my video so that Mr. Iannone could not see me raise my hand. Mr. Haberstroh prevented Mr. Lowrie from articulating his preferred locations. Shameful.

    Furthermore, when he realized that he did not have the votes to push Proposal A forward, Mr. Haberstroh began to bloviate and use his bully pulpit to cajole the other commissioners to vote his way. Perhaps the worst was quoted in photograph caption this article when he addressed PRC Commissioner Kirby’s request for more time to gather more information, he falsely stated – “If we don’t move this ahead, it’s dead.” That strong-arm inaccurate statement was despicable. The prudent thing to do would have been to table this vote until more information could be presented, until other pickleball locations could be transparently explored and presented, and until ALL the commissioners felt comfortable in their decision. Under obvious pressure, PRC Commissioner Kirby ended up abstaining while PRC Commissioner Stevens changed his mind and voted to support Mr. Haberstroh’s desire. What a despicable display and abuse of power – no wonder the public believes that all their time, effort, intellect, desires and advice are a waste of time. Why even bother attending when this kangaroo court is thusly maneuvered?

    As many residents know, I have resided in Westport for 36 years, and am a staunch advocate for the sport of Pickleball. Like Tom Lowrie I want to help pickleball grow in Westport, and see that a quality pickleball complex is constructed in Westport – but one that the entire community will support and be proud of. Perhaps Baron’s South IS the best or only possible location – but as enumerated that location has a plethora of problems. The Milford pickleball complex is the gold standard Westport is hoping to emulate – Proposal A is nothing like Milford by a long shot. This requires further, transparent exploration and discussion with all interested parties working collegially together. What a unique concept for Westport.

    I have been disparaged for speaking the truth, and am being blamed that I will be personally responsible for killing any possibility for pickleball courts being constructed in Westport. Really? Threats to silence the truth? We are better than that – the ends do not justify the means.

    As a community, together, we should be able to do far better, and not be forced to settle for an imposed deficient plan that we will soon regret. We get only one opportunity to do this right. We owe that to ALL the residents in our Town.

    Jay M Walshon MD FACEP

  5. Jay Walshon MD FACEP

    In my reply I was referring to the photograph of Mr. Haberstroh misleading the hesitant commissioners that “If we don’t move this ahead, it’s dead” was published this morning in the Westport Journal. Obviously the PRC decision need not have been made last night, more information could have been obtained, and further public discussion could have ensued at a later date without the Proposal being “dead”.

  6. Hey Jacob‼️
    “I want to be an Airborne Ranger 🎵
    I want to live a life of danger” 🎶
    Thanks for your service 👍🏼🇺🇸

  7. I am deeply dismayed, maybe something stronger than that, like furious, about the Baron’s South decision. It was not that long ago some well intentioned folk decided the land should remain passive space, and not one acre should be put aside for a development plan to support our senior residents (a plan that had been thoughtfully developed by a previous administration). I disagreed with that decision, but, those who felt deeply passionate about protecting the space as is won out. If you recall the senior residence plan was to put aside a couple of acres for senior residences and the remainder, to be cared for by the senior residence management. Seemed like a win-win to me.

    In the years following that decision our tree warden and commission, culled the trees and reduced a once wild space to something many felt was an offensive dead zone.

    Now, what a surprise, some people are urgently in need of pickle ball courts and play space! All of this is messaging agism and affluenza, even if one argues that often pickle ball players tend to be a relatively older crowd. Honestly, we don’t have room in our town to develop a lovely senior campus for those who have raised their families here and are being priced out of the community, but we have room for a playscape? An urgently needed playscape at that. This entire idea is insulting to those who argued in favor of passive open space (which I thought the town agreed Baron South would remain) and for those who were in favor of a senior residence community plus open space.

    How about considering the unused ball field adjoining the Saugatuck residences for pickle ball. It is the most underutilized open space in town

  8. Say what you will, but Parks & Rec Chairman Charlie Haberstroh was quite honest when he told us “the P&Z told us they needed us to come back to them saying we need pickle-ball courts on Baron’s South to keep this alive.”

    Of course, the idea to break the Designated Open Space Recreation District 2 (DOSRD2) zone that Baron’s South enjoys – which was publicly vetted by the entire Town in 2015 – didn’t really come from the Parks & Rec Commission; it came from P&Z commissioners Danielle Dobin, Michael Cammeyer and Neil Cohn, who had been discussing their idea to rezone Baron’s South to allow for bocci courts, pickle-ball courts – even indoor and outdoor pools – during P&Z subcommittee meetings in June. But it appears they decided the need to rezone Baron’s South should come from outside the P&Z. So we found ourselves in a Parks & Rec meeting last night, where we were told that (1) somehow it was decided the Town needed 6 new pickle-ball courts, and (2) these pickle-ball courts COULD ONLY be located on Baron’s South.

    Now I do not dispute the need for additional pickle-ball courts in Town, it is indeed a very popular sport – but I did ask how the number of additional courts was arrived at, and I certainly asked the [obvious] question regarding which other sites were considered among the Town’s numerous properties – all of which are already zoned to allow for such a use. No response there, but at least I was allowed to ask – when Matthew Levine (speaking for Save Westport Now) asked about whether consideration had been given to other locations for these pickle-ball courts in Town (pointing out that Longshore would seem to easily capable of supporting 6 little pickle-ball courts), the Park & Rec chair cut him off, telling Matthew that he was off topic.

    Last night was not a good look for the Town – it all felt rather scripted, and basic, legitimate questions about the process that was followed by Parks & Rec to arrive at this “6 pickle-ball courts, and only Baron’s South will do” conclusion were ignored or rejected. Naturally, the pretty map displayed last night showed the 6 courts as a minor encroachment on Baron’s South – but 6 courts means at least 12 cars, and no accommodation for parking was shown on the map, and no bathrooms – let’s not spoil the story with the truth about just how much of Baron’s South will be taken for this first swipe. And this will surely be followed by others.

    And soon we will be back over to the P&Z, where they will then respond to a request from Parks & Rec to locate 6 pickle-ball courts on Baron’s South, which will require that previous DOSRD2 designation be broken open to accommodate their request.

    As an aside, there was another map shown last night, which showed the work that could be done to make Baron’s South an attractive open space property for the people to enjoy with nice walking trails, enhanced public access – just as the Town intended back in 2015. Why did they stall?

  9. Jack
    I don’t dispute the “honest” Haberstroh quote you cited…it was his false assertion that the issue needed to be resolved immediately at that meeting rather than having further discussion to Vette the very questions you are reiterating.

    Perhaps he meant that IF and WHEN those answers were obtained this Proposal A would be dead.

    It was a dishonest and disturbing abuse of his chair position…and the public saw it for themselves.

    I agree, the P&Z needed this as an excuse to reconvene THEIR next kangaroo court session. Tag team politics at its finest.

  10. Congrats Jake!!

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