Roundup: Kowalsky Property, Orphenians, Fleet Feet …

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For months, Greens Farms residents have wondered: What’s going on at Morningside Drive South and Clapboard Hill Road

There’s been activity there, at one of the town’s largest still-undeveloped private tracts of land.

On January 5 (7:30 p.m., Zoom) the Flood & Erosion Control Board will hear an application on behalf of the owner — Kowalsky Family Company LLC — for a 6-lot subdivision. It will be reviewed for drainage and grading recommendations to the Planning & Zoning Commission. To attend the virtual meeting, click here.

Site of the proposed subdivision, at 109 Morningside Drive South. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)

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The latest COVID casualty: tomorrow’s Orphenians carol sing downtown.

The a cappella singers had invited alumni to join them, for this special event. The surge in local cases means waiting a year.

Orphenians director Luke Rosenberg wishes all Orphenians, past and present — and their countless fans — a happy, healthy holiday.

The Staples Orphenians sang downtown earlier this month, at the 06880″ Holiday Stroll.

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Despite the Orphenians’ cancellation, there’s a great reason to go downtown tomorrow (Thursday).

From 2 to 5 p.m. Staples High School’s OneWestport Club is holding a toy and coat drive, at the Bedford Square traffic circle on Elm Street.

All donations will go to the Person to Person network. They provide a free holiday store, where low-income families can shop for free gifts for their families. There’s been a huge demand this year, so OneWestport is offering a final push.

New and gently used coats (all sizes, but clean!), new board games, stuffed animals and picture books are great.

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Run — don’t walk — into 2022! Registration is open for Fleet Feet’s next training program

Starting Saturday, January 8 (8 a.m.), it’s a 12-week group effort, for runners of all abilities. From non-runners to those training for a big race: All are welcome.

There are Saturday 8 a.m., and Tuesday 5:30 p.m. sessions. Most runs start and end at the Sconset Square store (with an occasional track or trail run).

Fleet Feet offers a changing room/bathroom, secure storage of keys and valuables — and product discounts while enrolled in the program. Click here for more information, and registration.

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There are 3 shopping days left until Christmas.

Then — on Monday, December 27 — you can start again. MoCA Westport will host a pop-up shop event (9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.), in conjunction with the Winter Recess Art Camp at their 19 Newtown Turnpike campus.

The sale features luxury home accents and fashion accessories.

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Thanks to STAR board member Amanda King Heavey, her son Will and his classmates, every child served by the STAR Rubino Family Center’s early intervention pediatric therapy program will receive a handmade card and note, plus a book to enjoy during the holidays.

Entering its 70th year, STAR Lighting the Way  creates opportunities for people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live full, independent lives.

In the photo below, Will Heavey gives Westporter Parker Greenberg a book and card.

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Aitoro Appliance — just over the line in Norwalk — is many Westporters’ go-to for sales and service.

Now they need our help.

On Monday night at 3:30 a.m., 2 men wearing hoodies stole gas grills. The vehicle was a white Ford truck. Security cameras could not catch the license plate. Anyone with information can email info@aitoro.com.

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“Westport … Naturally” loves to show creatures of all kinds playing in Westport.

But no one has had more fun than this guy, spotted by Elisabeth Keane outside her home:

(Photo/Elisabeth Keane)

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And finally … Maurice and Robin Gibb were born on this day in 1949. With their older brother Barry, they formed the Bee Gees — one of the most popular British Invasion (and then disco) groups of all time.

Both died young: Maurice at 53 from a twisted intestine, and Robin at 62 from kidney failure.

18 responses to “Roundup: Kowalsky Property, Orphenians, Fleet Feet …

  1. We lived at 114 So. Morningside Dr. for 28 years. When you looked out the window, from our slightly elevated property, the view was the barn and 12 empty acres. I can’t imagine looking out those same windows and seeing six rooftops.

    • Jack, when my parents were first looking for a house to buy in Westport many decades ago, we looked at the house just north of your former house on Morningside (which was much smaller then than it is today). My parents never went inside because it was out of their price range but, as we drove by, I remember looking out the car windows and being fascinated by the big farm across the street.

      To this day, the Kowalsky property still evokes that feeling for me as I drive by. Sitting atop that hill, I can easily picture the Westport of a century or two ago.

      I’ve feared this subdivision for a long time – ever since old man Kowalsky passed away twenty years ago or so. I remember hearing about his response when queried about selling his place back then. He said, “Over my dead body.” I suppose we can thank the Kowalsky family for having honored his memory long after the old man’s passing. I want to be angry, but I guess it’s easy to imagine the profit that can be made from six McMansions – way more now than 20 years ago.

      What’s sad for me is that their profit will also become our loss.

      • Wendy, That was an interesting response! Here’s a little tidbit. For the 2+ acres, and the construction of the house at 114 So. Morningside Drive, it cost us $45,000 sixty years ago! The land ended up costing nothing because my uncle and father bought 8 acres, and flipped 4 of the acres for what they paid for the 8 acres. So my parents kept two and my uncle kept two, and it cost them nothing. My uncle’s two acres were at the corner of Clapboard and South Morningside Dr.

        • What a coincidence. Did your uncle put the property on the market in about 1970 or was it owned by others then? I loved the look of that house, a classic, vintage, New England place with that extraordinary view. I think it was selling for $350K then. Imagine!!

          • Wendy, Do you mean that little house he owned on the corner of Clapboard and South Morningside Dr.? That corner was his two acres. That house was moved from the land which eventually the Connecticut Turnpike was built. When the turnpike came through, he had to move it.

            • Wendy, I don’t remember when he sold that house. In the 1960s though he lived in the last house on South Morningside. His property bordered Morningside, Elmstead, Turkey Hill and Greens Farms Road.

              • Your uncle’s house on So. Morningside, Elmstead, Turkey and GF Rd is a lovely house and property too. As you know, the barns in particular are in rough shape – close to collapsing. Dan posted a story on it last year and you were among those who commented, as was I. An attempt to contact the present owners was unsuccessful at the time – I think it may still be dying a slow death. We lovers of old houses and barns may soon mourn the loss of this place too.

                https://06880danwoog.com/2021/04/24/a-noble-barn/

                • Wendy, My uncle’s house was a small ranch, and torn down and replaced by the large house that is there now. The barn wasn’t on his property, but added to the beauty of the area. Elmstead Lane only had one house with the barn. I remember a time when the Elmstead house was for sale, and sales were slow, and the owner couldn’t get $225,000 for it. I might be a little shaky on the price, but that’s my memory.

                  • Oh, the ranch. I thought you meant the one on the north side of Elmstead with the barns.

                    • My uncle owned the ranch in the 1960s, not the house with the big barn. One night my uncle came home from closing up the bowling lanes, got in bed, and his wife was dead. I remember rushing down there with my father in the middle of the night. After that he moved to Cottage Lane.

            • Yep. It was on the southwest corner of Clapboard and South Morningside. It’s great to learn that was moved there when land was cleared for the construction of the CT Tpk. If I was to date it from my memory now, I’d guess it was circa 1880, a simple center hall colonial with white clapboarding and shutters. Somehow, today’s owner has succeeded in blurring the view of the house from any vantage point on Google’s street view. If the original house is still there, it has been surrounded with additions.

              • Wendy, The house you remember is long gone and a monstrosity was built in its place. CB Dolge lived in it for a time, I think in the 1960s. There was also a dentist from Brooklyn, who specialized only in root canals, that also lived there too, maybe in the early 1970s . I agree the house was charming surrounded with a green fence.

  2. David Brant, executive director, Aspetuck Land Trust

    Aspetuck Land Trust identified that Kowalski property as a property of interest for protection years ago and we reached out to the family to discuss our interest in conserving the property. They declined to do a conservation deal with us. We regret not being able to conserve this property, one of the last large undeveloped parcels in Westport. A land trust needs a willing partner in a landowner. We remain interested if the family has a change of heart.

    • David, I sure wish the ALT had been successful in this endeavor. What an amazing tribute and legacy it could have been to/for the Kowalsky family. I won’t get my hopes up that they’ll reconsider but perhaps they’d be willing to set aside at least one lot for ALT – and for us all.

  3. Wendy…”old man Kowalsky” was Mr. Paul Kowalsky. His wife was Mary. They were incredibly generous towards the Town of Westport and kept a whole lot of people employed for a long time..I really miss that generation.

    • Dave, I believe Paul Kowalsky only finished up to the 4th grade in school. I remember him joking about that once. He was a Navy Seabee working in a construction battalion, so when he left the Navy, after the war, he started Kowalsky Bros. with his brothers. Just for the record, my grandfather, who never learned how to read or write, bought 7.2 on the Post Rd. for one dollar down and a $5,000 dollar mortgage back in 1917. It’s hard to believe paying one dollar down for 7.2 acres on the Post Road!

    • I had the pleasure of working with him very briefly when we both served on Selectwoman Diane Farrell’s Open Space Committee. He came to several meetings but was very hard of hearing so I think he felt he couldn’t contribute much if he couldn’t hear what we were talking about. I wish I could have gotten to know him better.

  4. I don’t know why the town just didn’t buy those 12 acres. The other thought was everyone’s property that boarded Kowalsky’s would form a partnership and buy it, and keep the taxes low by maintaining it as farm land. An agreement could have been reached to vote to sell it in 75 years. Everyone’s property in that agreement would have a significantly higher value for a resale!

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