Aspetuck Land Trust’s first capital campaign had an ambitious goal: $4.2 million.
The results are in. The non-profit — dedicated to preserving and conserving open space — blew past that figure. They raised $5.6 million.
Funds will help buy more open space, adding to more than 2,000 acres in Westport and 4 neighboring towns. Most is open to the public.
Contributions also support “homeowner engagement.” ALT helps residents make their yards more biodiverse, and become connectors between preserves. Over 1,000 homeowners have already taken the “Green Corridor pledge,” planting more native species and using fewer insecticides om smaller lawns.
At last week’s 56th annual meeting, president Bill Kraekel announced 2 named reserves. For the first time, naming rights were sold in the capital campaign.
Westporter Bill Kutik made a major donation, to save a preserve on the Weston/Wilton border. A developer had approvals, and was preparing a 2,000-foot driveway with utility poles for cars and service vehicles.
It would have sliced through the center of Honey Hill Preserve’s 119 acres of 19th– century farm land (now forest), to a remote 10-acre parcel he owns bordering the preserve. ALT acquired the land. The newly named Bill Kutik Honey Hill Preserve recognizes his contribution.
Kutik — founding editor of Backpacker Magazine, and a reporter for the New York Times and Daily News — moved to Westport in 1997. He hiked newly opened Trout Brook Valley, and was amazed to find there was no charge. He began contributing ever-larger amounts, “in lieu of entry fees.”
The other named preserve is the Daniel E. Offutt Forest Reserve Gateway. The 85-acres of Weston forest were purchased from the town, with proceeds from his will.
Yesterday’s MoCA Westport Family Day included a visit from the world-famous deaf and blind dog Piglet, and his owner Melissa Shapiro. She talked about The Piglet Mindset, a global movement for acceptance, inclusion, empathy and kindness.
Norwalk artist 5iveFingaz created a mural featuring Piglet. Guests also explored “Spark” (the Westport Public Schools art exhibition). and enjoyed an art activity and ice cream truck.
The Staples High School Class of 1962 grew up in post-war Westport.
They remember Saugatuck before I-95 came through, and the bathhouses at Compo Beach. They attended Staples when it was brand new, and Bedford Elementary before it became Town Hall.
Last night, they held a mini-reunion at Ned Dimes Marina. COVID knocked out plans for a big bash. But classmates came from New York, Florida and points in between for the casual event.
Now in their late 70s, the men and women of ’62 graduated in a far different time. It was a great time, they said.
And they looked great, too!
Six decades later — last night, in fact — the Wilton High School Class of 2022 graduated.
They don’t have their own beach. So early this morning — we’re talking 5:30 a.m. — they headed to Compo to celebrate.
Congratulations, Warriors. Maybe you can gather at the Ned Dimes Marina too for your 60th reunion, in 2082.
Nature can be beautiful. It can also be dog-eat-dog.
Or as in this “Wesport … Naturally” photo — it’s bird-eat-dinner.
As photographer Susan Leone points out, this creature really had its prey “in tow.”
finally … a few tickets remain for tonight’s special Levitt Pavilion concert with Michael Franti & Spearhead. If you like hip hop blended with funk, reggae, jazz, folk and rock, click here.
PS: The opening act is Tropidelic. Like their name, they’re another sunshiny band.
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Shout out to Class of 1962 Nancy Esposito Hughes, high school Spanish teacher & Loretta Santella Hallock, a fellow Town Employee.
It doesn’t compare in size or utility to other named ALT land holdings, but there is also Peter’s Gate on North Buckley Ave., named in memory of our son.
I trust those kids from Wilton had beach passes.