Roundup: Long Lots Preserve, Hemp, Traffic …

The Long Lots Preserve is one step closer to reality.

But the ecologically important, sustainably sound and very natural project around the perimeter of the Westport Community Garden needs our help.

Under the direction of Lou Weinberg — and with the help of many volunteers and businesses — neglected public open space, overrun with invasive plants and pests, is being turned into a native New England environmental oasis.

The project includes the removal of non-native plants. Then comes dense planting with native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses. They attract and sustain hundreds of year-round and migrating organisms. including the endangered monarch butterfly and native mason bees.

If the Long Lots Preserve gets $7,500 from at least 70 people, Sustainable Connecticut will match it with $7,500 more.

All money raised will purchase plants at wholesale cost. All deductions are tax-deductible.

Click here to donate online, and for more information. Checks can be mailed to Long Lots Preserve, 1630 Post Road East, Unit 129, Westport, CT 06880.

PS: Partners include Connecticut Audubon, Aspetuck Land Trust, Earthplace, Bartlett Tree Experts, AJ Penna & Son, Robbie Guimond, SIR Development, Southwest Conservation District, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Service Forestry Program,  Community Gardens members, many private citizens and 2 Staples High School interns.

The Long Lots preserve weed suppression team (from left0: Lou Weinberg, Darryle Kowalsky, Frank Rosen, Julie O’Grady, Andrew Coleman.


New England Hemp Farm has transitioned from its Brooks Corner store, to an online and wholesale business.

But you can still buy its full line of products — for yourself and your pet. They’ve partnered with Earth Animal, on Post Road East.

CEO Matt Bannon says, “Since humans and their pets both have an endocannabinoid system and suffer from similar conditions such as inflammation, anxiety, autoimmune and sleep cycle issues, this is a unique opportunity to keep a local presence.”

It’s a great fit for several reasons. “Earth Animal is committed to a health and wellness philosophy for pets and humans. They’re friendly and welcoming people who allow us to provide all of our products to clients who prefer to shop in-person. And this allows us to support another business right here in town.



When classes resume Tuesday, the Westport Police Department will increase traffic enforcement in school zones. Officers will look for drivers on cell phones, speeding and disregarding bus signals.

The department says: “We urge commuters to allow extra time, as they will be sharing the roads with school buses making frequent stops, as well as children who will be walking and/or biking to school. Obey the school bus laws, which include slowing down and preparing to stop for yellow flashing school bus lights and stopping for red flashing school bus lights.”

They urge parents to discuss safety with their children — and with young or inexperienced drivers at home.


Speaking of safety:

I got 2 emails within half an hour yesterday. As Westporters return from summer trips, and we head into even busier traffic times, both are worth noting.

Shelly Sherman writes: “Please emphasize the need for cars to slow down. and stop at crosswalks on Compo Road South. More than once I’ve had to sprint across with my dogs to avoid being run over by cars speeding to ???

“This area of Westport has so many runners, walkers and bikers, it’s amazing more people haven’t been hurt. Pedestrians in crosswalks have the right of way — but I’d not want to test that theory every morning.”

Carol Sampson describes another danger, in a different part of town:

“Despite the sign saying ‘State Law Yield to Pedestrians’ at Post Road and Bay Street, it is clear from my experience today that few people actually stop. (One did, but the others whizzed by.) What is wrong with drivers in this town?”

Hmmm…let me think…

Entitled? Distracted? Selfish? What have I missed?

It’s a beautiful day. Just don’t try to cross the Post Road here. (Photo/Carol Sampson)


Staples High School Class of 2012 graduate Sam Reiner met Mallory Silliere 2 years ago this month, on a dating app.

On their second date, he took her kayaking on the Saugatuck River. They pulled up to the Black Duck for lunch. It’s remained one of their favorite dates.

Last Saturday, Sam proposed to Mallory — on the dock behind the Duck.

A small group of family and friends helped celebrate.

Wedding plans are TBD. It may not be at everyone’s favorite dive bar. But there are still bachelor and bachelorette parties to plan …

A Black Duck proposal.


Last month, “06880” reported on the Wings4Peace national art-and-gun safety awareness project.

Yesterday, artist Darcy Hicks provided an update. She says:

“Today marks 3 months since the Uvalde massacre. This morning, part 2 of the Wings4Peace message reminds communities everywhere to remember those children – and all children who are affected by gun violence.

“Last night, people across the country put out the second set of wings, which say ‘in America,’ making the message so far, ‘Peace in America…’

“Each month on the 24th the sentence grows, with the mission to inspire people to take action against gun violence. Art has always inspired societal change.”

For more information, click here.

Darcy Hicks’ “Wings4Peace” artwork, at the Westport Museum for History & Culture.


Speaking of back-to-school (see above): Are you ready for winter and spring break?

Builders Beyond Borders is already planning service trips to Ecuador. To learn more, students and families are invited to a pair of open houses: this Sunday (August 28, 3:30 to 5 p.m.) and September 14 (6 to 7:30 p.m.) at the B3 office (66 Fort Point Street, Norwalk). RSVP here.


The other day, Tricia Freeman headed down the internet rabbit hole. She ended up at a 1950 New Yorker story about Ernest Hemingway.

In the piece by Lillian Ross, the author has just arrived in New York, heading to Europe. There are 2 Westport references, starting with:

“Where I like it is out West in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and I like Cuba and Paris and around Venice,” (Hemingway) said. “Westport gives me the horrors.”

Is that Westport, Connecticut? With so many of them in the world — and so many non-East Coast places mentioned in the quote — who knows?

But the second one narrows it down:

“Hunting is sort of a good life,” Hemingway said. “Better than Westport or Bronxville, I think.”

That’s it.

Besides his long friendship with the late author A.E. Hotchner, did Papa Hemingway have any connection at all with our town?

If you know — or think you do, click “Comments” below. And if you want to read the entire (long) New Yorker piece, click here.

A.E. Hotchner and Ernest Hemingway.


cARTie — Connecticut’s first (and only) non-profit mobile art museum bus — bridges inequities in education and arts access across the state.

Each year, they exhibit a juried art show of diverse high school student art. It’s interactive, designed to inspire young students and families.

Several current and former Staples students have exhibited with cARTie.

This year’s event is Sunday, September 18 (3-5 p.m., Westport Museum of History & Culture). The afternoon includes “paint and sip,” live music, a silent auction and raffle, awards and food. Click here for more on cARTie.


Yesterday’s “06880” noted the ongoing drought, and asked for photos.

Stacy Prince sent this, of the Aspetuck River at the Coleytown Road and North Avenue corner.

(Photo/Stacy Prince)


Jonathan Prager describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“A nifty bumblebee blissfully nestled into the blossom of a sedum spectabile sponging up its nectar. I hope you enjoy this as much as s/he enjoys it!”

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)


And finally … as back-to-school traffic picks up, and traffic continues crazily in other parts of town (see above):

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25 responses to “Roundup: Long Lots Preserve, Hemp, Traffic …

  1. I’ll just echo Carol Sampson’s comment. Our studios are at 155 Post Road East and my employees and I use this crosswalk several times a day.

    Despite the addition of the sign, people barrel through the cross walk even when pedestrians are present. The rate of speed seems excessive for a downtown area and people aren’t yielding for pedestrians. This morning a Coastal Link bus rushed through the crosswalk with myself and another person walking through…

    Someone is going to get hurt. Would be great if the police could do some enforcement around this crosswalk.

    • A lot of ignorant pedestrians think they have the right in every crosswalk.

      Pedestrians have right of way if the crosswalk does not have any lights.

      However, as with Compo Rd South, when there are lights, pedestrians have the right of way ONLY when they have the walk sign. If the sign says don’t walk, pedestrians do NOT have the right of way.

      • Ok. Even if this is true, there is no light at the crosswalk in front of my office across Design Within Reach. So the problem isn’t “ignorant pedestrians.”

        Thanks for the assist.

      • Carl Addison Swanson, '66

        Pedestrians, per CT statute, do have the right of way at each cross walk.

        • That is simply not true. I posted the CT law above. Please stop perpetuating misinformation. Pedestrians must yield (per CT law) when the sign says do not walk. Period.

          • Carl Addison Swanson, B.A. J.D. LL.M, M.F.A.

            You cited the 1997 law. Per the Pa 21-28 (hb 5428) 2021 amendment, a pedestrian may signal the motorist of his/her intention to cross at a designated cross walk and the motorist is mandated to adhere to such wish. The intent is to increase the communication between driver and walker. That said, you are correct in that, if a traffic light and/or police officer instructs you do not have such right of way, you don’t despite the amendment and/or any communication to the contrary.

  2. Traffic enforcement needs to be increased daily, and sadly not just in school zones. If you’ve driven/walked around town, you’ll notice the additional presence of shoppers, diners, retail employees, etc. Like it or not, Westport is also a tourist destination and with all of the new and future businesses in town, it’s getting more and more popular. I agree the students are particularly vulnerable, but if they can increase their presence when school starts, why not daily around town near the many dangerous intersections and walkways? What say you, Town Hall?

  3. Richard Johnson

    Complaining about bad drivers accomplishes nothing. It’s actually counterproductive, because it places the responsibility on individuals when the problem is systemic. Holding the town to account for its complete inaction on pedestrian safety and WPD for its near-total abandonment of traffic enforcement (despite their promise today to be sitting in their cars with the engines running in school zones) is the only thing that will effect change. If you talk to town officials or representatives about sidewalks, other means of making roads pedestrian friendly, traffic enforcement, etc., they will claim poverty. Yet they’ve gotten record revenue in recent years. And many other towns seem to manage to have sidewalks in areas where there’s lots of foot traffic. Accountability is needed.

    Having said all that, I think anyone public bellyaching about bad drivers should have to submit dash cam footage of their own driving. Somehow I suspect there is a lot of “rules for thee but not for me” going on. I would add that anyone who thinks they should be able to take a leisurely stroll through the middle of Post Road without a walk signal just because it’s technically legal may be correct in principle but utterly lacking in common sense. As my grandfather used to say, it’s not going to be much use if you had the right of way if you’re dead.

    • Before I learned to drive my grandfather taught me this poem:

      Here lies the body of Jim O’Shea, he died defending his right of way, he was right, dead right, as he drove along but he’s just as dead as if he was wrong.

  4. Diane Johnson

    I wonder if Westport would benefit from crosswalk flags, which pedestrians carry when they cross to be more visible to drivers. They may be a bit cumbersome, but they do help in several towns I’ve visited. Here is just one example of towns implementing these:

  5. Jack Backiel

    I was at both of Hemingway’s houses, the one in Cuba, and the other in Key West. Hemingway used to have a typewriter on a tall table in a room, and he used to stand up and type while naked. His home in Cuba, right outside of Havana, has been kept exactly as it was when he died. There are open whiskey, or rum bottles, in the living room that haven’t been touched in decades. I have pictures of the inside of his home in Cuba. One could take pictures from the windows, but not enter the premises. In case you’re wondering, I got my passport stamped and and permission/license was granted by the Treasury Department. (The State Department had nothing to do with granting permission to travel to Cuba when I went.)

  6. Jack Backiel

    During the 1976-77 school year, I taught high school in Jamaica. The dance teacher was Prime Minister Michael Manley’s second wife. (He was on his fourth wife then.) When they were married, they had a son born in 1958, who was in his first year at the University of Havana in 1976. Castro was sending his private plane to pick up Thelma, his second wife, to visit her son in Havana for three weeks. She could bring up to 17 guests and she asked me to go. Since it was our Christmas vacation, I wanted to go back to Westport to be with family, so I declined the invitation.

  7. These cryptic references to Westport by Hemingway remain obscure to this day. The Hotchner guess is as good as any, but there is no evidence he ever visited Westport. If there is, would love to learn about it.

    • Deej: Hotchner didn’t move to Westport until 1953 so I question whether he was the link here. As you know, Hemingway’s editor lived in New Canaan, so perhaps Maxwell Perkins had some negative things to say about Westport for whatever reason way back in the day. Alternatively, I do know that Hemingway was very friendly with Leonard Lyons and regularly read his columns. Perhaps he picked up on something Lyons had written.

  8. Peter Powell

    I agree drivers must yield to pedestrians. But pedestrians and bike riders would do themselves and drivers a favor if they’d remember that walk against traffic and ride with it. Almost daily I see someone walking with traffic on Compo Road, North. It’s almost as if they have a death wish. Likewise I see bike riders blowing through the red light at Compo Rd and the Post Rd.

  9. Jack Backiel

    That picture of Hemingway definitely wasn’t taken in Westport because there isn’t a stone or rock in the picture!

  10. Carl Addison Swanson, '66

    Hemingway idolized F. Scott Fitzgerald so that might be the connection to Westport but as Fred pointed out, above, his editor also lived in New Canaan. “The Old Man in the Sea” was his saving grace as Big Papa was going broke and unnoticed until the success of the book. I was stationed at the Key West NAS, after a tour of Vietnam, and heard many a story at Hemingway’s local watering hole. Many involving women.

  11. Carl Addison Swanson, '66

    Nice epilogue and in tune with Hemingway’s use of real characters in his book. Thanks.

  12. Jack Backiel

    Thanks for the article, Dan. The key in the article is “ thought to have been”, and interestingly, probably the same age as Sharky. I hesitated writing that account from Culebra because down deep inside, I had my doubts. The reason Sharky said he left Cuba was because of Fidel Castro’s coming to power in January 1959. He left Cuba in 1961. Many left in 1961.

    • Jack Backiel

      Here’s another interesting point to Dan’s article. Last night I sent Dan a photo of my Cubana airplane boarding pass with the date I flew to Cuba in March 2002, two months after that article was written that Dan sent. Within days, I was at Hemingway’s home, like I mentioned before. I sent Dan a picture of Hemingway’s living room too. Why was there no mention of the death of this person who claimed to be Hemingway’s inspiration? He died two months before I visited Hemingway’s home, which basically was a museum by 2002.

      • Jack Backiel

        There should have been a buzz at Hemingway’s home in March 2002 about the 104 year old who died.