Roundup: Teardown, Hamlet, Real Estate …

Westport’s latest teardown now looks like every other:

(Photo/Matt Murray)

But unlike many homes that smooshed by the wrecking ball, this one will have few mourners.

Here’s what it looked like, pre-demolition:

174 Hillspoint Road is the house that — ever since it was built in 1968, across from Sherwood Mill Pond — never fit in.

Westport Journal’s Thane Grauel described it as “a single-story house with a sort of terracotta mansard roof, white stucco-ish sides, narrow vertical windows and greenhouse windows like a fern bar.”

Architect Christopher Pagliaro was more succinct. He called it the “offspring of a Burger King and a diner.”

And, says Historic District Commission chair William Harris, “When we put the (demolition) sign up, people walking by started applauding.”

I have no idea what will take its place. But it will have to go a long way to be as universally disliked as its predecessor.

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Speaking of real estate:

If you think the real estate market has slowed a bit lately: You’re right.

There were 472 closed sales in 2022, a decrease of 22.2% from 2021.

But the average days on market dropped from 57 days in ’21 to 52 in ’22. So homes sold a bit more quickly this year.

Average sales price: $2,250,197 in 2022 (up 29% from 2021).

The months supply of inventory was flat from 2021 to 2022, at 3.2 months. A historically normal market is considered to have 6 months of supply. The low figure for Westport could indicate that demand for homes in the area is outstripping the supply, potentially leading to further price appreciation.

About those prices: The average sale in Westport was $2,250,197. That’s a 29% increase over 2021. (Hat tip: The Riverside Realty Group)

The most expensive home on the market is this 11,000-square foot, 6-bedroom, 7 1/2-bath property on 3.45 acres on Charcoal Hill Road. It is listed for $12.5 million.

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If you own a house in Westport — like the one above, or perhaps smaller — you think about leaves.

One of the noisiest items on the Representative Town Meeting agenda — a leaf blower ordinance — cranks up at tonight’s meeting (Tuesday, January 3, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall).

Click here, then scroll down to Slide #26 for the regulation itself, and explanatory materials.

Many sides — homeowners, landscaping company owners and town officials — have been heard already. They’re loud and clear, on all sides of the issue.

Checking in recently has been another concerned party.

Tanvi Gorre — president of Staples High School’s Club Green — wrote to support the proposal. Her words are a model of clarity and objectivity. She says:

“This ordinance isn’t perfect, though I am most definitely not the first person to tell you this.

“But we cannot wait for the perfect move, the perfect step against climate change. That step will never come, because it doesn’t exist.

“There will always be a problem with every solution we come up with. The best we can ever do is try to get closer to a solution. What has brought us some of the best solutions we have today is trial and error.

“But in order to get to good solutions we need to try. This ordinance is a way for us as the town of Westport to take a step towards getting to a better solution. So perhaps one day when my generation has to face the ramifications of the climate crisis we can have a great solution. We, the young generation, need your help more than ever.”

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Meanwhile, the RTM’s Planning & Zoning Committee meets Thursday (January 5, 7 p.m. Zoom; click here for the link). They’ll begin discussing the Westport Planning & Zoning Commission’s approval of text and map amendments that would create a district in Saugatuck, which could lead to the development of The Hamlet at Saugatuck retail/residential/hotel/marina complex.

A group of residents — the Saugatuck Sensible Zoning Committee — has petitioned the full RTM to review the P&Z’s decision. Their goal — for the RTM to overturn it — requires a 2/3 vote.

The group says that are not “against development, change, improvements or re-zoning of the 4.82 acres and 11 properties that comprise the area under consideration.”

In fact, they add, “we enthusiastically support the revitalization of Saugatuck that will result from the Planning & Zoning Commission proactively engaging in a rigorous process to craft carefully planned changes in the zoning.”

However, the SSZC urges, “we want the re-zoning and subsequent development to be sensible, of appropriate scale, and respectful of Westport’s past, present and desired future.”

The group is concerned about the size and density of the possible project; traffic, congestion and parking; precedents, and other issues.

After Thursday’s meeting, the RT& P&Z Committee will meet again next Tuesday (January 10), and if necessary January 17.

They will then make a recommendation to the full RTM, which will meet and vote on January 17 or 19.

The shaded area includes the new text and map amendment boundaries.

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Speaking of town politics: Anna Rycenga has resigned as chair of the Conservation Commission. She has taken a full-time job.

She has served as chair since 2010. Anna says that she and her fellow members have helped “ensure the protection, preservation and restoration of local wetlands and watercourses in Westport by making provisions to protect these wetland soils, water bodies, environmental functions and the wildlife habitat.”

Hers is not an easy job. She and fellow commissioners must balance the sometimes competing wishes and needs of property owners, neighbors, developers, environmentalists and other town officials.

Anna did it for 12 years, with dedication, understanding, dedication and grace. Thanks for your service!

In addition to the Conservation Commission, Anna has helped lead many charitable projects, including food and holiday toy drives with Westport PAL.  She’s also the unofficial “mayor” of Westfair Village, keeping the neighborhood connected and fun. She’ll keep doing that.

PS: Anna’s new employer has made a very wise hire.

Anna Rycenga

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We’re used to seeing a few hardy souls “plunge” into the water on January 1. Yesterday’s Roundup carried one such photo– a gorgeous shot, just as the sun rose.

But I can’t recall anyone ever enjoying a New Year’s swim at Sherwood Mill Pond.

Perhaps “enjoying” is not the right word. These 4 dudes do not look happy at all.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

Hey — as photographer Matt Murray notes, at least they heeded the oft-disobeyed “No Jumping or Diving” sign.

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MoCA Westport’s annual collaboration with the Westport Public Art Collections Committee — “Paul Camacho: El Ritmo y La Unidad” — is set for this month.

The opening reception is January 12 (5 to 7 p.m.). It’s a ticketed event (free for MoCA members; $10 general admission). Click here to register.

The museum’s annual high school exhibition — “Who Are You When You Are Dreaming” — is on view simultaneously.

Nearly 200 student artworks will be on display. As always, Westport artists are represented creatively.

Among them:

“I Have Always Wondered Why, You See” — digital collage/composition (Allison Cancro, Staples High School sophomore)

“Vast Voyage” — Adobe Photoshop (Maxwell Maurillo, Staples junior)

“Who Says We Dream?” — digital illustration (Shivali Kanthan, Staples junior)

 

Both exhibitions run through February 26.

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In this week’s “What’s Next in Weston” podcast (click below), 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor chats with Police Chief Ed Henion about personnel plans, road improvements, driver safety and state grants.

The series sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport & Weston, and hosted by Dick Kalt.

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Just when I think I never want to post another “Westport … Naturally” sunrise … along comes a photo like Mary Sikorski’s, from yesterday morning.

Living here, we are truly blessed.

(Photo/Mary Sikorski)

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And finally … Anita Pointer died Saturday, at her Beverly Hills home. She was 74, and had battled cancer.

The New York Times called her “the sweet and occasionally sultry lead vocalist” on many hits with her siblings: the Pointer sisters.

They “occupied a middle point in pop history between the doo-wop innocence of the Ronettes and the stilettoed girl power of Destiny’s Child. Anita’s voice had a lot to do with that. She sang with the speed and flavor of molasses. Though she commanded the virtuosity to trill prettily, she tended to sing too softly to sound overpowering. In ‘Slow Hand’ …Anita cooed.” (Click here for a full obituary.)

(Real estate, politics, art, music … “06880” covers it all. Please click here to help support this hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

 

 

12 responses to “Roundup: Teardown, Hamlet, Real Estate …

  1. I applaud the RTM for attempting to put forward initiatives that will improve the quality of life and environment here in Westport. Unfortunately, the leaf blower ordinance currently being considered does not do that.

    I have forwarded an annotated document to the RTM listing numerous issues with the ordinance, but let me summarize my two major points:

    First, this is a problem that will solve itself without any legislation. Battery powered yard equipment is getting better and will be purchased by landscapers and homeowners as it becomes a viable alternative to the gas powered equipment they currently have. Even our own Town of Westport asked for and received an exemption from this ordinance saying that current technology is insufficient for them to get their job done. If we as a Town are not going to require our own employees to comply with the initiative, I can’t see the basis for placing the burden onto landscapers and homeowners; and

    Second, the initiative has no teeth. There are no penalties for non-compliance. I don’t think that an ordinance without any teeth should even qualify to be an ordinance. This matter is best handled as an RTM Sense of the Meeting Resolution, an excellent vehicle for making a statement without cluttering up our Town legislation.

    I know many people on the RTM and they’re very good people. I trust they can come up with something that will do better than what is proposed.

  2. Re leaf blowers, I don’t think the Staples green club person read the proposed ordinance. It’s clearly aimed at noise mitigation, not reducing CO2 emissions, by restricting the hours during which the machines can be used.

    (If one were interested in CO2 mitigation, might I suggest it would save a lot more emissions by making all Staples students take the bus?)

    Personally, I find the rules very confusing, meaning there will likely be little compliance and enforcement. If one wanted to promote electric leaf blowers, why not just let those be used anytime during daylight hours all year ’round.

  3. Agree with Mark Mathias. Also Westporters, be mindful of where you dumpy your leaves-you or your landscaper. I personally own a property where I live which has wonderful wooded areas. I work it frequently, keep it clean, etc. Every fall landscapers for my neighbors decide to blow/dump leaves into this space without asking permission since it IS my land (permission would be refused). Creates a mess, these leaves inevitably get wind blown into my living area/patio, etc. If you don’t own the land, you and your agents shouldn’t be dumping anything there ever. The town does leave pickup and your landscaper can certainly do it too.

  4. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Two words: MULCHING MOWER

  5. 3. c (2) states… Only one (1) Gas-Powered Leaf Blower may be used on a property of one-quarter (1/4) acre or less.

    I would argue that 3 or 4 gas leaf blowers, used efficiently in tandem, take far less man hours than 1 leaf blower, to do the same work. Friendlier to both the climate and to your ears, depending on your concern. In fact, the larger the property the greater the benefits would be.

  6. Anna will be sorely missed. When one attended a Conservation Commission meeting you could count on rock solid meeting management and deep knowledge of regulations and procedures. The Greens Farms Association wishes Anna the best in her new endeavor.

    Art Schoeller
    President
    Greens Farms Association

  7. Lisa Seidenberg

    Guess what – I quite liked walking past the house at 174 Hillspoint Road and bet I’m not the only one. It had character with the Spanish style terra-cotta roof, as well as other flourishes. All houses do not need to be some tired re- make of New England colonial!

  8. I like that house also and wondered how it look inside. I think there are quite a few houses in Westport that look a lot worst than that home did, I guess it is in the eye of the beholder.

    • I worked on that property for years for the Tse family. The house had an indoor pool and always had an odor of chlorine.

  9. I always loved that house -I think it is cruel to say hurtful
    Words about a property that someone had a life in, shame on you woogy what a bully

  10. Maybe Dan woog should post a picture of the house he grew up in Westport -yikes!

    • Andrew Colabella

      The house was extremely different but fell in to major disrepair. The flooding and the pump station outside the home are factors too. Looking forward to seeing something built, and the sidewalk being redone

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