Roundup: Leaf Blowers, Long Lots, Taxes …

A leaf blower ordinance — discussed for years, and blowing in the wind for the past few months — was finally enacted last night.

Westport’s Representative Town Meeting voted 22-9 in favor of the proposal, which regulates when and which types of leaf blowers can be used, and by whom. The town of Westport is specifically exempted from the rules. Enforcement will be done by the Conservation Department.

Click here, the scroll down to Slide #28, for the full ordinance, and supporting materials.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education voted 4-3 to request up to $600,000 from the Board of Finance (which meets tonight), for 2 modular classrooms at Long Lots Elementary School. The portables will be placed behind the school, near a small play aea.

The Board also discussed redistricting. Pieces of the puzzle include unbalanced populations at Westport’s 5 elementary schools; Stepping Stones preschool, currently housed at Coleytown El but slated to move to Long Lots after a new building is constructed, and the schedule for that new Long Lots.

The new portable classroms would be placed behind the school, at the upper left on this photo. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

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Westporters — especially seniors and those with low to moderate incomes — can once again take advantage of the town’s no-cost full-service AARP/VITA/IRS Volunteer Tax Assistance Program.

On-site personal counseling is available by appointment at Town Hall (Mondays from 1 to 7 p.m.) and the Senior Center (Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursdays from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.), starting January 23. Call 860-590-8910 for an appointment.

The service is also available through a secure internet site. Click here for an appointment.

The “SimplyCT” counselor group that services Westport prepared and filed more than 7,000 returns last season – almost all electronically. Federal refunds of over $10 million were received by their clients..

The program is administered by Westport’s Department of Human Services.

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Westport is less than $10,000 away from its goal: raising $250,000 to support our sister city of Lyman, Ukraine.

Yesterday’s donations brought the total to $241,700. Our partners on the ground — Ukraine Aid International, founded by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer — are arranging for building supplies, a trash truck and more to be delivered immediately to the war-torn town.

It is far quicker and cheaper for those to be sent from Poland and elsewhere in Europe, rather than the US.

Can we reach our goal today?

Tax-deductible donations can be made to Lyman through Ukraine Aid International. Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

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Most of us have already forgotten the recent pre-Christmas wind and rain storm. After all, it happened last year (ho ho).

But Westport’s Public Works Department continues its clean-up efforts. They were out again yesterday — in more rain — at Compo Beach.

(Photo/Pam Kesselman)

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Grammy winner Frank London headlines tomorrow’s Jazz at the Post (Thursday, January 5, VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399, sets at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; $15 cover; dinner from 7 p.m.).

The trumpeter will be joined by pianist Roberta Piket, bassist Hilliard Greene, drummer Billy Mintz and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

Wall calls London “one of the most inconoclastic traditional musicians I have ever met. I have heard him tear down the walls of parochial practices of old and new jazz, swing, bop, klezmer, Gypsy, Baltic, Cuban, West African and many other musical genres, and create community across the globe while bringing joy to literally hundreds of thousands  of concert goers.”

Wall and he were partners in Hasidic New Wave, a band combining traditional Jewish celebratory music with downtown jazz, funk and “pure improvised mayhem.” They play together now in Zion80, a “mixed marriage of avant jazz and Afro beat.”

London will play new works inspired by Pharaoh Sanders, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Azar Lawrence and others, with an ethnic twist.

Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com

Frank London

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The Westport Book Shop’s guest exhibitor for January is mixed media artist Katya Lebrija.

Her works from the “Destinations” collection feature real and imagined places. Much of her work is inspired by her Mexican heritage.

Lebrija’s art has been exhibited throughout Connecticut, New York, Vermont Mexico City.

Her art is on exhibit at the Book Shop through January 31. All work is available for purchase.

Katya Lebrija at Westport Book Shop.

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Longtime Westporter Richard Auber of Westport died peacefully on New Year’s Day, surrounded by his family. He was 87.

Dick lived on Long Island before moving with his wife and 5 children here in 1975. He served in the Air National Guard for 6 years.

After graduating from St. John’s University he had a long career in the business world, and retired from the New York Transit Authority in 1987.

He met the love of his life, Elizabeth Mary Schick, in church choir. They were married for 64 years. He enjoyed sharing his singing talents with the St. Luke Church choir every Sunday morning. He also sang with the Hoot Owls and Fairfield County Chorale. He was a gifted storyteller too.

Dick is survived by his wife Elizabeth (Betty) Auber; children Patricia Auber (Tom Magro), Richard (Tatyana Nivina), Ron (Cheryl Fogg), Judy Auber Jahnel (Ferdinand) and Christine Auber (Michael Bauersfeld); 7 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; his sister Marilyn Fitzpatrick, many nieces and nephews, and countless friends and extended family.  He is predeceased by his brother Robert and sister Edna.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday (January 7, 11 a.m.. St. Luke Church). Contributions can be made in his memory to the St. Luke Church Matthew 25 fund, or Food for the Poor.

Dick Auber

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Westporters love Compo Beach.

But long before we were here, there were birds, and fish.

They’ve been doing what they do naturally for millions of years.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo of how they do it comes courtesy of Laurie Sorensen.

(Photo/Laurie Sorensen)

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And finally … Earth Wind, & Fire drummer Fred White died Sunday. He was 67.

The New York Times says he “propelled some of the funkiest songs in pop history, helping to provide a soundtrack to the nation’s weddings, bar mitzvahs, high school reunions and any other function at which people of all ages dance.”

Click here for a full obituary.

(Read about all that jazz — and everything else — on “06880.” Please click here to help support our work. Thank you!)

11 responses to “Roundup: Leaf Blowers, Long Lots, Taxes …

  1. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Two words: Mulching Mowers. More polite than the two other words that came to mind. They enable you to miraculously turn yard waste into nutrient rich fertilizer that immediately begins nourishing the yard. They’re egalitarian and the practice has nothing to do with race, creed or color. It’s gender agnostic. And, best of all, isnt mentioned in the ordinance (probably because they were focused more on controlling behavior than enabling a realistic solution to the problem). There is no centralized government in the world, least of all the one in Westport led by a select person formerly known as a selectman smart enough to control a freedom loving Westport native. Preserve history. Defend culture. Avoid White Houses on Avery Place. If you see a red door go ahead and paint it black. If you see a girl go by dressed in somber clothes turn your head until the darkness goes.

  2. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound.

    And if a ordinance is passed without a mechanism for enforcement, is it really a regulation?

    I find this to be one of the more embarrassing efforts by RTM in my nearly three decades in Town. And it isn’t because I like gas-powered leaf blowers in the slightest. It is because RTM passed something with all of the practical value of a Sense of the Meeting Resolution.

    For one, what do Americans of all political stripes hate most in government? When the government exempts itself from laws that apply to the general public. Use the budgeting process to urge Town departments to replace gas-powered blowers with something else. No Town department wants to be responsible for enforcement? Budget for them to do so. If they refuse, reduce their budget until they do enforce.

    I can only assume that (if the ordinance is a health matter) RTM doesn’t care about the health of the people who provide landscaping work to Town. If a Town employee or employee of a contractor suffers medical problems due to operating gas-powered leaf blowers, has RTM increased Westport’s liability by carving out an exemption for Town, despite passing this for health reasons? Seems like it to me.

    In the meantime, if you don’t like leaf blowers, nothing is changing. And if you do life leaf blowers, nothing is changing.

    What a monumental waste of time and effort.

  3. Would like to congratulate the petitioners on proposing a false sense of hope, peace, and security.

    The “ordinance” meant to educate the public as punishment for work rendered on one’s property, is all it will receive.

    So desperate.

    Catching one breaking the “law,” if you call the police, Conservation, nothing will be done. Step on your neighbors property to take photos or chastise the workers about what they’re doing, it’s trespassing.

    The working class that does their own work on their own time and property, will struggle. Costs of landscaping will go up, but that has no impact on the petitioners who live on postage stamp style properties in dense areas.

    To the people who will catch others using more than one leaf blower on a neighbors property, or working on their yard after six, or on a Sunday or holiday and call the police or Conservation for enforcement…there is none. The behavior will continue, and the complaint be left with no recourse.

    Next, we had a garbage truck catch fire last week because a small lithium ion battery was thrown out in the trash. More batteries means more incidents, and the education Ms. Batteau tried to push forward transparency, to prevent further harm and incident was overwhelmingly rejected. This body failed to further educate and protect because it does not fit their agenda.

    Over the next five to ten years, Westport is going to have to spend up to $300 million on infrastructure for government buildings as they are beyond useful life and need immediate upgrading. This includes two schools, fire departments and most importantly our police department.

    Our focus should be on committing the tax dollars from our citizens towards top quality infrastructure. The rich and wealthy with large panda will be able to afford the higher costs, while the middle class struggles. Those that are handicapped and on fixed income? No consideration, just progressives pushing a “trending” topic that is now being reconsidered by the Sierra Club and other, real environmentalists.

  4. Bob Dylan. The answer is blowing in the wind

  5. A heartfelt thank you to those 22 RTMs who stood up for Westport residents last night and voted for some modest adjustments to the use of gas powered blowers.

  6. William Wallace

    Spider-Man once said “with great power, comes great responsibility.” This clusterf&ck leaf blowing rule nonsense shows the RTM’s phrase is “With no power, comes no responsibility”. What a useless bunch of glorified of hall monitors. I will continue to use my gas powered leaf blower in my yard whenever I damn well please.

  7. don Sheila bergmann

    Thanks to the RTM for the leaf blower ordinance. We had wanted it to have some enforcement teeth, but people objected. Now people object to the absence of a strong enforcement vehicle. Real enforcement will come naturally as most realize we do not need gas powered leaf blowers in the warm weather months and civil peer pressure will prevail.

    • I was intrigued by the commentary from certain RTMs who were (ostensibly) troubled by the lack of enforcement language in the leaf blower ordinance. Apparently they never noticed that our demolition delay ordinance (which they voted for – twice) hasn’t any enforcement language either. The good news is that most people embrace the notion of a civil society and thus endeavor to abide by its laws.

    • Don, what was passed was completely pointless. The people who wanted it to have “enforcement teeth” should have voted no. Because that is something they did not get. The only people who are completely happy are the ones who didn’t want RTM to do anything. Because they didn’t. But some RTM members who voted yes can go home and tell themselves that they did something. Sorry, but they didn’t.

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