Roundup: RTM’s Saugatuck Vote, Josh Koskoff & Alex Jones …

By an overwhelming majority last night, the Representative Town Meeting affirmed the Planning & Zoning Commission’s recent decisions to allow text and map amendments in Saugatuck.

There were 33 RTM members in favor, 1 against (Sal Liccione) and 1 abstention (Matthew Mandell). The vote — following similar margins in the RTM’s Transit and Planning & Zoning Committees — means that planning can proceed for the Hamlet at Saugatuck.

That project could bring new retail, restaurants, residences, and a hotel and marina to the area near the train station.

The RTM vote was required, based on a petition from voters. Twenty-four members had to vote to overturn the P&Z decision — but only 1 did.

Next up: A site plan for the Hamlet project, and approval from the P&Z.

Artists’ rendering of an interior courtyard of The Hamlet at Saugatuck.

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What’s the newest hot place in town for teenagers?

The Westport Library.

It’s been filled all week long, with Staples High School students studying for midterms.

The Trefz Forum — and the rest of the building — has been a place where friends can work together, but where others can find space to be alone. It’s serious, but also social — perfect for teens’ needs.

The other night, library officials surprised the students with 25 pizzas.

They were gone quicker than you could say “good luck with exams!”

Where do Westport teenagers head at night? The Westport Library. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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Speaking of the Westport Library: The Trefz Forum will be packed tomorrow morning too (Thursday, January 19, 10 a.m.).

Local attorney (and Staples High graduate) Josh Koskoff will discuss his latest victory: the largest verdict in history in a defamation suit. Koskoff led the case against Alex Jones, who used his Infowars website and daily radio show to present counter-factual information about issues including the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Koskoff’s talk will also be livestreamed. Click here for the link.

The event is co-sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

Josh Koskoff

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Speaking still of the Library:

It was packed in November, for the Board of Education’s first “Community Conversation.”

Plenty of topics were discussed — but others, like challenges to books in the high school library, and diversity, equity and inclusion planning — did not have time for exploration.

A second open discussion — picking up where last fall’s left off — is set for next Tuesday (January 24, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Westport Library). All residents are invited, for a “back-and-forth exchange) with Board of Education members, and school administrators.

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Spiga is a popular New Canaan restaurant, specializing in handmade pasta, brick oven pizza and other Italian fare.

Soon, they’ll add a Westport location. They’re replacing Tarry Lodge on Charles Street. The target date for opening is late March.

It’s one more Italian business in a line that began with Esposito’s gas station, and continued through Abbondanza. (Hat tip: Maria Funicello)

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Speaking of Saugatuck: Mackenzie Winner Berman has a question that’s on the minds of many other Westporters. She writes:

“On Saugatuck Avenue, roughly across the street from the old Westport Chinese/ new Lomito restaurant, is a home with a small storefront on street level.

“The home is being renovated. I assumed the storefront would go, but recently it has been improved with new windows, among other things.

“Does anyone know the plans for that space? It has always interested me. Every time I drive by, I try to imagine what sort of activity used to take to place there.”

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Sacred Heart University’s beautiful new Martire Family Arena is drawing raves. And fans.

Those spectators are helping the Pioneers’ men’s ice hockey program raise funds for great causes.

The January 21 game (7 p.m., vs. Holy Cross) will benefit the Chad Jacobs Hockey Foundation — run by Westporter Karen Jacobs — and the CT Hockey Foundation. The Jacobs fund was a major supporter of education for Charlie and Will Capalbo, grandsons of Westport writer Ina Chadwick. Charlie fought a long, courageous battle against several cancers.

A February 4 game (7 p.m., vs. American International) for CapalboStrong will benefit Dana Farber Cancer Institute, specifically pediatric research. That date is the anniversary of Charlie’s life-saving bone marrow transplant from his brother Will, in 2019.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Charlie Capalbo (Photo/Dave Gunn)

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The bad news: There was plenty of trash at the I-95 Exit 18 commuter parking lot on the Sherwood Island Connector.

The good news: A crew of dedicated Westporters picked it up last weekend.

The bad news: There will always be more garbage in need of collection.

To find out what’s next for our civic-minded citizens — and help — email Andrew Colabella: acolabellartm4@gmail.com.

Town employees haul away the trash collected at the commuter parking lot. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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“Surface Alchemy” — a new exhibition featuring Donald Martiny and Stuart Disston — opens this Saturday (January 21; reception from 5 to 7 p.m.) at Amy Simon Fine Art (123 Post Road East).

The exhibit runs through February 25.

“The Picnic” — Acrylics, encaustic and photo transfer on canvas mounted on panel (Stuart Disston)

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You can teach an old dog new tricks. Or — in the case of Bobo — a new dog can enjoy old tricks.

Either way, here’s today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, from (naturally) Compo Beach:

(Photo/Sunil Hirani)

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And finally … today is the birthday of David Ruffin.

One of the lead singers of the Temptations from 1964-68, and later a solo star, was born on this date in 1941. He died in 1991, from an accidental overdose of crack cocaine.

(“06880” ain’t too proud to beg. Please support your hyper-local blog! Just click here — and thank you!)

17 responses to “Roundup: RTM’s Saugatuck Vote, Josh Koskoff & Alex Jones …

  1. Thank you very much for the shout-out Dan!  The Chad A. Jacobs Memorial Foundation is so happy to partner with the Martire Arena this Saturday night for the SHU vs. Holy Cross Men’s Hockey game.  Chad played hockey for Holy Cross in the late 80’s.  After Chad passed away in 2010, a non-profit was established in his name which provides academic and athletic scholarships to children from the surrounding community.  Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded just under $500,000.00 to deserving children which has helped them be all they can be.   http://www.cajfoundation.org (http://www.cajfoundation.org/)
    .

  2. The store front on Riverside Ave was once the location of Sara Gross’ Catering Business “Cabbages and Kings”.

    • Many years before Cabbages and Kings, that little storefront on Riverside was the offsite kitchen for Main Street’s Soup’s On restaurant. I worked there as a teenager in the mid-80s alongside the late, wonderful Lili Bonora. I’m foggy on the details now, but I believe that kitchen was later Lili’s own space for her budding catering business. It was there where I first heard mention of a new local caterer, one Martha Stewart, who was unwelcome competition for Lili.

      Lili later moved her business to the train station (on the side coming in from New York) where she ran her catering business and sold coffee and muffins on weekday mornings. The morning business was run on an honor system; leaving your money in a basket and taking the change you needed. I worked there for at least two or three summers.

      On a side note, Lili took care of me and my brother as a child. She never liked the labels babysitter or nanny, so I really don’t know what to call the arrangement. She was, for a time, a part of our family. Later, when I was older and I worked for her, my parents would say that Lili’s life was an example of the American Dream. She came here from France and Monaco, having had a very tough childhood during WWII; arrived in the U.S. with little, and built a business.

      But I digress. All this to say that I remember that little storefront and how, periodically, someone would wander in to ask, “What is this place?”

  3. Sad to see the new zoning wasn’t overturned by the RTM. Railroad Place buildings will be demolished and more of our precious history lost. And yet another hotel that meet the same fate as the Inn at National Hall.

    • Nothing is being destroyed. A blight parking lot, empty concrete tall building, and a marina that stacks boats three stories tall are being repurposed with limits. Way better than an 8-30g model where there IS no limit, no underground parking, no control, capped toxic soil underneath and units that will become obsolete after seven years.

      I am excited to see it be repurposed with public access to water and open space.

  4. Isn’t the Riverside storefront where McGill’s Plumbing was?

  5. Linda Pomerantz Novis

    Re Nina Skaya’s wonderful comments, here- ‘Lilli Bonora’;I remember
    she and Alice Greenburg ,then,the mid-1970’s, listening to John Mehegan’s jazz trio,Saturday nights at Dameon’s
    next to Mario’s at the train station.:-)
    (I,too, ,always back then, wondered about this same storefront on Riverside,there?-‘what is this place?’ 🙂

  6. Jay Walshon MD FACEP

    Regardless of where you stand on the McHamlet proposal, under the circumstances, the extent of the P&Z, RTM, and public involvement was commendable. Regarding the wisdom of the P&Z’s and RTM’s decision, only time will tell. The individual RTMs deserve recognition for their thoughtfulness, general respect, and appreciation for their constituents – with one notable and disappointing exception.

    It is distressing that Andrew Colabella chose to use his bully pulpit to chastise and denigrate Westport citizens who hold views that differ from his. Where most RTMs thank, appreciate and encourage our citizenry for their involvement, and who welcome dissenting views, discussion and spirited debate, Mr. Colabella actually castigated residents who dared to participate and voice their concerns – both past and present.

    While most in the RTM understand the importance of dissenting voices being registered, Mr. Colabella chose to lecture others, as if he has wisdom exclusivity. The arrogance of his attitude is not only unnerving, it is dangerous because it discourages future resident participation.

    Citizens who sufficiently care to take the time to offer their opinions, especially when that opinion runs counter to the current of political tides, almost always provide cogent information that requires consideration. Those opinions are usually thoughtful, and often provide additional expertise and fact. For many, public speaking (even on Zoom meetings) is unnerving and takes courage – especially when their time is limited to only 3 minutes to cogently make their many points. Being insulted and denigrated for doing so will only discourage future involvement – which clearly is Mr. Colabella’s intent. That is dangerous.

    Not only regarding the Text Amendment before them, it was astounding that Mr. Colabella used his allotted time last evening to disparage and denigrate the Westport residents (including his RTM colleagues) who, for good cause, disagreed with his position on that obtrusive, unsafe, and inefficient “form-over-function” South Beach restroom (which by its design is unusable by many independent disabled persons), was insulting, discourteous, and disrespectful to the people who he serves. It was sheer grandstanding; shamefully using the ROAN McHamlet proposal as an opportunity for public personal self-aggrandizement as him being such an environmental champion – castigating those who have differing viewpoints, while conveniently ignoring his support for converting THOUSANDS of square feet of pervious sand and gravel into impermeable cement.

    Fortunately, Mr. Colabella’s temperament is contrary to the honest expressions of gratitude the other RTMs voiced to the public for their registered opposition, thoughtful participation, and very appropriate concerns.

    Mr. Colabella owes Westport’s residents an apology for his dismissive, arrogant, disparaging diatribe. Fortunately Mr. Weiser cut him off. Discouraging resident participation by publicly embarrassing, chastising, and belittling opposing opinions is a dangerous strategy of intimidation – it is unbecoming of a public servant, and a breach of our Town charter Code of Ethics.

    • Thanks, Doc. That’s an important rebuttal to a repulsive, un-American diatribe, by an ignorant, myopic RTMer.

      • That’s the pot calling the kettle black. You can disagree civilly but to personally attack, chastise, with aggressive name calling? Behind a keyboard? Yes, Ignorant and myopic.

        This sounds like, it could have been an email or a phone call. A public attack? Outrageous and un-American.

    • For the record, I did not cut off the comments of Andrew who has, during his tenure on the RTM, added much to RTM debate. I was not the time keeper, nor did I express his opinions as contrary to the spirit of the public debate. Perhaps a paper shuffle which made my face appear on the screen was interpreted as something other than background noise. I hate it when that happens as much as when people misspell my last name.

    • Dear Mr. Walshon – As a fellow RTM member, who was on the Zoom Tuesday evening, I didn’t hear/interpret Mr. Colabella’s comments in the same way as you did, at all, and so your comment above surprised me. Regardless, I would respectfully recommend you reach out to Andrew personally and have a real-time conversation about your differences on the topic, rather than using this blog as a place to air them. Andrew has been very involved in this issue from the start, very present, available, participated in so many meetings, spoke to so many Westport’ers – you may still disagree after you talk, but you’ll never know unless you do.

  7. Unfortunately, as well as being the excellent lead vocalist behind many iconic Temptations’ hits, David Ruffin was, at the very least, an unsavory character. The best documented case is his affair with Tammi Terrell (Marvin Gaye’s duet partner on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”, “You’re All I Need To Get By” and others).

    Ruffin proposed to Tammi before a show they were performing together in 1966. She accepted, and announced their engagement from the stage that night. She found out afterwards that he was already married, had three children, and allegedly another girlfriend in Detroit. It was a violent relationship by all accounts. Tammi gave an interview to Ebony in 1969, just four months before she passed away, where he wasn’t referred to by name.

  8. Every time I drive pass that Riverside storefront, I think “this would make a fine saloon!”

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