Roundup: Long Lots School, Appletree Trail, Beach Tents …

This will no doubt be the most listened-to “Westport … What’s Happening” podcast ever.

In this week’s edition — sponsored, as always, by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston — 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Long Lots School Building Committee chair Jay Keenan chat about the future of the elementary school.

Keenan begins with a brief background of the committee itself. He describes 3 options — renovate the existing structure, construct an addition, or build a new school on the property — and discusses their implications (buses, parking, draining, neighbors) and stakeholders (including the Westport Community Gardens and youth sports).

Options for the Gardens, Keenan says, are that they remain; that they’re modified, or that they’re relocated elsewhere on the property.

“Our main priority is the school, and the children,” the chair notes. “All the rest is juggling” a variety of elements.

The committee’s goal is to have a report to Tooker by the end of August. That will be followed by presentations to the Board of Finance, Board of Education and Representative Town Meeting, with requests for money to complete the design work.

Keenan hopes for “a bid-able set of drawings” within 10-12 months.

Click below to hear the full podcast.


One real estate change that is definitely happening: This white oak tree at 22 Appletree Trail is scheduled to be removed, perhaps as early as today.

(Photo/Cathy Morrison)

It will be replaced by a new home, and pool.


Speaking of the beach: What’s with the recent epidemic of tents?

Yesterday afternoon, I counted more than 2 dozen at Compo. More than half were blue-and-white striped.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Back in the day — like, 2019 — tents were few and far between. Now they’ve taken over.

I’d love to know what’s behind this sudden surge in tents, generally — and, more particularly, this special style.

Please click “Comments” below.

But be nice. Don’t throw shade.


On Saturday, “06880” featured some very cool drone photos of Longshore Sailing School.

They were shot by Brandon Malin. The multi-talented 2020 Staples High School graduate is a rising University of Michigan senior, noted lighting designer and photographer, who has spent this summer working at the Sailing School.

On Saturday night, at their annual staff dinner  — just a few hours after his photos appeared — Brandon received the “Jimmy A” Spirit Award. It’s Longshore Sailing’s highest honor.

Named for Jim Adelman — a longtime employee and Westport resident — it is given each year to a staff member who embodies exemplary character, a willingness to put others before themselves, and a passion for Longshore Sailing School.

LSS president Jane Pimentel says, “Brandon is a jack of all trades, and a master of them all. He has the best interest of Longshore Sailing School and its staff on his mind at all times. He is a kind soul, someone you can depend on, and just a great human. He is a great example of what it means to represent the spirit of Jimmy A.”

Brandon Malin, with his Jimmy A Award.


Today, the Westport Rotary Club premieres a new video podcast.

“Westport Rotary Speaks” is hosted by member Ifeseyi Adedoyin. The 3- to 4-minute videos will post at least once a month on Rotary’s website, and its social media platforms (Instagram @Westportrotary; YouTube WestportRotarySpeaks; LinkedIn Westport Rotary Club).

This month’s shows will focus on LobsterFest. Next month, club members will discuss a variety of topics.


Lou Weinberg’s has a “real” job: He’s a teacher.

His volunteer job as chair of the Westport Community Gardens takes a ton of time too.

But Lou still finds time to be a wildlife photographer.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image is one of his bumblebee shots. Ever the educator, Lou writes:

“Thousands of bees, including this, use the Gardens and Long Lots Preserve as a food source and for habitat. This bumblebee adds to the pollen sack on its leg by gathering from shrubby Saint John’s Wort located in the Gardens.

“If you like feeding bees, plant St. John’s Wort! Nature wins!”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)


And finally … in honor of Brandon Malin, and his Longshore Sailing School award (story above):

(Another week … and another week of “06880.” We started in 2009, and have never missed a day. Please help us continue. Click here to make a contribution. And thank you!)


37 responses to “Roundup: Long Lots School, Appletree Trail, Beach Tents …

  1. Regarding all the tents at Compo, I think they’re brilliant in preventing over-exposure to the sun while still enjoying the shore. And I love the look, whether blue & white striped or otherwise, they add a colorful vibe to our beautiful beach. Kudos to everyone protecting their families & themselves and adding fun splashes of color.

  2. Susie Swanson Millette, Staples '58

    Appears to be the summer version of the ’50’s blue and white striped 6′ scarf the girls all wore with their camel hair coats.

  3. John D McCarthy

    “Transparency” is a word used a few times in the What’s Happening? clip. Until all town boards, committees etc. post all meeting materials online in advance of these “public” meetings, there can be no real “Transparency.” Transparency means everyone in a meeting has the same access to the material being discussed. And this almost never happens. All you get, when there is this asymetrical information understanding is distrust of town government and angry mis-communication. Westport can do better. We have the technology, but do we have the will to do this? I would challenge the RTM to take this issue up come the fall.

  4. Patricia McMahon

    I saw a rather larger size camping stylr tent set up between Westport and Norwalk ave yesterday. Wasn’t Blue and white strpped,but odd and out of place none the less.
    Wish i captured and set it your way!

  5. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Let’s Go Brandon!!!!

  6. Please Add Christopher Cross “Sailing” 😂👍🏼

  7. Tents are a necessity especially now as summers get hotter and global warming starts to punish us. Plus it keeps people from sitting on top of you. Which they would and do given the chance.
    It’s somewhere for babies to nap also. Sleeping in the sun is never pleasant.

    Transparency is also a necessity we get absolutely none of.
    If those of us who followed the DPIC like hawks had not done so nobody would have realized the scope of the plans they have( special thanks to Sal Liccione, who always tells the truth and digs in, remembering hooked restaurant at the beach as a past example he gets an I TOLD YOU SO ON.)

    We must have transparency yet I believe the town has hired 2 more staff( poss lawyers) not to offer more transparency but to actually fight it and try and avoid FOIA.

    If everything was done in the open nobody would need to FOIA documents… there would be no secrets. It might save us those 2 lawyers salaries…. Imagine that.
    Fascinating and disappointing tho not surprising to say the least that we end up fighting the very people we elected and trusted to be our voices.

    The community gardens are magnificent, and anyone who knows anything about gardening realizes the patience, effort, time and love etc that went into cultivating them and minding them.
    It would be grossly unfair to tear them down or in fact modify them in any way..

    I for one and I believe I speak for many feel strongly that the school just has to work off a plan which does not harm or interfere with those gardens, they foster good karma, and god knows we could use a bit of that around here.

  8. We enjoyed Compo both Saturday and Sunday and Dan, you are absolutely right about the tents. Some appear to require a building permit 😉 While we have enjoyed Compo for over 33 years, one must acknowledge a simple fact; weekend days are very crowded and overwhelmingly enjoyed by out of town users. This weekend Compo did not feel like a town beach. While I am not bothered by the crowd, I am saddened that Westport residents no longer view our amazing amenity as a community gathering point and have ceded the beach to others. I assume this is due to the increased construction of multi-million dollar homes with pools? Yet, why live in a beach town if you have no interest in using the beach? Of course many Westporters use the beach weekdays for sunbathing, bike riding, pickle ball, walking etc, apparently prime time beach use no longer carries the cachet it once did? Funny, since the water is cleaner now than it was 30 years ago. Just an observation and some unproven deductions.

  9. Until Westport has a full-time, fully funded, comprehensive news source, residents subsist on what is doled out to us in press releases—news spun by town officials to make everyone feel good and look good. No hard questions, no probing beneath the surface. We get only a shallow, shiny story that sidesteps the truth we’re entitled to.

  10. Richard Johnson

    And how is one able to tell whether a beachgoer is an out-of-towner or not?

    • According to the unofficial 06880 handbook I’ve been exposed to, the term, ‘out-of-towner’ when referring to Compo beachgoers is 06800 slang for minorities.

  11. Thanks, as always, Dan, for keeping us informed. I wasn’t aware of the “What’s Happening Westport” podcast and was really glad to hear from our Selectwoman and the Long Lots Building Committee Chair. The volunteers on the Building Committee are clearly working diligently on this project and our town benefits from their commitment to Westport’s residents, families, and future. Likewise, the volunteers and members at the Westport Community Gardens and Long Lots Preserve are incredibly committed to preserving these two site-specific town assets—which are located adjacent to the Long Lots School property—for the residents, families, and the Town, well into the future. The request from members continues to be: please consider options that do not reclaim the site of the WCG and LLP, as moving them is the equivalent of destroying them. We all love this town and absolutely support a wonderful new school and sports fields for the teams.

  12. The Long Lots Building Committee has a huge task hand. Thank you to each one of them volunteering their time to make sure a wonderful school is built.

    It’s very important to note that moving or relocating the Community Gardens and Preserve will destroy them. By moving them the gardeners will have to start all over. It will take another 20 years to replicate the ecosystem that has been created by all those that have ever owned a garden and cleared and planted the newly created Long Lots Preserve.

    It is my hope that the needed ball fields can be created somewhere else on the property.

  13. Dan. Regarding the tents it is my understanding that our community has become more intense over your blog.

    • There is an old joke about the guy who goes to his psychiatrist complaining he has two words constantly going through his head- “Teepee, Wigwam, Teepee, Wigwam!”

      The psychiatrist says the problem is you’re too tense!

      I think the only difference between the umbrellas and the tents is about $100! Otherwise the tents offer more shade and a sense of this is my territory.

  14. Karen La Costa

    I wish Community Garden members and town residents were notified in an obvious way back in September 2022 about plans to refurbish/build a new LLE school. We could have worked together on solutions instead of having this rushed last minute back & forth communication where trust dissipates and frustration increases right before a recommendation is made. It feels like there was one preferred end goal from the beginning of simply ‘relocating’ the Gardens. But now we all know this means destroying them. Also, the Gardens are on Town property, but use of the word ‘Campus’ during the conversation infers that the Gardens are on school property. They are not. I’m also confused as to why the sports fields can’t be located where decision makers wish to ask Gardeners to start from scratch again (too daunting for most after twenty years) and to find temporary areas for ballfields while the new school is built. We all love children, and yes, these Gardens would be a Huge benefit to their mental health, to learning about our precious Earth and about complex eco-systems. Science classes can incorporate the planting of seeds in class and transferring to the Gardens – and tending to them. We can literally plant the seed for caring for nature and this planet. And I do appreciate your hours of volunteer work. Thank you. I hope you too appreciate the thousands of hours of members volunteer work and money we poured into this much loved oasis that is home to a 120-family member community. I strongly believe that a new school and the Gardens staying where they are is achievable and the best outcome for all.

  15. Sally Kleinman

    First of all, I very much appreciate how many hours the Long Lots School building committee has dedicated to this project. I truly hope the committee members recognize that, while it has never been said that the Westport Community Gardens would be eliminated, the truth of the matter is, if the gardens are “relocated“ ALL of the hard work of the garden members over the last 20 years will be lost, since any new location would require starting from scratch. It is not simply a question of digging up some plants and moving them someplace else. I have to believe there is a solution that allows the gardens and the new preserve to remain as they are.

  16. First and foremost, thanks to the LL Building Committee for giving us (Westport Community Garden and LL Preserve) a seat at the table… I’d like to further emphasize that our ONLY argument is that if a sports field needs to be moved due to the school construction (very likely), it will need to be rebuilt somewhere. It is counterproductive at the very least to destroy and move the gardens AND build a new ball field in its place rather than just move a ball field. We are pro-school and pro-sports fields, but want to be clear that there is no viable way to just ‘pick up and move’ the gardens and the newly created preserve. Respectfully, Julie O’Grady- Westport Community Gardener.

  17. Victoria McGovern

    Thank you to the volunteers on the Long Lots Building Committee for exploring options for a much needed new school. Volunteering is at the heart of local projects – the Westport Community Gardens had at least 8,000 volunteer hours put in by members of the community, and the Long Lots Preserve had another 500 volunteer hours.
    Community members, other than Community Gardeners and hundreds of town residents that have volunteered to build the community gardens in the preserve include the Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts, Staples High School Service League Of Boys, Aspatuck Land Trust, Earthplace, Bartlett Tree Experts, AJ Penna and Son, Gault, Michel Nischan‘s Wholesome Wave foundation, Gilbertie’s, Green Village Initiative, Sustainable Connecticut, the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund, Anthropology, the Westport Garden Club, and Grow-a-Row.
    Creating the gardens was no small feat – it truly took a village, and 20 years to establish plants, turn compact rocky dirt into fertile organic soil, build supporting structures, and sweat and tears to create the thriving ecosystem it is now. I would ask the committee and First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker, please don’t discount the community efforts that went into the gardens by claiming that re-locating them is not akin to destroying them.
    I’m confident that the committee can find a solution to build an incredible new school, find temporary field space in Westport for the students, and keep the gardens in their current state adjacent to the school.

  18. Victoria McGovern

    Have you been to the Westport Community Gardens yet? Take a tour, and visit virtually on Youtube to learn just how special this place is:

  19. margaret freeman

    At one of the building commission meetings the 3 proposals were displayed and not one of them indicated that the gardens would stay in their current location. The gardens were replaced by a ball field, stepping stones, etc.

  20. As to the oak tree scheduled for elimination, I can only hope and wish that, at the very least, some simple branch removal or trimming can accomplish what I sense is the goal, namely, to prevent leaves from falling into a newly constructed pool As to one more pool on a small lot near Compo Beach, that may be just as much a tragedy as the tree consequence. The properties are too small and the impact upon water tables and flooding is almost always negative. If the ZBA granted a coverage variance, that should be seen as the last straw.

  21. I want to thank the Long Lots School building committee for their dedicated hours to this project. I hope the committee members realize that “relocating” the Westport Community Gardens would erase 20 years of hard work and is simply not possible. It’s not just about moving plants; there must be a way to keep both the gardens and the new preserve intact while also building a new school.

  22. Cristina Negrin

    That tent thing….when we were kids our parents took us to Compo for an all day. My mother and grandmother always wore sun screen. No one ever put any on us. We all have had minor skin cancer issues. I see the tents for what they are ….shade hmmm. Maybe not spend the whole day at the beach or wear better sun screen or put up a tent. That’s my see

  23. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    We spent last week at the Cape. These tents were in abundance. They just make common sense at a time when controllable healthcare costs have spiraled out of control primarily due to a lack of personal accountability for one’s own wellness.

  24. kathleen kiley

    Thank you Dan for keeping us informed. What has already been mentioned and I’ll echo it as well, is the need for transparency. I don’t believe the Westport Community Garden was informed about the ALL the building meetings. The appearance of the lack of transparency creates mistrust of government. What I don’t understand that while other communities in the state and across the country are considering innovative ways to integrate nature with architecture, why can’t Westport?

  25. MarySue Waterman

    The gardens will not transport to another location. As has been said many times, that is effectively eliminating them. While everyone appreciates the long and hard work that the LL building committee is doing, keeping the gardens and the preserve where they are should be a given..

  26. Thanks, Dan, for posting these important stories. I also want to commend ALL Westporters for their active participation- it’s the sum of us all with thoughtful and inventive ideas that raises our game for an even better Westport tomorrow. We can do this together!

    By the way, how about those under utilized fields down at Compo Beach? Great setting with convenient parking…

  27. I join others in thanking the building committee for their service. I fully support giving the highest priority to providing a safe and enriching learning environment for our children.

    I also re-emphasize that relocating the gardens is a euphemism for destroying them.

    Thirdly, on the issue of transparency, there is very little transparency in this process. I would argue there is more an effort to obfuscate and/or withhold information.

    The town is providing public notice of meetings and posting very sparse meeting minutes. Minimal public disclosure at best.

    Most of the materials being discussed at the meetings are NOT made available to the public. My FOIA request for documents in 7 of 9 specific areas hase been denied. The reason stated by Mr. Keenan is that the town typically does not release such documents, and that this is the domain of the town attorney.

    FOIA Section 1-210 says documents may be withheld ONLY if the public interest would be better served by withholding the information. Not convinced this text has been met and yet the request has been largely denied.

    Ms. Tooker and Mr. Keenan have not convinced me they are being transparent, no matter how they spin the narrative. Their actions demonstrate they would rather skirt the spirit of “transparency” with rhetoric and obfuscation.

  28. Removing that white oak is a crime against nature and the town.

  29. We love Brandon and Longshore Sailing School! Congratulations on the award!! LSS is a Westport/Weston institution we can all enjoy and be proud of… may it keep going strong for many years to come.

  30. It was clear from the one Long Lots Building Committee meeting that I attended that the Gardens and Preserve (according to the directive of the BOE) are considered “land,” nothing more or less, by the Committee.

    If this was a transparent process, Ms. Tooker would have included representation of all those with an interest in the use of the land on the Committee.

    To be clear, the complete Jaeger parcel was purchased after long debate by RTM. While less than three acres were needed for the necessary parking for Long Lots School, the complete parcel was purchased for (unknown) future municipal needs. Eighteen years ago, the municipal need that was determined appropriate was the Community Garden.

    Now, with absolutely no input from the people who have spent eighteen years improving and restoring the property, Ms. Tooker determined (through the make-up of the Committee) that BOE can take the land if they want it. Despite the fact that it has never been theirs nor have they ever done anything to help improve or restore the parcel.

    The process has been anything but transparent. Clearly, they wanted the process to play out before genuine stakeholders could get involved.

  31. Redistrict 2024…rebuild or build new Long Lots in place….Coleytown Elementary waits for remodel or new build…so we may have to redistrict again right? What’s the big deal…Who says we have to put all these balls in the air at once (Coley, Long lots Garden)?
    Many of us who grew up here were “redistricted” and some twice..we all survived.
    Guess what? Even the kids who got moved with Coley Middle situation survived, and thrived! The BOE and Central did an amazing job on the fly without months of data from “consultants.”
    The kids were moved virtually within weeks if not less!
    Yes, some parents will be upset with a redistrict…we are going to hear “the stability” need from Covid…more kids in schools…etc…many arguments have been made over the past 3 years to NOT redistrict now.
    I see no better time then now to redistrict, as this will ( I think) keep the WCG in place…balance our schools…with some extra kids in classrooms for a year or two…it’s not the end of the world…There will be challenging moving parts no matter when the BOE decides to step up and redistrict…Just my two cents

    Jimmy Izzo
    RTM 3

  32. there are only two real answers as to what is going on in terms of lack of “transparency”: stupidity or manipulation. are the people running the town stupid or simply manipulating and know what they are doing? either one requires change. when there are lawyers fighting information requests you know there is a big problem!

  33. Relocation of Westport Community Garden.
    The talk about moving/ relocating the Community Garden us misleading
    Oi has taken 20 years to achieve what now exists .
    Lets be clear the garden stays where it us or it is destroyed.
    It can nit be moved.

    Of course education and children are the Town priority we all know and support that it is why we remain or moved to Westport.
    But with creative planning there should be no need to destroy the garden or preserve.

    The Long Lots school property drains substantially into Muddy Brook which flows from near the school to the sound and effects many properties and roads on the way.

    Muddy Brook is already stressed, the garden and reserve absorbs an enormous amount of surface water

    If built on or paved, even during construction it has the potential to make local flooding far mire serious.

    The Town has experience of renovating other schools adjacent. to Muddy Brook, the drainage cost element was very substantial.

    Why did the Town encourage local volunteers and organizations. to spend time and money renovating neglected town land when they knew the school project was being planned.
    Little transparency seen here.
    You can not relocate a preserve.

  34. I just watched the Westport Community Garden video provided on the link by Victoria McGovern above. I had no idea that this incredible garden was in Westport. So beautiful – educational, providing quality fruit and vegetables to the gardeners and the community, a habitat for bees and birds. The thought that this beautiful habitat, that has been growing and flourishing for 20 years, is so ridiculous. Joni Mitchell had it right. The people who see relocating the garden want to pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

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