Roundup: Downtown Parking, Remarkable Theater, Sweetgreen …

There’s no such thing as a free lunch — at least, if you’re eating in or taking out downtown.

Downtown parking though, has always been free — for 1 or 2 hours.

During the pandemic, enforcement of parking limits was suspended.

Tickets may soon return — but only after those parking limits are extended.

The second agenda item on Wednesday’s Board of Selectwomen meeting (August 16, 9 a.m., Town Hall auditorium) reads:

Acting in its capacity as the Local Traffic Authority, to re-establish the enforcement of timed parking limits previously suspended by the Board of Selectmen at its public meeting of June 10, 2020, and further, to establish uniform parking limits and times of enforcement throughout the town-managed and owned downtown parking lots known as Parker Harding Plaza, Sigrid Shultz Plaza, Baldwin, Bay Street, Jesup Road, and Taylor, and the Town roadways known as Main Street, Church Lane, Bay Street, and Taylor Place, by changing FROM the currently posted “1- and 2- hour parking” limits TO “3-hour parking” limits and enforcement times TO “8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.” And further, to request permission from the CT DOT to change the current parking term limits posted on Post Road East FROM “1- and 2-hour parking” TO “3-hour parking.”

Click here for the livestream of the Board of Selectwomen session, or watch on Optimum Channel 79. Comments may be sent to prior to the meeting.


The 3rd agenda item for Wednesday’s Board of Selectwomen’s meeting is also of interest: a request from the Remarkable Theater to use the Imperial Avenue parking lot from August 28 through November 3 for a 4th season of drive-in movies.

From 2020 through ’22, the Remarkable’s season began in the spring.

Paul and Melissa Levy, at the Remarkable Theater.


Jacqui O’Brien was one of several readers who sent photos of a strange object seen over Westport skies last night.

Susan Leone was the first to identify them as SpaceX Starlink satellites.

They were launched yesterday from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. It was the 9th flight for the first stage booster supporting the mission.


As first noted on “06880” over a year ago — but denied vociferously by Organic Krush — Sweetgreens is indeed moving in to Compo Shopping Center.

Organic Krush has already moved out.

No date has been announced for opening. But the fast-casual salad-based chain — which emphasizes healthy eating and sustainability, and has 158 outlets in 13 states — already has Westporters excited.


The recent food drive for Homes with Hope’s Gillespie Center and food pantry — which included a special, fill-my-shopping-cart trip by a mother and 2 children —  was celebrated yesterday, at the Sunrise Rotary Club’s weekly meeting.

The sponsors — including also the Westport Rotary Club, Westport Police Department and Saugatuck Rowing Club — presented a check for $1,105.62 to Homes with Hope.

Those cash donations were in addition to the hundreds of bags of groceries that were dropped off, as shoppers entered and exited the store.

From left: Liz Wong, Sunrise Rotary president; Rob Hauck, Rotary member; Helen McAlinden, Homes with Hope president; Paris Looney, HWH vice president, and Sunrise Rotary members Bruce Paul and Bruce Fritz. (Photo/James Wong)


The link provided yesterday by Wakeman Town Farm for their September 9 Harvest Fest fundraiser was incorrect. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Wakeman Town Farm’s Harvest Fest is coming soon.


Many Westporters love pickleball. Some hate it.

But all can agree: the Smart Shots Pickleball Social is great.

The September 30 event (6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Milford Indoor Tennis) is a fundraiser for A Better Chance of Westport.

Level-designated courts will ensure exciting matches. Vendors will offer pickleball services and products. A raffle includes special prizes. The Porch @ Christie’s is providing food (available for pre-purchase).

The event is sponsored by ATP (Alan & Tina Pickleball). Click here to register. Questions? Call 203-984-1949.


We like to think of Long Island Sound as “ours.”

But — as Karen Como’s “Westport … Naturally” photo reminds us — humans were not here first.

(Photo/Karen Como)


And finally … anyone who saw the 2012 Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” knows that Rodriguez’s story is astonishing.

The Detroit musician wrote and sang haunting protest songs. But he never found an audience, and settled into a life as a laborer and office worker.

He was “discovered” in Australia however — and then, even more so, in South Africa during apartheid. According to the New York Times:

“To many of us South Africans, he was the soundtrack to our lives,” Stephen Segerman, owner of a Cape Town record store, said in the documentary.

“In the mid-’70s, if you walked into a random white, liberal, middle-class household that had a turntable and a pile of pop records, and if you flipped through the records, you would always see ‘Abbey Road’ by the Beatles, you’d always see ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Simon and Garfunkel, and you would always see ‘Cold Fact’ by Rodriguez. To us, it was one of the most famous records of all time. The message it had was ‘Be anti-establishment.’”

Astonishingly, Rodriguez did not know he had fervent fans in South Africa. Equally astonishingly, South Africans thought he was dead. One rumor was a drug overdose; another, that he had killed himself onstage.

In 1998, he was discovered — alive, and living in obscurity in Detroit. He was invited to South Africa, and played concerts at  sold-out venues.

He was “discovered” again more than a dozen years later, with the release of “Searching for Sugar Man” — a film about his strange but vibrant life.

Rodriguez — whose full name was Sixto Diaz Rodriguez — died Tuesday, in Detroit. He was 81.

Click here for a full obituary. Click below to hear Rodriguez.

(Have you recently discovered “06880”? Did you know we rely completely on reader support? Please click here to help. Thank you!)

21 responses to “Roundup: Downtown Parking, Remarkable Theater, Sweetgreen …

  1. John D McCarthy

    The Selectwomen have heard from the downtown merchants about their concerns with this change, especially as it relates to parking for downtown employees. Until a holistic solution is found to Parker Harding, which needs to include realistic and safe parking alternatives for downtown employees, the town should not make these proposed changes. This agenda item should be tabled.

  2. Valerie Ann Leff

    I’m glad to hear about extended hours, since 2 hours is not enough time to meet a friend for lunch AND shop around. So this seems like both a problem and a boon for downtown merchants. Could downtown workers receive a pass of some kind to allow for full shift parking for them? Additionally, we just need more parking in Westport as we are growing and there are several new and exciting shops and restaurants. Is a paid parking structure somewhere out of the question? Say with a couple of rooftop restaurants in the big lot next behind the old restored house?
    Westport needs to get more creative with parking solutions both downtown and in Saugatuck, to improve access for both employees and customers.

  3. Agreed John, the “cart is being put in front of the horse.” A comprehensive and in your words “holistic approach” to the entire downtown parking scenario. Additionally, the scheduled charette on August 22, should be moved until after Labor Day when most people are done with their summer vacations. Additionally, Mr. Herbertson, Chair of DPIC has indicated that the will probably not have the relevant information many have requested before the August 22 charette. What is the point if thoughtful and reflective review of this information cannot be addressed in advance. The charette just becomes another useless charade. Seems like a lot of logical, sequential, cumulative and inclusive planning continues to be lacking in this process.

    • John McCarthy

      Jamie, good point. The August 22nd Charrette is destined to be another staged PR event unless the material that will be reviewed is shared online well in advance of the 22nd. If the material and all underlying data will only be available on the 22nd, then the meeting should be put off a week so everyone who is interested can review and come with constructive comments. DPIC, can you update us on where you stand on this?

  4. Ciara Webster

    Here here John. This is about want vs need… we need parking for staff in order to be able to operate our businesses.
    We need to get an accurate staff car count before we leave staff nowhere to park.
    And we need it NOW, before timed parking which by the way is a direct assault on staff parking because all staff work 8 hour shifts.
    So by timing parking staff have to work elsewhere. But WHERE ?
    Needs to be somewhere safe and available 7 days a week.
    According to a Dan woog post in 2015 the then DMA having done a study claimed there are 1200 staff in the downtown area.
    We can assume that is 1200 cars. Staff do not live together and so one assumes 1200 staff = 1200 cars.
    It’s a lot yes… but it is what it is…
    No business in the downtown hires extra staff to put pressure on parking. Businesses cannot open without staff.
    The first selectwoman loves to tell us she has brought downtown back, brought back business… lol… so now tell us where you would like our staff to park so they can come to work.
    Safe, secure, well lit, with cameras and shuttle bus services on a very regular basis might work at the likes of imperial, for 150 staff.. but that is 12% of the staff, where do the other 78% park ?
    A few spots in the Baldwin lot not mind you marked as staff parking only brings us another 10% spots… so 22% of the first to arrive staff will find parking… where do the others go ?
    Town hall let’s call it 10% again … we have 32% available spots for staff to park, IF, residents who quite rightly will spend more than 3 hours in town do not park in those spots.
    Where do the other 68% of staff park ? Because no staff= no business
    It’s a very serious question I’m sure many wish they had posed during the election..
    between Parker Harding, inn at longshore lease, and the community gardens… I’m shaking my head… and keeping a hawk eye…
    The idea that Jen tooker would coincidentally cut off 1200 staff from parking in the downtown where they work, in order to then make Parker Harding look empty is hilarious but pathetic..
    residents and merchants are not backing down.. we want the cut through and we want the parking and we demand to know where Jen tooker suggests our staff need to park ! And if it is imperial where will the farmers market and remarkable theatre be moved to ?
    Very very very important question.. and we all love both the farmers market and the theatre… but if staff have to park there then they will have to be relocated..
    end of story !

  5. Ciara Webster

    I think the time has come to start a new downtown merchants association.. not before it’s time clearly.
    Having spoken to many many merchants I believe the general and overwhelming opinion is “it’s time” right now. By overwhelming I do mean 95%)
    The chamber of commerce and downtown association should be informing us and listening to us, and taking our unified voice as a consensus.
    This is not and has not happened. And it appears nor will it ever.
    I believe as do the vast majority of the merchants in downtown, that it is time to move on, swiftly, and effectively.
    I don’t need to be preached to by folks with no skin in the game.
    It’s time to say to chamber of commerce and downtown association “ show us where farmers market and the remarkable theatre are moving to. Show us before the 16th, where 1200 staff can park their cars for 8 hour shifts, in a safe secure environment with lights and cameras and security “ and if you cannot show us then consider yourselves effectively FIRED !

    I also request imperial parking lot be the next lot to be renovated.. it’s the only one that makes sense…
    I drive through Parker Harding every day and other than being unmaintained
    It is actually a lot better than the imperial lot which is in desperate condition.
    The toilets the public is paying for( according to the DPIC plan) will serve as a place for staff parking there to relieve themselves winter and summer while they wait on the regular town provided shuttle .
    I suggest the pavilion ( being also paid for by the public, according to DPIC) has 4 walls and a door on it with heating and air conditioning. ..
    Ciara Webster

  6. Werner Liepolt

    I am at a loss to understand this uniquely Westport parking kerfuffle.

    We are (in)famous for running Connecticut’s most elaborate and sophisticated beach parking permit system. Why has no one applied that knowledge and technology to a downtown business and town hall employee parking permit system?

    It could be free. It could be paid for by employers. We could even charge people who work here for parking.

    Take a look at other towns for a way to handle the realities of municipal parking, please.

  7. Ciara Webster

    Werner.. it’s not really about the money :)in the case of the selectwoman it’s about getting one’s own way.
    it’s a whole different ball of wax going on here.. plus why should merchants pay for staff parking ? Or why should staff pay to park here… we are not living in a 2 class system here.. or are we ?

    • Werner Liepolt

      I said “free,” Ciara. And perhaps I was a little too subtle in my application of sarcastic humor.

      A permit could also be a way to allow employees unlimited parking where others are timed.

    • Clark Thiemann

      Downtown is basically the only area in town where landlords are not responsible for providing private parking for their businesses right? I’m not saying that we should ignore providing parking for employees, but I also don’t think we should build our entire downtown plan around the sole goal of building publicly funded free parking lots for private businesses.

      • John McCarthy

        Would be interesting to look at the price per square foot of downtown retail & restaurants with properties in other parts of town. As property tax is based on property value which is based on the rent rolls, I would think downtown properties already pay their fair share. Has anyone done this type of analysis? Has DPIC done an economic analysis of its plans to determine impact on merchants and the town tax revenues?

  8. Beth Berkowitz

    I’m wondering if the time limit parking will be increased for Riverside to 3 hours as well or will it remain only 1 hour limits. Does anyone know the answer to this or have they not discussed or thought about any other streets in town?

  9. Paul Giacomon

    06880. Continuing to lead Fairfield County in fast food chain dominance. An added treasure to our fast food options.

  10. Fred Roberts

    Guys, you do realize that the hourly parking is almost impossible to enforce due to the staff being dedicated to schools most of the time that enforcement is needed and they only work till 3pm. So, the fact that the signs will say enforced till 6pm is irrelevant. Save your panic for other things.

    Side note. Employees should never be parking on main St if they want people to patronize their store. They should be in the balwin lot that has no time limit. Just my 2 cents.

  11. Russell Gontar

    Back in the old days, when main street was packed with, you know, “stores” and “shoppers”, the library and the Y, I never had a problem finding a parking spot after looking for a minute. Or, I parked on Main Street, in either direction! Gasp! Horror!

    Last time I looked, Main Street is now operating as a ghost town, the library stepped back and the Y left for mahackeno. Big mistake.

    Is PHP the victim of town meddling or misuse by the public or some toxic combination of the two?

    PS. for extra credit, identify the big brother and the holding company tune hidden in my post.

  12. Andrew Colabella

    Mr. Fred Roberts is right.

    Employees should not be parking on Main Street, the closest parking, timed and enforced, is for customers.

    Baldwin lot is not timed and open.

    Enforcement of the said hours due to need at schools and high density rush hour hot spots are carried out by same enforcement traffic agents.

    Keep the cut through, improve Parker Harding with a repave, islands, lighting, moving sanitation compactor, and keep the same amount of spots!

    Parking should be timed as it is a nuisance when parking is an issue already and there are people who do abuse that.

    Not only as population increased but also occupancy of stores in downtown westport.

    Write to transit and push for a bus loop service!

  13. Ciara Webster

    Andrew Colabella you are right, as is Mr. Fred Roberts. Employees should not be parking on Main Street. Those spots should be left for customers coming to town to enjoy our restaurants and shops.

    That being said since we have a 2015 “official count” substantiated by the downtown merchants as they were at that time and until recently, and then published on dans 06880, of 1200 employees. With between 50-80 all day spots in Baldwin which can be used by anyone who chooses to and rightly so, and we have another 80 at town hall. That represents parking for just over 10% of the staff.

    Now bearing in mind businesses cannot open without their staff,
    Where do you suggest once timed parking comes back, they should park. Employees come from far and wide. A lot of them( vast majority) do not live in Westport, so where should the 1200 of them park ?

    And if your answer is imperial, then where are the shuttles, the lighting, the cameras, and the security late at night for these staff. A hefty lawsuit is the last thing the town needs when men or women are ambushed ( potentially) at night going back to their vehicles. As well as all those issues, the imperial lot will have 150 spots, so it will accommodate another 15-20% of staff. So we have covered approximately 30-35% of staff cars if imperial is renovated, lit, secure with shuttles.
    Ok now where do the farmers market move to ? And the remarkable theatre.
    Because Thursday is one of the busiest days of the week and 10-2 are peak hours.
    I sound like a broken record on this but I could not be more serious. There is not space to park 150 staff cars at imperial and accommodate the farmers market( which incidentally most if not all of us hold very dear to our hearts.) as well as the remarkable theatre.

    My car has been broken into twice in the last year and we all know crime in Westport is on the rise.
    When these thugs get wind of the potential to rob staff parked in an out of the way remote parking lot, it is only a matter of time.
    THAT, is an I told you so none of us want to have to be right on. A member of staff at the spotted horse some 4 years ago was beaten to within inches of his life, broken ribs, broken teeth, etc… in Norwalk going back to his car because it is common knowledge that staff esp restaurant staff carry on them cash. You and I both know who that was. And that incident happened in a far more lit part of Norwalk than the imperial remote lot. He was targeted because they knew he’d have cash on him from work.
    The rtm as a body should be getting involved here. This is exactly why you guys are elected to be the voice of reason when all reason appears to have gone out the window.
    The imperial lot is remote. It is acknowledged by DPIC to be in a state of disrepair and in need of lights.. I would add to that security and cameras, and most importantly a shuttle running every 20 minutes.

    It is the imperial parking lot that should be fixed first so when Parker Harding undergoes its renovation there is somewhere safe for folks to park. But of course being the remote lemon it’s not as “sexy” to fix it up first. Smells of the exact issues going on at long lots right now. Put off, put off, put off, then get it all ass backwards, in a state of panic because of a lack of foresight.
    Do you see a reason this is not sensible, or practical, to undertake a parking lot such as imperial, that the DPIC and town acknowledges is in crap condition first.

    If I am missing something I’d love you to set me straight on all this. As an owner of THE largest business on Main Street and a business that has been on the street since chez Pierre, we employ 63 staff, not all on the same shifts, but we have 63 permanent staff.
    I can only assume mexicue, and spotted horse are employing fairly close to the same numbers of staff also.

    I’d really love your personal opinion on a solution here that keeps businesses going and keeps staff safe.

  14. i don’t see how anyone on the town boards can make an informed decision on parking without researching the subject. At the very least one of them should read ‘Paved Paradise’ and ‘Traffic’ to get a fundamental perspective on how their decisions affect our future. Perhaps the library could host these authors to present for the citizens of Westport before anything is decided. .