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Category Archives: Beach
For years, only one thing marred the view from Old Mill Road and Elvira Mae’s, down Hillspoint Road. There — sandwiched between handsome beach homes and the beach itself — sat a blight house.
Unkempt and untended, it looked out of place. And dangerous.
When Robin Tauck bought the property, and an adjacent lot, she wanted to maintain the traditional beach community vibe. But she’s also an ardent environmentalist.
Her vision for the blight house was to maintain the same footprint for minimal impact, while creating a model for future homes.
Working with architect Michael Greenberg and TecKnow, the Bedford Square-based company that combines automation technology with green energy products, she built an innovative “guest cottage.” (Her own, similarly designed home, is next door.)
227 Hillspoint Road uses sustainable building practices and innovative technology. Solar and battery storage is optimized, so the house is run almost entirely off the grid.
It meets many of the standards for a Green Building Award: rehabilitation, energy efficiency, innovation, conservation, sustainability, and modeling for the future.
So the other day — around the same time the United Nations hosted its Climate Action Summit — Governor Ned Lamont and Congressman Jim Himes were in town. So was Albert Gore III, from Tesla (one of the companies TecKnow works with), environmental leaders from groups like Sustainable Westport and Save the Sound, and all 3 selectmen.
They presented Tauck, Greenberg and TecKnow with a Green Building Award. It recognizes this project, for its contribution to sustainability.
The honor signifies one more step on Westport’s path to being a net zero community, by 2050.
And it also shows that a small, blighted house need not be replaced by a bigger, more energy-sapping one.
Especially at such a well-known, beloved and lovely spot by the shore.
Alert “06880” reader — and longtime Westporter — Fred Cantor hears frequent laments about the changes in town since “whatever decade people grew up here in.” Of course, he admits, things are different.
But, Fred notes, the small-town feel that existed when his family moved here in 1963 is still alive and well. As proof, he offers a series of events that occurred recently, in just one 24-hour period.
It started with a visit to a local periodontist which, believe it or not, proved enjoyable overall. That’s because he’s Dr. Bruce Davidson, Staples High School Class of 1965, a family friend from back in the day and a former soccer teammate of my brother Marc. Bruce has practiced for decades at the same location on the Post Road, near Sylvan Avenue.
After a thorough exam and patient clarification of potential issues raised by X-rays taken in California, there was time to catch up and hear, among other things, about the status of a documentary film by Bruce’s brother, Doc (Staples ‘70).
After my appointment I drove to Cohen’s Fashion Opticals to pick up new glasses, which were almost ready. No problem: It was close to lunchtime, so I headed a few doors down to Gold’s. Owner Jim greeted me warmly.
I had a delicious turkey salad sandwich. The food at Gold’s is every bit as good today as when my parents first took me there in the 1960s — and the setting seems exactly as it did back then.
Later in the day, I enjoyed a timeless outdoor Westport scene: a large crowd gathered on the hill to watch a Staples soccer game, on a beautiful Friday afternoon.
I had not arranged to meet anyone there. That didn’t matter. I sat with Bill Mitchell (Staples ’61) and former soccer coach Jeff Lea. We shared a few laughs and some entertaining stories. Dave Wilson (a Staples captain in 1974) was there too.
The ageless Laddie Lawrence (Staples ’64) also joined us for a while; so did former Westport Late Knights soccer teammate, Alex Anvari. Somehow Alex’s little boy Emerson has grown up — he’s 6-1 now!—to be a Staples senior who, to my delight, is on the varsity team.
It was the last weekend of summer, with near-perfect temperatures, so after the game my wife Debbie and I headed to Compo to enjoy the sunset. As often happens, we ran into a couple of longtime Westporters.
I also had a nice chat with Joey Romeo, the owner of Joey’s By the Shore. He is every bit as friendly as any Main Street storeowner was in the 1960s.
The next morning I was walking on Bridge Street toward the train station. A car pulled over. The driver was Staples alum Mike Elliot; he offered me a ride. I explained that walking is my regular exercise these days.
As I neared the station, another car stopped. Staples classmate Bob Uly wanted to know how I was doing health-wise.
It was just 24 hours. Nothing truly out of the ordinary happened.
But those little slice-of-life occurrences demonstrate, at least for me, that certain “Our Town”-like qualities still very much exist here.
Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of dead fish washed up yesterday at Old Mill Beach and Compo Cove.
Health authorities and Harbor Watch are investigating.
Half a century ago, Joe Schachter bought a boat. He, his wife Irma and their young kids loved leaving their slip at Longshore, and heading out on the Sound.
Except when they couldn’t get out, because the basin was silted over. In fact, the only time that worked was half tide or more.
A few similarly disgruntled boat owners started talking. They realized their individual complaints to town officials went nowhere.
Meanwhile, over at Compo, there wasn’t even a real “marina” at all. Boats were tied to buoys. After a day on the water, boaters blew air horns, then waited for a tender to fetch them from the gas dock. On busy days, it took an hour.
They formed a group, to advocate for all Westport boaters. They named themselves the Minuteman Yacht Club.
It took 30 years, but they finally got action. Twenty years after that, Schachter — now 94 years old — is still involved.
And, in a measure of how far the Minuteman Yacht Club has come, one very important town official — 1st Selectman Jim Marpe — attends many of the group’s events.
The organization’s efforts paid off in the renovation of Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach. A gangway — to walk to boats — replaced the old blow-your-horn-and-wait-for-a-lift system. Both it and Longshore were dredged, dramatically increasing their capacities.
Compo now has “one of the best marina set-ups of any town on Long Island Sound,” Schachter says proudly.
He should know. After a career change from advertising, he developed a concrete flotation system that completed 400 projects around the East Coast. Compo was his last major one.
But — like so much else in Westport life — boating has changed in the 50 years Schachter has been involved.
Whether its clubs Minuteman or Kiwanis, “it’s hard today to keep them going,” says Barbara Gross.
She should know. A Westonite who does not own a boat — she’s a kayaker who loves the Sound, Cockenoe and nearby islands — she enjoys Minuteman Yacht Club for its social events.
The calendar is filled: Commissioning Day party, post-race parties, clambake, reggae party, commodore’s reception, change-of-watch dinner, even a winter holiday party.
“There’s a real camaraderie, a fun spirit,” Gross says.
She hopes families with young children will consider joining Minuteman Yacht Club. “It’s important to give kids a taste of boating,” she says. “And this is a great way for parents to have fun with them. You don’t even need to own a boat.”
It’s a good way too, she says, to introduce youngsters to the wonders of Long Island Sound.
And maybe they will grow up to be — like herself, Schachter and many others — the voice of sailboat and powerboat owners, all over town.
(For more information on Minuteman Yacht Club, click here.)