Category Archives: Downtown

Threatening Messages Posted Downtown

From a distance, they look benign:

But those flyers on Pink Sumo’s wall do not promote an upcoming concert or fundraiser.

They promote hatred and violence.

Similar messages were posted nearby on Church Lane:

(Photos/Marcy Sansolo)

The work of Westporters? Out-of-towners?

Scare tactics? A sick “joke”?

No one yet knows. Police have been notified. They will do their usual professional job to find out what’s going on.

And to keep our town safe.

Marpe: Good Job So Far. Stay Vigilant!

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

Much has transpired over the past few months. I want to update Westport residents on a number of COVID-19 issues.

Westport was at the forefront of activity when the initial wave of COVID-19 cases came to this region in the late winter/early spring of 2020. I am proud of the town’s response then, and I am equally proud of, and impressed by, our ongoing diligence and hard work to control the virus. To those whose health has been directly impacted and affected by the virus, we extend our comfort and support.

It is important to stress that while “COVID fatigue” and complacency are natural responses as the conditions have extended into the fall, we must continue to stay vigilant and appropriately manage our activities during this ongoing public health crisis.

It is incumbent upon all of us to do our part to avoid another outbreak. Everyone must be mindful and respectful of our families, neighbors, friends, and work colleagues when considering any behavior, including social activities, that may be counter to medical advice and the protocols that have been established to protect the community from the virus.

When the power went out during Tropical Storm Isais, Westporters took advantage of the library’s WiFi — masked and socially distanced, of course. (Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

I am encouraged that Westport has reopened businesses, restaurants and other services using the State of Connecticut guidelines. We continue to monitor the results. To date, strict adherence to the sector rules has helped us minimize the number of COVID cases.

Please continue to wear a face covering whenever you are in a public setting and cannot maintain a 6-foot distance. Maintain social distancing whenever and wherever it is necessary. Obey all the rules and conditions posted in local businesses and public spaces.

On Thursday, Governor Lamont announced additional reopening guidance that will bring the state closer to Phase III beginning October 8. This step specifically increases the patron capacity at indoor establishments such as restaurants, salons and libraries, outdoor event venues, religious establishments and performing arts venues. Of course, social distancing and mask wearing are emphasized in these plans.

Church Lane will continue to be closed to vehicles through October 31 — and open for outdoor dining.

Bars continue to remain closed. While it is not a full Phase III as was previously envisioned, we are encouraged that the governor considers up-to-date trends on COVID that will ultimately help businesses, arts and cultural institutions and places of worship get closer to operating at full capacity. For more details on the Governor’s plan visit Portal.CT.Gov.

The Westport Weston Health District remains an invaluable resource for those residents seeking information and guidance related to COVID-19, the upcoming flu season, and other health-related issues that affect our community. For daily updates and case numbers, please visit their site at www.wwhd.org.

Recent issues addressed by the WWHD include:

  • The WWHD has noted an increase in positive cases within younger age groups. As residents may know, there have been positive cases identified in the Westport Public Schools. The public school administration is working closely with medical personnel and the WWHD to respond quickly and appropriately. Please be mindful that it is possible to be COVID-19 positive but not experience any symptoms. To reduce the spread of infection, remember the 3W‘s (Wear a mask, Watch your distance, and Wash your hands).
  • Flu vaccines are highly recommended and are available through your health care provider and at various area pharmacies. The Health District hosted 2 flu clinics in September, and plans to offer additional vaccination clinics as supplies become available.
  • Vibriosis:  There has been an increasing number of Vibrio vulnificus (Vv) cases reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health related to the Long Island Sound. Vv is always a risk when water temperatures are greater than 68°F, and the risk is greater depending on the pathogenic strains that are circulating. Those with cuts, abrasions, recent surgery or other wounds should avoid brackish water along Long Island Sound. This applies to dogs as well. More information from the CDC can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/healthcare.html.

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

Halloween

  • The CDC recently released guidance stating that “Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses. There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween.” The town has established a workgroup with town officials, the public school administration and members of the PTA to discuss how the Westport community may celebrate Halloween in a manner that keeps COVID health and safety protocols at the forefront. Further information and plans will be forthcoming.

Pic Of The Day #1256

Spotted by Spotted Horse, on Church Lane (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Roundup: Shorefest, Trader Joe’s, Fall Fashion, More


Yesterday’s “Shorefest on a Roll” — Friends of Sherwood Island’s reimagined, socially distanced annual fundraiser — was different than the usual lobsterfest.

It was also wonderful, fun, and made even better by spectacular weather.

Board members Cece Saunders and Steve Axthelm produced the clever, all-ages event. Riding in cars through the 232-acre state park, families listened to a podcast while enjoying kites, disc golf, music, and getting a purple martin education.

At the last stop, they picked up lobster roll dinners, courtesy of Westfair Fish & Chips.

Click here for a full report, and tons of photos.

Lobster roll dinners, at the end.


That’s one small step for a man. And one giant leap for faster checkouts.

Trader Joe’s has all registers open, for the first time since COVID struck in March.


The other day you worked out, at Main Street and Church Lane’s Fitness & Wellness Expo.

This Saturday, you can show off your new look. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association is sponsoring a Fall Fashion & Beauty Day.

Merchandise will be displayed on sidewalks — meaning there’s plenty of room to walk around in stores too. And despite the name, all downtown merchants — not just fashion and beauty retailers — are invited to participate.

All of Main Street, Elm Street and Church Lane will be closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Local merchants not on those streets are being offered spots, so there’s plenty to see and do. Of course, masks and social distancing rules apply!

 


World peace comes to Westport.

That’s the name of the next MoCA Westport exhibit. It opens October 8.

Works in the show reflect “the culture of identity, and the divided and fractured political climate of America’s past and present.” The multi-media exhibit includes photography, sculpture, video, site-specific installations, works on paper, and protest art.

The group show features local and world-renowned artists, highlighting contemporary media culture, the criminal justice system, and the relationship between science and religion. 

Westporters include illustrators Tracy Sugarman and Naiad Einsel, and photographers Spencer Platt and Richard Frank

Local politicians, and experts on climate change and the media, will be featured in panels throughout the exhibition. It runs through January 17.

For more information, click here.


And finally … today is the International Day of Peace. Enough said.

 

Roundup: Dancing At Bedford Square, New Novel, New Spa, More


Broadway is dark. But the catchy song “On Broadway” — you know, about neon lights — inspires Westport youngsters to keep their musical theater dreams alive.

Right here in Bedford Square.

The dance floor is concrete. The kids use store windows as mirrors.

But they’ve got a real-live Rockette — 15-year veteran Stevi Van Meter — as their dance instructor.

The Saturday morning classes are the brainchild of Laura Prendergast. The Theater Camp 4 Kids Broadway Academy owner vows to keep musical theater going, whatever it takes.

Bedford Square owner David Waldman donated the space.

When the weather gets cold, the kids will just bundle up and keep dancing. Hey — they’ve already got their face masks. Click below for the video!


Westporters know L.J. Peltrop as a server at Rye Ridge Deli.

He’s also a writer. His debut novel, “Waiting Face,” is a thriller involving addiction, mental health, and the fight to “belong.”

It launches this Tuesday (September 22) on Amazon.


There’s a new holistic business a few feet over the border.

Veda Healing Spa (596 Westport Avenue, Norwalk — just past Whole Foods) is a spa. Owner Harpreet Kaur was born and raised in Punjab, India and has 20 years’ experience as a licensed esthetician in Ayurvedic skin treatments, healing and wellness.


And finally … 50 years ago, Black Sabbath’s “Paranoia” offered not-very-uplifting songs about war, corruption and trauma. Happy half-century! (Hat tip: Mark Yurkiw)

Pics Of The Day #1251

For decades, the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge has been the site of political protests. Every Saturday morning since early summer, a group assembles there. Their message: “Black Lives Matter.” They are greeted more often than not with honks and thumbs-up signs. This was a recent scene.

(Photo collage/ Rowene Weems)

Friday Flashback #210

Over the years I’ve seen tons of photos of the Riverside Avenue/Wilton Road intersection, looking down and east from the Post Road hill.

But until I spotted this one — courtesy of Kathleen Kiska and Michael Tedesco — I’d never seen a view quite like this.

The wide, sharp shot — from 1914 — seems to capture turn-of-the-last-century Westport. A thriving business district existed right alongside residential neighborhoods. The little kid riding a bicycle looks straight out of Norman Rockwell.

But who was in charge of the roads? They look in even worse shape than they are today.

Paint The Town Yellow — Again!

Last fall, Debra Kandrak had an idea.

She wanted everyone in town to plant daffodils.

“Imagine driving through Westport and seeing thousands of daffodils around mailboxes, on the roadside, in front of stores,” she said. “It would be so pretty. And they can be in honor of loved ones, so they’re even more meaningful.”

She got commercial landlord David Waldman on board. Laurelrock and Northeast Horticulture, which maintain several traffic islands, joined in. So did the Westport Garden Club, town officials, businesses, and plenty of random Westporters.

A collage of daffodils.

As she drove around last spring — when the town was laid low by the coronavirus — Debra was heartened to see thousands of new daffodils.

The residents on Soundview Drive had planted hundreds of beautiful flowers along the beach exit road. Project Return planted them in front of their North Compo shelter. They sprouted in front of The Learning Community School on Hillspoint Road, at the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, and at dozens of other spots, both public and private.

The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown.

Now, Debra announced the 2nd annual “Paint the Town Yellow” campaign. This year’s theme: Every daffodil represents a stand against bullying.

“Bullying destroys lives,” Debra says. “It chips away at someone’s self-esteem. As you plant flowers with your children, teach them empathy, not excess.

“Our country is in turmoil. Let Westport, show the world that we practice kindness, compassion and empathy. We can do this!”

Debra asks residents, committees, businesses and the town of Westport to plant daffodils “in front of your home, around the mailbox post, by street signs, at your store or office — everywhere!”

She would love to see schools get involved. (Parents can donate daffodils, she suggests).

Sherwood Island Connector, at the Post Road. (Photos courtesy of Debra Kandrak)

Last spring, when we desperately needed to be uplifted, daffodils did the trick. No one knows what this spring will bring.

Except many more daffodils.

(To contact Debra directly, email Debra.Kandrak@raveis.com)

Pic Of The Day #1248

Ferdinand Jahnel’s wife, Judy Auber Jahnel, Judy Auber Jahnel, gazes at her favorite shoe store — next to his classic Porsche 928. (Photo/Ferdinand Jahnel)

Photo Challenge #298

It’s clear: The Gillespie Center is an integral part of Westport life.

The men’s shelter — across from police headquarters, behind the old Restoration Hardware (and before that, Fine Arts Theater) and, most intriguingly, around the corner from Tiffany — opened in April 1989. (For the previous 5 years, it was located at the Vigilant Firehouse on Wilton Road, now OKO restaurant.)

The Center — named after one of the founders, Dr. Jim Gillespie — had been the home of the Youth Adult Council and Westport Transit District. Long before that, it was a garage for the town Highway Department.

For over 30 years, the Gillespie Center has served as a shelter for homeless men. Run by Homes with Hope, the building includes a food pantry and Hoskins Place, a shelter for single women. The name honors Rev. Ted Hoskins, longtime Saugatuck Church pastor.

35 readers — possibly a record — quickly recognized Helen McAlinden’s photo as the Gillespie Center in last week’s Challenge. (Click here to see.)

The number of correct answers — 35 — may be an “06880” Photo Challenge record. So may be the fact that there were no incorrect guesses. What a tribute to Westport’s embrace of the Gillespie Center!

Congratulations to Matt Murray, Pat Porio, Lawrence Zlatkin, Gloria Gouveia, Mike Hibbard, Cindy Zuckerbrod, Ed Gerber, Elaine Marino, Suzanne Raboy, Rich Stein, Amy Schneider, Wendy McKeon, Peggy O’Halloran, Jan Carpenter, Karen Kramer, Pat Farmer, Molly Alger, Barry Cass, Jonathan McClure, Michelle Scher Saunders, Michael Calise, Ken Gilbertie, Seth Braunstein, Joyce Barnhart, Nancy Axthelm, Linda Amos, Gillian Anderson, John Moran, Vivian Rabin, Susan Yules, Tony Giunta, Pete Powell, Darcy Sledge, Joelle Malec and Bruce Salvo.

Can so many people also identify this week’s Photo Challenge? Probably not. It’s tougher.

So here’s a hint: It’s a former town athletic facility. If you know where in Westport you’d find this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Werner Liepolt)