Category Archives: Downtown

Pic Of The Day #1409

Levitt Pavilion, from Riverside Avenue (Photo/AmySchneider)

Barnes & Noble Back In Business

Less than 2 months after closing their Post Plaza location, Barnes & Noble is back.

The new site — the former Renovation Hardware — is smaller than the previous store, a couple of miles east.

Restoration Hardware was the previous tenant, for 20 years. For 80 years before that, this was the Fine Arts movie theater.

But there’s plenty of room for books of all types, games, puzzles and the like. The space is bright, fresh and airy. The shelves — as a press release noted — are “bespoke oak.”

There is no café. “There are plenty of good places for coffee and food downtown,” an employee says. “We want to be a good neighbor, and help everyone.”

Around noon, a steady stream of customers enjoyed downtown Westport’s newest retailer.

(Photos/Dan Woog)

 

Roundup: Gelato, Vaccine, Tyler Hicks, More

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What’s better than one gelato shop opening on Main Street?

Two.

Hot on the heels of news of Cold Fusion moving into the former Papaya Papyrus space next to Chase Bank in May, a sign in what was once Lucky Brand — across the street, and closer to the Post Road — announced the arrival “soon” of La Fenice.

Like its sister locations in Greenwich and Rye, it will serve gelato, crepes, pastries and coffee. Click below for a look at the Rye shop:

It’s not quite like the days when there was a frozen yogurt store on every Westport corner.

It’s better.

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First “06880” reported that St. Vincent’s was closing their Long Lots Road COVID testing facility on March 1.

Then we reported that it was remaining open.

This morning, a reader reports that his wife just phoned St. Vincent’s. She was told they are closing their Long Lots testing as of March 1.

St. Vincent’s Health Center testing will soon be in the rear mirror. (Photo/Adam Stolpen)

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It’s not just New York Times readers who appreciate Tyler Hicks’ work.

The 1988 Staples High School graduate just won 1st place in a new category — COVID-19 coverage — from Pictures of the Year International. It’s the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism program and competition in the world. This year’s awards were the 78th annual.

The honor — which follows many others, including multiple Pulitzers — is for Hicks’ photos of the pandemic’s devastation in the Amazon.

COVID in the Amazon (Photo/Tyler Hicks for New York Times)

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MoCA Westport and Up|Next Teens are partnering to present a Winter Lights Festival at MoCA. It’s set for this Saturday (February 27, noon to 6 p.m.).

The Festival features a maker and crafts space in a large outdoor tent, with supplies and step-by-step instructions for families to work together to create winter-themed decorations. The decorations will be incorporated into a walk-through Light Path, to be lit at sun down. The public can view the experience through the following weekend.

Also planned: live performances by high school musicians, food from The Melt truck, and hot cocoa.

The Festival includes free entry to MoCA ’s exhibition “Hindsight is 2020,” showcasing nearly 200 high school student artists from across the region.

Click here for tickets.

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The Fairfield County Directory — the “Yellow Pages” that is dumped in driveways and by mailboxes — will be distributed between February 25 and April 13.

The Selectmen’s Office says that residents with questions or concerns regarding the distribution of the directory should e-mail RealYPResolutions@thryv.com.

You may request directories or opt-out of future phone book deliveries by clicking here or here.

Let’s hope that works better than the national Do Not Call Registry.

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A group of swans is called a “flock” or a “wedge.”

Matt Murray spotted this flock/wedge — aka “a whole lot” — yesterday, at Sherwood Mill Pond.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … Today is the 41st anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice.” The US Olympic men’s hockey team came from behind to beat the overwhelmingly favored Soviet team 4-3, at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Al Michaels memorialized the moment on ABC: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!!!!”

That game was not, however, the final. Two days later the Americans clinched gold, with a win over Finland.

Westport connection: After a disappointing NHL career, goaltender Jim Craig worked for a marketing firm on Riverside Avenue.

Saugatuck Railroad Bridge: The Project No One Talks About

Everyone is talking about the William F. Cribari Bridge. It’s over 130 years old. Should it be renovated, or replaced?

No one is talking about the Saugatuck River railroad bridge. It’s 116 years old. It too is nearing the end of its useful life.

Metro-North railroad bridge, looking south toward Long Island Sound.

The Metro-North span is one of 8 movable train bridges in the state. If it is replaced by a fixed structure — a project that could cost $75 million — what will happen to businesses upriver, like marinas, that depend on it being opened?

And if it is unable to open, what does that mean for the equipment — tugboats, barges, piledrivers — needed to dredge the river?

Railroad bridge over the Saugatuck River. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Speaking of which: When will the river be dredged?

The last major work was done in the 1950s. Before and after, barges traveling to and from the Gault oil tanks (around the site of what is now Saugatuck Sweets) sometimes scraped the bottom of the river. Those barges, and tugboats accompanying them, helped maintain the river.

The Gault oil tanks on Riverside Avenue, between the Cribari Bridge (left) and the railroad bridge, were not environmentally healthy for the Saugatuck River. But barge and tugboat traffic helped prevent buildup of silt on the bottom.

First Selectwoman Diane Farrell turned down funding for a dredging project, more than 20 years ago. Since then, the addition of businesses like kayak rentals and the Saugatuck Rowing Club has spurred an increased demand for recreational opportunities.

There are signs near the Levitt Pavilion that the river is becoming unnavigable. If a navigable channel is dry at low tide, it will no longer be maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Saugatuck River is becoming unnavigable at times far south of the Pavilion. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

What will that do to the waterway that once drove commerce all the way from Saugatuck to downtown — and which figures prominently in plans for a revitalization of downtown, with ideas like docks and a floating restaurant?

The other day, the Army Corps took some river samples, tied to possible work on the railroad bridge. They’re likely to find contamination in the area of that span, and I-95. Decades of train travel, and cars and trucks driving on the nearby highway, must have had an impact on the river below.

The railroad and I-95 bridges. (Photo/Brandon Malin)

Westporters should consider — and be talking about — the futures of both the Saugatuck River from Long Island Sound up to the Post Road bridge, and the Saugatuck River railroad bridge near its mouth.

The Cribari Bridge is important. But its just one part of an entire marine and transportation ecosystem that impacts our entire town.

The Saugatuck River, near Rive Bistro (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Photo Challenge #320

Last week’s Photo Challenge’s honored Sigrid Schultz.

As the Chicago Tribune‘s Berlin bureau chief — the first female bureau chief of any major newspaper, anywhere — the pioneering reporter, social justice activist and longtime Westporter played a key role in exposing the growing Nazi threat during the lead-up to the war, and beyond.

A plaque memorializing her was unveiled last year, near her former residence. (Click here for the photo.) Where, the Challenge asked, was that?

The plaque is at Serena & Lily — the lifestyle store in the former Kemper Gunn House. It was moved across Elm Street in 2014, to make way for Bedford Square.

Schultz lived a bit behind the site of the present store, in what is now the Baldwin parking lot. Her home was demolished, to make way for cars.

Dick Lowenstein notes that in 2019 the RTM unanimously named the area “Sigrid Schultz Plaza,” though there is no signage to that effect.

Others who identified the site correctly were Fred Cantor, Linda V. Velez, Wendy Cusick, Wendy Schaefer and Judy Reid.

This week’s Photo Challenge is another plaque. It’s appropriate, because tomorrow is Presidents Day.

If you know where in Westport we honor our first president — and why there’s a Westport tie to him — click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

Hot News! Cold Fusion Gelato Shop Opens In May.

Cold Fusion is hot.

Westporters Eric and Kelly Emmert’s company makes and distributes gelato and sorbet — all by hand, with all-natural, locally sourced ingredients. Every item is kosher-certified.

You can find Cold Fusion at all the cool places on the East Coast (including Mystic Market and Rizzuto’s). There’s also a retail store in Newport, Rhode Island.

For years, fans have asked the Emmerts to open a place here.

Bingo!

Sometime in May, the former Main Street Papyrus store (next to Chase Bank) will become Cold Fusion Gelato. The lease was finalized today.

Like its Newport cousin, Cold Fusion will be a magnet for gelato lovers. There are 32 flavors, ranging (alphabetically) from amaretto almond to toffee crunch.

It will also serve sorbet (including vegan), coffee (cappuccino and espresso), snacks, shakes, smoothies and chocolates.

There will be café tables; a few seats in front, overlooking Main Street, and (pending permits) sidewalk seating too.

Eric and Kelly Emmert, and their gelato.

The Emmerts have been looking for downtown space for a while. They’re thrilled to be on Main Street, in such a key location. “The landlord is great,” Eric says. “We don’t have to charge $15 for ice cream.”

Eric knows his history. He’s excited to open just a few doors away from the original Ice Cream Parlor.

And he’s well aware that Westporters are eager for more mom-and-pop shops downtown.

Having raised 2 daughters here — and been involved with the community as youth coaches, Girl Scouts and other activities — the Emmerts are actually, honestly, truly a Westport “mom and pop.”

With the best gelato shop between here and Newport.

Cold Fusion Gelato will take over the old Papyrus space.

 

Snowy Super Bowl Sunday: Sunset Edition

Longshore run (Photo/Tom Kretsch)

Library Riverwalk (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

Slim pickings at Compo (Photo/Dina Upton)

Color from the yarn bomber, on Whitney Street (Photo/Molly Alger)

Highland Road (Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

Saugatuck Shores (Photo/Betty Lou Cummings)

And then there was light! (Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

Snow ends over Sherwood Mill Pond. (Photo/Matt Murray)

Bouffant on bronze girl statue near Compo Beach (Photo/Kristan Peters-Hamlin)

Burritt’s Creek (Photo/Richard Jaffe)

Beautiful sunset near Old Hill. (Photo/Anne Bernier)

In eastern Westport. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Tonight’s post-snow sunset over Gray’s Creek. (Photo/Clare Madden)

Pic Of The Day

Michael Chait saw first responders practicing for a cold water rescue along the Saugatuck River today.” He says, “In the midst of this pandemic they are out there preparing for the worst — to serve the public. Bravo to them.” (Photo/Michael Chait)

Pics Of The Day #1388

Gulls on the Saugatuck River …

… and one on a car (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Roundup: Loft Leaves, Charlie Capalbo, More

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New tenants are filling vacant Main Street storefronts. But last week, 2 other retailers quietly left.

LOFT and Lou & Grey closed their doors. They had separate entrances, but were connected inside.

Both companies are owned by Ascena Retail Group, which owns Ann Taylor too (another previous Main Street presence).

When Ascena filed for bankruptcy last summer, they said they would close 30 of their 666 LOFT stores and outlets, and 8 of their smaller Lou & Grey shops. Neither Westport store was on the original closing list. (Hat tip: Melissa Augeri)

(Photo courtesy of Our Town Crier)

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Charlie Capalbo — the 22-year-old former standout Fairfield Ludlowe High School hockey goalie, and grandson of Westport writer Ina Chadwick — has been through a lot.

He’s battled 2 deadly diseases: lymphoma and leukemia. But he’s been diagnosed again with leukemia. This fight will be his fiercest.

One of Charlie’s many friends suggests 3 ways to help:

Pray that Charlie’s family can endure what is to come, and that he can finally beat this monster. His family says that the love and prayers of many people helped them through the first two times.

Send supportive messages. These keep Charlie and his family going every day. There is a Facebook group (“Friends of Charlie Capalbo”). You can also email charlie@optimalservices.com, or leave voicemail at 203-293-8464.

Donate via GoFundMe. Years of illness have been financially devastating. Another long term stay in Boston is daunting.

In addition, friends and strangers locally and across the nation have been putting hockey sticks (and other sports equipment) by their front door. They’ve tagged it #sticksout, and posted photos on social media as another great show of support.

Charlie Capalbo (Photo/Dave Gunn)

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Sandra Stumberger, a longtime resident of Westport and Jupiter, Florida, died last week in Jupiter.

The New York City native and cum laude graduate of City College School of Business started a career in publishing. She moved to Rapid City, South Dakota in 1954 after marrying her college sweetheart, Raymond John Stumberger.

Sandy and Ray then settled in Westport. They raised 2 sons, eventually moving to the big yellow house across from the Compo Beach marina where they lived for 40 years.

Sandy worked as a teacher, travel consultant and financial assistant, but her main career was the loving care of her family.

She was active in the Westport Historical Society, which named a library in her honor. She and Ray visited Europe, especially Paris, many times. Always interested in art, fashion and beautiful objects of all kinds, Sandy was a devoted visitor to tag sales, had a keen eye for quality, and was always on the lookout for great finds.

She was predeceased by her her sister Carol Coller, and her eldest niece Leslie Coller. She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Raymond; sons Robert Stumberger and Douglas Stumberger (Julie Blakeslee); granddaughter Skye Stumberger, and numerous nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held in Florida.

Sandra Stumberger

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And finally … Hilton Valentine, the Animals’ guitarist whose hypnotic arpeggios helped make “House of the Rising Sun” a classic, died on Friday.

The British band paid homage to American blues — but for many years until his death, Valentine lived in Wallingford, Connecticut. He played with several local bands, and alongside area musicians like Charlie Karp.

Of course, that was not Valentine’s first connection with this area. In May 1966, the Animals played at Staples High School — the third of many big groups to perform here.

(Photo/Ellen Sandhaus from Mark Smollin’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”