Category Archives: Economy

Roundup: “Twelfth Night”, Stop & Shop Trees, Hillspoint House …

It’s easy to get audiences to see “Mamma Mia!,” “The Music Man” or “Guys and Dolls.”

It’s a lot harder for Shakespeare. Especially a play by The Bard that’s not “Romeo and Juliet” or “Macbeth.”

But Staples Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long rolled the dice.

“Twelfth Night” came up huge.

The show — the high school troupe’s spring production — is not what you would have seen at the Globe Theater.

In fact, this production comes from the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the (Central) Park.

It’s a rocking, rollicking modern-ish musical, with music and lyrics by Shaina Taub.

The singing, dancing, pit and set are — as audiences have come to expect from Staples Players — near-Broadway quality.

There’s just the right amount of Shakespeare. There’s even a cheat-sheet synopsis in the program, telling you exactly what happens.

“Twelfth Night” was a gamble. Players relies on ticket sales to fund future productions.

Fortunately, the audience was near capacity last weekend.

Judging by their reactions — laughing, clapping, and a well-deserved standing ovation — there won’t be any empty seats this Friday (March 24, 7:30 p.m.) or Saturday (March 25, 3 and 7:30 p.m.).

So act fast. Click here to get yours.

Quinn Mulvey as Viola. (Photo/Kerry Long)


Just like the swallows of Capistrano, an osprey of Westport have returned.

Carolyn Doan reports that one of our town’s favorite raptors has returned from the south, to its perch near the Fresh Market parking lot.

“It most likely wintered in South America or Florida,” she notes. “This is probably the male, who usually returns first. The pair winter separately but meet back here every March.

“He’s a few days early this year, and is already sprucing up the nest. The female should join him soon.”

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)


Speaking of nature: “06880” has reported on the still-up-in-the-air fate of 2 cherry blossoms in front of Sakura.

What’s clear is that many other trees will definitely be removed — including those in the grassy Post Road median — between New Country Toyota and Volvo of Westport.

It’s part of a Route 1 improvement plan, in the works by the state Department of Transportation for nearly a decade.

The Post Road/Bulkley Avenue intersection is also in for some much-needed realignment.

Which means that some sycamore trees will come down there, too.

They’ve already been tagged for removal.

Red ribbons mean “removal,” in front of Stop & Shop. (Photo and hat tip/Debra McKinney)


It’s hard to tell from this photo, but Matt Murray saw at least one worker inside 233 Hillspoint Road — aka the former Positano/the current eyesore — yesterday.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

He lives nearby. It’s the first time he’s seen anyone doing anything there since a stop-work order was issued in December 2019, due to building permit violations.

A new home — minus the blue swaddling — is on the market for $7.9 million.


High school students can do advanced trigonometry. But they’ve never been taught to balance a checkbook.

Tom Henske will change that.

This Sunday (March 26, 2 p.m.), the Westport resident and financial industry leader brings his Total Cents program to the Westport Library for a talk, and panel discussion with fellow experts. It’s called “Raising Financially Savvy Kids.”

The goal: to help parents, grandparents and guardians get comfortable teaching their kids about money.

“Everyone sees the clear value and importance of developing good financial habits in our children,” Henske says. “It’s time for parents to take ownership of this part of their child’s development.”

He hopes that Westport becomes “the epicenter for teaching parents how to talk to their kids about money.”

Joining Henske are Caroline Barneyauthor, inspirational speaker, and parent of two Staples High School students; John Lanza, author of “The Art of Allowance” and an expert of youth financial literacy, and Kathy Soderholm, former Wilton High School personal finance teacher and founder of The Good Bookkeeper, specializing in nonprofit organizations.

Henske’s efforts with Total Cents include a book, “It Makes Total Cents: 12 Conversations to Change Your Child’s Financial Future,” and a podcast he developed in collaboration with the Library.

Tom Henske (center) and “It Makes Total Cents” panelists.


The Westport Library, Part II:

They host many non-book events: concerts, art exhibits, even the Fashionably Westport runway show.

This one though is right down the literary alley.

Westport Writers’ Workshop’s 2nd annual Pitch & Publish Conference is set for May 20 (in-person and virtual).

It’s a chance for anyone seeking an agent, looking to learn about the industry, or hoping to meet and be inspired by authors and editors. The event includes panels, and one-on-one pitches.

Keynote speaker Courtney Maum has written 5 books, among them “Year of the Horses,” the groundbreaking publishing guide “Before and After the Book Deal,” and “Touch.”

The conference also features a welcome party May 19 at the Westport Writers’ Workshop on Sylvan Road South, a light breakfast, and a wrap party.

Individual tickets for the conference only are $350 each. Tickets for the conference, plus 2 one-on-one pitches with literary agents, are $600 (early bird discount before April 1), $675 each thereafter. Click here to register, and for more information.

Liz Matthews and Julie Sarkissian of Westport Writers’ Workshop help organize the Pitch & Publish Conference. (Photo/Elizabeth Foley)


Over 80 students attended yesterday’s “Town Hall” meeting with Congressman Jim Himes at Staples High School.

He fielded questions about a range of topics, including the economy, inflation and banking; China and foreign policy threats; climate change; his experience inside the Capitol on January 6, and his optimism for bipartisan legislation and compromise in the 118th Congress.

Congressman Jim Himes, at the Staples Library.


Pianist Ted Rosenthal headlines this Thursday’s Jazz at the Post (March 23; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.; VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399).

He has performed worldwide as soloist, with his trio, and with greats like Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Phil Woods and James Moody.

Rosenthal has released 15 CDs. His latest reached #1 on iTunes and Amazon. He has has soloed with major orchestras, and is on the faculties of the Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music.

He’ll be joined Thursday by bassist Martin Wind, drummer Tim Horner and saxophonist Greg Wall.

Reservations are highly recommended:


Longtime Westport teacher Jane Fraser died peacefully in her home March 1, with her family by her side. She had just celebrated her 95th birthday.

The Illinois native began her 25-year education career In Westport in 1967. She taught at Burr Farms Elementary School until it closed, and then transferred to Greens Farms Elementary.

In the early 1980s she became the district’s K-6 literacy staff developer. During that time Jane was connected with the Writing Project, Teachers College, Columbia University. She presented workshops for teachers throughout the Northeast, and at national professional conferences.

She returned to the classroom to teach 2nd grade at Coleytown Elementary School for 5 years, before retiring in 1992.

In 1994 Jane co-authored “On Their Way… Celebrating Second Graders as They Read and Write.”

Her family says, “She enjoyed her family, chocolate, and being at the beach (in that order). She had an adventurous spirit, both intellectually and physically. She was not afraid to travel a unique path. She was always good company, with interests that stretched from classical music to books to teaching to hiking and gardening.”

Jane’s husband Julius died in 2010. She is survived by her daughters Carol and Ann, stepson Tom, brother Peter and their spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Contributions in Jane’s memory may be made to Planned Parenthood or the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Jane Fraser


Yesterday was the first day of spring.

The weather was still late-winter-ish. But soon the wind will die down. The weather will warm up. And all will be right with the world.

In the meantime, enjoy today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo. It’s from Becky Keeler, taken from her deck across from the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

(Photo/Becky Keeler)


And finally … in honor of Tom Henske’s upcoming “It Makes Total Cents” financial literacy program for children and teenagers, at the Westport Library (story above):

(We couldn’t have said it better ourselves: Money does change everything. Including how well “06880” can operate. Please click here to help support our work. Thank you!)

To Westport, From A Flyover State

Mike Joseph graduated from Staples High School in 1971. Life has taken him far from Westport.

He still feels connected to his hometown. But naturally, his perspective has changed. He writes:

A regular reader of “06880,” I love keeping up with the ins, outs and general machinations of life back in Westport.

Like so many kids who grew up there in the ’60s, I took off for college and never looked back. Other than several close childhood friends still surviving the town’s urbanization, the ties that bind have grown decidedly tenuous.

Mike Joseph

Of course I’d love to return to Westport for all the reasons you know and love, but, um, there’s the affordability factor. It’s out of bounds for anyone calibrated to reality from out in America.

I’m now tuned for the Midwest. I live on Kansas City’s Kansas side in a very Fairfield County-like suburb, not in pot-legal but personal freedom-denied Missouri.

Our enlightened purple county is separate from the rest of the traditionally red- as-a-ruby state, with a Democratic gay American Indian congresswoman. But to my coastal friends, I’m sequestered in a flyover state.

I bought my first house here in the ‘90s — a nice little 1,500-square foot, 3 bedroom ranch – for $78,500. Really.

That was after living on an 11-acre property in a big modern farmhouse with a barn, stable, 4-car garage and a dock on a Michigan river: $120,000. Mid-America is affordable.

My current custom 5,000-square foot cedar and stone ranch was in the $200s. It’s now inflated to $450,000 – and I fight the appraisal every year.  That noted, my Southern California realtor friend says it would sell for $5 million-plus there today.

Mike Joseph’s house: $450,000 in the Midwest. In Westport …?

What was once a narrow 2-lane gravel road is not isolated anymore. I’m 8 minutes from the I-435 ring road, and 20 from downtown KC. Rush hour traffic moves at 70 with no delays.

The freeways are empty on weekends; we’re very spread out, an hour’s drive from corner to corner. My sailboat is 30 minutes away. Life’s tough.

The bad news? Sadly, developers have gotten as thick as Wisconsin mosquitos, squeezing in houses – or multi-family residential units — on every piece of former grazing land they can extort. New rooftops now stretch to the (flat) horizon.

Some NIMBY and last-one-in-close-the-door goes on, but my lovely fellow Midwesterners are often too polite to fight it. Of course I stand out, as you’d expect from any New York City media-exposed East Coaster. There’s that.

Kansas City is smack in the middle of the country.

So I begrudgingly portend that my peaceful country living is slowly eroding. Blame the mass exodus away from the corners and into the middle, instigated by ever-declining coastal weather conditions and the pandemic, the isolation migration driver.

Our red state pols of course TIF the corporations before they fund Medicaid, continuing to wave the trickle-down flag. But even that’s changing … ever so slowly.

More good? We have over 20 excellent restaurants within a 10-minute drive, half ethnic, with 5 mega-sized full-service grocery stores just as close. No, they still don’t sell alcohol; we were a dry state when I moved here, and you couldn’t use credit cards for liquor until recently, so… improvement?

In my quiet and hidden 38-home HOA (with its $45 annual fee), we have forests and nature; our backyard is a deer thruway to the big county park across the road. I can’t see any neighbors in the summer. We’re gifted with dozens of miles of creek-side bicycle trails.

Of course, there’s the obvious huge plus: cost of living. That’s the big one. We have incomes that match yours, but the COL is one-third. Cheap gas all year long, lower insurance rates, food prices that never really went up. No egg shortages either.

But property taxes are climbing fast. It’s the pressure of compression, with high population influx and behind-the-curve housing options even with the explosive build rate. 10 to 15% property increases are now the norm.

That’s still cheap compared to California, New York or Connecticut, but a shocking dose of join-the-world-reality for aging residents used to paying $2,500 for their large $300,000 homes. We’re funding infrastructure that the developers need. (I can smell the back-room stogies from here…).

It’s a good place to live with some of the best public schools in the country, mild winters, and all the perks of cultured urbanity — a world-class symphony, a new $2 billion dollar airport terminal, large convention and performance centers, art galleries, museums, vibrant jazz clubs, and a rabid sporting fan base.

From historic Union Station (foreground) to music, art and food, there’s a lot going on in Kansas City.

Let’s not forget BBQ, of course. I’ll also mention the 3 digital comm service providers hooked up to the house, 2 via direct fiber optic. I’m probably more wired than 95% of America. No pun.

With climate confusion, the tornadoes have even moved elsewhere. Dorothy has left the building, and Toto rides around in a Platinum Land Rover these days. Is that good? Just checking…

It seems our little oasis out in the prairie has been discovered. Existentially, many feel like they’re drowning in rabid development, with increasing home values and bipolar political agita. We ain’t so red anymore, with the inclusive influx of different ideologic colors and flavors.

What’s the psychological temp here? Pretty damn good. Change is happening, but it’s only relative; we’re still well differentiated from the coasts. Importantly for us aging juveniles, we’re retiring with all the benefits of a good life while keeping our fiscal heads above water. Big plus.

So, greetings from a flyover state. It’s probably not what you’ve been hearing. In fact, it’s not so bad out here at all.

I do miss salt water, though …

[OPINION] “Tone Deaf Missteps” Lead To Westport’s 3rd Rail

Dr. Jay Walshon is a 38-year resident of Westport. He spends plenty of time at Compo Beach — and, recently, has watched hours of coverage of debates over parking fees. He writes:

Last month, Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission reduced the non-resident beach emblem price from $775 to $545.

Member Chris O’Keeffe said, “It’s really important we share the history of this.”  I agree.

In the summer of 2017, residents complained about deplorable Compo Beach neglect — uncleanliness, disrepair, litter — plus overcrowding, parking, disorderly conduct and disregard of rules. They ascribed these problems to the increasing number of non-residents at Compo.


Lines of cars waiting to enter Compo. Sure, this was taken the day of the fireworks — but a few years ago, lines like this could be seen on weekends too.

In addition to logistical and operational recommendations, these residents wanted daily and non-resident emblem fees increased, the number issued decreased, visitor revenue captured, and the number of non-paying “drop-offs” addressed.

The Parks & Rec Commission designated a daily parking area, and increased staff, trash collections and weekend and holiday restroom cleaning.

They also considered “relocating the entry booth, daily pass sales, signage, events, traffic, rules and regulations, and police presence and enforcement.”

Lowering the number of beachgoers by decreasing non-resident emblems and daily passes, and increasing fees to offset revenue, became a primary consideration.

To avoid anecdotally based decisions, Parks & Recreation director Jen Fava was tasked to recruit college students to gather objective data. This never occurred.

Representative Town Meeting member Carla Rea asked how much of Compo Beach’s $2 million revenue was budgeted for maintenance. Ms. Fava did not have an answer.

RTMer Sal Liccione asked how many personnel were dedicated to maintaining Compo during summer. She did not have that information available.

Trash pickup was a concern several years ago.

Ms. Fava estimated that grievance rectification would cost $200,000. To recoup revenue, the Parks & Rec Commission raised resident parking emblems by $10 to $50, and Weston by $125 to $375. The number of non-resident emblems was lowered from 600 to 350; daily passes were capped at 100.

Equating it to a “seasonal Vermont ski lift ticket,” Ms. Fava increased non-resident emblems from $490 to $775.

John Suggs warned: “raising prices that could exclude non-Westporters is bad policy.”

Michael Calise declared that $775 “unreasonably punishes non-residents.” Because Compo revenue exceeded $1.5 million, he requested a justifying accounting of revenues and expenses. Ms. Fava could not provide this.

Residents said:

  • “Hopefully the increased fees and decreased non-residents will result in fewer people at the beach.”
  • “$775 is steep but the right direction, because it’s still a great deal.”
  • “This is a town beach; you need to think about the residents before you think about people from out of town.”

Among the Parks & Rec comments:

  • “Reasonable step to decrease overcrowding; right approach.”
  • “We need to focus on the property taxpayers here that are paying for the beach.”
  • “This shouldn’t offend anyone.”
  • “This is the fairest way to assess them.”
  • “Non-residents should pay their ‘fair share.'”
  •  “This is going to work out very well.”

It didn’t.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

Ms. Fava’s outrageously insensitive $775 ski-lift equivalency, and targeting non-resident utilization via parking price and quotas, reverberated into the state legislature.

House Bill 6650 — introduced recently — says:

No municipality shall: (1) prohibit nonresidents…from entering or using a…municipal beach…or a municipal facility associated with such beach, unless such prohibition applies to residents of such municipality; or (2) impose on non-residents a fee for such entrance or use, or parking associated with such entrance or use, that is greater than twice the amount of any fee charged to residents for the same purpose.

In other words: If residents pay $60, a town can’t charge non-residents more than $120. Prohibiting non-resident drop-offs would mean prohibiting residents too).

Describing $775 as “unacceptable,” the Parks & Rec Commission reduced it to $545, increased the number to 450, and raised the number of daily passes to 120. Even $545 is still far higher than any other area town.

Ms. Fava explained she was “now looking at things through a little bit of a new lens in terms of where the current climate is … because we went from $490 and skyrocketed to $775, way out of alignment with other waterfront communities … really doesn’t reflect our accessibility goals we want to have to let people come in and use our facilities.”

She defended the 2018-2022 $775 price, declaring “it was a very different climate.”

For decades, beach fees and accessibility barriers have been under the discrimination microscope. The only “climate difference” is HB6650, and the state’s perception of our exclusionary attitude and treatment of non-residents – our third rail.

Compo Beach (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

We shouldn’t wait for legislative imposition before re-addressing beach access structures. “Over-crowding” and “equitability” warrant clarification.  Metrics providing data on cost and problem intensity/frequency should replace anecdotes.

Compo’s revenue and expenses must become transparent.

The Parks & Recreation Department’s “Beach/Pool Operating Analysis 2019-2020” showed revenues of $1,820,995 (pool $15,429), and expenses of $498,720. The result: a $1,322,275 surplus.

Non-resident 2018 revenue was $519,800 (including Weston, it’s over $750,000.

RTM member Chris Tait said, “What we did wasn’t well received in the state. A lot of articles were written about us being outdated and alienating people to not go to our beaches.

“It didn’t look good, and gave fuel to the fire of people in Hartford who may not like what we do in Westport. What we did didn’t help us as a community.  Bringing this back down is a way of acknowledging that, saying we are open to people from out of town.  We are not exclusive.”

The manner in which issues were framed in 2017/18 exposed subliminal entanglements of entitlement, elitism and privilege, leading in part to HB6650.

Ms. Fava’s focus remains the false narrative that “things are different now,” the “optics” of being perceived as an elitist, privileged, exclusionary community – and above all, the fear of Hartford.

Instead of targeting non-residents, effective management and rules enforcement are the key objectives. But this requires leadership that doesn’t equate Compo to a Vermont ski resort.

These tone-deaf missteps needlessly blemished our community. It was avoidable.

(“06880” covers the waterfront — and much more. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Budget Season Begins: Town, Education Proposals Presented

The Board of Finance got its first look at the proposed town and education budgets last night.

The total request for the 2023-24 fiscal year, from 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein and superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice. is $233,487,842. That’s up 4.39% from the current year.

Education comprises 63% of the total town budget. The bulk of that $136 million — 64% — goes for salaries. Benefits comprise another 15%.

Other costs include purchased services (11.3%), property services (5.9%), supplies (2.1%), equipment (0.6%) and other (0.5%).

Click here for the proposed Board of Education budget.

In the $81,932,340 town budget, the largest costs are public safety (30%) and pension, other post-employment benefits and insurance (25%).

The rest of the funds go to Public Works (16%), Parks & Recreation (10%), general government (9%), debt service (6%) and other uses, like the Westport Library, Westport Transit District, Earthplace and Aspetuck Health District (2%).

Where our money goes …

Westport’s total debt is now $100 million. It is projected to rise to $350 million by 2031, then begin to decline.

Tooker’s budget packet includes a mill rate comparison with area towns. Westport’s mill rate of 18.07 is higher than Greenwich (11.28) and Darien (17.23), but below New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Fairfield, Wilton and Ridgefield. Weston had the highest area mill rate: 32.97.

Click here to see the total recommended town budget.

Next steps include public hearings, Board of Finance votes, and final approval by the Representative Town Meeting. (Hat tip: Nancy Kail)

… and the town operations (non-education) portion of it.

(How’s this for a personal budget idea: Please set aside something to support “06880.” Click here — and thank you!)

Unsung Heroes #277

It’s March!

And while to you that may mean college basketball Madness, a few last ski runs or putting off doing taxes, for a few dozen Westporters it means something else.

It’s budget season.

Departments, offices, boards, commissions, committees and agencies big (Education, Public Works, Police, Fire, Parks & Rec) and small (Transit District, Tree Board) have submitted requests for the next fiscal year.

They’ve spent months preparing numbers. Now they must justify them.

Over the next several weeks, members of the Board of Finance will analyze each budget thoroughly. They go line by line, dollar by dollar. They ask questions, large and small. They’re respectful, but firm.

One look at the 2021 town budget …

Sometimes they vote to accept a budget as submitted. Sometimes they cut. They have never — as far as I know — said to any department head, “Hey, you deserve more!”

Then the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) wades in. They’ve got their own questions, and they’re not shy about asking them.

It’s tough, tedious, mind-numbing work. But someone has to do it. I’m glad it’s not me.

… and another. 

I’m not sure anyone has ever thanked our Board of Finance and RTM for the job they do every spring.

It’s part of their job, sure. They knew it was coming, when they ran for office.

But today, “06880” thanks those few dozen men and women for spending all those hours poring over spreadsheets, and all those evenings holding meetings and weighing options.

And the next time you look at your tax bill — especially as you compare it to friends and relatives elsewhere in the tri-state area — you should thank them too.

Roundup: Lynsey Addario’s Ukraine, Mrs. London’s Credit Cards …

Yesterday’s New York Times featured a Page 1, top-of-the-fold story about a female Ukrainian soldier. It begins:

Just over a year ago, Yulia Bondarenko’s days were full of lesson plans, grading and her students’ seventh-grade hormones.

When Russian missiles shattered that routine and Russian troops threatened her home in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, Ms. Bondarenko, 30, volunteered to fight back, despite her lack of experience, the grave risk to her life and Ukraine’s apparently impossible odds.

“I never held a rifle in my hands and never even saw one up close,” Ms. Bondarenko said. “In the first two weeks, I felt like I was in a fog. It was just a constant nightmare.”

The harrowing text is accompanied by Lynsey Addario’s haunting photos. The 1991 Staples High School graduate — a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur fellowship grant winner — made 5 trips to Ukraine last year.

She followed Bondarenko’s journey on four4 of them, reporting from the Kyiv, Kharkiv and Cherkasy regions.

Click here for the full story, and Lynsey’s powerful photographs.

Yulia Bondarenko learns how to use a rifle. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)


Alert “06880” reader Gil Ghitelman is a fan of Mrs. London’s Bakery — to a limit. He writes:

“Mrs. London’s is a welcome addition to the Westport dining experience. While I miss the vibe engendered by Java at the same Church Lane location several years ago, their pastries, albeit pricey, are quite delicious.

“What I find disturbing is their 3.5% surcharge for credit card use. The only outfits (other than gas stations) that I’m aware of using this ploy are online gun dealers.

“Mrs. London’s is only shooting itself in the foot if they continue this practice.”


Longtime Westporter Phyllis Makovsky died in her home, surrounded by her family, following an inspiring fight against leukemia. She was 80 years old.

The Queens native graduated from Barnard College with honors, and earned a master’s degree in teaching from Harvard University.

She was passionate in the classroom. She taught advanced math at the Brearley School in Manhattan and Great Neck South High School on Long Island, before turning her skills and compassion to her family, and through prominent roles in the community.

In 1972 Phyllis met Kenneth Makovsky. They married within months, and shared a partnership of 50 years. The couple enabled each other’s successes in business, at home and in their social and philanthropic lives. She served as a crucial strategic advisor to Ken as he built the public relations agency Makovsky & Company.

Phyllis was a doer. Her work came in many forms. She served Temple Israel as a board member for 10 years. She established a scholarship at Washington University in St. Louis dedicated to music. After her second diagnosis with breast cancer, she returned to Norwalk Hospital as a volunteer in the chemo-infusion center. She spent 20 years there — and returned to the same room for her final leukemia treatments. She was greeted with big hugs.

Phyllis used her talents as a teacher, and her combination of grace, grit and empathy, to make sure that her family could shine. As a friend and a sister she did the same. Phyllis was present, kind and insightful, and her love and good energy was returned to her by many.

Phyllis is survived by her husband Kenneth, sons Matt and Evan, and brother Stephen.

Funeral services will be held tomorrow (Tuesday, February 21, 1 p.m., Temple Israel). Burial will follow at 225 Richards Ave in Norwalk. Shiva will be observed at her Westport home tomorrow (Tuesday, February 21, post-service until 8 p.m.), and Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m..

To livestream the funeral service, please click here. Go to the YouTube page; it will be the first “live” video listing for the day. To share a condolence message, click here. Memorial contributions may be made to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

(Phyllis Makovsky was the subject of a song written by her son Matt. Click here for that story, posted last Friday on “06880.”)

Phyllis Makovsky


We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: There’s nature all over Westport, including the heart of downtown.

Claudia Sherwood Servidio captured this “Westport … Naturally” scene, just a few feet from the Parker Harding Plaza pavement.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)


And finally … speaking of Mrs. London’s pie’s: Does she know Mrs. Wagner?

(“06880” is “where Westport meets the world (including America).” Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

$80, 80 Years

$80. 80 days. 80 years.

Those are the numbers Staples Tuition Grants want you to know.

And act on.

Since its founding in 1943 — 80 years ago — the non-profit has helped thousands of graduates with financial need achieve their dreams of higher education.

There was one grant that first wartime year: $100. David Hughes leveraged the important aid to earn a bachelor’s degree from Harvard. He added a master’s, Ph.D. — and stayed on, as a professor of music.

David Hughes’ writeup in the 1943 Staples yearbook.

Last year, STG provided 4,000 times that amount — $400,000 — to 108 graduating seniors, and Staples alums already in college. Grants ranged from $7,500 to $1,500.

The money did not fall from the sky. It came from nearly 700 individuals, families and organizations. They contributed to over 80 named awards, and to Staples Tuition Grants’ general fund.

Now there’s a new one: the 80th Anniversary Community Award.

It’s accepting donations for just 80 days — from last Thursday through April 30. Contributions can be made in increments of $80: $80, $160, $320, $800, $8,000 — whatever feels right.

Donations can honor a teacher, coach, administrator, student, loved one, friend — or, say, the entire graduating class of 2023. “In honor” donations will be recognized at this year’s award ceremony.

The $100 awarded to David Hughes in 1943 went a long way. Harvard’s undergraduate tuition in the ’40s was about $400.

This year, tuition alone is $52,569. Add room, board, other fees and more, and you’re talking real money.

In-state tuition at the University of Connecticut is $18,524 — without room, board and other expenses.

Many Westporters can afford the full boat. Many more can’t.

Staples Tuition Grants honorees gathered in 2021. (Photo/Pamela Einarsen)

But — whether you have children of college age or not; whether you graduated from Staples, or college, or not — think in terms of $80 increments.

Staples Tuition Grants hopes many Westporters, and former residents, do.

If so, then in 80 days from now, a number of worthy graduates will be a bit closer to a college education.

It’s something that could serve them well, for their next 80 years.

To donate to the 80th Anniversary Community Award, click here. For the Staples Tuition Grants home page, click here. To read the backgrounds and biographies of the 80-plus named awards, click here.

After the 2018 Staples Tuition Grants ceremony, pediatrician Dr. Albert Beasley and his wife (3rd and 4th from left) posed with 4 former patients (from left): Nicole Greenberg Donovan, Dan Woog, Dan Donovan and Lynn Untermeyer Miller. Dr. Beasley has since died, but his named award lives on. (Photo/Paddy Donovan)

Westport’s Grand List Lives Up To Its Name

The Grant List is official.

According to town assessor Paul Friia, the net 2022 Grand List of $11,312,004,303 represents an increase of approximately 1.9 percent from the 2021 valuation.

The Grand List is the sum of the net assessed value of all taxable property – real estate, motor vehicles and personal property. Motor vehicles and personal property are valued annually. Real estate is updated based on the market values determined as of the town’s last revaluation date (October 1, 2020).

Homes like this one near Compo Beach — which sold for $11.4 million — keep Westport’s Grand List high.

All 3 categories showed increases.

The 1.4 percent increase in real estate assessment results from continued residential and commercial new construction, plus renovation activity.

Construction continues on 32 condominiums at 41 Richmondville Avenue, and 12 at 60 Wilton Road.

In addition, improvements to buildings on Main Street and the construction of approximately 66 new homes contributed to the increases in the 2022 real estate Grand List.

Personal Property increased approximately 14 percent, suggesting a reinvestment in local new and existing businesses to include equipment and leasehold improvements.

Motor Vehicles increased a total of 4.7 percent. Although less of an increase than the previous year, Friia says it reflects a return to a more typical market.

The current adjusted 2022 Grand List totals are:

Assessment 2022 % of List
Real Estate 10,447,786,476 92.36
Motor Vehicle 486,524,740 4.30
Personal Property 377,693,087 3.34
TOTAL 11,312,004,303 100%


Friia also announced the Top 10 taxpayers in Westport:

 Connecticut Light & Power Inc          Pers. Property                         141,398,240

60 Nyala Farms Road LLC                Real Estate                                83,335,700

Bedford Square Assoc LLC               Real Estate                                51,520,000

Aquarion                                             Real/Pers. Prop.                        34,668,193

Equity One Westport Vill. Center      Real Estate                                32,310,568

Bridgewater Associates LP                Pers. Property                           25,676,660

Byelas LLC                                        Real Estate                                24,856,700

LCB Westport LLC                            Real/Pers. Prop.                        22,302,600

1735 Ashley LLC                               Real Estate                                20,310,660

Westport Riverside Assoc LLC          Real Estate                                19,470,500

Southern Connecticut Gas Co            Pers. Property                           19,077,130

The Nyala Farms office complex — which includes Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund — is Westport’s 2nd highest taxpayer.


Roundup: Grand List, Nomade, Antarctica …

How grand is the Grand List?

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker discusses that important financial document — what it is, how it’s grown, how it helps fund town services, and what it all means to residents — on the latest “Westport … What’s Happening?” podcast.

Click below to listen. The series is sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.


Connecticut Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants” list is out.

And the statewide winner — in the “Readers’ Choice” poll — is Nômade.

The Main Street spot with the international menu did not make the “Experts’ Picks” list.

But what do they know?

Click here for the full poll.



Just in time for the Super Bowl, the Westport Police Department and Westport Sunrise Rotary Club are sponsoring a “Souper Bowl of Caring” food drive. All donations support Homes with Hope, and Westport’s Department of Human Services food pantries.

Non-perishable foods can be brought to Stop & Shop this Saturday (February 11, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Can’t make it then? Hammer & Nails — the new men’s grooming lounge at 606 Post Road East — is accepting food donations all week long.


Westporters love to travel. Some have climbed Mount Everest; many roam far and wide. But visiting all 7 continents is still quite rare.

Last month, 3 Westporters completed their quest to visit all 7 continents.

Rick and Totney Benson, and Mark Mathias, visited both South America and Antarctica, qualifying us for membership in the 7 Continent Club.

Mathias was with his wife Kim. That’s her 6th continent; she’s missing only Australia.

They were with one group. Meanwhile, the Bensons traveled with Wilton-based Tauck Tours.

They found out about each other when the Bensons arrived in Buenos Aires, and saw Mathias’ name on a card from someone picking them up at the airport.

It’s a small world indeed. But, as Stephen Wright said, I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.

Rick and Totney Benson in Antarctica …

… and Mark and Kim Mathias, with friends.


And — because “06880” truly is “Where Westport meets the world” — here is another local story from Antarctica. Bill Kutik writes:

“I love adventure travel. I just rode an expedition ship from the southern tip of South America, hugging the coast of Antarctica, and finishing near the southern tip of New Zealand.

“It took 30 days to get from the Western Hemisphere to the Eastern Hemisphere under the bottom of the earth. Despite being upside down the whole time, we didn’t fall off once!

“An intrepid hiker (and founding editor of Backpacker magazine in 1972), I had to tour New Zealand’s famous mountains used in the movies Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Power of the Dog.’ Here’s a photo of me from Fiordland National Park on the southwest coast (fresh from the helicopter).

Bill Kutik above Doubtful Bay.

“But my heart was captured by this eager, welcoming sign outside Westport, New Zealand. It’s a former port town — just like us.”

Bill Kutik in Westport — New Zealand.


Expanding our horizons even beyond Antarctica: “Our galaxy was a quasar.”

That’s the topic for the next Westport Astronomical Society lecture. This one — with Professor Joshua Tan of LaGuardia Community College — is live, in the WAS classroom (February 21, 8 p.m.).

This will be Tan’s third appearance at the Astronomical Society. An optical astronomer, he studies short-period binary millisecond pulsars, open problems in binary modeling, neutron star physics, and 3-body dynamics.

Joshua Tan


Each year, Westport middle and high school students rock the National History Day competition.

They do it thanks to beyond-the-call help from their teachers — and extra attention from community members, who help students through the research and writing process.

Dr. Lauren Francese, townwide social studies coordinator, invites community members to help in a new capacity this year: as judges in the Fairfield County regional competition (Saturday, March 18, Sacred Heart University).

Judges do not need to be history or education experts. What’s needed is engaged, empathetic feedback to students on their papers, websites, museum exhibits, performances, and documentaries). Training is provided to all volunteers the morning of the event.

Click here to sign up as a judge. Questions? Email

The Bedford Middle School National History Day team, at the 2018 national competition.


Hey! It’s Henry Hey!

The keyboardist — who has toured and recorded with David Bowie, George Michael and Rod Stewart, and served as musical director for Kennedy Center extravaganzas — headlines this Thursday’s Jazz at the Post (February 9, VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.; $15 cover).

Hey will be joined by Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall, Dave Richards and Jason Tiemann. Reservations are highly recommended:

Henry Hey


After 2 weeks, bagels are still sitting on High Gate Road.

Chris Grimm reports on the scene, off Maple Avenue South: “The 2 piles have been joined by a smaller, breakaway third pile, to the left, while a few to the far left seem to be trying to flee. Behind the larger pile to the right seem to be a large number of casualties.”

(Photo/Chris Grimm)


A full moon brings out a full complement of “06880” photographers.

This one was captured by Rick Leonard, on Wright Street. Naturally, it’s today’s “Westport … Naturally” image.

(Photo/Rick Leonard)


And finally … in honor of Mark and Kim Mathias, Rick and Totney Benson, Bill Kutik, and anyone else who has traveled the world (see stories above):

(From Connecticut to New Zealand, “06880” is where Westport meets the world. Please click here, to continue helping us do all that we do. Thank you!) 


“06880” Podcast: Matthew Mandell

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce is unlike any other Chamber, anywhere.

Instead of lobbying for business interests, it organizes on-the-ground events to actually help businesses succeed. The Slice of Saugatuck, Dog Festival, Supper & Soul concerts, Pizza and Hamburger Contests — they’re all Westport Chamber efforts.

And they’re all spearheaded by executive director Matthew Mandell. The other day, I chatted with him at the Westport Library for an “06880” podcast.

His route to the job was intriguing. His work for the Chamber (and the Representative Town Meeting, where he represents District 1) is fascinating. And his insights into this town — its retailers and restaurants, its politics, and what makes it tick — are delivered clearly and strongly.

Click below to view.