Category Archives: Environment

“Save Cockenoe Now” Posters: The Sequel

Yesterday’s post about the “Save Cockenoe Now” posters at Walter and Naiad Einsel’s estate sale reminded readers of a past political battle: When Westporters saved Cockenoe Island from becoming the site of a nuclear power plant.

Everyone who was here then also remembers the Einsels’ iconic artwork.

But alert “06880” reader Jeff Manchester went over to the sale, and found other posters that never gained that cult-status attention. It’s kind of like finding unreleased Beatles tapes, nearly 50 years later.

Here, in all their late-’60s, trippy glory, are 3 of those “unreleased” posters. I particularly like the “Fishin’, Not Fission'” one.

Thankfully — with a big boost from the Einsels — we’re here today to tell that tale.

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cockenoe-poster-4-einsel

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Save Cockenoe: Then And Now

Last month, “06880” previewed Walter and Naiad Einsel’s estate sale. I don’t usually promote that stuff — but the longtime local artists’ Victorian farmhouse was filled with thousands of pieces of folk art, antiques, paintings, prints and advertising items. It seemed like a great Westport tale.

Andrew Bentley was one of the many art lovers who was there. He says it was “more like a folk art museum than a house.”

Andrew wandered past mechanical toys, kinetic sculptures and books of illustrations, on into Naiad’s studio. Magic markers, colored pencils and scissors were all in place, as if she had gone downstairs for coffee.

Thumbing through a stack of posters, he spotted a large envelope. Inside was a shimmer of gold and bronze. Removing it, he discovered a beautiful metallic silk-screened “Save Cockenoe Now” poster.

save-cockenoe-now-poster

Bentley knew it was from the late 1960s, when Westporters opposed a plan to build a nuclear power plant on the island just a mile off Compo Beach. (Click here for that full, crazy story.)

But he’d only seen a black-and-white thumbnail-sized image of the poster, in Woody Klein’s book on the history of Westport.

Suddenly, he held an original. After nearly 50 years, he says, “the colors were still electric.”

Andrew turned to the stranger beside him. He explained that the poster represented a perfect confluence of Westport’s artistic heritage, revolutionary spirit and environmental priorities.

Then, in another Westport tradition, he gathered up as many posters as he could find, negotiated a bulk discount, and made a list of friends in town who deserved a gift.

In 1967, Westporters saved Cockenoe.

In 2016, Andrew saved its posters.

Both stories are worth telling.

(PS: Andrew Bentley designed the logo for The Flat — the new Railroad Place spot that mixes design, art and objects with contemporary lighting, accessories and jewelry. Owner Becky Goss has a few framed Save Cockenoe Now posters there, ready for sale.)

 

Tina’s Cat

Following the sad death of Tina Wessel — the homeless woman well known by nearly every Westporter — many “06880” commenters expressed concern for her beloved cat.

Third selectman Helen Garten reports that — thanks to great work by the Westport Police Department and Animal Control — the cat was found, and is safe.

Schulhof Animal Hospital is temporarily boarding Tina’s pet.

Westport Animal Shelter Advocates is soliciting donations for the cat’s medical examination and care. President Julie Loparo writes:

WASA thanks the Westport Police Department, particularly Chief Foti Koskinas; Animal Control officer Gina Gambino; Dorrie Harris, co-founder of TAILS; the staff of the Senior Center, particularly Tom Saviano, and the staff of Schulhof Animal Hospital for working together to humanely “trap” and provide care for Tina Wessel’s cat.

Westport Animal Shelter Advocates

The cat is calmly waiting in his/her crate for an exam. It is wonderful to live in a town with the compassion to want to do right by one of its long-term residents. This joint effort ensures that Ms. Wessel’s cat won’t be left to fend for itself.

WASA, with the kind assistance of the Schulhof staff, will oversee the cat’s care. When the time comes, it will secure a home for Ms. Wessel’s friend and furry family member.

If you would like to assist WASA with this effort, please visit www.westportwasa.org and click “Donate.” Please note on the form that you are donating in memory of “Tina’s cat.”  WASA is a 501c3 organization.

Many Westporters want to do something to honor Tina’s memory. This is one way to help.

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Tina’s cat. (Photo courtesy of Westport Police Department)

Dumping On Winslow Park

No, the headline does not refer to owners who refuse to clean up their pet’s poop at Westport’s wonderful dog park.

It’s a reference to some bizarre sightings recently:

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Yes, someone has been hauling furniture to Winslow Park, and dumping it there.

This raises a few questions:

  • Why would someone bring old furniture to a dog run?
  • How did they get it there?
  • When did they do it, without anyone seeing them?
  • What did they expect would happen to it?

If you know the answers, click “Comments” below.

Meanwhile, if you want some old furniture, it seems to be yours for the taking.

(Hat tip: Michelle Lieberson)

Sherwood Island: Revisited

Yesterday’s post on Sherwood Island reminded Westporters to think about the gem of a state park that sits squarely in our town.

It spurred alert “06880” readers Jim Goodrich and Luisa Francouer to wander over and visit. (There’s no entry fee this time of year!)

They admired the broad beach, the vistas across the Sherwood Mill Pond and Long Island Sound, and the woods and walking paths.

But they were surprised to see these sights:

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I guess no part of Westport is immune from bad parking.

Hidden In Plain Sight

As a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, Steve Axthelm helps oversee our beaches, marinas, athletic facilities, pocket parks — and of course, Longshore. He’s justly proud of the many active and passive recreational opportunities Westport offers.

Yesterday he wandered over to a different facility. Sherwood Island is owned by the state — in fact, it’s Connecticut’s 1st state park — but it encompasses 232 acres of prime Westport beachfront, grasses, hills and trees.

It’s a gem many Westporters never think about. Yet it’s a wondrous spot, every day of the year.

And right now, it’s free!

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(Photos/Steve Axthelm)

(Photos/Steve Axthelm)

Annual Beach Replenishment Project Washes Away

Alert “06880” reader — and longtime Westport observer — Chip Stephens writes:

Those of us who have been around a while remember that not so long ago, Sherwood Mill Pond neighbors had the sand in front of their houses replenished once a year. A barge would recover sand washed into Compo Cove from their beaches by storms and high tides. Big Kowalsky front-end loaders spread it out, recovering private beaches up and down the cove.

In recent years, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has restricted that activity. You can see what’s happened by not replenishing the beaches from Hillspoint Road. Landowners see it more painfully from their windows.

Old Mill "Beach." (Photo/Chip Stephens)

Old Mill “Beach.” (Photo/Chip Stephens)

We’ve long been told that the reason the sand washes away is that the Army Corps of Engineers made errors when they replaced reefs and stones on Sherwood Island and Compo Beach. That caused misdirection of natural currents, sweeping away sand on those local beaches into the Mill Cove flats.

Now the landowners face difficulties with DEEP and local boards in placing erosion controls, walls or reefs to save their beach, their land and their houses.

DEEP’s answer is to plant the beach with grasses and plantings. Unfortuantely, even modest storms wash them away.

What will happen? Well, time and tide wait for no man…

1 Parker Harding Problem Solved. 999 To Go.

Our long national nightmare is over.

Okay, maybe not. But at least Parker Harder Plaza’s dumpster problem has been solved.

For several years, the big green receptacles near Starbucks have spilled garbage, attracted rodents, and sent this message to downtown visitors: “Blech!

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No more!

Recently the Westport Downtown Merchants Association added a cleanup crew, initiated pest control, helped store owners review protocol and “addressed regular abusers.”

Ta da!

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Work is not finished. Still ahead: installation of upgraded and “significantly more attractive” enclosures.

We won’t hold our breath.

But at least while we don’t, we won’t hold our noses when we want some fresh food at Freshii.

Winslow Park Hit By Smash-And-Grabs

Last month, Westport was jolted by a series of home break-ins in Greens Farms.

Now, it’s cars being hit at Winslow Park.

An “06880” reader reports that at least 5 windows have been smashed — and personal belongings stolen — while people walk their dogs nearby.

She loves Winslow Park because of the community she’s found there. An eclectic group of dog owners welcomed her in (and invited her to their “Yappie Hour”).

This summer, she became aware of the “smash-and-grab” break-ins. They occurred in the Westport Country Playhouse lot.

A month ago, a woman who parks in the small North Compo lot was hit.

It happens in broad daylight, with people coming and going with their dogs.

Winslow Park. Smash-and-grab thieves have made dog walkers bit fearful.

Smash-and-grab thieves have made Winslow Park dog walkers a bit fearful.

The “06880” reader suggests surveillance cameras. She also thinks that cutting down bushes would help make cars more visible to passersby. Of course, it’s common sense to not leave anything of value on your car seat or floor, visible to anyone.

Notices have been posted on the “Winslow Park Small Dogs & Friends” Facebook page. The reader says that publicity is essential. More people need to know this is happening — and the thief or thieves must know that people know.

“Winslow Park should be a happy place for everyone,” she says. “Not a place of fear.”

Ryan Fibiger Crafts Quite A Business

Less than 5 years ago, owner Ryan Fibiger was carrying a whole pig from his van to his new shop: Saugatuck Craft Butchery.

A startled passerby called the cops.

The officer who arrived heard Fibiger describe his new venture: a shop dedicated to “better sourcing and better butchery.” The world deserves a sustainable alternative to factory farming, he said, and he planned to lead the charge through innovative ideas and traditional practices.

The policeman was fascinated. He stayed, looked around, and became one more convert to the better-butcher-store cause.

Ryan Fibiger, at work.

Ryan Fibiger, hard at work.

A lot has changed since that November 2011 day. The store grew, moved across Riverside Avenue and expanded. Fibiger and partner Paul Nessel merged with Fleishers Craft Butchery, and took on the new name.

Perhaps most importantly, they educated customers about humane treatment of animals, hundreds of types of meat cuts, and the incredibly flavorful joys of cooking the craft butchery way.

Along the way, Fibiger’s store became first a pioneer, then a mainstay of the new Saugatuck Center — and a destination for food lovers throughout Fairfield County.

Including, improbably, plenty of former vegetarians.

fleishers-logoThe story begins when Fibiger realized he hated his work as a banker/consultant, and had to get out. He found a Kingston, New York company — Fleishers — that was  committed to the art of butchery as a means for improving and growing a strong food community.

He apprenticed for 6 months, then opened his own store. It was a small operation — just he, Nessel and a couple of employees — but it was fresh, different, and a key to the nascent redevelopment project on the Saugatuck River plaza.

Customers saw — in addition to the owner hauling a pig on his shoulder — whole lambs on the counter. All the butchering was done out in the open, in full view of the store.

Some people were horrified. But those who stuck around learned about a lost art.

“Westport really embraced us,” Fibiger says. “We grew up in this community.”

Westporters grew up too.

“Most people are disconnected from where their food comes from,” Fibiger notes. “They’re disconnected from meat itself. They see it in a nice package on the grocery shelf. They recognize a few cuts. But there are hundreds of them.”

Fleishers' high-quality meat...

Fleishers’ high-quality meat…

“Whole animal butchery” is based on an old European model. Older customers tell Fibiger, “I haven’t seen that in 50 years.”

Fleishers — the Westport shop is now part of 5 in the small chain — sources from “real farms,” not feed lots.

...comes from humanely raised livestock.

…comes from humanely raised livestock.

As the store grew, so did the area around it. The Whelk opened across the plaza; Saugatuck Craft developed a partnership with owner Bill Taibe.

At first, the Saugatuck location was a risk. No one was certain the new development would succeed.

But now it’s hot. And, Fibiger notes, “I don’t think Main Street would have been right for us. It’s not where people shop for food.”

Food shoppers appreciate more than just Fleishers’ high-quality meat, and all-out-in-the-open butchering practices.

Every employee has an intimate knowledge of farms. They visit, talk to farmers, and see livestock being raised.

Fibiger is passionate about his store, his process, his accessible price points, his “insane transparency,” his meat and his customers.

But he has a special spot in his heart for kids.

In just 5 years, they’ve gone from being shielded by their parents from watching butchering, to being brought behind the counter to watch every step. They’re the future — of eating well, while supporting sustainable agriculture and humane practices — and Fibiger does his part to make sure they understand all that entails.

Fleishers is educating youngsters about where their food comes from, how it is prepared, and how it all fits in to the world.

Fleishers is educating youngsters about where their food comes from, how it is prepared, and how it all fits in to the world.

Something else has happened too. “Whether it’s medical or personal reasons, vegetarians are starting to eat meat again,” the owner says.

“They love coming to us. We talk about the humane treatment of animals. There are a lot of ‘ethical vegetarians’ out there. We share their values.”

Fibiger is proud that they trust him. He’s thrilled to celebrate his 5th year anniversary in Saugatuck. But like any good businessman, he’s always looking to improve.

Fleishers’ interior was recently updated. New products and cases were added. The restaurant is gaining momentum, as former chef Emily Mingrone — adored by the community — has returned. She plans exciting menu changes and dinner events this fall.

Chef Emily Mingrone.

Chef Emily Mingrone.

And Fibiger just started working with a Pennsylvania lamb farm whose only other customers are 3-Michelin-star restaurants.

“We’re glad to be here,” Ryan Fibiger says, referring both to Saugatuck and “the romance of Westport.” He adds,  “We’re really glad that so many people understand and embrace what we do.”

Fleishers Craft Butchery is here for the long haul — and the whole hog.