Category Archives: Environment

Gault Unfolds New Umbrella, Announces New Name

At 153 years old, Gault is still nimble.

This morning, the company — Westport’s oldest business (by about a century) — announced a major corporate rebranding. And a new corporate umbrella.

Plus a modern new logo.

Gault's new logo (and name).

Gault’s new logo (and name).

Gault Energy & Stone will now be called Gault Family Companies. Three rebranded lines of business — Energy & Home Solutions, Stone & Landscape Supplies, and Properties & Development — will operate under it.

Sam Gault is the 5th generation to head the family firm. He and his marketing team began the process 3 years ago, soon after the company’s 150th anniversary. They were assisted by Westport-based The Visual Brand.

Sam Gault says the new logo and expanded corporate structure “capture our rich history, and reveal our ambitious plans for the future.

“From our humble beginnings as a hauling business with a single horse and wagon, the company has continued to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of the communities we serve, always focusing on delivering exceptional personalized service.”

Horses hauling coal in front of the company's 19 Riverside Avenue building (1905-08).

Horses hauling coal in front of the company’s 19 Riverside Avenue building (1905-08).

During its 15 decades, Gault has morphed from hauling into coal, sand, oil and, most recently, energy solutions.

Adding “Home Solutions” to its energy brand will help the company showcase its many services — such as providing bioheat and propane delivery, low cost-electricity, high-efficiency heating and air conditioning equipment insulation, standby generator installation, and maintenance and repair.

The stone and masonry supply business provides a full range of interior and exterior services. Adding “landscape” to the brand signals a growing partnership with homeowners.

Hamilton Development — Gault’s real estate arm — is best known for its award-winning mixed-use Saugatuck Center development. But the real estate footprint also includes many other commercial and real estate properties. Sam Gault says the brand focuses on “best practices when it comes to design-build, livability, energy efficiency and stone and masonry work.”

The logo that Gault retired today.

The logo that Gault retired today.

As for the new “G” logo: Its swoop gives a nod to the company’s history, but in a modern way.

Gault has been a strong, steady presence in Westport since the Lincoln administration. The company has always supported the town, in ways big and small (and often anonymously).

May Gault Family Companies — and the Gault family — thrive for at least another 163 years.

(To learn more about Gault’s 1st 150 years, click here.)

The 1914 logo...

The 1914 logo…

...and one from the 1960s.

…and one from the 1960s.


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Mary Allen’s Historic Mill Pond Bench

Alert “06880” reader — and amateur historian — Wendy Crowther writes:

Mary Riordan Allen grew up on Hillspoint Road, a few houses away from the iconic Allen’s Clam House.

In the early 1900s, Walter “Cap” Allen opened his clam and oyster shack on the banks of Sherwood Mill Pond. The oysters came from beds in the pond and nearby cove. Cap often hand-shucked them himself. Over time he grew Allen’s into a rustic family eatery.

Recently, Mary returned to the property — now the site of the Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve. It was a special occasion: to meet her bench.

A year ago, she asked Sherry Jagerson — chair of the preserve committee – how she and her family could contribute to the spot that meant so much to them. (A photo on the plaque — and below — shows Cap Allen holding a baby: Mary’s husband, Walter Allen.)

Captain Walter Allen (far right) with his wife Lida, daughter Beulah, holding his son Walter Ethan Allen (Mary’s future husband). The photo was taken at Allen's Clam House around 1911.

Captain Walter Allen (far right) with his wife Lida, daughter Beulah, holding his son Walter Ethan Allen (Mary’s future husband). The photo was taken at Allen’s Clam House around 1911.

Several months later, Mary came to Westport from her home in Maine. Sherry, I and other committee members walked the site with her, to pick out the best spot for the Allen family bench.

Mary Allen, at Sherwood Mill Pond.

Mary Allen, at Sherwood Mill Pond.

After returning home, Mary sent me old photos. One showed her son Chris sitting on what may have been the same boulder from decades earlier.

Mary said that Chris loved feeding the swans close to shore. In early spring, they came to the marsh, rebuilt their nest, laid their eggs and raised their cygnets.

Mary Allen's son Chris, with Sherwood Mill Pond swans.

Mary Allen’s son Chris, with Sherwood Mill Pond swans.

In high school, Mary clammed at low tide on the mud flats, and sold them to Cap. She also sold horseshoe crabs. He put them in floats where he kept his fresh clams; they kept the water clean.

Cap Allen and his wife Lida, in front of the clam house.

Cap Allen and his wife Lida, in front of the clam house.

The Clam House and Mill Pond were Mary’s summer playground. She and her friends rented Cap’s handmade rowboats, to catch blue claw crabs and have adventures. They swam at the gates at high tide — a “challenging and dangerous activity” that today she would not allow.

In winter, the pond froze over. The ice skating was wonderful.

Years later — after she married — Mary’s own children enjoyed similar activities. They also ate quite well at Allen’s. After all, she was family.

Cap’s son, Walter Ethan Allen, had a 35-foot ketch-rigged oyster boat. With a shallow draft and long, shallow centerboard and rudders, it was perfect for oystering. For better ballast, Walt asked neighborhood kids to sail with him.

When Walt returned from World War II, he asked Mary — a Staples High School student — to help. Eventually, ballast turned to romance. They married when she was 18. He was 30.

Walt and Mary Allen had 5 children. This photo shows Abigail, their oldest (Cap’s grandchild), in front of the barn that once stood tight against Hillspoint Road on the edge of the Clam House property. The barn -- which still stands -- was rustic inside, but furnished with a full kitchen and a 2nd-floor loft. Cap used it as a popular summer rental property.

Walt and Mary Allen had 5 children. This photo shows Abigail, their oldest (Cap’s grandchild), in front of the barn that once stood tight against Hillspoint Road on the edge of the Clam House property. The barn was rustic inside, but furnished with a full kitchen and a 2nd-floor loft. Cap used it as a popular summer rental property.

Cap owned a 1934 Ford Phaeton convertible. He drove it to the bank every Monday morning, to deposit the week’s proceeds.

Mary enjoyed hanging out at the clam house. Cap was “quiet but friendly and affable, and had a nice sense of humor.” A cigar smoker, he recovered from throat cancer. In 1954, age 75, he died of arterial sclerosis.

His sons — David and Mary’s husband Walt — tried to keep the business going, hiring help while they held their own jobs. Finally, they decided to run the restaurant only. The Uccellinis — 2 generations of their own family — did a magnificent job too.

Allen’s Clam House was a hugely popular summer place. Over time though, the building wore down. Environmental restrictions made it financially impossible to continue.

The restaurant closed in the mid-1990s. The land was ripe for sale. Developers — hoping to build 3 houses — made lucrative offers. Westporters mourned the loss of what had always been a favorite view. They urged the town to buy the land.

Mary worked closely with First Selectman Diane Farrell, and negotiated a special deal. Though it took many years, the site was eventually rehabilitated by volunteers. It officially opened as a preserve in 2010.

The Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve is one of the most tranquil spots in Westport. (Photo/Katherine Hooper)

The Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve is one of the most tranquil spots in Westport. (Photo/Katherine Hooper)

For the dedication, Mary’s daughter Bonnie Allen wrote:

A special acknowledgment is due to my mother, Mary Riordan Allen, the last remaining owner of the Allen’s Clam House property. 11 years ago, in the spirit of Captain Allen’s concern for the Mill Pond and its meadows, she turned down high purchase offers from developers in favor of selling the property to the town at a price it could afford.

With generous matching contributions from like-minded Westporters (Paul Newman, Harvey Weinstein and Martha Stewart among them) the town of Westport bought the property, and honored my mother’s wishes that it be preserved in its natural state, dedicated to my grandfather, Captain Walter Dewitt Allen.

Last week, Mary and Bonnie returned to Westport to meet their bench — a gift from Mary and her children. The plaque honors Mary’s husband Walt, who died in 1982, and Bonnie’s son, Sebastian Katz, who died in 2000 at age 20.

Mary and Bonnie Allen, on the family's bench.

Mary and Bonnie Allen, on the family’s bench.

The plaque on the Allen family bench.

The plaque on the Allen family bench.

Mary’s bench is the one that Sherwood Mill Pond visitors gravitate to most. I suspect that’s because it provides the same views and sense of peace that first drew Cap to this special piece of the Mill Pond, and inspired him to raise a family and a business on its shores.

Thanks to Mary and her family, this site is a wonderful place, where both nature and history are preserved.


Click here for “06880+” — the easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Just Another Spectacular Sunday

Sure, it was hot today.

It’s summer. What do you expect?

(Well, we did not expect a “heat dome,” probably because we’ve never heard of it before. It’s probably an invention of the Weather Channel, just like winter storms with names like Juno and Xerxes.)

Here’s what Compo Beach looked like at various times today.

Enjoy — and bookmark this page, so you can enjoy it again in January. And February. And March…

Sunrise at the beach. (Photo/Dayle Brownstein)

Sunrise at the beach. (Photo/Dayle Brownstein)

It wasn't too hot for this egret. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

It wasn’t too hot for this egret… (Photo/Amy Schneider)

...ditto for these guys. (Photo/Dan Woog)

…or for these guys. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The marina was active today -- but also quite serene. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The marina was active today — but also very serene. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Life is good, as the sun sets. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Life is good, as the sun sets. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Save Westport Now: Stop Hiawatha’s Sewer Request

Valerie Seiling Jacobs, co-chair of Save Westport Now, sends this letter:

The Westport Water Pollution Control Authority, which is comprised of our 3 selectman, is meeting tomorrow morning (Thursday, July 21, 8:30 a.m., Town Hall auditorium) to decide whether to allow a developer to extend the sewer to the Hiawatha Lane area in Saugatuck.

The Planning & Zoning Commission has already rejected this developer’s request twice, on the grounds that the nearby pumping station and the sewer pipe that runs under the river from the Saugatuck area to our wastewater treatment plant are already in danger of failing.

Both items are on the town’s list of infrastructure repairs, but before work can start, the town needs to obtain a lot of permits and approvals from the state and feds, which still hasn’t happened. P&Z recognized that adding potential effluent to a failing system was not a smart move. If, for example, the repairs are delayed and the pipe bursts, it could have catastrophic environmental and other consequences for the Town.

Westport's wastewater treatment plant, across the Saugatuck River from the proposed Hiawatha Lane development.

Westport’s wastewater treatment plant, across the Saugatuck River from the proposed Hiawatha Lane development.

Save Westport Now agrees with P&Z’s conclusion: that it would be foolhardy for the town to approve a sewer extension before the pipe and pumping station are actually fixed/replaced. This is especially true since — no matter what we hope or the developer claims — the repairs are likely to take more time than usual, since they will need to be scheduled around other projects already planned for the area, including most notably the rehab of the I-95 overpass, the repair of the MetroNorth bridge, and the repair of the Cribari/Saugatuck bridge.

This will not be a simple or quick repair, and the Town should not risk the town’s resources just because a developer stands to lose money if he doesn’t get his way.

I hope you will attend the meeting or email the selectman’ office (selectman@westportct.gov) about the matter as well. As residents and taxpayers, we need to let our elected officials know that we care about the environment — and that we believe in smart planning. Adding effluent to a failing sewer system before we are sure when and how the system will be fixed is just not smart.

A River Runs Through It

(Photo/Patrick Goldschmidt)

Click on or hover over to enlarge (Photo/Patrick Goldschmidt)

They Grow Up So Fast These Days!

For the past few years, Westporters have marveled at the ospreys that live between Fresh Market and Terrain.

The proud parents now have 2 youngsters, almost ready to leave their high home.

Earlier today, alert reader — and osprey lover — Jo Ann Davidson took a photo of the entire fine-looking family:

Ospreys - JoAnn Davidson

Chamber Project Sells Westport To Sherwood Island Visitors

Sherwood Island — Connecticut’s 1st state park — covers 234 acres of Westport’s finest beaches, wetlands and woodlands.

But — except for some very dedicated Friends of Sherwood Island members, and a few folks who make it their own special playground — it might as well be in Westport, Massachusetts. Or Westport, New Zealand.

The isolation cuts both ways. I bet the only bit of Westport that 99% of all visitors know is the brief stretch of the Connector that gets them to and from I-95. The other 1% are people who miss the ramp, and end up mistakenly on the Post Road.

Sherwood Island State Park -- right here in Westport.

Sherwood Island State Park — right here in Westport.

If Matthew Mandell has his way, that will change.

As executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, he’s all about promoting local businesses. He sees 500,000 people get off I-95 each year, with the sole aim of visiting Sherwood Island.

But how to get those potential customers to see Westport?

This week, 40,000 copies of a handsome brochure will be delivered to Sherwood Island. The tri-fold includes a brief history of the park; a detailed map, showing fishing and model aircraft areas; the Nature Center and 9/11 Memorial, bathrooms and more. QR codes take users to a map of Westport, and the Chamber’s restaurant and visitor guides. Park-goers will see there’s far more here than just a highway interchange.

A detailed map forms the centerfold of the brochure.

A detailed map forms the centerfold of the brochure.

The brochures — produced in conjunction with Friends group — will be distributed free. Ads — from Earthplace, realtors, a college counselor, bank and McDonald’s (“only 2 miles from the beach!”) — cover the cost.

Sherwood Island brochure - front and back

Westport Downtown Merchants Association president Randy Herbertson did the graphics gratis.

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection loves the concept. Now they want other communities with state parks to produce their own maps.

It’s a win-win: great for local merchants, and for visitors looking to do more than just drive in and out.

Who knows? If it’s successful, maybe the Chamber can do another map next year — for all the out-of-towners who have discovered Compo Beach.

Dining Al Fresco At Sherwood Mill Pond

Alert “06880” reader/photographer/nature lover Seth Schachter was strolling along the Sherwood Mill this morning.

He spotted an egret in the raceway at Compo Cove. The handsome bird was looking for fish coming off high tide, as they swept through the gates.

Egret 1

Seth’s patience was rewarded.

Egret 2

So was the egret’s, as these photos show.

(Photos/Seth Schachter)

(Photos/Seth Schachter)

Farmers’ Market Vendors Grow Food — And Businesses

Westport Farmers’ Market asks a lot of its vendors. In return for space at the Imperial Avenue lot every Thursday from May to November, the nearly 3 dozen sellers of fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, coffee, meat and more must post about the market every week on social media; adhere to certain sign regulations, and participate in the market’s community service programs.

So, director Lori Cochran wondered last year, what was the Farmers’ Market doing to help those vendors?

Looking around, the energetic, forward-thinking director realized that while some businesses like Nothin’ But had shot to the top — thanks to solid financing and a strong business model, the maker of granola bars and cookies now sells in airports and to Whole Foods — others just moseyed along.

“They’re beautiful at creating what they do,” Lori says. “But they don’t have the time or the expertise to really grow.”

Westport Farmers' Market vendors are great at what they do. Director Lori Cochran wants to help them expand.

Westport Farmers’ Market vendors are great at what they do. Director Lori Cochran wants to help them expand.

Lori has a soft spot for mom-and-pop companies. “Our country was founded on them. And they’re still crucial.”

This year, Westport Farmers’ Market rolled out a 3-pronged educational program. Sessions are held at Sugar & Olives, the very cool restaurant/bar/ cooking school/event space just over the Norwalk line.

Sessions last 2-3 hours, and include general information followed by private, 1-on-1 meetings. Of course, they’re free.

Fairfield County Bank offered a session on finance. Topics included loans and micro-financing. It was so successful, a follow-up focusing on taxes is planned for fall.

An insurance broker will talk about changes in that industry, while next month the Cohen and Wolf law firm discusses ideas like whether a vendor should become an LLC.

September brings a session on social media, courtesy of CT Bites’ Stephanie Webster.

The Westport Farmers' Market is held every Thursday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) at the Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot.

The Westport Farmers’ Market is held every Thursday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) at the Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot.

All presentations are pro bono. “These people are great,” Lori says. “They come in as educators, not salesmen. They understand our mission: helping the community. And the community includes our vendors, not just our shoppers.”

She has watched with joy as the Farmers’ Market businesses learn about — well, business.

“They’re talking to each other, and sharing ideas,” she says. “Our vendors are forming a real community.

“This is such a simple program. But it’s actually accomplishing a lot.”

Basketball Blues End Soon

It’s been a while since there was a hoops game at Compo.

But the reconstruction of the 2 basketball courts is nearly complete. This was the scene yesterday:

Basketball court - Compo

The courts have a long history. The first one — built in the late 1950s — was the brainchild of Albie Loeffler and Paul Lane. The Staples High School basketball head and assistant coach, respectively, saw the court as a way to keep their players active in the off-season — and a way to run a Fairfield County league for the Wreckers and their foes.

The court became a community effort. Gault and Kowalsky donated materials and labor.

The 2nd court was built later. It’s been a year-round favorite for generations of basketball players, of all ages.

And even more generations of Canada geese.