Category Archives: Environment

Roundup: Domestic Violence, Anti-Semitism …

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Victims of domestic violence have so much to deal with. Getting basic supplies for their young children should not be one of them.

Now through Sunday (April 25), Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting supplies. Needed items include car seats in new or like-new condition (tags attached, to check expiration date), strollers, diapers, wipes, lotions and baby wash, and new bottles.

To arrange contactless pickup, email co-chair Jillian Cabana: wdvtf06880@gmail.com.

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Saturday is the big day: CLASP Homes’ “Un-Scavenger Hunt.” (“Un?” It runs all day, at your convenience. It’s not a race.

There are tons of clues, covering Westport trivia, history, art, pop culture and more. You answer by posting photos, videos, texts and GPS check-ins on the app. Bonus points are given for creativity, ingenuity and humor (costumes, props, songs, pets … you get the idea).

Prizes include sunset cruises; a private tour and wine-and-cheese reception at Dragone Classic Motorcars with George Dragone; Broadway tickets and more.

There are separate prizes for students in grade 12 and below (including cash). And a special prize for the organization that registers the most teams.

The Un-Scavenger Hunt raises funds for CLASP. For nearly 40 years they’ve  provided care, support and inspiration to adults with autism and developmental disabilities.

Click here for tickets. Click here for the Goosechase app, which will be used. You can practice on it too, until the event goes live.

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We may pretend it’s not happening. But people — even in Westport — make Holocaust “jokes,” and talk insensitively about Jewish traditions and lives. I’d guess teenager in Westport has heard something.

In response, ADL Connecticut is organizing a virtual “Fairfield County Teen Leadership Summit on Anti-Semitism.” It’s Tuesday, April 27 (7 to 8:15 p.m., Zoom).

A teen panel will share personal stories. Attendees will learn skills to stand up to anti-Semitism, be resilient and become empowered as school leaders. Click here to register. For more information, email swalden@adl.org.

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A couple of nature shots. First, a swan stepping into the Saugatuck River …

(Photo/Paul Delano)

… and a hungry gull at Sherwood Island State Park.

(Photo/Gene Borio)

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And finally …  today in 1775, the Revolutionary War began. The patriots beat back the British at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The rest is history.

Roundup: Art Show, Laddie Lawrence Track, Nature …

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The Westport Woman’s Club Art Show makes a triumphant return on Saturday and Sunday, May 22-23 (2 to 6 p.m., 44 Imperial Avenue).

The 6th annual open house features some of the area’s best known and most loved artists and photographers; Nina Bentley, Amy Bock, Trace Burroughs, Susan Fehlinger, Judith Orseck Katz, Tom Kretsch, Susan Leggitt, Kerry Long, Michael Lender, Carole McClintock, Bernard Perry, Jon Puzzuoli, Katherine Ross and Jo Titsworth.

There’s wine and snacks too — just like old times!

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The Woman’s Club Art Show is not the only event scheduled for May 22. At 11 a.m., the Staples High School track will be officially named for Laddie Lawrence. The 1964 graduate has served as a Staples coach — and Westport’s unofficial but beloved running guru — for 50 over years. (Hat tip:Andrew Colabella)

Laddie Lawrence: forever young, and forever admired.

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Seen this morning at Baron’s South. Roberta Delano says, “He just kept looking at me, with the morning sky behind him.”

(Photo/Roberta Delano)

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Springtime beauty, on River Lane:

(Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

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And finally … today is National Lineman Appreciation. Utility workers, not football players.

Pic Of The Day #1461

Swan and her nest, near the Riverside Avenue walkway (Photo/Nancy Lewis)

Roundup: Hazardous Waste, Health & Wellness, Kings Highway Bridge …

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The Westport Weston Family YMCA gets a nice shoutout in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Joanne Kaufman — who with her husband has “perched temporarily” in Fairfield County since fleeing Manhattan during COVID — writes about her return to swimming, at our Y.

The piece is called “Dear Locker Room, You Have No Idea How Much I’ve Missed You.” I thought it would be about the joys of the pool, even in a pandemic — my daily swims at the Y have kept me both physically and mentally fit since it reopened last June — but it is mostly about the camaraderie of the locker room.

Click here to read. (Hat tip: Scott Smith)

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Don’t waste a moment!

Westport’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Day is Saturday, April 24 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,) at a new site: the Greens Farm train station.

The free program is open to residents of Westport, Wilton, Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.

These are some of the items that may be hanging around your home:

Garage: Paints, gasoline, kerosene, mineral spirits, spray paint, paint strippers, paint thinners, solvents, stains, turpentine, varnishes, wood preservatives, degreasers, etc.

Garden shed: Fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, etc.

General household:  Bleach, charcoal lighter, cleaning chemicals, drain cleaners, flammable liquids, mercury thermometers, moth balls, pet flea shampoos, photo chemicals, rug shampoos, spot removers, art supplies and paints, etc.

The following items are NOT acceptable: Propane tanks, ammunition, flares, explosives, commercial hazardous waste.

Before bringing hazardous household items to the collection site:

  • Make sure items are clearly labeled. Never mix chemicals!
  • Keep products in their original labeled container.
  • Place leaky containers in clear plastic bags.
  • Tighten lids of all containers, and pack items in sturdy cardboard boxes lined with newspaper.
  • Put boxes in the trunk or in back of the vehicle, away from passengers.
  • Leave pets and children home.
  • Keep your windows open. Drive directly to the collection site.
  • Do not smoke or eat while handling hazardous materials.
  • Antifreeze, motor oil, batteries of any type, fluorescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs and electronics can also be recycled at the transfer station on the Sherwood Island Connector, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.

Put all household hazardous waste in the trunk or rear of vehicles. Only fuel containers will be returned to residents.

Questions> Call the Public Works Department (203-341-1793), or click here.

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It seems like the only miserable thing that’s dragged on longer than COVID is the replacement project for the Kings Highway North bridge, by Canal Street.

Public works director Pete Ratkiewich reported yesterday:

“The contractor has just finished setting the first 3 of 6 bridge sections today in the pouring rain. The last 3 will be set Friday.

“The schedule has not changed, with completion expected by the end of June. Once the precast sections are in, they will be working on putting the bridge back together and finishing the project as quickly as possible.”

From his lips to …

Once upon a time, traffic flowed easily on Kings Highway North.

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Speaking of a long 13 months: Westporters are ready to get back to the fitness routine.

So the timing is great for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association’s Fitness & Health Day. It’s set for Saturday, May 1 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

The event takes place all along Main Street, but many more businesses and organizations are involved.

Fleet Feet in Sconset Square kicks things off, hosting a 5K run throughout downtown. Click here to register (spots are limited).

Westport’s leading studios and clubs — including JoyRide, Pure Barre, Row House, Elliptica, Intensity, Physique57, Club Pilates, Saugatuck Rowing Club, The Dance Collective, Stretch Lab, Kaia Yoga and the Westport Weston Family YMCA — will organize fun (and challenging) classes on main Street.

Walk-ups are not permitted for classes. To register, contact each studio directly. Observers are welcome, of course!

Other health and wellness folks will have a presence too: Franny’s Farmacy, RESTORE Cryo, Cparkly Soul, Wisdom and Youth MedSpa, Embrace Orthodontics, New England Hemp Farm, TAP Strength Lab and Organic Krush.

Other sponsors include Andersen Renewal. Wildflower Land Management, Manna Toast and David Adam Realty.

Working out at last year’s Fitness & Health Day.

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On Tuesday, “06880” reported that Bank of America’s Post Road East branch next to Starbucks — across from Carvel — is now closed permanently.

A mailing with the news directed customers to the downtown branch, next to Design Within Reach. There was no work about the fate of BOA’s 3rd Westport office, on the Southport line.

Now there is. A second mailing yesterday notified customers that that branch — at 1815 Post Road East — has also closed for good.

Banks are supposed to be prudent with their money. I have no idea how much it cost to send 2 separate mailings to all Westport customers.

But perhaps that kind of decision is part of the reason Bank of America just reduced its presence here by two-thirds. (Hat tip: John Karrel)

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Why did the gull cross the Old Mill parking lot?

To get to the other side? Or some other reason?

Who knows? But whatever the reason, it makes for a cool photo.

(Photo/Teri Klein)

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And finally … Today in 1943, Albert Hofmann accidentally discovered the hallucinogenic effects of the research drug LSD.

Hey, Gardeners! Grow Your Own — And Share

The Westport Community Gardens is a wonderful place. Dozens of gardeners — from  families with little children to folks in their 80s — grow fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and grasses, in all kinds of designs and configurations.

They joyfully share their bounty with others. The Grow-A-Row fresh food  initiative encourages gardeners to grow an extra row — or more — to donate.

Last year the program donated nearly 100 grocery bags loaded with fresh, organically grown produce to the The Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (FEED) in Bridgeport. Their culinary training program team prepares the donated food, distributes meals to soup kitchens throughout Bridgeport, and runs a food truck to reach neighborhoods that lack access to fresh food.

Some of the food donations grown and collected at the Westport Community Garden through the Grow-A-Row initiative last  summer.

This year, Grow-A-Row — with partners Sustainable Westport and the Zero Food Waste Initiative — invites all Westport home gardeners, everywhere in town, to participate.

They’ll even get you started, with seeds.

The Grow-A-Row Project received a generous donation of vegetable seeds from the University of Connecticut Extension Master Gardeners Program. They include radishes, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and squashes. Seeds are available for pickup at Branson Hall, at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Seeds are limited to first come, first served. But all home gardeners in Westport are welcome to donate whatever they grow.

Once harvested, all fresh produce and herb donations can be dropped off at Branson Hall.

Questions? Email amyunikewicz@gmail.com.

Roundup: Pizza, Pequot Library, Parkway …

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The Westport Farmers’ Market opens next month. But if you thought you were following them on Facebook, you might have missed the news.

During the winter, the WFM page was hacked. They lost over 8,000 followers — and the chance to inform them about news, vendors, special events and more.

They created a new Facebook page, and are rebuilding their following. But many people don’t realize they’re no longer “friends” with the WFM.

A generous supporter offered a “matching” Facebook challenge. If they reach 1,000 followers, the supporter will make donate $1,000 for WFM programs.

So, whether you think you follow the Farmers’ Market on Facebook or not, click here, then click the “Like” button. Then share that post with friends and family.

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Speaking of farms and food, here’s a way to keep ’em down on the farm: Pizza.

On Tuesdays starting May 4 (4 to 7 p.m.), “Tony Pizza Napolitano” will make 16-inch wood-fired cheese pizzas live at the Wakeman Town Farm oven.

Tony lives in Weston, and the pizzas he makes at The Grange are an 0688e legend. He uses “only top-quality local, organic ingredients — and love.” Click here for a rave review from Stephanie Webster’s CTBites.

Go to Facebook. Find “Tony Pizza Napolitano,” click “like” and follow the page. The weekly menu is posted every Monday morning. To order, send Tony a private message for a time slot. Once it’s confirmed, pick it up the next day at the Cross Highway farm..

It’s a perfect dinner — particularly if you’re already at Wakeman Field picking up the kids.

Tony Pizza Napolitano

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I don’t know whether the long-running Merritt Parkway project is done.

But — after a couple of years at least — all the construction equipment is gone from the Exit 41 parking lot.

It doesn’t look great. But it sure looks a lot better than it did.

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The Westport Library is seeking candidates for its Board of Trustees. Of particular interest: people with expertise in finance, fundraising and development for non-profits; knowledge and understanding of current trends in digital media and information technology, or a background in municipal government and/or not-for-profit law.

Trustees serve 4-yeare terms. Click here for more information.Interested candidates should email a resume and letter of interest to rpowell@westportlibrary.org. The deadline is April 23.

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Speaking of libraries: The Pequot’s great John James Audubon “Birds of America” exhibit is on display through May 2.

What’s the Westport hook (besides the fact that many “06880” residents love the historic Southport institution)?

The exhibit — and the many Pequot collections — are now safe for (hopefully) another 125 years.

A $1.5 million project to rehabilitate the endangered terra cotta roof was steered by 2 trustees, both from Westport.

Coke Anne Murchison Wilcox — member of a famed Texas family — majored in architecture at Princeton, then studied at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture. She worked for several architects, including Philip Johnson. In the early 1990s Wilcox purchased The Maidstone Arms in East Hampton. She and her husband, Jarvis Wilcox, have 3 adult children.

Charlotte Rogan spent 25 years as a writer before her first novel was published in 2012. The Lifeboat was included on The Huffington Post’s 2015 list of “21 books from the last 5 years that every woman should read,” and has been translated into 26 languages. Her second novel, Now and Again, continued to explore issues of morality and justice. Rogan attended Greens Farms Academy when it was an all-girl’s school, studied architecture at Princeton University, and worked for a large construction firm before turning to writing.

The Pequot Library. with its famed roof.

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And finally … in honor of Tony Pizza Napolitano (above):

Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club’s Intriguing Sequel: They DO Own The Water

This morning’s story about the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club’s claim that it owns not only the land under its water — but the water itself — drew a reaction from readers. A few pointed out special circumstances.

One reader — who asked not to be identified — emailed:

In fact, the yacht basin is privately owned. While the general rule is that the state has jurisdiction over tidal and navigable waters like this, as is the case with both the Cedar Point and Compo yacht basins, the Saugatuck yacht basin was deeded to the yacht club by the Governor of Connecticut, I believe when it was proposed to be dredged out or shortly after.

The reader sent a land record map of the basis. Note 2 on the bottom right shows that none of the other lots facing the yacht basin (Duck Pond) have “any riparian, littoral or other rights to said pond or the waters therein.”

The reader notes that the lots never relinquished those rights. Rather, they were created out of land that did not previously have waterfront access, and were created with the stipulation that they would not have access after the basin was dredged.

The same reader sent a second map (below), adding:

The residential properties facing the yacht basin each have deeds that refer to another map recorded with the town. The deeds refer to the parcels being owned, subject to the notes on this map, including the section calling out each lot as having no rights past their property line with the yacht club.

Evan Stein wrote in the comments section that the Saugatuck Shores homeowner who had been warned of trespassing (via kayak) by the yacht club had not Googled deeply enough.

Evan provided a link to a 2008 tax assessment appeal to the town by Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club. Evan then cites relevant details from the ruling:

The subject property consists of 5 parcels aggregating to 14.68 acres of land, 10 acres of which are the land submerged beneath the body of water known as the Duck Pond, which serves at the plaintiff’s yacht basin.

The subject property is not waterfront property in the classic sense, as it is not on the waterfront of Long Island Sound. A boater must navigate from the Duck Pond boat basin through a dredged channel, past the Cedar Point Yacht Club, past the town mooring fields and the town marina in order to reach the open waters of Long Island Sound.

Harbormaster Bob Giunta responded too. He remembers as a child watching Kowalsky Brothers creating the yacht club, by excavating land.

So it appears that yes, Saugatuck Harbor does indeed own both the land underneath its basin, and the water itself. They do seem to be within their rights to restrict access to it, even by homeowners on its shore.

Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club.

However, that does not settle the question of whether they should.

Matthew Mandell writes:

I used to do a lot of whitewater rafting. Many of these rivers ran through paper company land. While we could navigate the river freely, we could not set foot on the shore, unless it was an emergency. Often the company had a dam that generated its power. Deals were worked out to open the dam for an hour to create the bubble of water for rafting. Others were spring melt runoff.

Regardless of land/ownership the yacht club should act more like the paper companies and allow use.

And Deb Alderson raises an interesting point:

If the yacht club owns the land under the Duck Pond, then do the other homeowners around the Duck Pond own waterfront property, or do they own landlocked property with water views?

It used to be that property taxes were bumped up by about 10% for waterfront property. If those properties are paying a premium for waterfront property, they may have a case for a reduction in their taxes. It’s worth asking the question.

Despite living on the basin, this Duck Pond homeowner appears to have no legal access to it.

 

Yacht Club Claims: We Own The Water!

Last summer, a Westport homeowner walked out of her Saugatuck Shores home. She strolled through her back yard, to the edge of the water. She slipped into her kayak, and paddled a few yards.

Suddenly, she was stopped. A woman from Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club, across the way, yelled that she was trespassing.

“We own the water!” the SHYC representative said. “We reserve it for our members!”

Stunned, the Westport resident retreated.

She’s not alone. A neighbor was reprimanded, the same way.

The Saugatuck Shores homeowner’s back yard.

Commodore Sandy Heller and Vice Commodore Roger Schwanhausser followed up with a letter. They sent it “as neighbors,” with “a significant safety concern for both you and our members.”

The letter continued:

We have received member reports, and have pictures, of kayaks stored on your property being launched by individuals crossing over our property line to access the water and into our Club basin.

This has created navigational hazards and safety to concerns to our members as they transit in and out of our basin. Recently, one of our members nearly collided with a non-member kayaker who was unable or unwilling to yield navigational right of way.

Kayaks, ready — but forbidden — to launch, near Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club.

But safety was not the commodores’ only concern.

Further, as you may not know, the Saugatuck Harbor basin is private property. Our Club owns the land under the water, and per Connecticut law, also owns the water above that land up to the mean high tide line.

Any unapproved access to our basin is, therefore, trespass on our property and is not allowed by Connecticut law.

These facts are documented in our deeds and property records, which go back almost 60 years, and are recorded and memorialized at Town Hall in Westport.

We, at Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club, have always strived to maintain good relationships with all our neighbors. We are fully aware of our presence in, what is largely, a residential neighborhood.

We want to be respectful of our neighbors’ privacy, their safety, and their property rights. We would expect the same of you, and request that you refrain from any further access to our basin in the future.

But is it really “their” basin?

The homeowner asked someone in Town Hall’s Conservation office. “She laughed,” the woman says. “She said, ‘No one owns the water!”‘

Kayakers and boaters — not including the Westporter in this story — enjoying the water near Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club.

The Westporter — who notes that “people come in with kayaks and paddleboards all the time from the other side of the inlet” — did what any reasonable person would do. She Googled.

She found Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s “Living on the Shore” page. It says:

While much of the Connecticut shore is privately owned, the coastal tidelands actually belong to all the people—not just in terms of our environmental and cultural heritage, but in a specific legal sense as well.

Under the common law public trust doctrine, a body of law dating back to Roman times, coastal states (as sovereigns) hold the submerged lands and waters waterward of the mean high water line in trust for the public.

The general public may freely use these intertidal and subtidal lands and waters, whether they are beach, rocky shore, or open water, for traditional public trust uses such as fishing, ­shellfishing, boating, sunbathing, or simply walking along the beach.

In Connecticut, a line of state Supreme Court cases dating back to the ­earliest days of the republic confirms that in virtually every case private ­property ends at mean high water (the shore elevation, which is the ­average of all high tides) and that the state holds title as trustee to the lands waterward of mean high water, subject to the private rights of littoral access, that is, access to navigable waters.

Public Trust sketch

What is the boundary of the public trust area?

The public trust area includes submerged lands and waters waterward of mean high water in tidal, coastal, or navigable waters of the state of Connecticut. On the ground, the mean high water boundary of the ­public trust area can often be determined by a prominent wrack line, debris line, or water mark. In general, if an area is regularly wet by the tides, you are probably safe to assume that it is in the public trust. The public trust area is also sometimes referred to as tidelands and is defined as ”public beach“ by the Connecticut Coastal Management Act, C.G.S. 22a-93(6). While the public trust area extends up navigable rivers, it does not extend inland to areas landward of the mean high water line.

What rights does the public have within the public trust area?

According to the Connecticut courts, public rights to the shore include the
following:

  • The public has the right to fish and shellfish over submerged lands. Peck v. Lockwood, 5 Day 22 (1811);
  • The public has the right to pass and repass in navigable rivers. Adams v. Pease, 2 Conn 481 (1818);
  • The public may gather seaweed between ordinary high water and low water. Chapman v. Kimball, 9 Day 38 (1831);
  • “Public rights include fishing, boating, hunting, bathing, taking shellfish, gathering seaweed, cutting sedge, and of passing and repassing ….” Orange v. Resnick, 94 Conn 573 (1920);
  • “It is settled in Connecticut that the public has the right to boat, hunt, and fish on the navigable waters of the state.” State v. Brennan, 3 Conn Cir. 413 (1965).

Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club

She found another page: “Access to Your Boat: Your Littoral Rights.”

Although shoreline residents must share the public trust area with their fellow citizens, every coastal property owner enjoys unique legal rights by virtue of owning waterfront land. Just as an upland property owner has the right to access a public road, a coastal property owner has an exclusive right to access navigable water from his or her property.

This coastal right of access is known as a “littoral” or “riparian” right. Technically, “riparian” applies to rivers while “littoral” applies to coastal waters, but the terms are often used interchangeably.

The littoral right of access provides the property owner reasonable access to the water from his or her property.

Reasonable access can be achieved by launching a boat directly from the shore, by use of a mooring, or by constructing a dock suitable for the site conditions and properly permitted by  DEEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Littoral access does not imply a right to build whatever size dock or wharf a property owner wishes, nor does it mean that a littoral owner may routinely exclude boats or moorings from the waters in front of his or her property.

In terms of access, navigable waters are equivalent to a public road, and a dock serves the same purpose as a private driveway. A littoral landowner may not exclude the public from lawful uses of navigable water, just as an upland owner cannot exclude the public from driving or walking on the street in front of his or her house. However, a duly authorized dock or other littoral structure is private property, and no one can legally interfere with the exercise of this right of access, just as individuals cannot use or block someone’s driveway.

Seems like the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club neighbor “shore” has a good case.

PS: Someone from SHYC told the Saugatuck Shores resident, “you can join our club.”

“I don’t have a boat!” she replied.

Roundup: Remarkable Movies, Levitt Grass, Bald Eagle …

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It’s April break for the Westport schools. And “official” opening week for the Remarkable Theater.

The Imperial Avenue parking lot lineup is a great one.

Today (Tuesday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.): “Minari.” Nominated for 6 Oscars this year, including Best Picture. A Korean-American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream.

Prior to the movie, a documentary short featuring Westport’s Asian-American rally organizers will be shown. It’s produced by 4th Row Films, in association with the Remarkable Theater.

In it, local residents share their experiences growing up, their journey to Westport. and how they’re raising awareness of rising Asian hate by forming a group (they’re on Instagram: @AAPIWestport or email: AAPIWestport@gmail.com).

Official opening night is Friday, April 16 (7:30 p.m.): “The Goonies.” In this 1985 adventure comedy, a bunch of kids trying to save their homes from foreclosure embark on a treasure hunt adventure.

Saturday, April 17 (7:45 p.m.): “Mamma Mia!” ABBA stars in the best sing-along movie ever made.

Wednesday, April 21: “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.” One-time local residents Paul Newman and Robert Redford star in this 1969 classic.

The night includes 4 short non-fiction documentary films before the feature:

  • Gatsby in Westport“: Deej Webb helps convince you that Westport is the town that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby.”
  • “Paul Shows Bob the New Playhouse”: A scene from the upcoming documentary about the Westport Country Playhouse.
  • “A Townie Breakfast Sandwich”: A tour of Westport’s breakfast sandwiches, including Calise’s, Village Bagels and Coffee An’.
  • “Westport This Used to Be”: featuring Jill Gault and Antonio Antonelli.

Click here for tickets. Not all shows may be available yet. The Imperial Avenue lot opens an hour before showtime, for tailgating.

A couple of local guys starred in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

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The Levitt Pavilion is planning for a summer season — and for at least one bit of housekeeping.

The Conservation Department has approved a request for turf installation near the stage, to replace existing grass (which sometimes turns to mud).

They’ll also install a drainage system to manage runoff in the lower area of amphitheater.

One of the great things about a Levitt performance is dancing in front of the stage. Now we won’t have to worry about “dirty dancing.”

Get on up and dance to the music!

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Last March, Bank of America closed its 3 Westport branches.

Today, customers received letters saying that the one at 980 Post Road East — next to the drive-thru Starbucks — will be closed permanent.

The letter said that the downtown branch — next to Design Within Reach — is “still here for you.”

Great! Except that, a few days ago, it was still closed.

No word either on the fate of the branch near the Southport line.

The Bank of America branch at 980 Post Road East is permanently closed.

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Starting May 2, children younger than 2 years old are welcome back to the Westport Library. A press release says, “We gladly welcome them to borrow books, audiobooks, CDs, and magazines.” I’m guessing most of that borrowing will be done for them, by somewhat older people.

The Westport Library welcomes children under 2 soon. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

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Andrew Colabella snapped a great photo of a Sherwood Mill Pond bald eagle yesterday.

And he provides the back story: It took a position in this tree from 3 egrets. He had just swooped down on one, which had a fish in its talons.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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And finally … in honor of “Butch Cassidy” at the Remarkable Theater:

 

Roundup: Real Estate, Rabbis’ Honors, Raptors …

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Westport’s real estate market roars along.

Roe Colletti reports there were 115 house closings in the first quarter of 2021, a 47% increase from 2020 — and the highest number of houses sold in that quarter since at least 2000.

The average closing price rose 33% to $1.84 million, the quarter’s highest since 2000. Homes sold on average for 99.7% of the list price.

There were 87 houses pending (signed contracts) on March 31, up 81% from last year. The average list price of those homes was $2.2 million.

Housing inventory on March 31 was 135  — down 47.3% from the previous March 31, when there were 256 houses on the market. (Hat tip: Chuck Greenlee)

This 12-bedroom, 15 1/2-bathroom estate, set on 7 1/2 acres, is listed for $20 million. (Photo courtesy of KMS Partners @ Compass)

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This year’s New York Board of Rabbis’ Humanitarian Awards will honor first responders and essential workers.

Dr. Anthony Fauci will be feted. So will the Greater New York Hospital Association.

And … Westport’s own Avi Kaner.

The co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets (and former Board of Finance chair and 2nd selectman) will be cited for the work his family-owned business did during the pandemic.

Morton Williams stores never closed. Employees kept working; senior executives ensured that the supply chain continued.

The company became a lifeline to New York. They worked with the CDC to adjust trucking regulations so that truckers would be comfortable making deliveries. They were among the first in the nation to set aside special hours for seniors and immunocompromised customers; they lobbied aggressively for mask use, and ensured that supermarket workers were included in phase 1B of the state’s vaccinations.

There’s one more Westport connection to the May 10 event: Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of The Conservative Synagogue is president of the New York Board of Rabbis.

Avi Kaner in a Bronx Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)

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Business Networking International does exactly what its name says.

But there’s a twist: Only one person per profession is allowed to join a chapter. For example, there is one CPA, one architect, one insurance agent.

BNI’s Westport chapter is strong and active. They’ve got 48 members. Last year, they conducted nearly $2 million in business.

There are openings now in a few categories: interior designer, home inspector, developer, heating and air conditioning contractor, fitness club or personal trainer, chef, and attorneys who practice estate and elder law.

Weekly BNI meetings are now held over Zoom. They’ll transition to a hybrid or in-person format this summer or fall. Click here for information, or email info@salonpaulmichael.com.

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Today’s osprey update:

Carolyn Doan reports that the Fresh Market ospreys had a busy week rebuilding and freshening up their nest.

Sometimes when they’re not at home, Carolyn and her son head over to Gray’s Creek. Those birds are usually eating. “The male’s chest is more white, while the female has tan markings,” she says. She took this photo of one finishing a fish.

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)

Meanwhile, a group of Y’s Men strolled past this osprey at Longshore:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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Five Wreckers are Staples High School’s Students of the Month.

Senior Henrik Hovstadius, junior Bruno Guiduli, sophomores Leo Fielding and Ari Lerner, and freshman Domenic Petrosinelli were nominated by their teachers.

Principal Stafford Thomas called the honorees “the glue of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together, making it the special place that is.

Staples High School students of the month (from left): Henrik Hovstadius, Domenic Petrosinelli and Ari Lerner. Missing: Bruno Guiduli and Leo Fielding.

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The 2021 Music at MoCA Concert Series features a diverse range of jazz, pop and classical outdoor concerts, from April through October. Highlights include performers from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Spotlight series.

Multi-instrumentalist and soulful pop artist Matt Nakoa opens the series on Friday, April 30 (7 p.m). Click here for the full schedule, and tickets.

Season passes are available for all 13 concerts, along with jazz, pop or classical packages and individual concert tickets. MoCA members receive discounts. Food and drinks are available at each event.

Matt Nakoa

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And finally … so who is Matt Nakoa (the first MoCA concert performer this year — see above). Watch below: