Category Archives: Local politics

COVID Roundup: No Camp Compo Or RECing Crew; Antibodies And Masks; More


One more casualty of COVID-19: Westport Parks & Recreation’s long-running, popular Camp Compo and RECing Crew programs.

Parks & Rec director Jen Fava says:

“Due to the many restrictions placed upon camps by the state, the limited number of children that could be served, limitations of our facilities, the challenge of social distancing, and the new unknowns related to Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome, we are concerned about our ability to provide these programs in a safe manner. Additionally, they would not be the camp experiences that our campers and parents have come to expect.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe adds, “This was not an easy decision to make, but after consulting with staff and the Westport Weston Health District, we believe this is the right decision for our specific programs.  The health and safety of our participants and staff, and the larger community, is our foremost concern. In light of that and the uncertainties related to the Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome, there was too much health risk as it pertains to these programs.”

Other Parks & Rec summer programs are being evaluated and restructured to meet requirements. Information will be provided as soon as they are finalized.


This weekend on Hillspoint Road, Peter Maloney asked a 40-something woman to please use a mask as she walked near him.

“Not a problem! I have the antibodies,” she chirped.

Of course, Peter — and most Westporters — don’t have “the antibodies.”

Earth to woman: It’s not always about you.


And finally … the holiday’s over. Back to work (from home)!

COVID Roundup: Town Hall; Therapists’ Webinar; EMS Week; More


Rsetaurant, stores and offices are beginning to open. What about Town Hall?

Town staff are staggering shifts and remote work, to provide all town services to the public.

Appointments are accepted for complex matters. Staff members are doing their best to answer phone calls, and try to return all voicemails and emails within 24 hours.

Click here for a staff directory, or visit departmental pages for instructions on how to conduct business with a specific department.

Town Hall (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)


As shuttered Westport businesses open up, they’ll soon welcome a newcomer.

Garelick & Herbs’ Saugatuck location — which closed in late February, just a couple of weeks before the coronavirus swept through — will become Kneads.

A sign calls it a “bakery, cafe and mill.” It’s “coming soon.”

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)


Happy EMS Week!

In honor of our great crew — especially during the pandemic — 1st Selectman Jim Marpe says: “EMS practitioners are professionals of the highest caliber; keeping up with the latest training to ensure that they know the most effective life-saving emergency treatments that will benefit us all. As dedicated first responders, Westport’s Volunteer EMS provides immediate care during a health crisis; whether there is an accident or an illness, these trained professionals work around the clock to make sure care is available quickly for all our residents and those in need.

“We in Westport join those across the nation in honoring the valuable and vital contributions that EMS practitioners provide each and every day. With gratitude and appreciation, we express our deepest thanks for all our EMS professionals do for our community.”


You’ve got relationship questions? Jennifer Strom, Samantha Lavy have answers.

Or at least, they can help you frame your thoughts better.

The local marriage and family therapists — both mothers of teenagers — see many families navigating a new world filled with uncertainty, loss and changes in routine. Teenagers in particular have lost social outlets, sports and other activities. They’re filled with questions about school and college, but lack structure and schedules.

“As we stare at screens and find ourselves with lack of connection, parenting during lockdown has become more complicated,” the therapists say. “In addition, as couples, emotions intensify.”

They’ve compiled common concerns and challenges that families face during COVID. In a pair of free webinars, they’ll outline strategies and tools they use to help manage in times of stress. During each live session, they’ll take viewers’ questions.

The topics are “Teen Stress: COVID and Beyond” (Thursday, May 28, 6 to 6:30 p.m.; click here to register) and “Couples Coping: COVID and Beyond” (Thursday, June 4, 6 to 6:30 p.m.; click here to register).


And finally … as Westport (and the rest of Connecticut) start opening up …

P&Z, Town Provide Detailed Info Re Restaurant, Retail Reopening

On the eve of the first day of reopened restaurants, Westport’s Planning & Zoning Department has released extensive guidelines — and an application form (click here) for restaurants and businesses hoping to be up and running soon.

Town officials promise to expedite applications from restaurants and retail outlets. No business — including restaurants that offered outdoor dining prior to COVID-19 — can reopen until the form is completed and approved.

Outdoor dining guidelines — in the form of Frequently Asked Questions — were prepared by P&Z Commission chair Danielle Dobin, with feedback from the town attorney’s office, Westport Weston Health District, Police and Fire Departments, and the ReOpen Westport Advisory Team.

They are clear, comprehensive, and cognizant of the needs of owners, employees, patrons and residents. They say:

What’s the process for seeking approval for outdoor dining?

Complete the Outdoor Dining Application (llink above), then
submit to PandZ@westportct.gov, attn.: Mary Young, Planning & Zoning
director, who will circulate to other Town Departments, as applicable. There are
no fees for this application.

Do I need to hire an architect or engineer?

There is no need to hire any outside consultants. The application is very simple. You can use a drawing made by hand, old plans or even a printout from Google
Maps to indicate where you would like to locate your outdoor dining area. Please
indicate dimensions of the outdoor area proposed, size of any tents proposed, etc.

Sherwood Diner prepares for outdoor dining. (Photo/Dan Woog)

What’s the timeline?

Once your application is determined to be complete by the Zoning Office, you will receive a response informing you that your application has been approved,
amended or denied within 10 business days. If you do not receive a response
within 10 days then your application is deemed approved.

Can I appeal if denied?

Yes. You may appeal to the Planning & Zoning Commission which will discuss
your appeal at its next scheduled meeting.

Do I have to apply even if I already have an approved outdoor dining area from the town?

Yes. Even if you already have an approved outdoor patio, you must complete the
application to ensure the patio meets current state and local requirements.

Where can I put the outdoor dining area?

The outdoor dining can be located anywhere that meets fire, police and health
requirements. This means it can potentially go in your parking lot or even in the
parking lot of a nearby or adjacent building, as long as the owner of that property
agrees. It can even potentially be located within the setbacks as long as you are
sensitive to neighboring uses, especially any residential uses adjacent or nearby.
Your proposed plan will be carefully and quickly reviewed by the Zoning Office.

If I put the outdoor dining in my parking lot, where will people park?

If you intend to use part or all of your parking lot for outdoor dining, you must
ensure there is parking nearby for both patrons and your employees. Please
include this information in your application.

Can I create a combined outdoor eating area with some other restaurants in my same building or area?

Yes. Please feel free to collaborate on a plan with your neighboring restaurants.

What if there is a town-owned lot, park or street nearby that would be helpful for me to utilize for outdoor dining? Can I request that a street be closed?

Yes. You can request permission to utilize town owned property on the
application, including sidewalks, streets, parks and parking lots. These requests
will be evaluated by the local Traffic Authority, and police and fire
departments. As this process may take longer than 10 days, consider making this
an alternative request. You are not limited to making one request.

The owners of Harvest, Tarantino’s and Romanacci Xpress met last week, to discuss the best use of Railroad Place.

Am I required to build a platform for the outdoor dining tables to sit on?
No. There is no requirement to build a platform as long as your seating meets
ADA requirements.

Am I required to provide a tent, awning or umbrellas or can the outdoor dining be uncovered?
There is no requirement to provide covered outdoor dining. The outdoor dining
can be open to the air.

Do I need any state approvals to open?
Yes. You must self-certify with the state before opening and before the Zoning
Office may approve your application. Here is the link for the application.

How big of a dining area am I permitted to create? Is it the physical size of
the area or occupancy that matters or both?

You can potentially serve up to 50% of the number of patrons typically
accommodated at your restaurant pre-COVID. However, all state and local social
distancing rules must be observed, and the police, fire and health departments must approve of the outdoor dining area’s size, configuration and location.

How far apart must tables be located?
Seating and tables must be arranged to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between customers. You must ensure tables are at least 6+ feet apart. If customers are sitting in booths or seating is fixed, groups of customers must still be 6+ feet apart. This may require keeping some booths or seats empty. Distance shall be measured from the closest chair at one table to the closest chair at another table.

The state of Connecticut has provided these instructions for restaurants that hope to reopen.

Where should hand washing or sanitizing stations be set up? What should be provided?
Hand sanitizer shall be made available at entrance points and common areas.

Can patrons utilize the bathrooms inside my restaurant?
Yes. However, they must put their mask on before leaving the table. Management should keep in mind there is a requirement to install visual social distancing markers to encourage customers to remain 6 feet apart (e.g., the entrance to the restaurant, lines to be seated, lines to make payments, lines to use the restroom).

Are patrons required to wear masks when they are not eating/drinking?
Customers are required to bring and wear masks or cloth face coverings that
completely cover the nose and mouth, unless doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety due to a medical condition or when eating in the restaurant. The masks should also be worn while entering and/or leaving the facility, or leaving the table to use the restroom.

Are staff required to wear masks at all times?
Yes. All employees are required to wear a facemask or other cloth face covering
that completely covers the nose and mouth, unless doing so would be contrary to
his or her health or safety due to medical conditions. Employees may utilize their
own cloth face covering instead of that provided by their employer if they choose.
Additionally, gloves are required for table servers, and they must be replaced
frequently. Gloves and eye protection are required when using cleaning chemicals. Kitchen workers shall follow FDA guidelines on use of gloves where appropriate.

If a patron isn’t complying with health standards, such as not wearing a mask or standing too close to a different table, how should we handle this?
We are all in this together! The complainant should ask to speak to the manager or establishment owner on-site who should immediately ask the patron to comply with the safety protocols or leave. If compliance is not obtained, restaurant patrons, employees, and/or owners can contact the Westport Police non-emergency line to report any issue (203-341-6000).

Are restaurants required to seat only parties with reservations? Are
restaurants required to keep a log of everyone for potential contact tracing?

It is strongly recommended that you require patrons to reserve tables in advance to assist with any necessary contact tracing and to minimize having people waiting for tables. In the event a patron or employee becomes ill, contact tracing will be facilitated by strong record keeping. It is recommended that you keep a log of all walk-in customers for this reason as well.

Can restaurants create a designated waiting area?
No. Restaurant should take the contact information of people waiting to eat and
should call or text the patrons when their table is ready. You may not designate a
waiting area, and your staff should actively discourage patrons from waiting at the restaurant to be seated.

How frequently must the bathrooms be sanitized and is there a
recommended sanitizing solution or product?

Bathrooms should be cleaned frequently, implementing use of a cleaning log for
tracking. Sanitizing solutions and/or products need to follow federal guidelines (CDC, EPA) on what specific products to use and how:
• Use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 and that
are appropriate for the surface. Prior to wiping the surface, allow the
disinfectant to sit for the necessary contact time recommended by the
manufacturer. Train staff on proper cleaning procedures to ensure safe and
correct application of disinfectants.
• Disinfectants are irritants and sensitizers, and they should be used
cautiously.
• Avoid all food contact surfaces when using disinfectants; these surfaces
should be sanitized instead.
• Clean and disinfect common areas, high transit areas, and frequently touched
surfaces on an ongoing basis (at least daily) and more frequently if used
more often. Clean and disinfect shared objects after each use including but
not limited to: entrances and exits, payment devices (e.g., PIN pad)
and chairs.
For more details regarding the Governor’s Re-Open Connecticut
standards, click here.

(For direct links on the town’s official P&Z page, click here.)

Calling All Neighbors!

Call it the COVID Paradox: At a time when people most need each other — for solace, for hugs, for simple companionship in a crisis — we’re commanded to stay far apart. Being close can kill. New phrases like “self-isolation” and “social distancing” sound as grim as they actually are.

In mid-March, Navida Greifenberger started a “Westport Coronavirus Info” Facebook group. It was a way to share ideas, and create community.

As important as it was, it did not take long for Greifenberger to realize that more was needed. Beyond group sharing, she wondered, how could she help individuals?

She created a simple Facebook form, linking those who wanted to make phone calls with those who wished to receive them. One of the first volunteers was 3rd Selectman Melissa Kane. She quickly realized this was a great project for the town’s Department of Human Services. Director Elaine Daignault agreed.

No matter how you connect …

Together the department, Greifenberger and Kari Bley established structure (including background checks and orientation) for volunteers.

Anyone 18 and older is welcome, from every neighborhood and with all kinds of interests.

Once a background check is completed, Human Services matches callers with recipients. Matches may include common interests, but some volunteers and recipients indicate that they want to be matched with someone older or younger.

No particular skill is needed. The only prerequisite is completing the form, and establishing a compatible call schedule.

The goal  of the program — called “Hello, Neighbor” — is for each pair to have at least one conversation a week. Anything beyond that is up to them.

… both the caller and recipient will benefit from regular phone conversations.

“We’re excited to have put together a program that doesn’t differentiate between volunteers and beneficiaries,” says Kane. “Everyone wins when a connection is made. Our community becomes richer as a result of making new friends, mentors and confidantes.”

“Social media is a wonderful and important tool for people to communicate,” Greifenberger adds. “But it doesn’t compare to the comfort of hearing a voice at the end of the phone.”

Daignault believes that participants will get “far more out of a regular conversation with a neighbor than they anticipate. It’s not so much about the content of the conversation, but the impact of ‘showing up’ for one another.

“Many people miss their routine. It’s nice to have something like this to look forward to. One-to-one calls provide an unusual opportunity for people to be truly present, without distractions.

“This is key for anyone who may feel isolated. Mental health is tied to our interactions with others. In the current environment, avoiding person-to-person interaction, many people feel invisible and alone. We hope this program helps everyone feel important and heard.”

If you want to be heard — as a volunteer or recipient — click here. Questions? Email helloneighbor@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-5037.

Marpe: Beach Reopening Went Well, But …

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

This weekend’s reopening plan for the Compo Beach and Soundview parking lots, as well as reopening of play at Longshore golf course with restrictions, was successful.

In general everyone was respectful, aware, accommodating of social distancing, and had masks available when not able to maintain 6-foot distances. I appreciate the efforts everyone made, including residents and town staff, that helped insure a positive outcome.

There remain, however, some who choose not to adhere to the CDC recommendations. To be successful in our reopening efforts, we must self-monitor, and request that everyone comply with the recommendations outlined for the general health and well-being of all.

We are in uncharted territory, and gentle reminders to those around us are encouraged. Remember: Whenever you leave your home, you wear a mask to protect your neighbors, and they wear one to protect you. Please have a mask readily available (around your neck, not in your pocket) and be prepared to carefully pull it up and over your mouth and nose at any time.

Parents, please remind your children that the rules apply to them as well. Together, we can meet the challenges that face us all during these unprecedented times.

Compo Beach was quite empty yesterday (Sunday) morning. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

Re-Open Advisory Team:

The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team will hold a public meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, May 19, 11:00 a.m.). It will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and broadcast on Cablevision channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Emails to the Advisory Team may be sent to reopenteam@westportct.gov.

For information on town services and facilities status reopening plans: www.westportct/reopen

Restaurants Re-Opening:

The town of Westport will streamline and expedite the process for applicants seeking approval of outdoor dining. The application form and a detailed description of the rules will be available on the town’s P&Z website this week (www.westportct.gov/pnz).

Applications will be approved with an expected response time within 10 days of the receipt date. The Planning & Zoning Commission has waived requirements for hearings on these applications, to allow for an expedited reopening of outdoor dining in Westport.

The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team is working with Westport retailers and the Selectman’s Office for administrative approvals on the use of town property for the outdoor display of retail goods.

As Westport begins to reopen, town officials are working on rules for the outdoor display of retail goods. (Photo/Molly Alger)

Tax Relief Program Reminder

The tax relief program application for April’s tax payment is due this Friday (May 22). The deadline for the July payment is July 1. Click here for more information.

Westport Weston Health District Update

Westport-Weston Health District executive director Mark Cooper reports:

Phase 1 of reopening Connecticut businesses begins next week. The WWHD has been hard at work contributing to both state and town planning efforts, as well as training for the anticipated surge in testing and contact tracing.

Widespread testing and contact tracing are key components of a successful and steady reopening process. Our community health staff will perform contact tracing for our community. While some municipalities across Connecticutrely on the State Department of Public Health to do the tracing, the WWHD expects to have the ability to manage the volume of calls in-house.

From the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Westport and Weston, WWHD staff has been contact tracing infected individuals. We anticipate that the number of positive tests will increase with widespread testing, so capacity has been augmented accordingly.

Staff will be joined in the efforts by the Westport Public School nurses, who have generously volunteered to help our community with this important work. Additionally, Medical Reserve Corps volunteers have answered the call for assistance. We are grateful for all of these knowledgeable volunteers.

This team effort will enable the Health District to reach out to impacted individuals to educate them on safe practices, self-isolation measures, and to answer any questions.

Restaurant Reopenings: What’s On The Menu For Westport?

This Wednesday — May 20 — marks the day Connecticut restaurants can reopen for more than curbside takeout and delivery .

There are restrictions: For example, outdoor dining only is permitted; there is no bar service. Tables must be 6 feet apart.

That should be good news for owners, employees and diners. The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Le Penguin’s mascots are making it through the pandemic. Like restaurant owners all over town, their owners are figuring out how to adapt to new state reopening regulations. (Photo/Marcy Sansolo)

But don’t expect a rush of al fresco options 2 days from now. Several steps — beyond simply configuring space (and ordering single-use menus) — must be taken first.

Westport Planning & Zoning chair Danielle Dobin notes that Governor Lamont has temporarily suspended municipal laws regulating outdoor dining. So instead of the traditional permitting process, restaurateurs here must submit a simple application to P&Z director Mary Young.

Westport Police and Fire Department officials, along with the Westport Weston Health District, must sign off on each application. Restaurants that already have outdoor dining must apply too, ensuring they comply with revised health regulations.

Romanacci already has an outdoor dining permit. Under new regulations, tables — shown here last year — now must be 6 feet apart. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Lamont’s executive order “provides tremendous flexibility to restaurants looking to create an outdoor dining space,” Dobin says.

“Normal requirements for parking and setbacks have been waived. Restaurants can even explore using neighboring properties or parking lots, so long as the owners of those properties approve of the plan.

“Residents should expect restaurants all over the state to create larger outdoor dining areas than in the past. Our outdoor restaurant spaces will often look and feel a bit different.”

Sherwood Diner prepares for outdoor dining. (Photo/Dan Woog)

You won’t hear a lot of live music, however. Previous noise regulations remain in effect.

Dobin says that the board of selectmen are also looking at “the creative use of certain town roads to facilitate outdoor dining and outdoor shopping.”

Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, is the restaurant liaison for the ReOpen Westport Advisory Team. On Friday he led a Zoom call, with over 3 dozen restaurant owners.

Restaurant owners and town officials joined a conference call on Friday.

“Our restaurant owners are committed to providing a safe environment for their guests,” Dobin says.

“There is no rush to reopen. Many owners will take their time. I hope that all of our residents are supportive and patient with our fabulous Westport restaurants, as they find their way in this new world.”

“This is not a race,” Mandell agrees. “Slow and steady will win this one. The goal of ensuring health and safety for customers, staff and owners will ultimately lead to everyone’s success.”

As restaurants announce openings, lists compiled by the Chamber of Commerce and OneWestport will be updated regularly.

The owners of Harvest, Tarantino and Romanacci met on Friday, to discuss the best use of Railroad Place.

[OPINION] Doctor Dumps On Port-A-Potties

Dr. Jay Walshon is a longtime Westporter. He spent 35 years as a chairman and director of emergency medicine; is a past director of EMS for South Central Connecticut, and the EMS advisory board; a 3-term president of the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians, and recipient of the 2016 Phil Stent Achievement Award in Emergency Medicine.

On May 7, he spoke at a Parks & Recreation Commission meeting of his concerns about using portable toilets at recreational facilities. He shared those concerns in a letter to town officials. Dr. Walshon says:

It was recently announced that the new bathroom facilities at South Beach will remain closed owing to virus related concerns. This seems prudent, as those permanent restrooms are significantly more difficult to keep safe from spreading contagion. In addition, I support the cautious reopening public spaces for resident enjoyment.

Bathroom facilities at Compo Beach will be closed … (Photo/Matt Murray)

However, as a medical professional I must respectfully point out that the choice to rely upon portable toilets at the beach potentially presents serious unnecessary and unjustifiable risks to public safety.

The premise that portable toilets are safe is not one which survives scrutiny when a highly contagious organism like COVID-19 is involved.

Current CT statistics indicate that 99% of Westport residents remain vulnerable to COVID-19.

We know there is significant community spread by pre-symptomatic viral shed for 2-3 days – including in diarrhea – and those devoid of classic signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Given that between 25 and 50% of COVID-19 infectious people might not be aware they are spreading the virus, 2,000 beachgoers from Fairfield County will likely include people who pose unsuspecting risk. Odds are that some who are contagious will utilize these enclosed spaces. We will not know who or how many.

Viral particles can be found in the air for up to 3 hours, and droplets survive on hard surfaces for 3 to 4 days, rendering poorly ventilated confined public spaces such as portable toilets dangerous to unsuspecting users.

Despite seasonality, UV light and humidity effects, COVID-19 transmission will not be aborted and may not even significantly diminish. Current mitigation is grounded in assuming everyone may be contagious.

… and be replaced by portable toilets. (Not this many — it’s a fireworks file photo!)

Using a toilet facility after someone who unwittingly aerosolized viral particles by coughing, sneezing, spitting, diarrhea, flushing, etc. can result in infection via inhaling micro-droplets or touching contaminated surfaces. While flushing does not occur, their poorly ventilated confined spaces can increase air and surface contamination. Outdoor spaces may provide elements mitigating viral spread, but port-a-potties provide environments that are the antithesis.

While I understand the these potties will be subject to “a stringent cleaning and sanitization protocol” by maintenance staff, to be reliably effective, disinfection needs to be performed between users by trained personnel wearing proper protective garments – a challenging and arduous task for our Parks staff in summer heat, and exposing them to undue risk.

These toilets will create queues of people who must maintain social distancing and wear face coverings within to optimally mitigate contamination, and they will encourage longer stays and larger gatherings – something we might wish to avoid at this juncture.

Compounding the risk is absence of hand washing stations. Residents will be unable to effectively cleanse as “sanitizer” is merely an adjunct to proper hand washing technique with soap and water.

The inconvenient truth is that for reopening public spaces where gatherings are inevitable, public toilet facilities are not safe spaces at this time.

Unless our residents can be assured otherwise, from an epidemiological perspective the port-a-potties represent an unnecessary and unjustifiable health risk to individual and community health. If effective mitigation against viral spread is the healthcare priority for Westport, providing portable toilets to the public during this early reopening phase may be inadvisable.

COVID Roundup: New Grocery Store; Church Outreach; Earth Animal Art; Face Masks; More


And the newest grocery store in Westport is … Via Sforza.

The popular Post Road West Italian restaurant now sells a wide variety of produce, meat, dairy products, pasta, rice, sauces, spices, herbs, beverages, snacks, and pantry and household items. They’re open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Of course, they still offer their great takeout and delivery lunch and dinner menus too. Click here for more information, or call 203-454-4444.


Last year, Green’s Farms Church kicked off an ambitious “Church of the Future” campaign. Now is not the greatest time to be in the middle of a fundraiser. But they’ve been around for 309 years. They plan to be here for centuries more.

They’re renovating the facility, parts of which are 170 years old. That includes work on the meetinghouse, refurbishing the pipe organ, and making meeting areas more open and flexible. Local groups like AA will benefit as well.

But in this time of great need everywhere, Green’s Farms Church is thinking beyond its walls. Some of the funds raised are earmarked for local non-profits. The congregation has helped them in the past; now they’re ratcheting up that support even more.

GFC is donating $25,000 each to 4 groups: Homes With Hope, Mercy Learning Center, Pivot Ministries and the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. 

Church leaders hope these challenge grants stimulate additional donations to each of these groups by others. And they hope as their own fundraising campaign continues, they’ll be able to help these and other groups even more in the future.


In the last 35 days, Westport Masks have made over 1,100 masks — and given them all away. Recent recipients include Westport’s Public Works, Parks & Recreation and highway departments; Westport Post Office; elderly residents through Westport’s Department of Human Services; Open Door Shelter in Norwalk; Food Rescue US; Thomas Merton Family Center in Bridgeport; Stamford Hospice, Norwalk Hospital and more.

While continuing to donate to front line and vulnerable groups, they’ll also create masks for friends, family, children and the general public in return for small financial donations. Westport Masks uses 100% of the funds to buy supplies. They suggest $10 — but they never let anyone go without a mask if they need one.

All masks are 2 layers of 100% cotton. They’re washable, with a filter pocket for added protection. They even have neck ties, so they can be worn all the time.

If you are confident with your sewing machine — or cannot sew but can cut fabric, or have spare fabric or good quality bed linen to donate, or want to one of your own — email WestportMasks@yahoo.com.

“We’ll keep going until no one else needs a mask,” promises co-founder Virginia Jaffe.


Yesterday marked the return of the Westport Farmers’ Market to the Imperial Avenue parking lot. Gratified shopper Emily Mikesell reports:

“Besides being as safe as possible, it was an unexpectedly sweet, positive experience. It ran like the most cheerful Swiss watch you’ve ever seen! It was wonderful to see so many familiar vendors, even behind masks. And though I felt sad not being able to over-buy from wandering and browsing, I’ll put myself in that mood over the weekend when I order for next week.

“Until then I will enjoy delicious raw milk and yogurt, farm fresh eggs and just-baked bread.

“Yes, the experience is different. But it still supports the vendors we love. It’s a real day brightener!”

To order online and for more information, click here.


Pets (and pet owners) love Earth Animal. Now artists do too.

Through May 31, they’re collecting artwork from all ages. Sketches, watercolor, chalk — whatever works is fine. So are group entries. The only rule: nothing bigger than 24″ x 36″.

Put your name on the back; drop it off at the store, or mail it to 925 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Drawings will be hung in the store — and whoever created their favorite will win a $500 gift card.

Questions? Call 203-222-7173.


A couple of months ago, the message on this sweatshirt spotted on Beachside Avenue would have drawn puzzled looks. These days, it makes perfect sense.

(Photo/Ed Simek)


And finally … what better way for the King’s Singers to share Billy Joel’s beautiful tune than by asking 732 people around the globe to join them in a “Stay at Home” choir? Kudos to all (and everyone behind the scenes too). What a lovely way to end the week.

Marpe: As Compo, Longshore Open, Cooperation Needed

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

Tomorrow we reopen the Compo Beach and Soundview parking lots at 50 percent capacity, for Westporters and Westonites with valid 2020 beach emblems. The golf course at Longshore Park will be open as well, with restrictions in place.

I’m excited that you’ll have more opportunity for being outdoors, and for enjoying our wonderful parks and beaches.

But for the reopening of our beaches and golf course to succeed, caution and mutual respect are essential.

Key requirements related to the reopening of our beaches will help keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible. Following these recommendations is imperative so that the state’s rules for social distancing and limiting group sizes are implemented.

Even at the beach, you must maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others who are not members of your immediate household. Face coverings are required if you are in a position where you are not able to socially distance. You should have a mask ready.

A typical scene recently: Compo Beach being groomed for a new season. The rules will be different though, when the parking lots open tomorrow. (Photo/Karen Como)

Be aware that beach capacity will be limited to 50 percent of the parking lot capacity.

Parks & Recreation staff will control traffic at the parking lot gates, so you may be denied admission into the lots when you get there. We will have signage at key locations on the approaches to Compo Beach to warn you of this before you arrive at the beach. You may have to make alternate plans, return at a later time, or visit on another day.

You may bring your own umbrellas, chairs, blankets and towels, and enjoy the beach. However, please leave tents, pop-ups, Frisbees and sports equipment at home. We are not allowing any type of activity that has the potential for people encroaching on others.

The playground, basketball courts, skate park, volleyball courts, pickleball courts and softball field remain closed. Port-a-johns will be available, and held to a stringent cleaning and sanitization protocol by our Parks maintenance staff.

There are no tables available in any location. Grills have been removed, and bringing your own grill is not permitted. All of this is being done in an effort to limit gatherings.

Tables and grills have been removed from Compo Beach. (Photo/Dan Woog)

These restrictions may be changed over time based on guidance from the governor, federal, state and local authorities, as well as community compliance and experience. We ask for your patience and adherence to the established rules.

Over the past several weeks, Longshore Club Park has been heavily used by walkers, joggers, cyclists and others. With the golf course open, these types of activities, even along the roadways, pose additional safety concerns from errant golf balls. For your safety, please take part in these types of activities at other locations. In addition, starting tomorrow, a valid 2020 beach emblem is required for parking in some Longshore Club Park lots.

Our top priority is the health and safety of our residents. A good rule of thumb: Act in public as if you have the virus, and that anyone you encounter has it too. We request that you follow the rules and guidelines closely. Remember that everyone in town is relying on your compliance. Strict adherence to social distancing and face covering requirements is imperative if we are to keep the beaches and golf course open.

During these unusual times we need to work together to ensure the health and safety of our community, as well as to ensure that the effort to reopen our parks and beaches is successful.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Today Is Westport’s 2nd Annual Gatsby Day. Party Time!

Exactly one year ago today, Westport celebrated its first-ever Gatsby Day.

May 14 was the 99th anniversary of the day a young couple signed a 5-month lease for a modest gray cottage on South Compo Road.

It was not big news. In fact, it took the Westporter-Herald — the local newspaper that chronicled every visitor, gathering and event in town — until the next month to run this small item:

“F. Scott Fitzgerald, a writer, has leased the Wakeman Cottage near Compo Beach.”

The iconic (and Photoshopped) shot of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, in front of their Westport home.

But the honeymoon home of Fitzgerald and his new bride Zelda — they’d gotten married on April 3 –had a profound impact on both. It appears in more of their collective works than any other place they lived.

With good reason. The couple drank and partied all summer long.

In case you missed last year’s Gatsby Day event, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe read a declaration. Richard Webb and Robert Steven Williams — Westporters who have study Westport’s impact on Fitzgerald, and keep it alive via a documentary and book —  cracked a bottle of champagne. One other person showed up to watch.

Celebrating last year’s first-ever Gatsby Day are (from left) Robert Steven Williams, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (with proclamation), Richard Webb, and Westport Museum of History & Culture executive director Ramin Ganeshram. (Photo/David Matlow for WestportNow)

The cottage that once abutted larger-than-life multimillionaire Frederick E. Lewis’ property (now Longshore Club Park) still stands. Today it’s a handsome home.

It was supposed to have been the site of Westport’s 2nd annual Gatsby Day. A big celebration was planned foro today. After all, “centennial” sounds a lot more impressive than “99th anniversary.”

The COVID virus scuttled all that. So Webb, Williams, the one or two random people who may have showed up today, and all the rest of us will have to do the next best thing: enjoy last year’s part-legalistic, part-whimsical proclamation.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald at the Compo Beach bathhouses, in the summer of 1920. (Courtesy of F. Scott Fitzgerald Trustees and Richard Webb)

TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS COME – GREETINGS:

Whereas, it was an age of miracles. It was an age of art. It was an age of excess and it was an age of satire.

Whereas, It was also the year Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald came to Westport, 1920.

Whereas, 99 years ago, on this very day, the Fitzgeralds signed a lease right here at 244 South Compo Road. Owned by the Wakeman family, this New England colonial stood defiantly then, as Scott once wrote. And today, this façade looks very much like it did when they lived here.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald slept — and partied — here, on South Compo Road.

Whereas, The Fitzgeralds spent their honeymoon months here. Both Scott and Zelda would repurpose this Westport experience in fiction and essays. Zelda would even paint this home on a lampshade that showcased places that meant something special.

Whereas, most remarkable, the seeds of The Great Gatsby are here on Compo Road.

Whereas, we are gathered here today to celebrate the impact of two remarkable cultural icons that launched in Westport a revolutionary American literary movement that has influenced in innumerable ways every aspect of the creative life of the United States.

Party at 244 Compo Road South! From left: Tana, their butler; John D. Williams,  Broadway actor, director and producer; Zelda Fitzgerald; John Jean Nathan, author and critic; F. Scott Fitzgerald; Princeton classmate Alexander McKaig. According to historian Richard Webb, Zelda may have been having an affair with Nathan at the time. McKaig kept a diary of his Westport visits, an excellent window into their time here. (Courtesy of F. Scott Fitzgerald Trustees and Richard Webb)

NOW, THEREFORE, I, James Marpe, by the authority vested in me by the laws of Westport, do hereby proclaim May 14, 2019, as

Great Gatsby Day

So that residents of Westport and fans of the Fitzgeralds, far and near, can celebrate the joy and intrigue that comprised their stay here, back in 1920.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the Seal of (governing body) this 14th day of  May, in the year of 2019  that we are here to mark the inauguration of the first annual Great Gatsby Day in Westport.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, resplendent in matching white suits, ready to leave Westport to visit Zelda’s parents in Montgomery, Alabama. According to Richard Webb, 
“a woman wearing such a suit at that time was considered so scandalous they were denied entry into at least one hotel on the trip south.” (Courtesy of F. Scott Fitzgerald Trustees and Richard Webb)