Category Archives: Local politics

200 Petitioners To P&Z: Long Lots School, Baseball Field Are 2 Separate Issues

Two prominent Westporters — former State Representative Ken Bernhard, and attorney Larry Weisman — have followed the Long Lots Elementary School building project with interest.

Today they delivered a letter to the Planning & Zoning Commission, with copies to the Board of Finance, Board of Selectwomen, and RTM moderator.

In it, they ask the P&Z to treat 2 components of the project — the school building itself, and the baseball field that may replace the current Westport Community Gardens — as separate issues, rather than one.

The letter has been signed by nearly 200 residents. They include Democrats, Republicans, and former members of bodies like the Board of Education, Board of Finance and RTM.

The letter says:

Dear Planning and Zoning Commissioners,

With respect to the administration’s decision to replace the Community Gardens with a Babe Ruth-sized playing field, many in town feel that good governance and fair play have not received their due.

Advocates for additional playing fields, including the administration and its handpicked committee, have prevailed notwithstanding complaints by other legitimate stakeholders that the process was flawed on multiple levels.

Even requests for a second look by the Public Site & Building Commission (designated by the Town Charter as the “school building committee”) have been denied, despite the obvious value of review at no cost to the town by an independent body with expertise and experience in construction and development of similar projects.

The Long Lots School Project has two distinct and independent components: 1. demolition and reconstruction of the school, and 2. construction of a playing field on the adjacent town-owned property now occupied by the Community Gardens.

Letter writers say that the construction of a new Long Lots Elementary School …

The matter will soon come before the Planning & Zoning Commission upon the request of the administration for a single 8-24 review, on the mistaken assumption that the two parts should or must be treated as one even though they involve two separate and distinct uses on two separate pieces of land.

We believe that it is a mistake to treat the two components as one because the P&Z can only either approve or disapprove an 8-24 request; it cannot modify the submission or impose conditions upon its implementation.

… is a discussion separate from the future of the Westport Community Gardens.

The effect of treating these disparate uses on unrelated sites as one is to limit the ability of the P&Z to evaluate each of the components of this project on its own merits and perhaps to approve of one while disapproving of the other.

Furthermore, after reviewing the relevant documentation, several qualified observers with considerable expertise and real-world construction experience firmly believe that there is adequate land on the school site to accommodate both a new school, (including staging and storage during construction), and a playing field without encroaching upon the adjacent site occupied by the gardens. To date however, those opinions have not been heard because those holding them have not been afforded an opportunity for meaningful participation in the decision-making process.

In view of the aforesaid, we respectfully request that the P&Z either encourage the administration to submit two 8-24 requests acknowledging the separate components of the project or, failing that, that it issues a negative 8-24 report on a submission that combines the two severable components.

Respectfully submitted,
Ken Bernhard, Larry Weisman

Other signers:

Ken Wirfel                            Elle Lowenstein                  Sybil Steinberg

Bob Jacobs                           Mimi Greenlee                    Dave Matlow

Dede McDowell                  Mike Guthman                    Jo Ann Davidson

Lucy Johnson                       Sandra Urist                         Diane Wildman

Rick Benson                         Jane Jessup                          Mike Szeto

Nancy Vener                        Janine Scotti                        Pietro Scotti

Andrew Coleman               Relly Coleman                     Jeff Nevill

Yulee Aronson         Mary-Lou Weisman                       John Paul

Lynn Paul                  Valerie Szeto                                   Sam Levenson

Don Bergman          Carolanne Curry                             Diane Bosch

Eric Bosch                 Bill Klein                                            Idalia Rodriquez

Larry Kleinman        Kate McGarvey                               Jean-Pierre Montillier

Brian McGarvey     Phil Glick                                           Sara Glick

James Mather         Jesse Harte                                      James Brown

Dalma Heyn             Shelia Smith                                     Mary-Claire Grosgogeat

Mark Steckel           Ellen Winnick                                  Willian Anderson

Linda Mak Chin       Ethan Chin                                       Edward Chin

Sally Kleinman        Allegra Gottizemel                         Elizabeth Duvall

Lee Wrubel              David Meth                                      Linda Pryele

Mathew Sagal         Linda Kowalsky                               Morgaine Pauker

William Berson       Gene Byrne                                      Art Gang

Debra Smolka          Ed Smolka                                        Jane Jacobs

Emily Jacobs            Gavin Broady                                   Chuck Greenlee

Lori Meinke              Theresa Roth                                   Eric Friedland

Ann Matlow            Sari Bodi                                           Deborah Press

Michael Press          Eleanor Spangler                            Douglas Spangler

Susie Anderson      Irmgard Gwilliam                           Al Gwilliam

Lori Hammer           Pamela Davis                                   Jeff Gershowitz

Will Hamilton          Marc Fischer                                    Jean Pierre Montillier

Sara Montillier        Sara Montillier                                Maura Keenan

Peter Keenan           Patricia Boyle                                  Edward Boyle

Alec Head                 George Waterman                         Mary Sue Waterman

Benjamin Head       Marguerite Webb                          Phyllis Freeman

Joseph Wiles           Michelle Wiles                                Joyce Barnhart

Nancy Gentile         Andrew Gentile                              Amy Unikewicz

Leslie Meredith       Chris Grimm                                    Miriam Roth

Julie Cook                 Peter Cook                                       Alison Freeland

Ellie Tsurdinis          Margaret Freeland                        Tim Simons

Kataryna Parciak    Christopher Clanton                      Ester Clanton

Orly Angerthal        Julie O’Grady                                   Martin O’Grady

Liam O’Grady          Terrie Langer                                   Chris Singer

Steven Chin             Pam Barkentin                                Marjorie Donalds

Lous Weinberg        Cris Haggerty                                  Erin Loranger

Laureen Haynes      Melody Ware                                  Paddy Duecy

Pat Duecy                 Mickael Beebe                                Netta Levy

Sally Kleinman        Jacque Masumian                          Monique Nebelung

Greg Rosen              Jeff Schorer                                      Edward Saenz

Karen La Costa        Zuzana Daure                                  Eric Daure

Susan Poretta         Peter Swift                                       Leslie Gransberry

Kathleen Kiley         Cynthia Mindell-Wong                 Martha Corneck

Hayes Clark              Clare Clark                                        Laura Schwartz

Josh Schwartz         Phillip Schemel                               Alexander Jinishian

Megan Will             Tim Cook

Nancy Lewis            Greg Wolfe                                      Mayann Alley

Yun Mai                    Lewis Bellardo                                 Julietta Bellardo

Joe Mackiewicz       Kim Mackiewicz                             Nancy Sinclaire

Glen Hodes                                                   Kathleen Wauchope

Roundup: FOIA, Startup Westport, First Responders …

John McCarthy writes:

“In June, the town and Police Department contracted with a company called RequestFOIA to give a web-based Freedom of Information Act request portal, through which people could submit FOIA requests.

“It is now live and reachable by clicking on “Public Record Request” on the Police Department website. After clicking, you are sent here.

“It doesn’t look like anyone has used it yet. I have not seen any official notice of it going live.

“This could be a great tool for the town, especially if it was expanded to all other departments and commissions.”

To make a public record request through the Westport Police Department website, click on the box at the right of the home page.


Like any good startup, Startup Westport has made a big mark in a short time.

Since its formation last winter, the citizen-led organization — a public/private partnership to promote Westport as the most attractive place in Connecticut for start-up tech companies — has brought together a diverse group of residents.

They’ve heard speakers, networked, and energetically leveraged the astonishing amount of creativity lurking here in offices, homes and coffee shops.

On Tuesday night, over 100 members partied.

Startup Westport’s first annual holiday gathering, at the Westport Country Playhouse Sheffer Barn, was a fun, festive — and intellectually fertile — event.

Founders Jay Norris, Peter Propp and Cliff Sirlin spoke. So did Dan O’Keefe, Connecticut’s first chief innovation officer (who spoke at a previous meeting), and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.

But mostly, the evening was a chance to meet and chat with like-minded folks.

And eat, drink, and be tech-merry.

(To learn more about Startup Westport, click here.) 

Scenes from Startup Westport’s first holiday party.


When Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin was elected to the Board of Finance earlier this month, the Democratic Town Committee was charged with recommending a replacement.

14 “outstanding” candidates stepped up, the DTC says. Tonight, members will vote to accept the Nominations Committee’s recommendation of Amy Wistreich. The full P&Z will then vote on that recommendation, at their next meeting.

Wistreich was appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals in 2019, then elected to a full term in 2021. She currently serves as secretary. She has a degree in environmental design, and spent her career working in all areas of construction, including architecture, engineering, design, planning, project management, contracts and insurance, in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors.

Amy Wistreich


Westport Police made 1 custodial arrest between November 15 and 29.

A man was arrested, following an investigation into a December 2020 larceny at HomeGoods. He then returned stolen merchandise, got store credit, used it to purchase other items, returned those, and got full credit baci.

Police also issued these citations:

  • Failure to comply with state traffic commission regulations: 13 citations
  • Failure to obey traffic control signals: 7
  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 4
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 4
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 3
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 3
  • Speeding: 2
  • Driving while texting: 2
  • Distracted driving: 2
  • Passing a standing school bus: 1
  • Following too closely: 1
  • Failure to obey stop sign: 1
  • Failure to carry driver’s license: 1
  • Improper use of marker plates: 1
  • Learner’s permit violation: 1

The sign probably does not work. But be warned: You can be fined up t9 $500 the first time you pass a standing school bus.


Speaking of Westport Police:

At first glance, this looks like a major catastrophe. A cop car, ambulance and fire truck — all with flashing lights — right on the holiday-lit William F. Cribari Bridge.

No worries.

It’s a posed shot, showing Westport’s 3 vital first responders, at a site we all love.

Westport Police, the Westport Fire Department and Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service wish everyone in town — residents, business, employees, visitors — a happy, healthy holiday.

In other words: One in which their lights are not needed. And instead, we all enjoy the lights on the bridge.


Yesterday’s story on Lucia Palmieri — the very generous Westporter who is inviting kids and parents to meet the Westport Fire Department’s Santa on December 8 — left out one very important detail: the time.

It’s “after 5 p.m.,” Lucia says.

For details on how to participate — including donations made to the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Charitable Foundation, and how to drop off the wrapped gift for your child ahead of time (that’s how “Santa” knows what to give) — click here.


David Bowie will have a big role at VersoFest 2024.

Sure, the English singer/songwriter/musician/actor died in 2016. But Tony Visconti — who was his producer and arranger, along with T. Rex and Thin Lizzy — will offer the keynote address at the Westport Library’s 3rd annual event.

The Saturday, April 6 discussion  of Visconti’s art and career is set for Saturday, April 6 (1 p.m.). The event is free, but requires registration. Click here for tickets.

The 4-day music festival and conference runs from Thursday, April 4 through Sunday, April 7. It includes panels, workshops and performances. Further details will be announced soon.

Tony Visconti and David Bowie.


If you’ve been wondering about “The Miyawaki Method: Microforests in the Age of Climate Change”: You’re in luck!

That’s the topic of Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “Lunch & Learn” webinar.

Set for Friday, December 8 (noon to 1:30 p.m.), it features micro-forest creator and environmental advocate Maya Dutta. She’ll discuss this unique method for reforestation, and how micro-forests can build communal and climate resilience.

Click here for more information, and to register.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is a very cool image of this week’s Beaver Moon.

Nancy Lally captured it through the trees, in all its bright glory.

(Photo/Nancy Lally)


And finally … in honor of VersoFest 2024 — and the keynote address by David Bowie’s former producer and arranger (story above):

(VersoFest — set for next April — will be here before you know it. So will December 31. Give yourself a tax-deductible break before the New Year. Please click here, to support “06880.” Thank you!)

From Glendinning To Bridgewater … And Next, A Few Homes?

Over the past few years, a few big housing developments riveted Westport’s attention. There’s 1177 Post Road East, opposite Greens Farms Elementary School, for example, and 3 others in various stages of construction: 157 units on Hiawatha Lane Extension, 68 on Lincoln Street, and 16 more being shoehorned onto Wilton Road opposite Fort Apache on Kings Highway North.

Sometimes, Westport is handcuffed by state legislation that trumps local boards and commissions (and traffic and safety concerns). The driving force: the need for each town in Connecticut to provide a share of “affordable housing.”

1177 Post Road East

But local officials have been proactive. They’ve searched for sites where a new development might work (like the state maintenance facility between Walgreens and West Parish Road), and enacted zoning regulations to encourage “cluster cottage” housing on town-owned land.

All of that construction — already done, and planned — has one thing in common: It’s south of the Merritt Parkway. That’s where zoning enables its construction.

Recently, however, a unique property came on the market. It offers a chance for a small new development, with a decent-sized affordable housing element.

Glendinning Place is the 16-acre site first developed as an office park in the 1960s by Ralph Glendinning. His eponymous company was the first marketing promotion firm in the world.

(The wooded land next to the Saugatuck River — much of which he preserved —  had a long history with business. The Dorr-Oliver Company, which made chemicals and other products, was headquartered in a nearby former mill.)

One view of the Glendinning property …

Eventually, Bridgewater Associates became the office park’s tenant. The world’s largest hedge fund was famously secretive. Westporters barely noticed the firm, which departed over a year ago to consolidate all its operations at Nyala Farm, next to I-95 Exit 18.

Three partners — Westporter David Waldman, and New Haven-area Urbane Capital and Sachem Capital — purchased the property in September, for $10.6 million.

They’re leasing out the office space. But they saw a chance to use 3.7 acres to build 14 single-family, 2-story detached homes that they believe fill an unaddressed niche: 3-bedrooms, and just under 3,000 square feet.

Ten of those homes would be sold at market rates. The other 4 would be deed-restricted, as “affordable” (using state guidelines).

The developers need a text amendment. But they felt the timing and the site was right, for a small project including several affordable homes, on the only commercially zoned property north of the Merritt Parkway.

… and the office building.

Rick Redniss — whose Redniss & Mead land use and engineering firm is working on other local projects like Delamar Westport and The Clubhouse — is helping guide the project through the approval phase.

He calls it “an opportunity to add affordable housing in pretty innocuous ways. Generally, it’s very difficult to do that without an 8-30g proposal” — an often-adversarial process, pitting developers against the town.

However, he admits, “this is a balancing exercise. It always is, with housing in a Gold Coast town.”

Traffic concerns will be minimal, he says. Soil tests have been positive.

But feedback from neighbors — including concern about the septic threshold of 7,500 gallons a day — caused the partners to rethink the project.

They withdrew a planned text amendment application, as they reduce the number of homes. The goal remains to have 20% of them be affordable.

A new proposal and text amendment, and future meetings with neighbors, are in the works.

A previous rendering showed 14 homes built just below the top yellow line (underneath “Aspetuck Land Trust.” That number will be lower, in the next plan to be submitted.

Redniss remains convinced that Westporters want to do their share to provide affordable housing.

“I defended the town when it’s been attacked about housing,” he says. “Over the last 8 years, Westport has been proactive. It’s not ‘no’; it’s ‘let’s try to accomplish different ideas, and meet the diverse needs of the community.'”

Housing is a complex issue, he notes, involving everything from politics and zoning to history and tradition.

“Everyone has a responsibility to do their fair share,” he says. “This is a modest proposal. It’s not 150 units. It’s in a commercial zone.

“If we can’t do this here, where can we do it?”

Conceptual plans for the Glendinning homes.

(“06880” covers every aspect of Westport: real estate, business, politics, the environment, and more. Please click here to support hyper-local journalism. Thank you!)

Roundup: Antisemitism, Israel Walk, Hostage Posters …

“We Need to Talk About Antisemitism.”

To address that fraught topic, several area groups will sponsor a conversation this Thursday (November 30, 7 p.m., The Conservative Synagogue).

Rabbis Jeremy Wiederhorn and Evan Schultz join Rabbi Diana Fersko, whose book “We Need to Talk About Antisemitism” was published this summer. They will discuss the recent rise in antisemitism, and how to address it.

Organizers include The Conservative Synagogue, Temple Israel, Congregation B’nai Israel, Jewish Federation of Greater Fairfield County, and the Jewish Book Council.

Click here to register.


Speaking of Israel:

Lily Rimm — “06880”‘s great social media coordinator — and her Staples High School friend Audrey Bunan are planning at walk supporting “our brothers and sisters” in Israel , at the Staples track (Sunday, December 17, noon to 1:30 p.m.)

The base fee for donations is $18, though participants may give as much as they wish. The collection will be made at the event.

Funds will be given to United Hatzalah, whose network of more than 7,000 volunteer medics save thousands of lives each year across Israel, by providing immediate and free medical treatment.

Questions? Email


Speaking still of Israel: The Coleman family — longtime Westporters — were downtown yesterday.

They handed out posters of kidnapped Israelis, and asked shoppers to “keep them in your heart.”

Andrew and Relly were joined by visiting daughter Sharon.

“We have so much to be thankful for,” Relly says.

“We were thinking about the hostages, and how each one is an entire world with an individual story of hope and trauma. We wanted to do something to help remind people of them as individual people.”

The response, Relly says, was “overwhelmingly positive and heartwarming.”

Sharon, Relly and Andrew Coleman, on Main Street.


Most campaign signs were picked up soon after the election — as required by town regulations.

But a few still linger.

Bayberry Lane, near Cross Highway. (Photo/Tom Prince)

I’m sure the ones still standing  were just overlooked.

But it’s been 20 days since the election. Perhaps it’s okay now — though it wasn’t, prior to voting — for citizens to take things into their own hands?


So many elements of “Westport … Naturally” — water, nature, rocks, sky — come together in this photo of Long Island Sound at Old Mill Beach, with Compo Cove in the distance.

(Photo/Karen Como)


And finally … on this day in 1896, Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra was performed for the first time.

It was decently known before 1968. But then …

Fun fact: When “2001: A Space Odyssey” was released, the future was 33 years away. Now, we’re 22 years — exactly 2/3 — away, on the other end.

(If you haven’t contributed to “06880” since 2001 — or more realistically 2009, when we first began — no problem! You can do so right now. Just click here. And thank you!)

Lynn Flint’s Mercedes

Seniors who need transportation in Westport can contact the Transit District.

There are 2 great, and important, services.

But, says Lynn Flint, it’s not enough.

A senior herself, she says there are obstacles. For example, one of the services is limited to Westport.

The second requires pre-booking and a prepaid account, a difficulty for some people. (Uber is tough for some seniors too, she notes.)

Lynn had an idea: purchase a full-size luxury sedan, which people could call — like a taxi, but nicer.

Not one to sit around waiting, Lynn bought one herself: a 2003 black Mercedes S500 VS.

She took it to Smitty’s Gulf Service Center in Norwalk. They checked it out. changed the oil, and installed a new battery.

Lynn Flint’s Mercedes

Lynn called Westport Town Hall, and said she had a car. All she needed was a driver. 

But that’s not the way things work in local government. She was told the town could not be responsible for transporting seniors, due to liability.  

Now, she’s stuck with a Mercedes. She’s lookin for someone who would like to go into the business of driving people around.

“It’s low to the ground,” she says. “There are no steps. It’s comfortable and sturdy.

“It has a big back seat and floor for walkers and other equipment, and a large trunk for shopping trip. It’s a heavy car, so it would be fine in bad weather. And it’s quite dignified.

“It’s ready to go for anyone who wants to start taking people around.”

The best way to contact Lynn is by cell: 203-226-3849. If she doesn’t answer, text her or send an email:

Board Of Education: What Keeps Us Up At Night

Students. The budget. Today’s world.

Those are some of the things that most worry Westport’s Board of Education.

The question “What keeps you up at night?” was one of many asked at yesterday’s “Community Conservations.”

All 7 BOE members, and Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice. joined the midday meeting that drew a large crowd to the Westport Library.

Christina Torres answered the question first. “Mental health,” she said firmly. “Grades, social media, homework — it all contributes.”

Kevin Christie’s key concern is that “every student feels a sense of belonging, so they can reach their full potential.” He knows every student may not always feel that way, despite the best efforts of the BOE, administrators and staff.

Robert Harrington called Westport’s $140 million budget “massive. And it puts the focus on us to be as efficient as we can, particularly outside the classroom.” He cited $7-$8 million in transportation costs as an example of an item that must constantly be scrutinized.

Dorie Hordon worries about “the way the world is right night. There is so much division and anger. Maneuvering through it, to mold kids into competent, thoughtful humans, is very tough.”

From left: Board of Education members Christina Torres, Kevin Christie, Robert Harrington, Dorie Hordon, Liz Heyer, Neil Phillips and Lee Goldstein; superintendent of schools Tom Scarice. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Liz Heyer — who leaves the Board of Ed on Monday, to join the Board of Finance — said that thinking about “how we innovate as a district” keeps her up, “in a positive way.” Among the innovations to consider: embracing artificial intelligence. Education will change “in ways we can’t yet imagine,” and the board must be prepared for those changes, she said.

Neil Phillips noted that “anxiety, and pressure on our kids to succeed, is pervasive. Every board decision has an impact on them. I think about every decision we make. I know all 7 members take every decision very seriously.”

Their comments — personal and specific — followed other thoughtful questions and answers. After several months filled with controversy, and a contentious election campaign, the community conversation was broad, deep and clear.

There was general consensus about the issues facing the school district, and a seeming desire to seek common ground to address them.

The board members agreed, for example, that social media is a major concern — and not the schools’ alone.

The district’s digital citizenship approach is “like throwing water on an inferno,” Scarice admitted. “Kids are exposed to a lack of civility in general.”

Hordon advocated for a class on the subject in high school, adding, “Of course, it should be reinforced at home.”

School security got high marks, with Scarice and BOE members noting that many details cannot be made public. Harrington lauded the close cooperation between the superintendent and Police Chief Foti Koskinas.

A downside of a high-performing district like Westport’s is that students feel pressured, at a young age, to specialize — choosing one sport or one activity like drama to concentrate on, one questioner said.

Scarice said, “It is a problem.” Calling himself a “type A person,” he said, “In pursuit of excellence, we may narrow our focus. It is something worthy of inquiry.”

The final question was about antisemitism.

It’s part of both the instructional curriculum and the district’s SEL (social and emotional learning). “We celebrate our differences, and also embrace our shared humanity,” Goldstein explained.

“We always address it in the schools. People need to speak up about it, and we need an environment where people feel comfortable speaking up.”

Scarice — who has reached out to local rabbis, and who praised the ADL for their practical, scenario-based training with staff — concluded, “We’ve added ‘B’ to DEI” (diversity, equity and inclusion).

“The ‘B’ stands for belonging. That feeling of acceptance is at the core of everything we do.”

(“06880” covers education — and every other aspect of Westport life. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Smoke Shops, “06880” Header, Grief Awareness …

Smoke shops threatened to join nail salons as Westport’s most ubiquitous businesses.

But a Planning & Zoning Commission vote last night snuffed out more openings.

After lengthy debate on the proliferation of the stores — which sell vaping and related products, and often include bright lighting — the board voted 5-2 on a text amendment to prohibit all future shops with more than 20% of the inventory or square footage devoted to smoking merchandise.

Danielle Dobin, Michael Cammeyer, Neil Cohn, Paul Lebowitz and Jon Olefson were in favor of the regulation. Patrizia Zucaro and John Bolton were against it.

In addition, stores selling smoking- and vaping-related products below the 20% threshold must now secure a special permit via a special hearing. The regulation will prohibit “candy stores” from skirting the smoking rules.

The P&Z also voted to ban all neon-like signs and displays (including LED lights) that project outside stores.

The P&Z meeting was chair Danielle Dobin’s last. Earlier this month, she was elected to the Board of Finance.

Current members — and attorney Eric Bernheim, who represented a client on a non-smoking matter — praised her for her service.

This morning, she told “06880” that she was proud to have accomplished the smoking-shop text amendment before leaving the P&Z.

Savvy Smoker on Post Road East drew criticism last night, for its products, its exterior signage, and its bright interior displays.


“06880” app users, and those who read our blog in an email, don’t see it.

But visitors to our website are always greeted with a “header” image of Westport. It changes ever couple of months.

Our new photo is particularly intriguing: a nighttime view of downtown, reflected in the Saugatuck River. Jeanine Esposito provided the shot.

Click here to enjoy. Or just look below:


Six million American children experience the death of a parent or sibling by the time they turn 18 — 1 in 12 kids. Yet many people struggle with what to say when someone dies, making kids (and adults) feel different and alone. 

November is Children’s Grief Awareness Month. Doing its part, Westport-based non-profit Experience Camps offers concrete language tweaks everyone can use, to create a more grief-sensitive society.

They’re “flipping the script” — literally. Click here to read some comments we often say (“You need to be strong”); then click the comment to flip it to something more meaningful (“You may feel like you need to be strong, but you don’t have to be with me”).

Experience Camps helps children cope with the death of a parent or sibling, with an extensive and innovative series of summer camps and year-round programs.


Two Staples High School teams have reached the semifinals of state tournaments.

Both games are today. And both promise to be great matches.

The 2-time defending state champion girls soccer squad — ranked #3 in the CIAC “LL” (extra large schools) division — faces #2 St. Joseph at 6:30 p.m. tonight, at Fairfield Warde High.

It will be the third meeting of the year between the longtime rivals. In the regular season, they battled to a 1-1 draw. The Cadets eked out a 1-0 victory in the FCIAC (league) final.

Two hours earlier — 4:30 p.m., at Amity Regional in Woodbridge — the #2-ranked Wrecker field hockey team takes on #3 Glastonbury.

The timing is tight. But with a little luck, fans can catch at least part of each game.

And with all their talent (and a little luck), both Staples teams will be victorious.


Amazon Fresh — the highly anticipated, high-tech grocery store that was supposed to replace Barnes & Noble near Little Barn, then turned into a half-finished, unopened “zombie store” — may soon sprout back to life.

Bisnow reports that Amazon is moving forward with expansion plans.

Stores will be redesigned, and add coffee and donuts. It’s a pivot away from what Bloomberg calls its “tech-heavy strategy” of the past.

Amazon will redesign stores and add offerings like coffee and donuts, with an emphasis on these items instead of the tech-heavy strategy it employed in the past, according to Bloomberg.

“We will have a good pipeline for next year,” Amazon Fresh worldwide vice president Claire Peters said. “What we won’t do is open stores aimlessly.”

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Don Spiegelman)


Was politics on or off the table last night at Tarantino?

We’re not sure. But there definitely was a ton of experience last night, at the Saugatuck restaurant.

Five current or former members of the Board of Selectmen/women got together, along with a former Board of Finance member. Can you name all these once and present town officials?

Sitting (from left): Former 3rd selectman Charlie Haberstroh, Karen Hess, current 2nd Selectwoman Andrea Moore, former Board of Finance member Ed Iannone, former 2nd selectman Avi Kaner. Standing: Former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, current 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.


The VFW is well known for its “Jazz at the Post” Thursday night series.

But there’s more jazz at Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 on Riverside Avenue this Wednesday (November 15 (7 p.m.).

The US Air Force Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble — featuring Westport trumpeter Michael  Mossman — comes to town for a concert. It’s part of their extended Veterans Day tour in the tri-state area.

They’ll also host students from Westport and Bridgeport, for pre-concert workshops.

It’s all free — courtesy of the United States Air Force.


Speaking of Jazz at the Post:

The long-running series has brought international greats to VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399.

This Thursday (November 16; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7; $15 music charge), the star is a legendary local musician.

Weston’s own Chris Coogan is a pianist, composer, teacher, choir director and producer, rooted in jazz and gospel traditions.

Coogan — who needs no introduction, really — will be joined by his rhythm section for decades: bassist John Mobilio and drummer Jim Royle.

Reservations are highly recommended:


Yesterday’s Roundup included the great news that Clemson University’s men soccer teams won their 2nd ACC championship in 4 years, with a penalty kick win over the University of North Carolina.

The Tigers boast 2 Westport connections: Head coach Mike Noonan (a star on Staples’ 1978 state championship team), and reserve keeper Paddy Donovan (Staples ’22).

Somehow, a photo of the 2 was not published. It’s a great one (below). Go Tigers!

Coach Mike Noonan and goalkeeper Paddy Donovan.


Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green pushes the bounds of theatrical experience with live score/narrated documentaries like “The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller” with Yo La Tengo, “A Thousand Thoughts” with the Kronos Quartet, and “The Weather Underground,” chronicling the rise and fall of the radical political organization.

On December 8 (6:30 p.m.), the Lundberg Family Foundation Master Film Series welcomes Green’s latest Sundance and South by Southwest-selected documentary, “32 Sounds.”

The film is “a meditation on the power of sound to bend time, cross borders, and profoundly shape our perception of the world around us (through a) wholly unique, sensory rich experience.”

Each member of the audience receives headphones for an immersive “binaural audio experience” (spatial sound technology that gives listeners a clear sense of space).

Green will take part in a post-screening Q&A with the audience. The event is free. bit requires registration (click here).


“The One Note Man” — an award-winning Christmas love story about a lonely bassoonist, produced by Westporter Rita Marcocci — will be shown at the Westport Library on December 10 (2 p.m.).

A talkback follows with the film’s actor star Jason Watkins; Oscar-winning composer Stephen Warbeck, writer/director George Siougas, and executive producer — and Westporter — Rita Marcocci.

Click below for the trailer.


Matt Murray describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” image, of Compo Road South near Bradley Street:

“Every year since I’ve lived near the beach. I go by this street as it changes colors. Some years it’s very red. Some, like this year, it’s this shade of orange.”

(Photo/Matt Murray)


And finally … on this day in 1900, composer Aaron Copland was born. The “Dean of American Composers” died 90 years later, leaving behind a rich legacy of music evoking the vast American landscape, and pioneer spirit.

(Joy, grief; music, sports, film — it’s all here, like every “Roundup” every day. If you appreciate this feature, or any other on your hyper-local blog, please click here to support us. Thank you!)

You’ve Got (Way Too Much) Mail!

The election is over. The mailings stopped. The lawn signs are (mostly) gone.

But Mark Mathias has a gripe.

The longtime Westporter and active civic volunteer writes:

Running for public office is a noble calling. Serving is rarely easy. Neither is becoming elected.

One of the tools candidates use is email marketing. It’s fast, effective and easy.

If your Inbox is anything like mine, you received a lot of emails from candidates.

Yet I didn’t sign up to receive any of them. So how did they obtain my address?

Mark Mathias

I have a system that lets me track emails. I create a unique email address for everyone I give my email address to. Then, whenever I receive an email, I know the source.

For example, I have given specific emails to the town of Westport for beach passes, taxes and the like. I intend these to be used solely for official town purposes.

Through Freedom of Information requests, the town provides these email lists to anyone who requests them. Candidates for public office are frequent requestors of these email lists, but sitting RTM members and any member of the public can and do make requests.

These lists are then uploaded by people to email services like Constant Contact and MailChimp.

However, doing so violates the Terms of Service for these companies, all of which require email addresses to have explicitly opted in. Here’s a snippet from MailChimp:

And here’s how MailChimp defines Spam:

The key word here is “Unsolicited.” I did not request or give permission for these people to send me email.

Constant Contact has similar rules for “permission-based marketing.” I have not given the senders my permission.

Here’s an example from an email I received from candidate from this week’s election:

Yes, I gave my email address to the Town of Westport for “the town” to use. But giving it to the town did not give anyone else permission to use that information.

I got a similar notification from a sitting RTM member recently.

So what can be done?

First, it is my hope thatall users of email systems will honor the Terms of Service of the provider.+

Second, if you start receiving emails from people for whom you didn’t request, do two things:

  • Unsubscribe, and
  • Report the abuse to the email provider.

PS: How do you track who is providing your email address?

If you’re a Gmail user, you can add a “+” after your name, and some text.

For example, if asks for your email address, type in “” If you get an email from another company, you’ll know that your email was given, lent, sold to or stolen by someone.

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Roundup: Miggs Burroughs, Dick Nixon, Butternut Squash …

50 years ago tomorrow — November 12, 1973 — Time magazine published their first editorial ever. It called for the resignation of President Nixon.

The cover read “Nixon’s Jury: The People.” It showed 12 people, in various stages of contemplation about the Watergate scandal-engulfed chief executive.

That cover was drawn by Miggs Burroughs.

He was just 27 years old. Less than a decade earlier, he’d graduated from Staples High School.

“It was not my proudest moment artistically,” he recalled yesterday.

Because of an extremely tight deadline, he worked in the Time/Life office. Staffers ordered paint and supplies from the Arthur Brown Art Store nearby.

Then they stood over Miggs — with the doors barred — until he was done.

Because of its historical significance — it was the magazine’s first editorial, after all, the magazine is now in the Smithsonian Museum.

“Not the best looking jury ever convened,” Miggs added.


As temperatures drop, the Westport Fire Department has partnered with Bridgeport Rescue Mission for a “Share the Warmth” coat drive.

New or gently used (and clean) winter coats, hats, mittens, gloves, scarves and snowsuits can be dropped off at Fire headquarters (515 Post Road East), the Senior Center and Town Hall through December 15.

Several schools will have collection boxes at their entrances, too.

Westport firefighters will sort and transport the items to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.


The Secretary of the State’s office has released official turnout results for Tuesday’s election.

In Westport, 45.6% of eligible voters cast ballots. That’s up from 43.1% in 2021 — the last town-wide election (although that also included state-wide races, like governor and the General Assembly).

Throughout Connecticut, turnout was 33.3% — exactly one-third of eligible voters.


Last month, Westporter Walter Fischel was evacuated from Ashkelon, Israel, where he had lived and worked for 9 months. Because there was so much uncertainty around when and if he would return to work, he decided to travel.

Last week he landed in South Africa to visit friends. On his way to meet them, he was carjacked and shot in the face.

Though he will make a full recovery, his passport, phone and credit cards were stolen.

He got a new passport and should be well enough to travel next week, but his accounts have been frozen since the robbery and he is unable to book a flight home.

All funds raised will go directly to Fischel, to assist with travel, medical expenses, and living expenses for him and his family.

Click here for the GoFundMe page.

Walter Fischel


Linda Doyle writes:

“Back in the spring I bought some pre-cut butternut squash from Trader Joe’s. At the bottom of the tray I found 1 seed, and put it in water.

“It sprouted, so I stuck it into a small pot with soil. It turned into a little plant.

“Thrilled to see the growth, I stuck it in the ground. Amazingly, that 1 seed became a huge vine over 25 feet long!

“My daughter Mikayla and I tended to it all summer. We just harvested 5 beautiful monster-sized butternut squashes. Never underestimate the power of one small seed!”

Mikayla and Linda Doyle, and their butternut squashes.


Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “fall lunch and learn” webinar could not be more timely.

Arborist Chris Teter discusses fall foliage (Friday, November 17, noon to 1:30 p.m.). He’ll explain the biology of leaves on trees and shrubs in autumn, highlight their significance in the ecosystem, then connect it to urban and suburban settings.

He’ll also provide information on how to use leaves to enhance both beauty and ecological value.

Click here to learn more, and register.

Just another fall day, at Staples High School. (Photo/Dayle Brownstein)


Speaking of foliage: Todd Suchotliff’s shot of the Longshore entrance road on Tuesday is today’s very worthy “Westport … Naturally” image:


And finally … in honor of Miggs Burrough’s Time magazine cover, 50 years ago tomorrow (story above):

(From Watergate to winter coats, butternut squash to fall foliage, “06880” is your place for hyper-local news. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)  

Roundup: Swearing In, Peggy’s Cottage, ’60s Art …

Winners of Tuesday’s election — newcomers and incumbents — will be sworn in on Monday, November 20 (7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium).

The public is invited to attend.

Dozens of town officials — including board and commission members, and those on the Representative Town Meeting — will take oaths of office November 20. This is a file photo from 2021. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)


Loyal customers love Peggy’s Cottage — the great everything-Irish (and English, Scottish and Welsh) Post Road store, opposite Stop & Shop.

It’s a little bit of home — warm, comfortable, welcoming.

But there’s always something new there, too.

For example:

  • Irish Word Bangle Bracelets
  • 100% Irish Wool Socks.
  • Mittens
  • Irish knitwear for babies.
  • Celtic design pashmina wool and silk scarves, inspired by Irish islands with the story of each  isle on the hangtag.
  • Ireland t-shirts
  • Books, from a Celtic wholesale company.

Click here for more very cool (and often green) merchandise.

New arrivals at Peggy’s Cottage.


Speaking of holiday shopping:

The Westport Library Gift Store is now open, and filled with gifts. It’s located in the writing center adjacent to the Hub on the main floor, alongside the Library Store and Patron Services desk.

There are gifts for readers, writers, and anyone else special: handmade scarves, hats and gloves; puzzles and games; decorative items like unique snow globes; notebooks and journals; toys, art supplies, novelty items for kids, and more.

An added gift: Purchases are tax free. All proceeds support Library services and programs.


High school students were not around in the 1960s. Most of their parents were not, either.

But MoCA Westport is reaching back to that famous decade, while seeking submissions for their 2024 High School Student Art Exhibition.

The theme of the open call is “Through the Lens of Icons: Revisiting the 1960s.” The idea is to “reimagine the ’60s through your creative lens.” Individuals, moments or symbols that hold cultural, political or personal significance are welcome.

Categories include photography, painting, drawing, sculpture and video. Students may submit only one work each.

The deadline is December 1. For more details, including submission guidelines, click here.

President Kennedy, his wife Jackie and Texas Governor John Connolly, moments before the assassination that changed the world.


The “bridge slide” portion of the I-95 project is over.

But construction delays remain.

Long ones.

Last night, Jo Shields Sherman reports, 3 state highway trucks were traveling south, “as fast as 5 miles an hour.” Police vehicles kept pace, preventing any vehicles from passing.


One view of I-95, from the Hillspoint Road bridge …

The view from the other side of the bridge seemed eerie, she says, with not a single vehicle in sight. Here’s what it looked like:

(Photos/Jo Shields Sherman)

By 8:30, traffic was moving well again.


After a 3-year hiatus, Stephanie Bass returns to the stage.

Westport’s favorite 70something comedian offers her always-hilarious take on life — including getting older, and raising a kid from 5 to adulthood in this wonderful, odd, often (unintentionally) humorous town.

The free show (including both stand-up and storytelling) on November 17 (7 p.m., Westport Library) is presented by students of Verso University’s Stand-Up comedy series. The host is comedian (and course instructor) Mina Hartong.

Click here for more information.

Stephanie Bass, at the Gotham Comedy Club.


Staples High School’s November Students of the Month are seniors Dylan Fiore and Dylan Walsh, juniors Will Boberski and Kate Weitz, sophomores Tyler Smalls and Mia Zibly, and freshmen Ishan Pasham and Eliza Wadley.

Students of the Month “help make Staples a welcoming place for their peers and teachers alike. They are the ‘glue’ of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students that keep the high school together, making it the special place that it is.”

November Students of the Month (from left): Dylan Walsh, William Boberski, Mia Zibly, Kate Weitz, Eliza Wadley. Not pictured: Dylan Fiore, Ishan Pasham, Tyler Smalls. 


The Westport Library’s Big Fall Book Sale is set for 3 weeks before winter: December 1-4.

On sale: thousands of gently used books for children and adults in more than 50 categories, antiquarian books, vinyl records, music CDs, movie and TV DVDs, plus a limited selection of ephemera and artwork, and the “Fiction for $1” room.

Hours are Friday, December 1 (noon to 6 p.m.), Saturday, December 2 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Sunday, December 3 (11 a.m. to 5 p.m., nearly everything  half price), and Monday, December 4 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; fill logo bags for $8 or $10).

On December 1 (8:55 a.m. to noon), the book sale is open via an Early Access ticket (click here to buy). For more information, click here.

To volunteer at the sale, email

Can’t make the sale?  Visit the nonprofit Westport Book Shop across Jesup Green from the Library, or shop any time on the Book Sale’s Online Store, or eBay.

Westport Library Book Sale.


It’s been a few days since Tracy Porosoff sent in this “Westport … Naturally” photo.

Hopefully, these flowers are still hanging on, in her backyard garden.

(Flowers/Tracy Porosoff)


And finally … if high school students need a prompt to create art for MoCA Westport’s “1960s” exhibition (story above), there are tens of thousands of songs to choose from.

Here are 3:

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