Category Archives: Longshore

Roundup: Ted Diamond, Twiddle, Epstein …

In the days following Ted Diamond’s death at 105, Westporters have shared memories of the World War II hero, former 2nd Selectman and 67-year Westport friend and neighbor.

Scott Smith shares something else: a pair of videos.

In 2010, Smith chaired the town’s 50th-anniversary celebration of the purchase of Longshore. As part of the event, he conducted a series of interviews with longtime residents.

In this clip, Diamond describes how he and 1st Selectwoman Jacqueline Heneage worked to save the Inn at Longshore:

Smith also interviewed Diamond and Victor DeMaria about their Longshore memories:

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Speaking of videos: A capacity crowd welcomed Twiddle last weekend, for a 2-day Levitt Pavilion festival.

They were not disappointed. The Vermont-based jam band put on great shows.

And Twiddle was not disappointed with Westport.

Yesterday on Facebook they said: “Still thinking about how incredible last weekend was at Levitt Pavilion in Westport, CT. So much love for everyone who came out and joined us. See you tonight in Wisconsin for Phlowfest.”

They also uploaded a fantastic video of their shows to social media. Their videographer captured the music, the audience, and some killer drone footage too.

We’re not quite Woodstock or Newport. But it makes us look pretty damn close. Click here to see.

Screen shot from the Levitt Pavilion Twiddle Festival.

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Speaking of the Levitt Pavilion: There are many things to worry about in Westport.

Having a concert stage named for a convicted sex offender and disgraced financier is not one of them.

At 9 p.m. last night, I got an email from a worried Westporter. She said: “This stage name for Levitt Pavilion is a disgrace for Westport. Can you investigate? Just trying to enjoy a nice night at Levitt Pavillon. My visitors are very concerned about my home. EPSTEIN?”

It’s okay.

The handsome stage was named — and dedicated — in 2015. It honors Geri and David Epstein, in recognition of their $500,000 gift during the renovation of the outdoor entertainment center.

Relax. Chill. Enjoy the show!

Tens of thousands of people enjoy the Levitt Pavilion every year. I Before last night, I don’t think anyone thought the stage was named for Jeffrey Epstein. (Photo/JC Martin)

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“Westport … Naturally” has featured ospreys on the Post Road by Fresh Market, and at Longshore, Sherwood Mill Pond and Burying Hill Beach.

There’s osprey on Cockenoe Island too. Carl McNair snapped this photo of the much-less-noticed raptor:

(Photo/Carl McNair)

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And finally … on this date in 1789, the US established the Department of War.

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Pic Of The Day #1936

Longshore Sailing School (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Longshore Improvement Plan: “Tweak It. Don’t Overdo It.”

Tweak it. Spruce it up.

But don’t make major changes.

That’s the strong sentiment from a town-wide survey about the future of Longshore, says the woman in charge of overseeing any changes to the 168-acre park.

Jen Fava — Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department director — has looked at the results and comments of the springtime survey. Administered by landscape architect, planning and engineering firm Stantec as an early step in the Longshore Capital Improvement Plan, it drew 2,658 responses.

Longshore includes a golf course, tennis courts, marina, pools, and much, much more.

“The surprise was that there were not a lot of surprises,” Fava says.

“People said ‘Longshore is great. We love it.’ They don’t want to change too much. They just want it tweaked, to fit their needs.”

Of course, not every resident has the same needs. One person’s priority for pickleball may conflict with another’s desire for a golf clubhouse.

Golfers weighed in strongly for an actual clubhouse, with a pro shop, locker room and grill. The golf course itself will not be redesigned.

Longshore golf course. (Photo/Dave Dellinger)

Platform tennis players want 2 more courts, and a warming hut.

As for pickleball: 1,512 respondents want courts. 962 said no.

As expected, Fava says, survey respondents expressed a strong desire for the pools — and for keeping the current location, near Long Island Sound.

However, many asked for more shade there; a patio and picnic area, and renovated locker rooms.

Longshore pool (Photo/Pamela Einarsen)

There was a clear desire too for trails, paths and walkways throughout Longshore. “That fits in with national trends,” Fava says.

Stantec’s job now is to provide options. Fava calls it “laying out the jigsaw pieces.” Where, for example, would a golf clubhouse be constructed: on the site of the current ramshackle pro shop, or elsewhere? Should the current maintenance shed — right in the heart of the facility, near golf, tennis, the Inn and the pool parking lot — be moved? If so, where?

The driving range now occupies prime real estate, at the confluence of the Saugatuck River and Long Island Sound. A number of respondents would like to see that space available to more users. If so, what happens to that practice facility?

The survey asked several questions about parking. Most respondents rated it low on their concerns. “Perhaps we’ll look at a realignment of spaces, or better accessways,” Fava says.

Longshore’s E.R. Strait Marina (Photo/Marcia Falk)

Parks & Rec officials will go to the public this fall for more input. Then comes a detailed capital plan, with requests for specific items before town finance and land use commissions.

“We can’t give everyone everything,” Fava notes.

Moving forward, she says that she and other officials will keep in mind the main takeaway: “People said, ‘don’t overdevelop Longshore.’ We’ll keep its character, while meeting as many needs as possible.

“Longshore has very good bones. We just need to sculpt around it.”

Pics Of The Day #1921

Dark skies over Compo Beach this afternoon …

… and Longshore. (Photos/Patricia McMahon)

Unsung Hero #247

Last week at Longshore, Chris Davies — a 9-year veteran professional golf pro and instructor — took a short detour off the course. He helped not a golfer, but a raptor.

There are 3 osprey nest on the Longshore course: one by the 1st and 2nd hole; another near the ER Strait Marina; a third on the exit road, by the 12th green.

Chris — an avid fisherman — was asked to help save a young osprey. A fishing line was wrapped around its wings. It could not fly, or barely move.

With the help of Dave Boviei — longtime golf course starter — Chris used fishing line cutters to rescue the beautiful bird.

The rescued osprey

Then he returned to the junior camp, where head pro Jon Janik and PGA pro Mark Farrell were helping 18 young golfers learn the game.

Hopefully, the osprey Chris saved will return next spring. It will spend the winter down south.

Unlike Chris. In addition to golf, he’s a gifted hockey instructor at the Longshore rink.

Westporters — and ospreys — are lucky to have him here.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email 06880blog@gmail.com. Hat tip: Mark Farrell)

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Chris Davies

 

Pic Of The Day #1910

Last night’s sunset was even more spectacular than most. At Compo Beach, the color of the sky matched a little girl’s outfit … (Photo/Jeanine Esposito)

… while around the corner at La Plage restaurant, blue and pink provided a gorgeous backdrop. (Photo/Nicole Donovan)

Hook’d: The Back Story

The controversy over Hook’d’s management of the Compo Beach and Longshore concession stands, and the golf course halfway house, is not half-baked.

I’m old enough to remember when the contract came up for approval, way back in the spring of 2020.

A few months earlier, Joey Romeo and the town had ben unable to agree on terms of the lease for the food service he’d run at Compo for over 30 years, plus the 2 Longshore operations. (Click here for the first “06880” story; click here for Joey’s statement to his customers.)

Joey Romeo, in a typical pose.

On March 31, 2020, I posted a story about the upcoming approval of a new concessionaire: Upsilon Entertainment Group of Larchmont, New York (click here to read).

The piece drew 33 comments. Readers wondered about the bid process, and the decision not to choose a local vendor. Both King’s Kitchen and Norwalk’s Sunset Grille — connected to Westport via ownership of Jr’s Deli — were interested, but not considered.

The money quote came from Jay Walshon. He wrote:

A modicum of internet “research” finds that Upsilon Entertainment Group, registered in 2017, is “Permanently Closed”. Principal is Itai Shoffman. Address is 4 Durham Rd, Larchmont, NY.

Upsilon Ventures, Principal is also Itai Shoffman, registered address 4 Durham Rd, Larchmont, NY, is also “Permanently Closed”.

Real estate usage and event management. No evidence of retail restaurant experience, restaurant history, food reviews, menu, pricing, financials, etc.

4 Durham Rd, Larchmont appears to be a family colonial home rather than being a corporate building or established business entity.

The word on the street is that this company was chosen over local ones because this Larchmont company offered the Town more money for the concession contract – perhaps even $25,000 more. Tried and true local restauranteurs with proven track records may have been turned down on this basis….

This concession is no small thing. Compo is arguably Westport’s most precious crown jewel, beloved and utilized by virtually every Westport resident, parent and their children. If we are to be hostage to this singular provider, WE should make that decision.

For so long we have incessantly heard business leaders admonish us to support local, buy local, choose local. Here we have a major opportunity to do just that and instead we look to Larchmont NY??? Really?

The shuttered beach concession. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Three weeks later, Upsilon passed muster by the Planning & Zoning Commission (acting in its land use capacity) as the concessionaire. (Click here for the full story.) I wrote:

(Parks & Recreation Department director Jen) Fava said that 3 groups were interviewed by a committee of representatives from the RTM, Parks & Rec Department, Parks & Rec Commission, and Department of Public Works.

They selected Upsilon for a variety of reasons. One was (that it offered the) highest fees (which top out at $120,000 a year or 12% of gross revenues, whichever is higher, in the final year of the 5-year contract). An opt-in clause covers 2 additional 5-year terms.

Fava said the committee was enthusiastic about Upsilon’s previous experience, which included operations at New York’s Bryant Park, Prospect Park and Hudson River Park.

The menu would include “typical beach food,” plus “healthier options like smoothies and salads.” They would offer special food nights, like Italian cuisine, and events like cheese tastings.

The company will use biodegradable packaging, and will compost materials. They committed to hire local staffs, and sell Connecticut-based products.

“They’re very professional,” the Parks & Rec director said. “They want to be partners with us, and involved in the community.”

The Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen later okayed the contract.

Westporters waited eagerly for the concession stand’s return.

There were 23 comments on that April 24, 2020 story. Added to questions about the bid process and lack of a local vendor were concerns about the menu and promises made.

Peter Blau revisited the worries about the operators themselves:

It’s worth looking at the company’s website, as well. They are not a restaurant or food service company, but a “Project development, marketing, hospitality, and production firm specializing in public-private partnerships and the use of public spaces and real estate for iconic attractions, sponsor activations, events, consumer engagement, temporary retail, and other revenue generating opportunities.”

In other words, they specialize in making deals with deep pocket entities, no doubt with a very sophisticated marketing pitch, but when it comes to making the burgers, they hire that out to someone else.

How it’s possible to get a better deal by hiring an event marketing company as the middleman between the town and the actual food service escapes me.

2020 was a tough year for any business — especially a new one. COVID had just hit, when the contract was signed. With fears about indoor dining high, the concession stand did not open; instead, a food truck late in the summer served a limited crowd of beach-goers.

Hook’d finally opened last May.

The rest is history.

Employees posed in May 2021, ready to serve. (Photos/Dan Woog)

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Roundup: Hook’d (Hard To Believe, Again) …

The Comments section of “06880” have been filled with Hook’d-bashing.

It started with a complaint about the Compo Beach concessionaire’s running out of food, random and unposted hours, and general corporate lack of care for customers.

Readers added their own experiences. Several noted that the situation was just as bad at Hook’d’s other 2 locations: the Longshore pool and halfway house.

But that was the equivalent of forgetting you asked for extra ketchup, compared to yesterday.

It was July 4th — probably the most important day of any summer. Spectacular weather brought huge crowds.

Yet at 4:30 p.m. — with the temperature 80 degrees, dozens of people in the pool, and many more playing tennis nearby — the concession stand was shut.

The windows were closed. The door was locked. No one was inside.

(Photo/Clark Thiemann)

Nothing says “We don’t care” more than that.

I’m not sure what Hook’d’s contract with the town says about being open on the biggest day of the year.

But it seems we’ve been reeled in by them too long.

Time to give Hook’d the hook.

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If you missed the June 30th fireworks at Compo — or just wished you could see pyrotechnics on the actual 4th of July — and were at the beach last night, you were in luck.

Towns all along Long Island’s North Shore of Long Island fired them off. So did a few towns on the Connecticut coast, to the west.

Fred Cantor captured this true July 4th fireworks view:

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

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Eric Chiang is July’s guest exhibitor at the Westport Book Shop.

The Jesup Green store features the oil painting “Moon Light Sonata,” from his Musical Planet series. He delves into weighty issues of human connection and the meaning of existence, showcasing loneliness, desperation, love and hope.

Chiang’s work has been exhibited from MoCA Westport and Silvermine to Texas and Taiwan. Concurrently with the Book Shop show, his Westport Library exhibit runs through July 14.

Chiang’s piece will be on exhibit at the Book Shop through July 31, 2022.

Eric Chiang, at the Westport Book Shop.

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Speaking of art: A plastic surgeon walks into a coffee bar, and shows his works.

That’s the story this Sunday (July 10, 4 to 7 p.m.). Dr, Jeffrey Rosenthal hosts a reception for his work at Steam, on Railroad Place.

He’s displayed his colorful paintings and photos previously throughout Fairfield County — and in New York and Europe. The show is open now during business hours, through September 12.

Art by Dr. Jeffrey Rosenthal.

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Longtime resident Tom Lowrie took today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo a few days ago, in his back yard. It’s an ephemeral — but always beautiful — early summer sight.

(Photo/Tom Lowrie)

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And finally … on this date in 1954, Elvis Presley recorded his first single, “That’s All Right,” at Sun Records in Memphis.

The world was never the same.

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Pic Of The Day #1904

A Longshore 4th (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

Roundup: The Saugatuck, Hook’d, Burying Hill …

Some of the most affordable housing in Westport is hidden in plain sight.

Two 2-bedroom units at The Saugatuck — formerly Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street — will go on the market soon.

The Saugatuck is a senior complex (residents must be at least 62) that caps resale prices to ensure affordability for people with moderate incomes or below. The restriction last year was roughly $105,000 for a single person, and $115,000 for a couple.  There are no asset restrictions.

The property manager maintains a list of interested buyers, for sellers or their agents. For information on how to get on the list, email djallouk@thepropertygroup.net.

The Saugatuck (Photo courtesy of SmartMLS Inc.)

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For the past few weeks, a range of readers have complained to “06880” about the Compo Beach concession stand.

Some emailers are angry. Some acknowledge that this is a First World problem. But there are enough of them that they can’t be ignored.

Hook’d took over as the concessionaire from Joey’s by the Shore in 2020. They did not open that COVID-plagued year. Last year’s opening was delayed too. Many Westporters gave the new operators the benefit of the doubt; replacing a 30-year beloved institution would not be easy.

But patience is wearing thin. Here’s a typical email:

“I was there on Tuesday with grandkids at 4 pm. NO ICE CREAM. The place looked empty of everything.

“One of the workers said there have been lots of complaints about running out of things. It has no atmosphere, and is the exact opposite of Joey’s. And the food is very mediocre. I had a terrible hot dog. Burgers are so so.

“Compo beach needs a great beach stand. Have you heard this from anyone else?”

Yes. Other issues include early and random closures, and no posted operating hours.

There’s this too:

“A little birdie told me when the manager sends his supply list, corporate cuts it to their liking. It’s so not Joey’s. Typical ‘corporate.’ They don’t care about us Westporters. Just their bottom line.”

One reader wonders why, even when no one else is in the place, Hook’d employees insist on taking a customer’s cell phone number, to text when it’s ready.

Readers: What’s your experience with Hook’d? What are they doing well, or poorly? Are there any easy fixes? Click “Comments” below.

Hook’d is open. But customers don’t always know when. (Photo/Karen Como)

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Speaking of beaches: The Burying Hill pier/groin reconstruction job is done. The final construction crew left on Friday.

Before departure they poured a new, low cement wall in the parking lot, to keep vehicles from driving on the sand.

The new construction looks great, and the crew was efficient and engaged. Congratulations to all involved, for bringing this important environmental project to fruition. (Hat tip: Eric Bosch)

Burying Hill Beach pier. (Photo/Eric Bosch)

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The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism hosts “Havdalah on the Beach” next Saturday (July 9, 6 p.m., Compo  Beach).

Everyone is invited for a short service, with folk and klezmer music. Guests can swap Jewish-themed books too.

The CHJ will provide homemade desserts and soft drinks. Bring dinner, adult drinks and a beach chair. There’s no need for a beach pass; tell the gate guard that you are attending the CHJ event, and follow the signs.

Havdalah at Compo Beach.

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The next Westport Country Playhouse “Sunday Symposium” guest is Ins Choi. The writer of “Kim’s Convenience” — the play that inspired the popular Netflix series, and which is the next WCP production — will talk about the show, following the July 10 matinee.

The Sunday Symposium is free and open to the public. No performance ticket is necessary; just arrive 80 minutes after the 3 p.m. curtain.

Perviews for “Kim’s Convenience begin July 5, with opening night on July 9. For information on tickets and special offers, including discounts for students, senior citizens, educators, military, first responders, Indigenous peoples, professional playwrights and groups, click here.

Ins Choi

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“06880” subscription news: Issues continue to plague readers with Optonline.net addresses,

WordPress and Optonline don’t play well together. The great folks at the new Optimum store near Fresh Market are working on the issue, but have not yet solved it.

If you know someone with an Optonline.net address is not receiving “06880,” ask them to email 06880blog@gmail.com. I’ll send a list of troubleshooting steps.

The easiest solution, of course, is to subscribe to “06880” using a different email address.

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The renovation of Longshore may be years away.

But there’s a new addition, near ER Strait Marina.

The Kahuna waterslide popped up the other day. It serves summer campers.

Though plenty of older folks no doubt want to give it a try.

(Photo/Bruce McFadden)

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MaryLou Bell died peacefully Thursday at her Westport home, surrounded by family. She was 83.

Born to Patsy and Antonette Doddo, she was a life-long Westport resident. She graduated from Staples High School in 1956.

MaryLou was a well-respected local banker. She began with the Westport Bank & Trust Company while in high school. She sun-bathed on her lunch breaks with fellow employees on the roof of the downtown building (now Patagonia).

Loyal customers followed her to newest bank branches in her capacity as branch manager. Through the years she worked with Connecticut Bank & Trust, the Bank of Darien, the Bank of Westport and others. She ended her career in 2012 at Fairfield County Bank.

MaryLou enjoyed New York outings with colleagues, taking in Broadway shows and dinner. Her vacations in North Truro on Cape Cod were special to her. She volunteered at the Sons of Italy Festival Italiano and Westport PAL’s annual golf tournament, and was a member of Westport Sunrise Rotary.

She was active in local politics during the 1970s and ’80s, with the Republican Town Committee and Save Westport Now. Her family says, “She enjoyed spending time at the Westport Senior Center, and sharing laughs with her friends and family. She was fiercely independent, a straight-shooter, and was never afraid to express her thoughts to others. MaryLou lived life her way.”

MaryLou’s family thanks her exceptional caregivers Millie and Thomasine for providing friendship along with compassionate care.

MaryLou is survived by her daughter Kathy )Scott) Santarella of Westport; son Bob (Marybeth) Stephens of Suffolk, Virginia; grandchildren Jordan  and Jamie Santarella, and Wesston, Tyler, Ashley and Will Stephens; sister and brother-in-law Annette & AJ Izzo of Westport; her brother-in-law Ray (Linda) Barry of Fairfield, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

MaryLou was predeceased by her husband of 35 years, William Bell, in 2000, and her youngest sister Angela M. Doddo in 2001.

Friends may greet the family on Wednesday (July 6, 4 to 7 p.m., Harding Funeral Home). A mass of Christian Burial will celebrated at Assumption Church on  Thursday (July 7, 10 a.m.). Entombment will follow at Willowbrook Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to ­­­­the American Heart Association, or the charity of your choice.

MaryLou Bell

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You’ve got to be carefully taught.

In the case of humans, that covers just about everything.

For tree swallows, it’s how to catch insects

The other day, a few babies awaited their mother’s lessons. She took each out, one at a time, while the others waited.

Nancy Diamond captured the scene, for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Nancy Diamond)

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And finally … today marks the halfway point of 2022. (Well, any year actually. But this is the one we care about now.)

183 days are gone; 182 remain. It’s all downhill from here.

(We’re halfway through the year. If you haven’t donated yet to support “06880,” please consider helping. Just click here!)