Category Archives: Places

[UPDATE: MYSTERY SOLVED!] APB For AED

I goofed!

This just in from Mark and MaryGrace Gudis:

Please do not worry; the “missing” AED has not been used or stolen. It has yet to be installed, as we are awaiting activation of the security features.

This particular AED is one of the 100 that the Gudis Family and Norwalk Hospital donated to the towns of Westport, Weston, Wilton, New Canaan and Norwalk as part of their recent AED and CPR awareness initiative implemented after the incident last October. Iff you look closely, the picture has the Norwalk Hospital-WCHN logo on the case and a number to call if there is an issue. A vast majority of the others around Westport have been installed, including 3 at Compo Beach. So do not fear: The AED will be installed within the next few days, and will be available to save lives. (It is also bilingual.)

The AEDs purchased from the fundraising efforts of the Greenlee Foundation are in the schools and on the Board of Education fields.

The others donated by our 5-Town  initiative are in locations around town, where the selectman’s office, Westport EMS and Parks and Recreation felt would provide excellent benefits.

We are looking to expand this initiative around the state, given the response we have had by all of the towns and our local politicians. In addition, we continue to work with the Board of Ed in each of the 5 towns to implement mandatory CPR certification and training to high school students as part of the PE and health curriculum, at no charge to the school budget.

All of this is very exciting for us. We appreciate being able to give back, and hopefully save lives.

——————-

When a Staples High School senior suffered cardiac arrest on the soccer field last fall — and was saved by the quick use of a portable defibrillator — alarms were raised.

And they were not just the beeping of the device — also known as an AED.

The Adam Greenlee Foundation — named for a Bedford Middle School student who was also saved by an AED — swung into action. They raised over $85,000, purchased 75 AEDs, and gave them to schools and organizations around town.

You now see them nearly everywhere, from Wakeman Field to Compo Beach.

Many others — donated by the Gudis Family Foundation and Norwalk Hospital (see above in red) — are placed around town, from Wakeman Field to Compo Beach.

Another place was is Winslow Park.

Earlier today, alert “06880” reader/Staples soccer player/dog walker Daniel Brill noticed that the dog park AED is missing from its case.

AED at Winslow Park

One of 2 things happened.

The AED might have had to be used. While unfortunate, that’s what it’s there for. However, we probably would have heard about it.

Or someone stole it.

If that’s the case, just put it back — no questions asked.

And if you really want one of your own, just ask. I’m sure the Greenlee Foundation — and many others in town — would be happy to help.

Cuba Trip Opens Eyes — And Ears

Every year, Saugatuck Congregational Church sponsors a youth mission trip.

Last year they went to Portland, Maine.

This year they headed to Cuba.

The 24 teenagers and 15 adults did not do as much “work” as usual. This was more “cultural immersion,” says youth group coordinator Dana Johnson.

They visited an orphanage, churches and families whose children have disabilities. They did plant coffee, pick and peel “thousands” of mangoes, and moved bags of sand at a construction site.

Peeling mangoes...

Peeling mangoes…

...and moving bags of sand.

…and moving bags of sand.

They also went to Varadero Beach, a favorite spot for Canadian and European tourists.

But mostly, they forged what they hope are lasting friendships.

The Saugatuck Church group rode around in an old school bus, emblazoned with “Pastors for Peace.”

The bus...

The bus…

...and a peek inside.

…and a peek inside.

Wherever they went, Cubans waved. “They’re so happy to see Americans,” Johnson says. “We felt like rock stars.”

One woman excitedly handed her baby to the female travelers. She could tell everyone that Americans held her child.

At a seminary in Matanzas, a pastor asked them to pray for him, and his country. “He was excited that the blockade has been lifted,” Johnson explains. “But he’s worried about the future. Capitalism can be precarious. He’s concerned that income inequality will widen.”

The teens and adults spent only a couple of hours in Havana. Mostly they were in Matanzas, and outlying villages. Though Matanzas is a big city, Johnson says it felt like something from “a different era.” Horses and buggies roamed the streets; farmers sold eggs and bread from bicycles.

A dusty road.

A dusty road.

Before the trip, Johnson says, the teenagers thought their task was to help people.

They realized quickly, though, the power of simply meeting other people, and hearing their stories.

“Our kids came away feeling that they’d been helped,” Johnson notes.

“When we debriefed each night, they talked about not judging people until you listened to them.”

Listening, and learning.

Listening, and learning.

The Cubans do not need help, she adds. “They just need their stories to be heard and validated. The kids got that. I think they came home more willing to hear other people’s stories.”

Sharing food, and stories.

Sharing food, and stories.

Rev. Alison Patton (2nd from right), with old and new friends.

Rev. Alison Patton (2nd from right), with old and new friends.

Saugatuck Congregational Church mission members kick up their heels in Cuba. (All photos/Mark Mathias)

Saugatuck Congregational Church mission members kick up their heels in Cuba. (All photos/Mark Mathias, Marion Yingling and Miggs Burroughs)

 

 

 

 

Save Westport Now: Stop Hiawatha’s Sewer Request

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Pogue Loses It

David Pogue leads a wonderful life. The Westport-based tech writer (Yahoo, New York Times, Scientific American), TV correspondent (“CBS News Sunday Morning,” PBS “Nova Science Now”) and author (“Missing Manual” series, “Pogue’s Basics”) has won 3 Emmy awards, 2 Webbys and a Loeb for journalism.

But even Pogue’s life doesn’t always go according to plan. The other day — well, let him describe it for “06880” readers:

I love drones. I love reviewing drones. I love filming drones!

But last week, something really crazy happened. I was reviewing the new $1300 Yuneec Typhoon H, taking it out for a test flight before the Yahoo video crew arrived next day to film my video review.

David Pogue drone

My son Kell (a Staples High School 2015 graduate) and a couple of his buddies stood on our attic balcony, checking it out. I let it hover at their eye level, just so they could see how cool and menacing-looking this hexacopter was. (It has 6 rotors. No, that doesn’t make it a sexcopter.)

From there, I flew it straight up. It hovered over the house, giving me an amazing view (on the remote control’s screen) of the Wakeman athletic fields.

Wakeman athletic fields - Pogue drone

The drone hovered 370 feet up — just shy of its 400-foot, hardwired altitude limit (also the FAA’s maximum allowable height). Then, before my eyes, the drone started drifting away. The controls did not respond!

The screen just said, “Trying to reconnect.” As I watched in disbelief, the drone drifted away over Bayberry, toward Fairfield. I was helpless.

I got on my bike and rode around, looking and looking. I never found it. There’s a $1300 drone in somebody’s bushes somewhere.

Drone flyaways are supposed to be impossible. They’re programmed to return to their takeoff position (in this case, my backyard) if they ever lose their connection to the remote. Somehow, that fail-safe system never kicked in.

A little Googling shows that flyaways do, in fact, happen. (One landed on the White House lawn last year.)

David Pogue, perhaps trying to find his drone.

David Pogue, perhaps trying to find his drone.

The company analyzed my flight logs and concluded that nothing I’d done contributed to the flyaway. But they had no explanation for what caused it.

Nobody’s ever been hurt by a flyaway drone, and companies are working on better sensors, software and electronics to prevent flyaways. But I was really rattled — though not as much as if I’d actually bought this drone. (It was a review unit.)

Friends suggested I tape “LOST DRONE” signs on telephone poles in the neighborhood. I decided, nah. That’s just be too embarrassing.

But if an “06880” reader finds a sleek black drone in their bushes: I’ve still got the remote control. Let’s talk.

Town Fights 8-30g — And Wins

A real estate developer buys suburban land. He announces plans to build a massive number of housing units on it. Citing Connecticut’s 8-30g statute, 30% will be “affordable,” according to state guidelines.

Townspeople — worried about the impact of such a massive development — rise up to oppose it.

Sound familiar? It happens all over — including Westport.

Here’s the unfamiliar part: The townspeople won.

The town is not Westport. But it’s nearby.

Easton residents and officials just got big news. A 5-year battle against a 99-unit, 31-building townhouse complex, on 124.7 acres of watershed bordered by Sport Hill, Westport, Silver Hill and Cedar Hill Roads, has come to an end. An appellate court declined to hear the developer’s appeal of a January decision by Hartford’s housing court, which upheld Easton’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Conservation Commission’s 2011 denial of that plan (and a previous one for 105 units).

Part of the Easton property proposed for a 99-unit 8-30g housing development.

Part of the Easton property proposed for a 99-unit 8-30g housing development. (Photo/Google Earth)

How did they do it?

Ira Bloom explains. He was legal counsel for the town commissions. He’s also Westport’s town attorney, so he knows something about 8-30g.

Unlike most zoning applications, Bloom says, if a town commission turns down an 8-30g application, the burden is on them — not on the developer — to prove they made the right decision.

There are a couple of ways to do that, Bloom says. One is to show there is “substantial public interest” in the denial. “Mere traffic congestion” does not work, Bloom notes. Traffic safety, however, may. “Substantial public interest” must clearly outweigh the need for affordable housing in that town.

Another way is to show that no possible modification of the proposal would satisfy the requirements.

Ira Bloom

Ira Bloom

“That’s a heavy burden of proof,” Bloom says. In fact, last year 9 8-30g cases were decided by Connecticut courts. 7 were won by developers. Towns prevailed in only 2 — including Easton.

Bloom argued that because the 99 units would be built on public watershed — serving most of the Easton — the town had a substantial public interest in denying the application. He cited Department of Energy and Environmental Protection guidelines that no more than 1 unit be built on every 2 acres of watershed.

In Westport, officials used the “substantial public interest” argument in denying a proposal for a large 8-30g complex on Wilton Road, near Kings Highway North. The fire chief testified there were severe safety concerns, about the ability of his department to access the proposed complex.

Westport is now writing briefs for that case. They’re due August 12. The developer — Garden Homes — then submits their own briefs.

Easton has very little affordable housing. Westport has more.

But when it comes to 8-30g, no town is out of the woods.

And, Bloom notes, the Easton developer still owns that property. A new proposal may be in the works.

Where Westport Meets The World: The Photos

Last week — in a nod to “06880”‘s tagline, “Where Westport meets the world” — I asked readers who do not live here to send photos of your favorite summer place.

A third of all “06880” readers live beyond this zip code. I thought it would be fun for our ex-pats to share scenes of your current, non-Westport lives.

Many readers responded. Here’s where you live, and what you love. The photos are arranged (more or less) geographically, from nearest to furthest.

Susan Feliciano and her husband Jose are just across the Westport line, in Weston. But they’re not, technically, here, so they count. He travels everywhere — in the past month he’s been in Austria, England and Baltimore; he leaves soon for Beirut, South Korea, Japan and Croatia — so home is particularly important. Susan calls this “our little piece of heaven, our little slice on the Saugatuck, especially lovely right after a summer rain.”

Happy place - Susan Feliciano, Weston 2

Happy place - Susan Feliciano - Weston 1

Bobbie Herman lives in Fairfield, half a mile over the border. Her favorite place is her garden. She spends 2 hours a day working on it. With 2.2 acres, there’s a lot to do.

“But it’s rewarding,” she says. “I have breakfast every morning on the patio which overlooks it, and every afternoon on the screened porch right next to the patio.”

Happy place - Bobbie Herman - Fairfield garden

Bonnie Bradley writes: “17 years ago, after a lifetime in Westport, I came to the town of Roxbury, in Litchfield County. Maple Bank Farm is a treasured destination, right in town. Farmers Cathy and Howie Bronson, of old Roxbury families, provide all kinds of their own vegetables and plants, and even skeins of wool from their sheep.

“Today you can go up the hill to pick their blueberries. Soon, their corn will be in. It seems you never go to Maple Bank without running into friends. That’s Roxbury.”

Happy place - Bonnie - Maple Bank Farm, Roxbury CT

From the other end of Connecticut, Peter Barlow’s photo shows Pawcatuck and Westerly, Rhode Island, separated by the Pawcatuck River (the bridge in the background on the right). Despite being in 2 different states, residents hold joint parades. Pawcatuck is actually part of Stonington, 3 miles away.

Happy plac - Peter Barlow - Pawcatuck CT

Rebecca Wolin says: “I am very lucky. After living in Westport for 20 years I moved to a vacation destination: the Berkshires. Monterey, Massachusetts has 900 residents, but in the summer it grows to 5,000. This is the lake at the end of my road ( I cheated — it’s a fall picture). I live right off the Appalachian Trail, and love it.”

Happy place - Rebecca Wolin - lake at end of her road, Monterey MA

Geoff Hodgkinson (Staples High School Class of 1964) has lived in Marblehead, Massachusetts since 1964. A peninsula 17 miles north of Boston, population 21,000, it features a harbor at Crocker Park. During the summer, 2000 boats moor there.

Geoff’s 2nd photo is of the historic district: 200 Colonial-era homes, many from the 1600s. The tower in the background is the 1876 town hall. “All in all, it’s a great place to live,” Geoff says. “But I do miss Compo and other Westport spots from time to time.”

Happy place - Geoff Hodgkinson, Marblehead Mass 1

Happy place - Geoff Hodgkinson, Marblehead MA 2

Kim Manchester Shaw writes: “I still refer to Westport as ‘home’, but It has been 30 years since I lived there. My brother and his family now live in our childhood home. It’s a blast to watch my niece and nephews enjoy all of our old Westport haunts as they grow up.

“These days I call Saratoga Springs home: the foothills of the Adirondacks. The photo is of my son, Alex, taken at the summit of Sleeping Beauty on an Adirondack hike last weekend. Tough to beat that view…unless perhaps you are in the 06880!”

Happy place - Kim Manchester Shaw - summit of Sleeping Beauty on Adirondack hike

Jane Davidson Arms (Staples High School Class of 1977) is now in Manchester, Vermont. Her youngest son (shown here) heads off to college in the fall:

Happy place - Jane Davidson Ams - Manchester, VT

After graduating from Staples in 1971, Fran Taylor has thrived in Kentucky’s horse country. She spent many years associated with Keeneland. She snapped the first photo below on Derby Day, while driving home from Louisville. The 2nd is taken from the driveway of her farm in Sadieville.

Happy Place - Fran Taylor - from Louisville to Lexington

Happy place - Fran Taylor - driveway of farm in Sadieville, KY

Tom Siebrasse offers this shot of Big Glen Lake, in Michigan’s Sleeping Bear National Park:

Happy place - Tom Siebrasse - Big Glen Lake, Glen Arbor, MI

Mike Taylor checks in with a photo of Lake Michigan. He’s halfway between Milwaukee and Green Bay. His town of Sheboygan, Wisconsin is a top golf destination; one of 3 US Official Sailing Centers in the country; home of Road America, one of the 3 car racing road courses in the world — and host to concerts partially sponsored by the Levitt Foundation. Having been an original employee of Westport’s Levitt Pavilion — he did lights and sound — he’s particularly proud of that.

Mike asks, “So why is this my favorite summer spot? I loved growing up in Westport and looking at Long Island Sound. But here, sitting on our lake deck, we look at the horizon. It’s like looking at the ocean. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore is awesome. And it’s my home.”

Happy place - Michael Taylor - Sheboygan, WI - Lake Michigan

Last August, Diana and Leonard Zaslow moved from Westport to Bonita Springs, Florida. Here’s what they see every evening:

Happy place - Diana Zaslow, Bonita Springs, FL

Alix Land says: “It’s hard to compare anyplace to Westport, but attached are shots from my home in Portland, Oregon. We get out on our bikes or paddleboards as often as possible.” The first photo shows the Willamette River, just south of Portland. She lives one street away from a ridge overlooking a beautiful golf course. On a clear day, she sees majestic Mt. Hood.

Happy Place - Alix Land - Willamette River just south of Portland

Happy place - Alix Land - OR (can see Mt Hood on clear day)

David Grant checks in from Danville, California — a San Francisco Bay area town of 42,000. The small-town atmosphere — with many unique stores and restaurants — reminds him of the Westport where he grew up. The 4th of July parade draws 40,000 attendees. Dave says: “Excellent schools keep property values strong. Good weather is a constant bonus.” Here’s Hartz Avenue:

Happy place - David Grant, Hartz Avenue, Danville CA

Finally, Mara Barth writes: “While we enjoy living in Paris at the moment (been here since October), we very much look forward to a little time in Westport this summer!”

Happy place - Mara Barth, in Paris since October

There you have it: where Westport meets the world. Plenty of water; mostly small towns; lots of beauty.

Wherever you are today: Enjoy it! There’s no place like home.

Traffic Grows; So Do Woes

Summertime usually means a decrease in Westport traffic.

Not this year.

Westporters have noticed a dramatic increase on the Post Road. The Compo Road light seems particularly bad, especially coming from downtown and on South Compo Road, from the beach. Others spots on US1 are also heavier than usual, this time of year.

But it’s also an issue on usually free-flowing side streets. An “06880” reader writes:

My child attends camp at Coleytown Elementary School. Given the current North Avenue bridge closure, this is a problem.

Remembering the traffic situation from last summer, when the bridge was also out, I leave my house (off South Compo) 15 minutes before the start of camp. However, the construction at North Compo and Main Street makes this worse this year.

At 8:50 a.m., the intersection of Cross Highway and Weston Road is completely blocked up with Merritt Parkway traffic. It’s nearly impossible to make the left turn onto Weston Road.

It takes another 10 minutes to get to the stop sign on Easton Road, a few yards away.

Returning home, it’s hard to use Easton Road because the traffic is backed up a good half-mile, so I go the other direction to Bayberry lane.

4:15 pm yesterday: Southbound on Easton Road, heading to the Weston Road/Merritt Parkway bottleneck. During morning rush hour, the scene is much worse.

4:15 pm yesterday: Southbound on Easton Road, heading to the Weston Road/Merritt Parkway bottleneck. During morning rush hour, the scene is much worse.

There should be a traffic cop at the Weston/Easton/Merritt intersection to ease traffic. I’ve seen cops on both Bayberry Lane and Easton Road with radar guns to catch speeders, instead of helping out at congested intersections.

Today (Tuesday) was the worst it’s been in a while. Post Road, Greens Farms Road and even my own side street were at a standstill.

It’s not just me complaining. Everyone I have spoken with who carpools kids to camp is at their wit’s end with the traffic situation.

I hope you understand that this is not just one Westport mom complaining. I’m trying to bring attention to a larger problem.

Chamber Project Sells Westport To Sherwood Island Visitors

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

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

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

Sherwood Island State Park -- right here in Westport.

Sherwood Island State Park — right here in Westport.

If Matthew Mandell has his way, that will change.

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

But how to get those potential customers to see Westport?

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

A detailed map forms the centerfold of the brochure.

A detailed map forms the centerfold of the brochure.

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

Sherwood Island brochure - front and back

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

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

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

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

“06880” Asks: Where’s Your Summer Place?

Day in and day out, “06880” posts photos of iconic Westport scenes. The beach, Longshore, the Duck, Saugatuck Sweets — these are places Westporters love.

I know, because I hear from many readers. And not all of them live in Westport.

In fact, about 1/3 of “06880” readers no longer live here (some never did). So let’s turn the tables, and see where your favorite place is. Wherever you are.

This request is only for non-Westport residents. Pick a place you love, in the town or city where you now live. (No “vacation spots” or former homes, please.) We want to see the Westport equivalent of your current hometown.

Take a photo sometime this weekend. (Current summer shots only!) Send 1 or 2 images — not more — to dwoog@optonline.net, by Sunday night. Tell us a little bit about your shot(s). We’ll post a collection next week.

The “06880” tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.” It’s time all of us saw your world too.

If I had to pick a shot, this would be mine.

If I had to pick a shot, this might be mine.

Crane Is Back!

Well, it’s not exactly the magnificent crane that enthralled Westporters, as it towered over Bedford Square for several months.

This one — across from Fire Department headquarters — is quite a bit smaller:

Crane

But how fitting that it’s there. The Post Road office building being renovated was once the international headquarters of Terex.

You know: the manufacturer of heavy construction equipment.