Category Archives: Question Box

Question Box #8

Our Question Box is once again full.

Unfortunately, I have almost none of the answers. I thought I knew a lot about Westport. Now I see how clueless I am.

So readers: Please chime in with any additional information. Click “Comments” below.

If you’ve got a question for our box, email 06880blog@gmail.com.

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I’m curious why there is a staircase leading down to the Saugatuck River, at the Riverwalk near the Library. Did people used to swim (or bathe?) in it? (Tracy Porosoff)

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

I don’t know, Tracy. I’ve often wondered, though.

And I’ve wondered when was the last time anyone used it.

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There are 2 ancient-looking doors on the west side of Saugatuck Avenue, just north of the railway overpass. They’re unmarked, and wouldn’t make any sense to have there with the traffic whizzing by. One is on the 2nd floor, so they probably pre-date the road there. Any idea what they were for? (Marc Frankel)

No. But I’m sure some longtime Saugatuck residents do. And — to be honest — I’ve never noticed them. The next time I’m stuck in traffic there, I’ll look.

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The photo above brings up my own question: Why do so many drivers not believe the 10′ 11″ warning sign on the Saugatuck Avenue bridge? 

If I drove a truck for a living — or rented a U-Haul, and was responsible for damages — I like to think I’d be a bit more aware than all of those ding-dongs who suddenly come to a screeching, roof-less halt.

And a related query: Why are there so many fewer accidents on the similarly low railroad bridge on South Compo? Does it have something to do with coming off I-95 onto Saugatuck Avenue, and still being in highway mode? Are there not enough warning signs? We may not be able to solve many world problems, but this one seems like it could be fixed.

Or at least cut down to, say, only one accident a month.

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Hooper Road is off Bayberry Lane. It is actually just a driveway with 2 houses at the end: #3 and #4. Where are #1 and #2? And who was Hooper? 

I have no idea. But it sure looks like a nice, quiet, leafy neighborhood.

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My Alvord children and I have just learned there is an Alvord Beach here. Where is it? For which ancestor is it named? And can we claim ownership? We’ve always wanted a private beach. (Lynn Flaster [Alvord] Paul

I know the answer!

Well, part of it, anyway.

Alvord Beach is the official name of the sandy area at Sherwood Island State Park.

I have no idea which Alvord it’s named for, unfortunately. But for the very interesting back story of Connecticut’s first state park, click here.

Alvord Beach, at Sherwood Island State Park.

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I’d like to know about the Lees family — early Westport industrialists.

They have a big cemetery plot at Willowbrook, with gravestones goin back centuries, plus an extension with more recent family members buried across the way.

The grandmother’s beautiful Italianate Victorian house set back on Main Street was in disrepair for many years, but looks well kept up now. Amazing to think that property goes all the way back. (Jeanne Reed)

“06880” has written several times about the Lees family, with great input from Mary Palmieri Gai Jack Whittle. Here are some excerpts:

Lees Pond, Lees Dam and Lees Lane, all in the Richmondville area, are part of the Lees family.

Lees Dam (Photo/Scott Smith)

Lees Manufacturing Company – they ran the cotton twine mill on Richmondville Avenur – was founded in 1814 by John Lees, who was born in 1787 in England, and perhaps a brother Thomas Lees was also a founder. John Lees was married to Martha (b. 1793). They are shown living in Westport in the 1850 US census, with their two youngest sons, George and Henry.

Edward M. Lees (Courtesy of Dale Call)

Edward M. Lees (born c. 1832) appeared in both the 1860 and 1870 US censuses with his wife Caroline. In the 1860 census Edward’s occupation was “blacksmith,” while in the 1870 census it was “law student.” Edward was appointed postmaster for Westport on April 7, 1867. He died in 1909, and is buried alongside his wife in Willowbrook cemetery.

Edward Lees also fought in the Civil War. He joined Fairfield’s 17th regiment too, ending the war as a 2nd lieutenant in Company K. He was wounded at Gettysburg, and captured at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

As far as precise Main Street Westport addresses of the Lees are concerned,  Robert Lees (b. 1855) and his wife Lucy lived “on Main street near Myrtle Ave” in Westport in the 1919 Westport City Directory. Robert’s occupation was listed as “cotton twine manufacturing.”

Robert died around 1919 but Lucy continued to live in Westport, with her address listed as “171 Main St.” beginning with the 1925 Westport City Directory and continuing through the 1933 directory (when Lucy was 83 or so; she may have died soon thereafter). (NOTE: Street numbers may have been renumbered at some point.)

Meanwhile, beginning with the 1910 census John A. Lees (b. 1875) and his wife Margaret Sniffen Lees lived next door at 169 Main Street, along with their son John A. Lees Jr. (b. 1905). According to the 1917 City directory John A Lees Sr. was the president of Lees Manufacturing, and Charles Sniffen (his wife’s father? brother?) was shown as the manager. Sniffen Lane was developed much later, near Richmondville Avenue.

The Mill on Richmondville Avenue is now being converted into luxury housing.

John A. Lees Sr. and Margaret moved into Lucy Lees’ house after she died, because they are shown living at 171 Main St. in the 1940 census. At that point John A. Lees Jr. was married (Jane) and from 1931 – 1939 living at 193 Main Street.

John A. Lees Jr. (who also ran the company) and Jane eventually moved to Turkey Hill Road South in the 1950s. John A. Lees Jr. died on April 24, 1966.

The old Lees House at 257 Main State was (finally) restored by the owner. The last Lees in Westport — a woman who never married — lived there until she was in her 90s.

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(“06880” answers questions — and provokes conversations. If you’re part of our online community, please support our work. Click here to contribute.)

Question Box #6

Our Question Box is once again full.

Unfortunately, I have almost none of the answers. I thought I knew a lot about Westport. Now I see how clueless I am.

So readers: Please chime in with any additional information. Click “Comments” below.

If you’ve got a question for our box, email 06880blog@gmail.com

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Why are there so many streets without sidewalks? (Monica Buesser)

This is an eternal question — particularly by newcomers from Manhattan and Brooklyn.

There are a few reasons:

  • Money
  • No one asked for them in a particular area
  • A desire to cling to a “rural” feel
  • Postwar Westport grew around cars and bikes — not feet.

So here’s my question: In the areas where we do have sidewalks, why do people walk instead on the road?

The Imperial Avenue sidewalk. Sometimes, people even use it.

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Who was the “Webb” in Webb Road?

I have no idea. All I know is it’s a nice street off Whitney. And I think Michael Douglas lived there — at least for a while — with his mother.

For that matter, who was Whitney? The Abbott of Abbott’s Lane? The The Pamela and Plunkett of their Places?

This should keep the Answer Box of our Question Box filled. If you know the back story of interesting Westport road names (though not, obviously, Main Street, North Avenue or the like), let us know!

I think a young Michael Douglas once lived near Webb Road, on Whitney Street.

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I notice that some newer driveways have a threshold of Belgium blocks or similar. Why?

Belgium blocks

Also, some quite new driveways seem to have a drain as a threshold. Why and where does it drain, if at all? 

Driveway drain.

Finally, most homes simply have a driveway with no threshold blocks or drain. I presume this is before anyone decided to put them in. (Mark Mathias)

No drain (Photos/Mark Mathias)

Here’s the “06880” answer: I have no idea.

If a builder/driveway specialist out there knows the answer — or a homeowner thinks he or she does — please weigh in.

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I think I know the rivers and reservoirs in our area. But I wonder: Does any map show the creeks, streams and brooks? All I found is that you can step over a brook, jump over a creek, wade across a stream and swim across a river. (Jeff Jacobs)

Muddy, Willow and Deadman — those are 3 of our brooks (which I’ve always thought of as “streams” too). I’m not sure if we have a creek.

There’s our old friend Google (as in Google Maps). You’ll need to zoom out or in, depending on your settings.

But maybe there’s a geological survey or topographical-type map that’s better. If you know of one, please share!

Deadman Brook flows into the Saugatuck River by the Levitt Pavilion. I’m not sure if you could actually “step over” this. (Photo/Judy Jahnel)

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There’s a big rock off Saugatuck Shores named Seymour Rock. Any idea who Seymour was? (Jack Harder)

Nope. And to be honest, I’ve never heard of Seymour Rock in my life.

But a quick search confirmed it. Last year, Westport Local Press ran a photo of Longshore Sailing School students exploring it — as a “rite of passage” — off Bluff Point.

So ask John Kantor. Or Jaime Bairaktaris. They’ll rock it.

Seymour Rock (Photo courtesy of Westport Local Press)

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Have a question? Email 06880blog@gmail.com. 

Pic Of The Day #1809

Compo fog (Photo/Karen Como)

Question Box #5

Our Question Box is once again full.

Here are the latest answers — to the best of my ability, anyway. I’m stumped by many of these queries. So readers: Please chime in with any additional information. Click “Comments” below.

And if you’ve got a question for our box, just email dwoog@optonline.net.

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I read a lot about “affordable housing” in Westport. What is considered “affordable,” and who sets the guidelines?

Guidelines are set by Connecticut General Statute 8-30g. Click here for the exact 2021 income limits, and rental maximums.

Housing limits at places like Sasco Creek Village are set by the state.

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Who hires the town attorney, and how much is he or she paid? (David Meth)

According to town attorney Ira Bloom, the First Selectman (or woman) appoints the town attorney. The budget for the position has various components:  retainer amounts for the town attorney and assistant town attorney; a component for labor and employment, and the contract services — the largest piece — which covers litigation and longer-term projects.

Neither Bloom nor the assistant town attorney, Eileen Lavigne Flug, are town employees, so they do not receive a “salary” per se from the town.

Town attorney Ira Bloom

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Is there a committee for the Baron’s South project, or a way to get involved? (Whitney Raith)

Baron’s South falls under the purview of the Parks & Recreation Department. Contact director Jen Fava (jfava@westportct.gov) to let her know you’re interested.

Baron’s South is a gem in the heart of Westport. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

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Also from Whitney Raith: Why are there so many dead-end private streets? Does this lessen the town’s road upkeep?

Now that’s something that I — as a native Westporter — never thought about.

My guess is it’s a function of how the town grew. As farmland was sold to developers, they built homes off the main roads. If the houses were behind each other, they needed a way to get to the main road. Because there was still undeveloped land behind, the new roads did not connect to others, so they became dead-ends (more delicately, cul-de-sacs [or “culs-de-sac”?]).

I’m sure the nature of people moving to town — seeking privacy, which “private” roads provide — had something to do with it too.

I don’t think it was a way for the town to avoid upkeep. But if my theory is wrong — or you’ve got other ideas — click “Comments” below.

In this 1965 aerial view, Staples High School is on the left. An arrow points to High Point Road. Located off Long Lots Road, and the longest cul-de-sac in Westport, it was developed in the 1950s.

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Was there a mini-golf course where Lansdowne is now located? I was also told that it previously was the dump. (Antonia Zegras)

Fore! The 33-acre Lansdowne condos — located on Post Road East, just west of Stop & Shop — were once the site of mini-golf, and a driving range. For a while, a Bedford Junior High phys. ed. teacher had a trampoline business — “Ed Hall’s Jumpin’ Gyminy,” or something like that — out in front too.

Plus a skating rink, which eventually morphed into the short-lived Nines Club discotheque, courtesy of orchestra leader Lester Lanin. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

That rink/disco lives on, as the Westport Tennis Club.

As for a dump: I recall stuff being dumped in the back of the driving range after the mini-golf complex closed, but I can’t swear to it. Readers: If you remember: Click “Comments” below.

Once a mini-golf course and driving range; now well-established condos.

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I drive up and down Long Lots Road several times a day. Almost always, I see a flock of hawks circling, always between Turkey Hill Road and Hyde Lane. Can any readers explain why? (Lawrence Weisman)

Hawk-lovers: What’s up (ho ho)? Click “Comments” below.

Not Larry Weisman’s hawk — but very cool nonetheless. (Photo/Lou Rolla)

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I know that Alcoholics Anonymous meets at the St. Luke Church stables on Long Lots Road. Were there actual stables there at some point? (Arthur Hayes)

I don’t know the answer. I’m sure some of our alert readers do. But I’m guessing there were. It doesn’t seem like a name that came from thin air.

The St. Luke Church stables. Were there once horses there?

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Is there anything new concerning the incomplete structure on Hillspoint Road diagonally across from Joey’s by the Shore, where a series of restaurants used to be located? (Paul Rohan)

Nope! Negotiations continue, following a cease-and-desist order for violations on the residence that was slated to replace (most recently) Positano’s.

Construction has been halted at 233 Hillspoint Road. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

Do you have a question for the Question Box? Email dwoog@optonline.net. When it’s full, I’ll answer them.

Question Box: Answers #3

Our Question Box is once again full.

Here are the latest answers — to the best of my ability, anyway. I’m stumped by many of these queries. So readers: Please chime in with any additional information. Click “Comments” below.

And if you’ve got a question for our box, just email dwoog@optonline.net.

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Where does the name “Compo” come from? (Art Hayes)

What a great, basic question!

Compo (“Compaug”) means “bear’s fishing ground.” It’s a Native American name, from the early Paugussett tribe.

it’s been a while since a bear went fishing at Compo. But that’s where the name of the beach comes from.

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A recent photo showing the “bridge to nowhere” off Parker Harding Plaza started the wheels of memory turning. Was it there in the late 1960s? (Susan Hopkins, Elizabeth, Colorado)

Westport’s favorite bridge to nowhere: Parker Harding Plaza (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

Another excellent question! It was built — I believe — in the early 1970s. I’m not sure, however, who sponsored it, or why.

If any readers have the back story, let us know!

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What’s up with the missing/deactivated blinking yellow traffic lights at the Westport Fire Department’s headquarters on Post Road East?

Formerly, 2 cables held 2 blinking lights each. They turned red to stop traffic in all directions when fire trucks exited the station.

A few months ago, the cable that held the pair of blinkers facing eastbound traffic lay on the ground opposite the fire station. Did the cable break? Were the lights removed on purpose? The cable holding the 2 lights facing westbound traffic are still in place, but deactivated. (Wendy Crowther)

Deputy chief Michael Kronick says: “The computer that controls the light died earlier this year. We have contacted a vendor to replace and upgrade the system.

Unfortunately, the computer is on back order because of the worldwide microprocessor order. We have no timeline for when the controls will be available.”

Fire headquarters, near the (now-non-) blinking lights.

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From time to time, we see wildlife with tags like the one below. Who tags them — and why? (Gail Berritt)

(Photo/Gail Berritt)

I’ll pass this one of to our wildlife experts. Click comments below, please!

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A recent posting on Facebook about Carvel elicited plenty of likes and comments. But no one seems to know when it opened. Do you? (Fred Cantor)

Nope! But you and I both remember it from our high school days in the 1970s. And I remember it from earlier — with a huge ice cream cone on the top of the building. That’s been long gone, victim of either a hurricane or zoning regulation, no doubt.

There must be former Carvel employees out there who know when the ice cream stand — one of the longest-running businesses in Westport — first opened. Let us know!

Iconic Westport.

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Have a question for the Question Box? Email dwoog@optonline.net.

 

 

 

Question Box: Answers #2

Last week’s Question Box was a smash.

Readers wanted answers to everything from Grace Salmon Park and “Bob” to our eternally renovated bridges and old/new firehouse. 

I did what I could to respond. Readers pitched in. (Click here if you missed it.)

Then you sent more. Here’s the next set of questions. I know some of the answers. When I don’t — someone else will. Click “Comments” below to help.

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I’m sure you’ve covered this in the past. But I’m curious about the history of the boat “Gloria” that I pass every day as I ride through Longshore. And what might the future hold for this venerable vessel? (John Richers)

Short answer: Yes, I’ve written about Gloria many times. Click here for some of those stories and photos.

Longer story: Alan Sterling built the wooden oyster boat himself. He named it after an old girlfriend, and took it oystering on 150 acres of beds, between Compo Beach and Cockenoe Island. It was a tough job, but Alan — a Staples grad — loved it from the day he began, in 1964.

Alan moored Gloria in Gray’s Creek, between Compo Beach Road and the Longshore exit. Some winters, he lived on the boat. It was cold — but it was home.

On July 4, 2014, Alan died of a heart attack.

After that, Gloria drifted. Michael Calise took care of it. Earlier this year, it washed up on shore. Its future is uncertain. It’s an old boat that’s seen a lot, and given many Westporters years of joy.

Just as it did for Alan Sterling.

Gloria, in 2017. (Photo/John Kantor)

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I am new to Westport, from Brooklyn. I know there is talk about revitalizing downtown, and bringing in businesses to fill some of the vacancies. I’m curious if there has ever been a survey of what people would like to see downtown? I am interested in business ownership, and really being part of the community. I wonder what type of businesses folks think would be needed and supported. (Travis Rew-Porter)

Travis, this is awesome. I don’t know of any consumer/user survey. It’s a great idea.

And readers: If you’d like to work with Travis on a business or revitalization project, click “Comments” below!

What kind of businesses do Westporters want? Great question! (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

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Does Public Works have any input into local traffic lights? The timing at Morningside Drive/Post Road has changed to prioritize the Post Road more dramatically. The green light for Morningside lasts just 3 seconds. It is impossible to cross on foot. Help! (Amy Bedi)

Unfortunately, nearly every light in town is on a state road. Those balls are in the Department of Transportation’s court.

Click here for a link to report issues to the DOT. But don’t hold your breath.

Town officials — including the 1st selectman and Department of Public Works — are in contact with the state about traffic lights. They can sometimes push things along. But they don’t hold their breath either.

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Can Westporters use the track at Staples to run, jog or walk? If so, is it time restricted? Do you need a pass? (Carmen Castedo)

The Laddie Lawrence Track at Paul Lane Field (the first time I’ve written that!) is open to all — except during the school day, or when it’s used after school by the track team, or if there is another sports event going on.

No pass is needed. But keep Fido home!

The Laddie Lawrence Track, at Paul Lane Field. (File photo; the track is now blue.)

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Is Clinton Avenue named after the namesake of Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post 399 on Riverside Avenue? (Linda Velez)

Not only have I never been asked that — I never even thought about it.

Private Joseph J. Clinton was a Westport soldier. He was killed in France just 4 days before the armistice.

That explains the VFW name. But the road off Main Street, opposite North Compo: I have no idea. Except to say that it is not named for either Bill or Hillary.

VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399.

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What happened to the time capsule that was buried at Greens Farms Elementary School for the bicentennial? I heard that at one time 3 people had plans and permission to dig it up. There is a new road in front of the school. You have a lot of fans who were involved in the project. (A passive-aggressive reader: This was sent by mail, with no name or return address.)

I addressed this in 2012. The answer was the same then: No one knows. (Click here to see.) 

But one reader responded with a back story:

I remember the time capsule at Greens Farms El in 1976. It was buried in the front lawn. All the classes/grades were asked to participate in drawings (I think that I was in maybe 3rd grade & our class drew pictures of ourselves and described our lives. We all mused how fun it would be for people 100 years later to see how we lived).

A crane dug a deep hole, and there was quite a bit of ceremony around the time capsule being buried. I’ve told people about it over the years, only to wonder if anyone else remembered it, as well:)

If anyone can dig deeper (ho ho), click “Comments” below.

Has anyone seen my time capsule? (Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Some 80 years ago I lived on 573 Imperial Avenue, at the corner of Wakeman Place. The numbers have been reset, but the house is still there. My brothers and I used to swim in the river. I remember diving off “White Rock,” which was close to the shore. Is it still there, or am I dreaming? (Karl Taylor)

You’re probably not dreaming, but I have not heard of it. Wakeman Place residents: What’s the deal?

Wakeman Place at Imperial Avenue. Karl, was this your house?

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Why did the state Department of Transportation remove and replace the trees, bushes and buffering hills from the northbound side of the Merritt Parkway, near the Westport Weston Family YMCA? It cost a lot of money. Was the outcome worth the expense? (Jacque O’Brien)

I asked State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, who serves on the House Transportation Committee. He says that location was a major staging area for projects up and down the Merritt.

Now that equipment and material has been moved in and out, it’s time to replace what was lost.

New trees on the Merritt Parkway, near the Y. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

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What first inspired you to start “06880,” and did you ever think it would keep you this busy? (Jack Krayson)

Wow! I didn’t expect an “06880” question on “06880.”

I started the blog in March of 2009. I was a columnist for the Westport News (I still am!), but realized the future of print journalism was, um, iffy. I wanted to continue to write about town people, issues, events and history. Someone suggested I start a blog.

“No way!” I said. (That’s also what I said about cell phones, when they came in. And computers, before that.)

But he showed me WordPress, a great blogging platform. I learned the basics in a weekend. Here we are, 13,000+ posts (and 136,000+ comments later).

I never dreamed it would keep me this busy. If I knew then what I know now …

… I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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Why is Westport pronounced “Wessport”? The “t” is silent! (Kevin McCaul)

My guess: It takes too long to say the first “t.”

And Wessporters are always in a hurry.

 

 

Question Box: Answers #1

Last week, I introduced the “06880” Question Box.

It’s a chance to ask anything you’ve wondered about (with a Westport angle, of course). Questions can be current or historical, concrete or abstract, deep or shallow.

I’ll attempt to answer them. If I don’t have the answer, I’m sure other “06880” readers will.

You responded quickly. Here’s the first set of questions. And — where appropriate — the answers.

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Who is Grace Salmon, and why is there a park named for her? (Arlene Yolles)

According to Woody Klein’s history of Westport, Grace King Salmon was a founding member of the Westport Woman’s Club.

The wife of Frederick Salmon — Connecticut state comptroller, and president of Westport Bank & Trust — she died in 1939. She left a trust in her own name to benefit the town.

Virginia Sherwood, Westport Garden Club chairman, applied for grants from the trust and other agenciees to design a park on 3 acres of Saugatuck River landfill across the river from where the Salmons lived (now the Assumption Church rectory).

It took several years to solve the site’s environmental problems. But the Garden Club developed Connecticut’s first park built on a former landfill, and won an award for its efforts.

Today, Grace K. Salmon Park is one of Westport’s hidden-in-plain-site treasures. It’s on Imperial Avenue near Baker Avenue — a few yards from the Westport Woman’s Club, which its namesake helped found.

The scene from Grace Salmon Park across the Saugatuck River, near where the Salmon family once lived. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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When did the junior high system start in Westport? (Joyce Barnhart)

From its opening in 1884, and for the next 42 years, Staples High School included 7th through 9th graders.

In 1926, construction of a new “Bedford Junior High School” — aided, in large part, by a $145,000 gift from E.T. Bedford — was nearly complete. Situated across a field from the original Staples High School on Riverside (where the auditorium of what is now Saugatuck Elementary School now sits), the building (now Kings Highway Elementary) included an “unusually good” gymnasium, auditorium and stage — all of which would be shared by the high school.

The 18-acre plot between the schools was planned as a well-equipped “playground” (athletic fields) for students and adults.

So 1926 was when the first junior high — for 7th, 8th and 9th graders — opened in Westport. Long Lots followed in the early 1950s, Coleytown in 1965.

Kings HIghway Elementary School was originally Bedford Junior High. Fields separated it from the first Staples High. Look closely, and you can still see “Bedford” above the front door.

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Who is “Bob”? This sign (below) has hung for years on the south side of New Creek Road, opposite Maple Lane, near the Greens Farms train station. (Bill Ryan)

(Photo/Bill Ryan)

Damned if I know. This question has been posed at least once on “06880,” to no avail. If any readers know who “Bob” is — and/or who put his sign high in that tree — click “Comments” below.

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What’s the story with the Mercedes station wagon that’s been parked in the same spot for months on Myrtle Avenue, in front of Town Hall? (See photo below.)

The tracks around it from the street sweeper are clear evidence it has not moved. It’s covered in dust, still containing someone’s belongings. No tickets on the windshield, or other signs of official notice, just yards from Town Hall. (Michael Moore)

(Photo/Michael Moore)

Believe it or not, I’ve never noticed it — and I drive past Town Hall every day.

But hey, “06880” readers: If you’ve lost your Mercedes-Benz, we know where it is.

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If Westport is located on the eastern side of Long Island Sound, why is it not named Eastport? (Ray Broady)

Well, first of all, Westport is north, south, east and west of a lot of things.

How we got our name in 1835 — when our town was officially incorporated, carved out of the towns of Norwalk, Wilton, Weston and Fairfield — has been a matter of dispute for nearly 200 years.

One theory is that it is a port west of Fairfield (our original European settlers came to what is now Greens Farms, from Fairfield).

Another theory is that because the new town was not named Saugatuck — a state representative claimed it sounded too much like “succotash” — the name “Westport” paid homage to that neighborhood, which was a port on the west side of the Saugatuck River.

Robert Lambdin’s Saugatuck mural. The “port” was on the West bank of the Saugatuck River.

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Why are Westport sidewalks not maintained, not ADA compliant, and not cleared of snow on a timely basis? Why are there no continuous sidewalks on Post Road? Why can’t I walk from Sylvan to Whole Foods? (Monica Buesser)

I asked Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich. He says:

“ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps with detectable warning pads are only required at roadways, not at driveways. The reason you see some sidewalks without ADA ramps at roadways, or with ramps that appear to be non-compliant with the current ADA regs, is that they may have not been replaced recently, and may have been constructed incorrectly, constructed to an earlier ADA standard, or constructed before the ADA regulations were made stricter. As we reconstruct sidewalks around town, we are correcting that situation by installing appropriate ramps where the ADA regs dictate.

“Currently residential properties are cleared of ice and snow by the town. There is no requirement for residential zoned properties to clear their sidewalks.  Commercial use properties are required to clear ice and snow from the front of their establishments within 24 hours.

“Having said that, with approximately 23 miles of residential sidewalks, it often takes us multiple days to clear all the sidewalks after a big storm, and if we have back to back storms we prioritize the roads first, then the parking lots, then the sidewalks. We appreciate residents helping us out any way they can during the winter, by clearing the walk in front of their property.”

A new sidewalk was on North Avenue last year. It’s now ADA-compliant. (Photo/Michael Fleming)

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When will the 1-lane bridge on Bayberry Lane/White Birch Road go back to 2 lanes?

Another one for Public Works director Ratkiewich. He says:

“The Bayberry Lane bridge over the Aspetuck River is tied up in federal permitting right now with the Army Corps of Engineers. We hoped to go to construction this year, but due to the Army Corps’ backlog it appears we will bid this winter. and start construction in the spring of 2022.”

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When did the Westport Fire Department move its headquarters from Church Lane, next to the old YMCA (now Bedford Square) to the current Post Road site? (Dorrie Thomas)

1982, says Chief Robert Yost.

I did not ask — but probably should have — if that was the same time they discontinued their Saturday noontime horn test. It could be heard all over town. Nor do I know when the Department stopped alerting volunteer firefighters to the location of a blaze by horns. The short/long codes could be found on the inside of telephone directories. Remember them?

Former Fire Department headquarters, on Church Lane. The YMCA is on the left.

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Is water safe to drink from the tap? (Michelle Harmon)

I guess so. If it isn’t, I’m sure we would have heard about it by now.

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The “Question Box” is open for more questions. Just email dwoog@optonline.net!

Question Box

Every Westporter — 5th generation or 5-days-ago newbie — has questions about this town.

Who were William Cribari and Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, and why are bridges named after them?

What’s happening (or not happening) with that construction project on Kings Highway North, near Canal Street?

When did 9th graders start going to Staples?

Where were Westport’s 5 movie theaters located?

Why is there a grass median on the Post Road between McDonald’s and the Connector?

How come traffic has suddenly gotten so bad?

Why has traffic increased recently? And who was William F. Cribari?

Time for a new “06880” feature!

“Question Box” will appear occasionally — whenever I have enough to address them en masse.

Readers’ questions can be current or historical, concrete or abstract, deep or shallow.

I won’t know all the answers. But one of our readers probably will.

So if you’ve been wondering something about Westport — how the town works, why we do the things we do, what’s going on — email dwoog@optonline.net.

As your teachers always said, “there’s no such thing as a dumb question.”

Fingers crossed.