Category Archives: Real estate

Roundup: Clear-Cutting, Santa, Holiday Help …

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Westporters have been talking this week about trees, and their removal near property lines and roadsides. A Planning & Zoning Commission subcommittee is drafting a regulation to protect mature trees in setbacks, stop clear-cutting, and ensure that when mature trees are removed, new trees are planted.

One of the most recent examples of clear-cutting is on Hideaway Lane. Several days ago the lot that fronts Hillspoint Road — opposite Loretta Lane, on the last gentle hill before Old Mill Beach — was stripped of every tree.

Here’s the before shot …

(Photo courtesy of Google Earth)

… and how it looked yesterday:

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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If your kids can’t wait to see Santa … he makes a special appearance tonight!

From 5:30 to 6 p.m. today (Thursday), the Bearded One will wave to everyone driving past 28 Oak Street. It’s Josh and Rose Philip’s gift to Westport.

And if Santa looks a tiny bit like Josh — well, what a remarkable coincidence!

Santa visits 28 Oak Street tonight.

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A GoFundMe page has been set up for a Westport family.

Marius Sarapinas is a master carpenter, whose work ethic is equaled only by his attention to detail. He is loved by clients and colleagues.

His dedication to his sons, age 13 and 8, is legendary. He suffered a brain aneurysm just before Thanksgiving, and has been in the ICU at Yale New Haven Hospital ever since. He has made some progress, but the road to recovery is long.

The family must pay medical expenses, along with their mortgage, food, utility and Christmas bills.

The fund is halfway to its $25,000 goal. To help, click here(Hat tip: Danielle Alexander.)

Marius Sarapinas

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Yesterday’s, Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids and Garelick & Herbs provided a holiday lunch for 30 firefighters, at Westport’s main station.

The meal was delicious — and (thankfully) uninterrupted. The department thanks these 2 great local businesses for their generosity.

The Fire Department’s holiday meal.

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Not to be a Debbie Downer as we head into the final, festive week of the year, but I have to repeat this thought, first seen on the WestportMoms Instagram:

Next year is pronounced “2020, too.”

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A ring with the inscription “United States Veteran,” surrounding a green stone (photo below), was found in the Staples High School gym. If it’s yours — or you know whose it is — email klquinn@westportps.org (after the Christmas break).

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Today is one of the busiest days of the year.

To help de-stress, just look at today’s “Westport … Naturally” image.

Relax. Fly above it all. Enjoy the view!

(Photo/Patricia Auber)

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And finally … on this day in 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Imagine” promotional film premiered on American TV. The single and album of the same name was released a year earlier.

Fifty years later, its message still resonates.

Fire Department Offers Home Inspections (And Tips)

Thankfully, fires are few and far between in Westport.

But that does not mean our firefighters sit leisurely in their stations, cooking chili and playing cards while waiting for the rare alarm to ring.

The department responds to medical emergencies and accidents, including on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway. They provide coverage for other towns.

And they conduct inspections.

In fact, that’s a large part of the Westport Fire Department’s work.

The fire marshal’s office looks at plans for new construction and planned renovations of commercial properties. They conduct regular inspection of existing buildings, with eyes toward things like exists, sprinklers and electrical panels.

Less known is the Fire Department’s role in home inspections.

More informal than with buildings — offered on request, as a courtesy, and not as an “enforcement” mechanism — inspectors offer professional expertise to keep owners and their families safe.

Requests come from older residents, and newcomers. The pandemic has brought many first-time homeowners to Westport; thee come from apartments with supers, to large homes with fireplaces and circuit breakers, and they’ve got questions.

Inspector Jon Piper is a veteran of home inspections. He offers these tips to Westporters:

There should be 1 smoke alarm in each bedroom, and 1 more on each floor. Change batteries when you change your clocks to and from Daylight Savings Time — and change the smoke alarms themselves every 10 years. Mark the date the detector goes into service, so it is easily visible.

CO detectors should be installed in any home with an attached garage or fuel-burning appliance. There should be more than one in a large or complex home. The Fire Department will help with optimal placement of CO detectors.

Have your fireplace flue cleaned regularly by a licensed professional. Burn only logs — not other material. Of course, dispose of all ashes safely.

Beautiful. But be sure to know how to use it.

Do not store hazardous materials (like propane tanks and gasoline) in your home.

Fire extinguishers can put out small fires. If you have an extinguisher, know how to use it. There are normally simple instructions on the outside. Do not delay calling 911 while using a fire extinguisher, and exit the building immediately if a fire is beyond the capacity of the extinguisher or the person using it.

There are safety limits to extension cords. Grounded plugs require an extension cord with a ground. A single high-demand electrical appliance like a space heater should be used with a heavy extension cord. Be careful not to overload cords; just because it has another outlet doesn’t mean it can take more load. Do not place cords under rugs, and don’t connect multiple cords together. A licensed electrician can install an additional plug if needed.

Discuss emergency plans with all family members. Establish a meeting place — for example, at the mailbox. Consider having regular fire drills in your home.

Make sure your house number is visible, approaching from either direction of the street. Homes with mailboxes across the street, or group mailboxes, should have markings on the house itself.

“We’re a public safety institution,” Piper says. “Anything that helps the public, we’re for it.”

(Interested in a home fire safety inspection? Call the Westport Fire Department’s non-emergency number: 203-341-5000.)

 

Roundup: Kowalsky Property, Orphenians, Fleet Feet …

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For months, Greens Farms residents have wondered: What’s going on at Morningside Drive South and Clapboard Hill Road

There’s been activity there, at one of the town’s largest still-undeveloped private tracts of land.

On January 5 (7:30 p.m., Zoom) the Flood & Erosion Control Board will hear an application on behalf of the owner — Kowalsky Family Company LLC — for a 6-lot subdivision. It will be reviewed for drainage and grading recommendations to the Planning & Zoning Commission. To attend the virtual meeting, click here.

Site of the proposed subdivision, at 109 Morningside Drive South. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)

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The latest COVID casualty: tomorrow’s Orphenians carol sing downtown.

The a cappella singers had invited alumni to join them, for this special event. The surge in local cases means waiting a year.

Orphenians director Luke Rosenberg wishes all Orphenians, past and present — and their countless fans — a happy, healthy holiday.

The Staples Orphenians sang downtown earlier this month, at the 06880″ Holiday Stroll.

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Despite the Orphenians’ cancellation, there’s a great reason to go downtown tomorrow (Thursday).

From 2 to 5 p.m. Staples High School’s OneWestport Club is holding a toy and coat drive, at the Bedford Square traffic circle on Elm Street.

All donations will go to the Person to Person network. They provide a free holiday store, where low-income families can shop for free gifts for their families. There’s been a huge demand this year, so OneWestport is offering a final push.

New and gently used coats (all sizes, but clean!), new board games, stuffed animals and picture books are great.

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Run — don’t walk — into 2022! Registration is open for Fleet Feet’s next training program

Starting Saturday, January 8 (8 a.m.), it’s a 12-week group effort, for runners of all abilities. From non-runners to those training for a big race: All are welcome.

There are Saturday 8 a.m., and Tuesday 5:30 p.m. sessions. Most runs start and end at the Sconset Square store (with an occasional track or trail run).

Fleet Feet offers a changing room/bathroom, secure storage of keys and valuables — and product discounts while enrolled in the program. Click here for more information, and registration.

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There are 3 shopping days left until Christmas.

Then — on Monday, December 27 — you can start again. MoCA Westport will host a pop-up shop event (9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.), in conjunction with the Winter Recess Art Camp at their 19 Newtown Turnpike campus.

The sale features luxury home accents and fashion accessories.

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Thanks to STAR board member Amanda King Heavey, her son Will and his classmates, every child served by the STAR Rubino Family Center’s early intervention pediatric therapy program will receive a handmade card and note, plus a book to enjoy during the holidays.

Entering its 70th year, STAR Lighting the Way  creates opportunities for people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live full, independent lives.

In the photo below, Will Heavey gives Westporter Parker Greenberg a book and card.

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Aitoro Appliance — just over the line in Norwalk — is many Westporters’ go-to for sales and service.

Now they need our help.

On Monday night at 3:30 a.m., 2 men wearing hoodies stole gas grills. The vehicle was a white Ford truck. Security cameras could not catch the license plate. Anyone with information can email info@aitoro.com.

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“Westport … Naturally” loves to show creatures of all kinds playing in Westport.

But no one has had more fun than this guy, spotted by Elisabeth Keane outside her home:

(Photo/Elisabeth Keane)

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And finally … Maurice and Robin Gibb were born on this day in 1949. With their older brother Barry, they formed the Bee Gees — one of the most popular British Invasion (and then disco) groups of all time.

Both died young: Maurice at 53 from a twisted intestine, and Robin at 62 from kidney failure.

Prospect Road Trees: Late Afternoon Report

As a chainsaw roared several yards away, Santa Claus sat in a swing, suspended from a tree branch.

That was the scene this afternoon on Prospect Road. A crew hired by contractor Joe Feinleib cut down the 2nd and 3rd of 5 oak trees in the setback near the property of next door neighbor Mark Donovan (aka Santa). Feinleib will build a new home on the land he’s clearing.

“I’m not going anywhere,” vowed Donovan, whose swing hangs from a branch on a near-100-year-old oak tree that hangs over his property.

“I’m not saying he’s not within his rights,” Donovan added, referring to his soon-to-be-new neighbor. “But I’m within my rights too. We’re 2 Americans, exercising our rights.”

One of the felled oak trees. According to owner Joe Feinleib, the rings show the stand of trees to be 96 years old.

Owner Joe Feinleib sent this photo to “06880.” “Turns out at least one is diseased and rotting in the middle,” he wrote..

Police were on hand earlier today. Feinleib had concerns about a news media drone flying over his property. Donovan had concerns about a bucket with tree workers over his property.

Westport police officers chat with Mark Donovan (dressed as Santa), sitting on a swing. The tree is on Joe Feinleib’s property; the branch hangs over Donovan’s.

Joe Feinleib’s property on the left, with trees being removed. Mark Donovan’s is on the right.

 

Prospect Road Trees, Day 2: The Cutting Continues

Santa Claus makes many magical things happen.

One thing he can’t do, though, is prevent the cutting of trees on private property.

One view of Santa swinging from the branch of a tree overhanging Mark Donovan’s property …

Yesterday, “06880” reported that a near-1oo-year-old oak tree in the setback near Mark Donovan’s Prospect Road home was felled.

Developer Joe Feinleib of Coastal Construction bought the property that the trees sit on. He is cutting a number of the trees there, before building a new residence for his family.

As of this morning, Donovan says, 3 of the 5 oaks — whose branches overhang his property — have been cut down.

Awaiting the inevitable, he hung a swing on one of the major branches. Santa stopped by to lend support.

… and another.

Meanwhile, Donovan invites interested Westporters to visit him, enjoy coffee and cake, and watch the final trees come down.

He and his family will be at 22 Prospect Road, behind the barn.

 

MORE BREAKING NEWS: Prospect Road Tree Cutting Underway

Just seconds after I posted a report from Prospect Road — noting that a tree crew was on hand to cut a stand of old oak trees, overhanging Mark Donovan’s Prospect Road property, with the Donovans sitting underneath attempting to stop it — Mark sent me a video.

It’s just 35 seconds long. At the start, a contractor uses a chainsaw on one of the trees.

A worker begins using his chainsaw.

Twenty-five seconds in, it begins to topple.

By the end, the tree has fallen.

It is expected that more oaks will be cut soon.

BREAKING NEWS: Prospect Road Tree Cutting Near

Just 3 hours after this morning’s “06880” story about the possible destruction of a stand of grand oak trees hanging over Mark Donovan’s property on Prospect Road, a work crew arrived with chainsaws.

They were ready to cut the trees, to make way for a developer’s new home.

Donovan — who is concerned about environmental and esthetic impacts, along with effects on the stone walls supported by the trees’ root systems, and possible changes to water runoff — and his family reacted quickly. They sat underneath the canopy, on their own land.

Concerned for safety, the crew has not yet begun cutting.

The Donovans, meanwhile, served coffee and cake to the work crew.

The tree-cutting crew, near the Donovans’ property line at Prospect Road.

Roundup: Jose Feliciano, Fred Cantor, Angelo Veno …

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There are lots of Christmas songs I get sick of.

“Feliz Navidad” is not one of them.

José Feliciano’s buoyant, jangly tune is 51 years old. Now — just in time for Navidad — a documentary about the life and music of the longtime Weston resident will be screened just a couple of miles away.

The Norwalk Film Festival will screen “Behind This Guitar” on Saturday, December 18 (7:30 p.m.) at the Wall Street Theatre. The movie follows Feliciano’s journey from growing up blind in Puerto Rico, to his 9 Grammy Awards and international acclaim. Click here for details and ticket information.

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Speaking of entertainment: Monday’s “06880” story about next month’s “Stars on Stage From Westport Country Playhouse” PBS series noted a major gift from Roz and Bud Siegel.

But several other Westporters were big contributors too. Hats off to Judy and Scott Phares, Eunice and David Bigelow, Kate and Bob Devlin, Joyce Hergenhan, Anna Czekaj-Farber, Mary Ellen and Jim Marpe, Christian J. and Eva Trefz, and Stacy and Howard Bass. 

The show will go on — thanks to some very generous neighbors!

(From left): Shoshana Bean, Brandon Victor Dixon, Gavin Creel: stars of “Stars on Stage.”

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Have you found “Finding Westport”?

That’s the online site for local-themed apparel and more.

Jillian Elder has just added a new Minute Man design. It’s available on tank tops, t-shirts, hoodies, tumblers, mugs and tote bags.

It’s a great way to show off your town pride (and a lot cheaper than that other Westport icon: a Range Rover). Click here for styles and orders.

“Finding Westport”‘s Minute Man hoodie.

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Yesterday’s “06880” story on fences reminded June Rose Whittaker of this one:

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

It’s one of Westport’s most visible: Riverside Avenue, at Treadwell.

The intricate, whimsical fence — designed by Andrew Hamilton Reise — was the subject of an “06880” Photo Challenge in July.

As many readers knew, the owners are Pietro and Janine Scotti. He’s the owner/chef of the former and still beloved Da Pietro’s restaurant, just down Riverside (and across the street) closer to town.

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A Conservation Department reminder:

If your property has or is adjacent to wetlands, a watercourse or a pond, all residents and contractors should “call before you dig.” If you’re unsure whether the property contains wetlands, call the Conservation Department: 203-341-1170.

The last year has seen an increase in violations. resulting in unpermitted building, cutting, clearing and filling of wetlands.

Violations cause owners having to cease work, appear at public meetings, pay fines and post bonds. Violations are also part of the public record.

Property owners and/or contractors should contact the Conservation Department before work starts, to determine what permits are required.

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Looking for a gift for a sports fan?

It helps if he or she loves the New York Knicks. But a fan of any team — or any sport — can appreciate the passion of Fred Cantor. The 1971 Staples High School graduate and longtime “06880” contributor recently wrote Fred From Fresh Meadows.

It’s a loving account of the ups and downs of fandom, sure. There’s another reason to buy it though: All proceeds go to the John Starks Foundation. The Stamford-based nonprofit helps high school students afford college.

Click here for more information. Click here for last night’s News12 story on Cantor and the book.

Screenshot from last night’s News12 interview with Fred Cantor.

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Angelo “Cookup” Veno — a true son of Saugatuck — died earlier this month, after a long and happy life.

Born in Saugatuck in 1928 to Louis and Mary Veno, he went through the Westport public school system. After school each day, Angelo manually set pins at the bowling alley downtown.

He was a 3-sport athlete at Staples High School, starring in football, basketball and baseball. After graduating in 1946 he played semi-pro football with the Westport Advertisers, and basketball with the Saugatuck Veterans, Westport YMCA and Clam Box 5.

Angelo also took up boxing, and had a 12-2 record as a pro. In 1986 he earned a Sportsman of Westport award.

In 1951 Angelo joined the Navy. He served for 4 years on the USS Howard D. Crow as an engineer. He joined the fleet’s boxing team, and lost only one fight.

Following his service he came back to Westport and helped coach the Westport PAL football team. He and his first wife, Judith Lissberger, had 2 children, Timothy and Belinda. Both remember their trips to New York Giants’ exhibition games in Pittsburgh, then straight to the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy for dinner.

Angelo married Theresa Karutz in 1984, a former Miss Atlantic City winner. He enjoyed spending time with his stepsons Wallace and William Karutz.

Angelo had a long and successful career in the world of construction as president and CEO of his company, AJ Veno Construction. He started the business as a window replacement company, and grew it into a full-fledged construction company. He built corporate buildings and residential homes for many years.

Angelo made friends and made people everywhere, from the local pizza restaurant to nurses caring for him. He loved spending time at Compo Beach, with friends or alone feeding birds.

Angelo is survived by his brother Joe and sister Theresa (Richard Valentine). He was predeceased by his sister Ida Lockwood. He is also survived by his children, Timothy Veno (partner Gwen Purcell) and Belinda (Richard Benincasa); grandchildren Richard (Nora Benincasa), Ryan (Noelle Benincasa) and Morgan Benincasa; many cousins, nieces and nephews, and his recent great-grandchild, Ryan Casey Benincasa.

A funeral is set for Monday (December 13, 10 a.m., Assumption Church) for a Mass of Christian Burial. Interment with full military honors will follow in Assumption Cemetery on Greens Farms Road. The family will receive friends in the Harding Funeral Home on Sunday (December 12, 2 to 6 p.m.) Click here to leave online condolences.

Angelo Veno

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The family of Joel Hallas has announced 2 options for donations in his memory. Click here for the Connecticut Food Bank; click here for the American Radio Relay League, for ham radio operators.

Joel Hallas

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It’s already gone. But yesterday morning’s snow provided the perfect subject for today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, from Bob and Karen Weingarten’s lawn:

(Photo/Karen Weingarten)

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And finally … Emily Dickinson was born today, in 1830. She may be the only 19th-century poet immortalized in the words of a 20th-century singers.

Westport Neighbors: On The Fence

Do good fences make good neighbors?

Next Thursday (December 16, 6 p.m.) the Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on a text amendment involving fences.

A new proposal would require that the finished side of a fence be installed facing the adjacent lot or street. The idea is for the more attractive side of a fence to face outward, toward the neighbors and street.

A new text amendment would mandate that the “bad” side of a fence (shown here) would have to face the property of the homeowner who built it.

There’s an exemption for lot lines adjoining a non-residential lot, or a lot line directly adjacent to wetlands.

To see the full amendment, click here, then scroll down to Text Amendment #806.

The December 16 public hearing will be livestreamed at www.westportct.gov, and is available on Optimum Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020. Comments can be sent prior to the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov. Residents may join the meeting to offer live testimony.

Hiawatha Coming Down?

Agendas for the Historic District Commission are straightforward affairs.

The one for its next meeting — Tuesday, November 9, 7:30 p.m., Zoom (click here for the link) starts out like most others.

After approving minutes, the group will “take such action as the meeting may determine to oppose the issuance of the demolition permit” for 171 Compo Road South, 3 Sunrise Road and 5 Minute Man Hill, and “require the full 180-day delay.” The agenda item is mandatory, for houses more than 50 years old.

The next 8 similar items, though, may be contentious. Th language is the same. But the properties are 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and 47 Hiawatha Lane.

One of the Hiawatha Lane homes on the demolition list.

Those homes would be torn down to make way for Summit Saugatuck’s 157-unit development, off Saugatuck Avenue by I-95 Exit 17.

Area residents have filed a lawsuit in Bridgeport Superior Court to stop construction.

Watch this page. And watch the Zoom.