Category Archives: Saugatuck

Friday Flashback #37

Saugatuck is in the news a lot.

Consultants are devising a “Transit Oriented District” plan, to redevelop the area around the train station. There’s talk of dredging the Saugatuck River. And of course the Cribari (aka Bridge Street) Bridge is very much in play.

Which makes this the perfect time to look at “timeless Saugatuck.”

Peter Barlow’s view of Franklin Street — heading toward Saugatuck Avenue — was taken from the brand-new Connecticut Turnpike (now I-95) overpass in 1958.

But — except for the cars — it could almost have been taken any time in the 60 years since then.

Hey. I said “almost.”

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

Ray Rauth: A Good Walk Spoiled

Last June, Ray Rauth walked across Connecticut. Literally — from the New York border to Rhode Island.

Even more impressive was the 120-mile route he took: US 1.

But the Weston resident — a member of the Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board — was not planning to see every Jiffy Lube, Stop & Shop or Dunkin’ Donuts along the way.

His goal was to build awareness of road safety for pedestrians and cyclists. What better place to do that than the Post Road — the state’s deadliest.

Ray Rauth is a very brave man.

Now — after massaging his feet and evading death — Rauth has written a report. In 19 pages, he summarizes our woeful neglect of safety.

Of course, he also gives shout-outs to Connecticut’s beauty and health.

It’s a fascinating document. He covers lots of territory — literal and figurative — starting with Byram (zip code 06830) and ending in Pawcatuck (06379).

But since this blog is “06880,” I’ll limit this story to the dozen or so times Rauth cites Westport in his report.

The first mention comes in a section on pocket parks. “You don’t need a swing set or a swimming pool,” Rauth writes. “Just a calm nicely-kept shaded area with benches, maybe a picnic table and a relaxed atmosphere.”

Fairfield’s town green is one such spot. Another is “Barron’s [sic] North.”

Ray Rauth likes Winslow Park (which he calls “Barron’s North”).

Rauth likes beautiful downtowns. He is impressed with — among others — Darien, Fairfield, Clinton, Branford, Guilford and Mystic. However, he writes, Westport’s “sprawl of strip malls” makes “an almost deliberate effort to be ugly.”

In a section on safety, Rauth suggests that

town officials and employees should actually walk the streets and the sidewalks that they build and maintain. Bring along a few advocates for comment, advice and support. Pedestrian and bike access to areas such as the train station in Westport benefit from the knowledge of how awful they really are for the pedestrian.

Rauth calls the sidewalks from Post Road West from Whole Foods to the “lovely” Saugatuck River “meaningless. They did not exist, or changed sides of the road willy nilly, or were poorly kept.” In fact, he says Westport’s sidewalks are the worst in Fairfield County.

Actually, he notes in the next paragraph, “Westport has the worst Route 1 sidewalks in the state.” (He adds, hopefully, “I know that they are working on the problem.”)

Rauth then describes the Compo Shopping Center/Trader Joe’s intersection as arguably the town’s worst — and it has been for the nearly 30 years he’s lived in the area. However, he decides that “the really, really bad intersection” in Westport is at the train station. He does not, however, say exactly which one it is.

Ray Rauth used a photo like this in the Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board’s 2016 annual report. It illustrates a crosswalk at the Riverside Avenue/Railroad Place intersection that leads to a parking lot, not a sidewalk.

We can argue about which is the worst intersection in town, or how bad our sidewalks really are. But we really don’t have a statewide comparison unless we’ve walked a mile in Ray Rauth’s shoes.

Make that 120 miles.

(Click here to read Ray Rauth’s entire report.)

Pic Of The Day #11

Pic - Kayak on Saugatuck River - Amy Schneider

Kayak on the Saugatuck River. (Photo copyright Amy Schneider)

All That Confusion Between Bravo And Rio Bravo Is Over

First came Bravo. The Italian restaurant replaced V, in the Post Road strip mall near Balducci’s.

Then came Rio Bravo 2 doors down, a Mexican restaurant with absolutely no connection to Bravo — other than the name.

Bravo did not last long. Inefficient service may have had something to do with its demise.

Now Julian’s has opened up in the old Bravo space. It’s the 3rd location for the brick oven pizza place. There’s one in Monroe, and another in Saugatuck.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

So now, instead of saying “Do you mean Bravo the Italian restaurant, or Rio Bravo the Mexican one?” you can say: “Is that the Julian’s on Riverside Avenue, or the one on the Post Road?”

Pic Of The Day #4

Westport train station. (Photo copyright John Videler)

Crazy Donut Idea

Forget CNN. Who needs “Good Morning America”? And don’t even think about Channel 12 News.

At Donut Crazy — the new and very popular breakfast place on the eastbound side of the Westport railroad station — the TV is turned to a static shot of the Greens Farms station.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

It’s not as random as you think.

As soon as you see your train pull into Greens Farms, you’ve got 3 minutes to get up, scurry through the tunnel, and board your ride to New York.

It’s a genius idea.

Right up there with strawberry cheesecake, cookies & cream and nutella donuts.

The Future Of Saugatuck Might Be In Your Hands

Don’t say they didn’t ask.

As part of the “redevelopment of Saugatuck” — which you may or may not realize is being discussed — a 9-month process guided by the Saugatuck Transit Oriented Design Master Plan Steering Committee will “engage community members and a team of planners, engineers, economic planners and historic preservation experts to establish design standards and a master plan to enhance this important gateway for the Town of Westport.”

They’ve hired consultants.

And that firm — Barton & Partners — has created a survey.

The committee wants to make sure that every Westporter’s voice is heard. You can weigh in (and rank) your priorities, in areas like shopping, dining, neighborhood charm, waterfront access, historic significance, green space, transportation and walkability.

So here’s your chance. Click here to take the survey.

And click here for more information on the master plan process.

Westport artist Robert Lambdin’s “Saugatuck in the 19th Century” (1969) prominently featured the swing bridge. What’s next for the neighborhood?

Tesla To Town?

Tesla is not yet allowed to sell its cars directly to Connecticut consumers.

But if it can — and the electric car manufacturer is pushing the state legislature hard to do so — one of its first dealerships may be at 20 Saugatuck Avenue, right here in Westport.

The site is currently occupied by a large, recently renovated and completely vacant shopping center. It once housed a quick mart, fitness center and AAA.

20 Saugatuck Avenue

Last night, the landlord and Tesla hosted a small event. They told neighbors they plan to ask the town to amend zoning regulations to allow a Tesla service center there.

The language is broad enough that — should Tesla get permission from Connecticut to sell vehicles directly to consumers — they could convert the center to a dealership. Company reps last night did not rule out the possibility.

It’s a 10-year lease. You do the math.

Despite not being allowed to sell directly in the state, there are about 1,300 Teslas registered in Connecticut. Electrek says that represents 62% of the electric vehicles in the state.

Introducing: “06880 Pic Of The Day”

First — over 2 years ago — came the Sunday Photo Challenge. Last year I introduced the Friday Flashback.

Tonight I’m unveiling the newest “06880” feature — and the first one I’ll be posting once a day.

Let’s give a hearty welcome to the latest member of our online community: the Pic of the Day.

Every night around 9 p.m., I’ll send out an image of Westport. The photos will be recognizable and relatable. Some will be artistic; others whimsical or surprising. One might have cool angles or shapes; the next might make you look at a familiar scene in a different way.

All will be cool. None will be more than a few days old.

There won’t be any text, beyond a caption and photo credit. The plan is to provide a quick snapshot of Westport for you, before bed (or first thing in the morning).

Any image anywhere in town is fair game. However, I’ll stay away from sunsets. That’s WestportNow’s specialty!

Lynn U. Miller — Westport native, longtime friend and very talented photographer — will provide many of the shots. (She also came up with the superbly punning “Pic of the Day” name.)

But I’ll also rely on a stable of other fine photographers, like John Videler, Amy Schneider and Katherine Bruan.

And you. If you’ve got a photo you think would work for this feature, send it along: dwoog@optonline.net.

So here — without further ado — is “06880”‘s very first Pic of the Day. Enjoy!

Behind the Black Duck, on the Saugatuck River. (Photo copyright Lynn U. Miller)

Meet M.EAT

When Saugatuck Center opened a few years ago, Saugatuck (now Fleishers) Craft Butchery helped deliver the buzz.

Now — as Bedford Square attempts to draw folks downtown — it’s adding its own field-to-table butcher shop.

M.EAT Organic Beef & Provisions opens this spring. The “old-school meat market with new school fundamentals” offers high-quality beef and lamb from Uruguay, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.

In addition to hand butchering, M.EAT will feature a “burger bar,” where customers can choose their own grind of meat types and fat content, accompanying organic cheeses and produce, as well as seasoning products, and cooking and equipment aids.

M.EAT will also carry domestic organic meat and chicken, with ingredients from local farmers and artisans.

It’s expected to open in late May.