Category Archives: Saugatuck

Judge Rules Against Town In Hiawatha Sewer Case

Development of multi-family housing in Saugatuck moved one step closer to reality yesterday.

Superior Court Judge Kenneth Schluger announced his ruling: The town should grant an application to extend the town sewer, to serve a proposed development on Hiawatha Lane.

Two years ago, Summit Development proposed building 155 rental units on 5.34 acres. Hiawatha Lane is currently a narrow road accessible by West Ferry Lane off Saugatuck Avenue, between I-95 exit 17 and the railroad station parking lot.

Hiawatha Lane includes many rental properties — and some of the lowest housing prices in Westport. The land was originally developed to house immigrant workers who built the railroad.

Housing would include 85 market-rate units, and 70 “affordable” units, as defined by Connecticut’s 8-30 g regulation.

A rendering of the proposed Hiawatha Lane development.

The court ruled that the extension request should be granted, subject to a condition that a construction permit not be issued until repair work to the force main under the Saugatuck River, and Pump Station #2, was complete. The Public Works Department anticipates construction will be done by late summer.

The Westport Board of Selectmen — acting in their capacity as the Westport Pollution Control Authority — had denied one request for the sewer extension because repair work had not yet begun, and a second request because construction was not yet finished.

The court said that the WPCA could in fact grant conditional approval, provided no work begins until the repair work is done.

Hiawatha Lane is a narrow street, filled with homes that are modest by Westport standards. It’s accessible only via West Ferry Lane off Saugatuck Avenue, next to the I-95 eastbound entrance/exit ramp.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe said, “I am disappointed by the decision. But even if the court had ruled in the town’s favor, the WPCA would have no discretion to deny Summit’s application after the improvements and repairs … were complete and certified. Ultimately, the court’s decision will have very little practical impact on the proposed project’s timetable.”

Cygnets And Swans Teach Lessons Of Life

Doctors Nikki Gorman, Jenn Gruen and Robin Abramowicz have helped thousands of babies grow up healthy and strong.

But when it comes to swans, all they can do is watch.

Fortunately, they’ve got a great vantage point.

Village Pediatrics‘ office is on Riverside Avenue. Nearby — on the banks of the Saugatuck River — a swan built a large nest.

The doctors were fascinated. So were their patients. Many headed to the adjacent boardwalk, for a closer look.

The pediatricians set up a video cam, with a live feed. Kids and their parents monitored the progress of the eggs — and then the birth of a few cygnets.

The Saugatuck River swan, with 3 cygnets.

On Tuesday, Jennifer Seymour, her husband and their sons ate dinner at Rive Bistro.

Suddenly, the swan family paddled by.

But the Semours’ excitement turned to sadness when they saw only one cygnet trailing the 2 adults swans. There were several more cygnets earlier that day.

Jennifer notes, “There are big lessons here on life, death, grieving and nature, to be tackled for patients and their parents.”

Lincoln Street Nears Historic District Designation

Last night, Westport’s Historic District Commission unanimously supported the creation of a new historic district. Comprising 13 houses on Lincoln Street and 4 on Riverside Avenue — all built between the 1850s and 1930s — the designation could help the town in court, should it oppose a plan for an 81-unit housing development proposed for the area.

Lincoln Street connects Post Road West and Riverside. It is near Kings Highway and Saugatuck Elementary Schools, and Assumption Church.

Here — thanks to alert “06880” reader Tina Torraco — is a glimpse of that historic neighborhood.

Remembering Paul Green

Paul Green — one of Westport’s most beloved and inspirational citizens — died yesterday. He was 94.

More than 6 years ago, I chronicled Paul’s long — and strong — battle against a deadly disease. He continued fighting long after those words appeared. I wrote:

Nineteen years ago, Paul Green was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

His 1st reaction was to fight back.

His 2nd was to figure out how.

His 3rd was to apply what he’d learned: that movement like exercise and dance can slow the progression of that torturous disease.

Last night at the Saugatuck Rowing Club, Paul — 88 years young — was the star attraction. A video highlighting his avid, ongoing work was shown. It serves 2 purposes: educating Parkinson’s patients about the benefits of exercise, and raising funds for a foundation Paul started.

Paul Green, hard at work at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

The non-profit is called Nevah Surrendah to Parkinson’s. The name honors Paul’s always-optimistic attitude — and pays homage to his hero Winston Churchill’s legendary exhortation. (And his accent. Paul also pronounces it “nevah surrendah” — he’s from Boston.)

The site was perfect. Rowing is one of the many activities that keeps Paul’s Parkinson’s in check. The Saugatuck club has been his home away from his Old Mill home for years.

The rowing community is a close and very friendly one. Paul is one of its true idols — and a real favorite. (Particularly with the ladies.)

Last summer, the Saugatuck Rowing Club was the site of another tribute to Paul, and his Nevah Surrendah foundation. Scenes from that event — and a July dance-and-exercise session at the Senior Center — have been incorporated into the compelling  video that premiered last night.

Paul Green, keeping active in the boathouse he loves.

The video begins with scenes of reggae artist Mystic Bowie and Zumba instructor Eddie Calle leading at the Senior Center. The music is infectious; the smiles are heartfelt, and the scenes of older men and women — some with caretakers, others with grandchildren — moving slowly but rhythmically to the sounds of ska are inspiring.

Paul hopes that the video will show others with Parkinson’s — or any movement disorder — how to exercise for improved balance, a positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle.

Interviews with Paul’s neurologist, Dr. Amy Knoor; his physical therapist, Tara Maroney and his chiropractor Dr. Joshua Lander prove that Paul has not only nevah surrendahed — he’s thrived.

And as he’s done for nearly 2 decades, he’s helping others thrive.

“Paul is such an inspiration,” one of the rowers interviewed on the video says. “We think we’re working hard. Then we see him out on the water — with such a smile on his face!”

The same smile he wore all last night, as he greeted and danced his way through a throng of family members, friends and fans.

Paul Green and his son Peter.

Any Way You Slice It, Julian’s Closes

Today is the final day to vote for your favorite pizza place in Westport.

But there’s one less contender than when the contest began.

Monday was is the final day for Julian’s, the brick oven pizzeria on Riverside Avenue.

An employee at the Post Road East location — which remains open — says the reason for the closing was a huge rent increase.

Sounds like the scourge of downtown has spread to Saugatuck.

At the 2016 Slice of Saugatuck, the line to sample Julian’s pizza ran past Parker Mansion.

Pic Of The Day #347

I-95 bridge (Photo/Peter Barlow)

[OPINION] Coalition For Westport Praises Saugatuck Committee Leaders

Alert “06880” reader — and co-chair of Coalition for Westport — Ken Bernhard writes:

As a member of the local political party Coalition For Westport, which focuses on planning and zoning issues, I attended today’s (the last) meeting of the Saugatuck Transit Oriented Design Master Plan Steering Committee.

The Committee was established 14 months ago by First Selectman Jim Marpe to submit a report to the state regarding proposals for the future of the 68 acres called Saugatuck. Having followed the progress of the Committee, I expected there to be some heated exchanges as the final summary was proposed for review and comment.

In earlier meetings, strong personalities had articulated remarkably divergent opinions. Many observers feared that an agreement was unlikely.

For over a year, a committee has discussed the redevelopment of Saugatuck.

To the rescue — after what appeared to be a rocky beginning from one member who wanted to raise anew conflict issues — came the committee’s leadership. Thereafter, with the always steady guidance and direction of the co-chairs (Planning and Zoning director Mary Young and volunteer Craig Schiavone), the meeting continued with the difficult chore of building consensus for the wording of a general summary of goals, discussions, recommendations and findings.

At the end, the committee was successful, and authorized the co-chairs to proceed.

It is important to note that the one consistent variable throughout these past months has been the professionalism of Mary Young and Craig Schiavone.

On more occasions than can be counted, they were patient when being challenged by emotional outbursts from both committee participants and members of the public. They were fair and objective while overseeing the discussions of the stakeholders including neighborhood residents, commercial property owners, commuters, retailers, and a multitude of opinionated citizens promoting different visions for the area’s future.

From the air, Saugatuck looks quiet.

In the end, they brought the proverbial “herd of cats” to a successful outcome, with most everyone pleased with the collaborative effort. It was a remarkable achievement, and both Mary and Craig deserve great credit for a job well done.

The Coalition For Westport congratulates the Saugatuck Committee on completing its work in a timely fashion. Further, the Coalition hopes that the Planning and Zoning Commission will now begin the task of changing its regulations to accommodate efforts to improve parking, traffic control, sidewalks, streetscapes and more.

Change is inevitable.  The question is whether the community will participate in, and lead, those changes.

Ryan Meserole: Suited To Be An Uber Driver

Three years ago, Ryan Meserole opened Suited.co. The small shop offers high-quality, hand-crafted suits. Its Railroad Place location is convenient and — surrounded by neighbors like Indulge by Mersene, Sports Attic and a few restaurants — cool.

But small retailers have a tough time. And Commuter Coffee is just the latest business to announce it may close.

Suited.co, on Railroad Place

Ryan grew up in the fashion industry. It’s his life’s work. He’s amazed to see so many clothing stores fleeing Main Street.

He firmly believes that customers are here. However, he notes, “They won’t always come to you. Sometimes you have to go out and capture them.”

A couple of months ago — sitting in his shop, wondering why foot traffic has declined — he suddenly realized: People are now dropped off at the station by Uber.

Aha!

“I can’t expect my window display to get customers in the door — even though I’m always complimented on it,” he says.

“But if I drove for Uber, I’d have my audience. And they’d be attentive.”

Ryan Meserole, in his Suited.co store.

It took him just a day to sign up to drive for the service. Almost immediately, he hit the road.

He wakes up at 5 a.m. He drives during rush hour, until 9 a.m. An hour later — the same as always — he opens Suited.co.

At his store, he reviews his passengers’ names and addresses. He sends them a personal note, with a gift card to see him and the shop “after our lovely little chat in the car.”

(It’s quite an incentive: a free custom shirt, or $150 off a Suited.co purchase.)

Ryan Meserole’s follow-up mailing.

Bottom line: Ryan’s sales are up nearly 30%. Plus, he says, “I’m being of service to my community. I’m expanding my customer base to Fairfield, Weston and Wilton. And I’m being paid by Uber to do it.

In his long retail marketing career, Ryan says, “this is the only campaign that ever paid me back.”

But he doesn’t need the Uber money.  So he donates it to charity — a different organization each month. Most recently, it was the March of Dimes.

You never know who your Uber driver will be. That’s part of the intrigue of the app.

In Ryan Meserole’s case, that seems to suit his — and his driving/custom suit customers — just fine.

Pics Of The Day #321

Remnants of Friday’s nor’easter:

A swamped boat in the Sherwood Mill Pond … (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

… and benches on the still-swollen Saugatuck River. (Photo/Carolanne Curry)

Cleanup Continues

Friday’s nor’easter has moved out to sea.

Power is back on. Roads are cleared.

But for this homeowner on Cross Highway, near North Avenue, recovery will take a bit longer.

Meanwhile, tides are still running much higher than normal. This was the scene earlier this afternoon, at the Black Duck.

(Photo/Ward French)