Category Archives: Saugatuck

Unsung Heroes #32

If they wave us through, we love ’em.

If they put up a gloved hand to stop us, we hate ’em. Especially if they stop us just as we get there.

Or if we’re in even more of a rush than usual.

A typical North Avenue scene.

But Westport’s traffic cops deserve our thanks. They’re this week’s Unsung Heroes.

In the words of alert — and grateful — “06880” reader Lauren Barnett, who nominated them:

“They assist with, and add calm and order to, the madness and mayhem of parents and teenage drivers outside Staples High and Bedford Middle School at dawn, and in the frigid cold, each day.”

Lauren gives a shout-out too to “those officers who stand out in the cold night by the bridge and Rizzuto’s to direct anxious commuters safely home from the evening trains in Saugatuck.

“I wish I knew their names. We all should.”

Interestingly, the William F. Cribari Bridge (noted above) is named for a much loved — and very theatrical — traffic cop. He owned that well-traveled corner for years. Each day, he brought order, grace — even humor — to it.

Bill Cribari, at work (and play). (Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

That’s the thing: We may love them, tolerate them, or curse them.

But when they’re not there, we sure miss them.

(Want to nominate an Unsung Hero? Email


Pics Of The Day #275

Ice on Gray’s Creek … (Photo/Michelle Cardello)

… and the Saugatuck River, by the Saugatuck Rowing Club. (Photo/Diana Kuen)

Latest Saugatuck Draft Plan Released; Committee Meets On Tuesday

Plans for the redevelopment of Saugatuck keep plugging along.

The latest draft of the “Saugatuck: A Gateway for Westport” plan was released late last week. It’s available to the public by clicking here.

The Saugatuck Transit Oriented Design Master Plan Steering Committee meets this Tuesday (January 16, 8 a.m., Town Hall Room 201). The public is invited to comment, after BartonPartners — the consultant on the project — makes its presentation.

An aerial view of Saugatuck, from the consultants’ draft report.

Photo Challenge #159

Last week’s photo challenge took “06880” readers out of Saugatuck.

All the way to Easton.

That’s where the “Arrow” sign — an iconic symbol of the much-loved Nistico family restaurant, which began at the arrow-shaped corner of Franklin Street and Saugatuck Avenue, before moving around the corner for a long run — is today.

It hangs in Greiser’s, the deli/antiques/general (and really only) store in that nearby town.

After the Arrow closed — becoming first Jasmine, then the Blu Parrot, and opening soon as Mystic Market — the sign could be found at the Red Barn, the Nisticos’ other beloved restaurant.

When that closed, Greiser’s bought it. Congratulatons, Bob Stalling: Staples grad, Fairfield resident, and the only “06880” reader who recognized it from there. (Click here for the photo, and all comments.)

Meanwhile, in honor of all this frosty weather, today’s photo challenge is:

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

If you know where in Westport you’d find this — when it’s not covered in snow — click “Comments” below.

Friday Flashback #73

Will 2018 be the year when the next phase of Saugatuck redevelopment moves from consultants’ plans to reality?

Probably not.

But as Westporters continue to debate the future of Railroad Place, here’s a view from back in the day. (Which day exactly, I have no idea.)

The “Wheeler Block” — as this postcard called it — included the original Saugatuck post office. It’s the small building on the far right.

(Postcard courtesy of James Gray)

Later — as Saugatuck grew — the post office moved across Riverside Avenue. That building now includes an excellent restaurant, Bistro du Soleil.

For the longest time, residents squawked about the inconvenience of the Saugatuck PO. There was no parking, and the lobby was cramped.

Then it closed. And Westport’s main post office moved from its palatial Post Road digs to a hovel in Playhouse Square.

I wouldn’t mind having the original Saugatuck post office back. It’s a lot nicer than our current one.

Remembering Mike Santella

Mike Santella — son of Lou and Marge Santella, longtime Saugatuck residents — died last week. He was 54.

Mike Santella

Longtime friend Tristan Marciano recalls Mike’s “broad smile, fun-loving demeanor, great strong spirit, and vibrant lust for enjoying life.”

Staples High School 1982 classmate John Rosene — who bonded with Mike over the Polar Bear Club — remembers that “even his bad jokes were funny. And there were plenty of those.”

Whenever they got together after high school, they picked up where they’d left off. John calls Mike “a caring, jovial character who made our world a better place.”

A celebration of Mike’s life is set for Sunday, January 7 (4 p.m., St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Ridgefield).


Indulge “06880”

Indulge by Mersene is my favorite store in Westport.

The Railroad Place shop — directly across from the train station — is chock full of eclectic, intriguing and ever-changing unique finds.

And Mersene — the owner — is the sweetest, warmest (and coolest) store owner anywhere.

Mersene, looking great in her wondrous store.

Now she’s gotten even more amazing.

Allow me to indulge in this slight bit of promotion: Tomorrow (Thursday, December 21, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.), 10% of all proceeds will benefit “06880.”

We should all support independent-owned shops, all the time.

Especially Indulge by Mersene tomorrow!

(Indulge by Mersene is located at 20 Railroad Place. Click here for more information.)

An “06880” pillow at Indulge by Mersene.

Saugatuck Redevelopment Schedule Set

In his twin roles as RTM member and executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, Matthew Mandell keeps his eye on the town.

He wants everyone to know what’s happening with redevelopment plans for Saugatuck — the RTM district he represents. Yesterday, he told constituents that the study committee will meet — without the consultants — this Tuesday (December 19, 8 a.m., Town Hall Room 201).

The public may attend, and will be given the option to speak. However, Mandell says, “It might take a bit to get to you. I think the committee will have a lot to talk about.”

He included a link to the Executive Summary (click here to read).

A map in the Executive Summary shows possible developments in Saugatuck.

Three days later — on December 22 — consultants will submit the draft report/plan to the town.

Mandell says, “Personally, I think this might be too quick, figuring there might be a whole slew of changes and requests from the committee. But hey, it’s a goal from the chairs.”

On January 11 (Town Hall, 8 a.m.), the committee and consultants will discuss the plan.

A public evening session is set for January 22 (7 p.m.).

The final draft will be submitted to the town on February 2. Three days later — 9 days before the deadline — it will be submitted to the state.

Mandell says there is one thing he has not seen: when the committee itself votes on the plan.

The previous redevelopment of Saugatuck brought a retail/residential complex that includes The Whelk, Saugatuck Sweets, Downunder and 20 apartments. It is separate from the new redevelopment plan.

Pic Of The Day #237

The Cribari Bridge at Christmas. (Photo/Joel Treisman)

Day Tripper

Yesterday’s New York Times NY/Region section included a “Day Trip” feature to Westport.

Readers in the tri-state area — around the world, really — learned some interesting things about our town.

The itinerary begins at Match Burger Lobster, Staples grad Matt Storch’s new restaurant next to Fleishers Craft Butchery. Who knew that his kitchen crew shucks more than 500 pounds of lobster each week — or that lobster tastes better in winter, because cold water makes it sweeter?

From the restaurant, the story suggests, visitors can walk over the William F. Cribari Bridge. It’s named, the Times says, for “a beloved traffic conductor,” though “beloved traffic cop” is a bit clearer.

Bill Cribari, “beloved traffic conductor.” (Photo montage courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

“The short span provides vistas of the nautical town and entree to uninterrupted sidewalks through a Gold Coast neighborhood of mansions that are not above running weekend tag sales,” the paper excitedly reports.

The next 3 paragraphs talk about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s 1920 rental on Compo Road South, near the Longshore entrance. Friends said the couple were “reveling nude in the orgies of Westport,” even though Zelda called the town “unendurably dull.” Imagine what they would have done in a livelier place!

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald slept — and partied — here.

“Day Trip” moves on to “secluded Compo Beach.” The Times describes it as “rocky (and) shell-studded….Tranquil and contemplative in winter, the sunsets are gorgeous.”

The final part of a day in Westport, apparently, should be a stop at the Black Duck. The paper calls it a “watering hole,” and singles out this feature: the $11 martini.

The martini “may be the biggest on the Eastern Seaboard, a further way to unwind after a leisurely day. Founded in 1978, too bad it wasn’t around for the Fitzgeralds,” the Times concludes, with both lame humor and a dangling modifier.

The best place for an $11 martini. (Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

(Hat tip: Peter Perry)