The Westport Woman’s Club Art Show makes a triumphant return on Saturday and Sunday, May 22-23 (2 to 6 p.m., 44 Imperial Avenue).
The 6th annual open house features some of the area’s best known and most loved artists and photographers; Nina Bentley, Amy Bock, Trace Burroughs, Susan Fehlinger, Judith Orseck Katz, Tom Kretsch, Susan Leggitt, Kerry Long, Michael Lender, Carole McClintock, Bernard Perry, Jon Puzzuoli, Katherine Ross and Jo Titsworth.
There’s wine and snacks too — just like old times!
The Woman’s Club Art Show is not the only event scheduled for May 22. At 11 a.m., the Staples High School track will be officially named for Laddie Lawrence. The 1964 graduate has served as a Staples coach — and Westport’s unofficial but beloved running guru — for 50 over years. (Hat tip:Andrew Colabella)
Laddie Lawrence: forever young, and forever admired.
In Death, The Gift of Life — the powerful anthology of 10 Westporters who embraced death on their own terms — has won two 1st place awards in the Connecticut Press Club’s annual communications contest.
The honors were for editing (Dan Levinson and Alison McBain) and design (McBain and Miggs Burroughs). The book now moves on to national competition.
A community-wide book launch will be held at the Westport Library this fall.
Abilis is hiring. The non-profit, which serves more than 800 people with special needs and their families — holds a job fair on Saturday, May 1 (9 a.m. to 5 .m., 50 Glenville Street, Greenwich).
Full- and part-time positions include management and assistant management roles, day program and residential roles. Click here to see open positions. Prospective employees should bring resumes. For more information, call 203-531-1880.
May 1 is also the date of Abilis’ 70th anniversary gala (6:30 p.m., virtual). There’s family entertainment, with comedians, actors, musicians and dancers.
To learn more, register for the show link, see “Giving Garden” needs, check out the online auction or by art by Abilis clients, click here.
An “06880” reader sits for a 4-hour infusion once a month at Norwalk Hospital. It is often cool in the room, so patients are given a hospital blanket.
The other day, she received a real blanket, made by a group at Staples High school called Lovee’s Charity. They’re usually given to pediatric patients, but sometimes they’re handed out in the infusion room.
“It was so nice, soft and comforting,” the reader says. She emailed faculty advisor Natalie Odierna, letting her know how much joy the blanket brought.
Now thousands of other “06880” readers know about the joy Lovee’s Charity brings too.
A Lovee’s Charity blanket.
Major League Soccer has kicked off its 26th season. And for the 5th straight year, Elliot Gerard was commissioned to create the opening day graphic.
The Westport resident Gerard is a founder and creative director with Heartlent Group, a social strategy and creative content agency.
This year’s concept is “Where’s Waldo?” Gerard worked with eMLS to hide Easter eggs in the artwork (below). The campaign is interactive, giving fans the chance to make their own versions on Instagram stories. A customizable background is available. Click for Twitter and Instagram links.
Last summer, a Westport homeowner walked out of her Saugatuck Shores home. She strolled through her back yard, to the edge of the water. She slipped into her kayak, and paddled a few yards.
Suddenly, she was stopped. A woman from Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club, across the way, yelled that she was trespassing.
“We own the water!” the SHYC representative said. “We reserve it for our members!”
Stunned, the Westport resident retreated.
She’s not alone. A neighbor was reprimanded, the same way.
The Saugatuck Shores homeowner’s back yard.
Commodore Sandy Heller and Vice Commodore Roger Schwanhausser followed up with a letter. They sent it “as neighbors,” with “a significant safety concern for both you and our members.”
The letter continued:
We have received member reports, and have pictures, of kayaks stored on your property being launched by individuals crossing over our property line to access the water and into our Club basin.
This has created navigational hazards and safety to concerns to our members as they transit in and out of our basin. Recently, one of our members nearly collided with a non-member kayaker who was unable or unwilling to yield navigational right of way.
Kayaks, ready — but forbidden — to launch, near Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club.
But safety was not the commodores’ only concern.
Further, as you may not know, the Saugatuck Harbor basin is private property. Our Club owns the land under the water, and per Connecticut law, also owns the water above that land up to the mean high tide line.
Any unapproved access to our basin is, therefore, trespass on our property and is not allowed by Connecticut law.
These facts are documented in our deeds and property records, which go back almost 60 years, and are recorded and memorialized at Town Hall in Westport.
We, at Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club, have always strived to maintain good relationships with all our neighbors. We are fully aware of our presence in, what is largely, a residential neighborhood.
We want to be respectful of our neighbors’ privacy, their safety, and their property rights. We would expect the same of you, and request that you refrain from any further access to our basin in the future.
But is it really “their” basin?
The homeowner asked someone in Town Hall’s Conservation office. “She laughed,” the woman says. “She said, ‘No one owns the water!”‘
Kayakers and boaters — not including the Westporter in this story — enjoying the water near Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club.
The Westporter — who notes that “people come in with kayaks and paddleboards all the time from the other side of the inlet” — did what any reasonable person would do. She Googled.
She found Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s “Living on the Shore” page. It says:
While much of the Connecticut shore is privately owned, the coastal tidelands actually belong to all the people—not just in terms of our environmental and cultural heritage, but in a specific legal sense as well.
Under the common law public trust doctrine, a body of law dating back to Roman times, coastal states (as sovereigns) hold the submerged lands and waters waterward of the mean high water line in trust for the public.
The general public may freely use these intertidal and subtidal lands and waters, whether they are beach, rocky shore, or open water, for traditional public trust uses such as fishing, shellfishing, boating, sunbathing, or simply walking along the beach.
In Connecticut, a line of state Supreme Court cases dating back to the earliest days of the republic confirms that in virtually every case private property ends at mean high water (the shore elevation, which is the average of all high tides) and that the state holds title as trustee to the lands waterward of mean high water, subject to the private rights of littoral access, that is, access to navigable waters.
What is the boundary of the public trust area?
The public trust area includes submerged lands and waters waterward of mean high water in tidal, coastal, or navigable waters of the state of Connecticut. On the ground, the mean high water boundary of the public trust area can often be determined by a prominent wrack line, debris line, or water mark. In general, if an area is regularly wet by the tides, you are probably safe to assume that it is in the public trust. The public trust area is also sometimes referred to as tidelands and is defined as ”public beach“ by the Connecticut Coastal Management Act, C.G.S. 22a-93(6). While the public trust area extends up navigable rivers, it does not extend inland to areas landward of the mean high water line.
What rights does the public have within the public trust area?
According to the Connecticut courts, public rights to the shore include the
The public has the right to fish and shellfish over submerged lands. Peck v. Lockwood, 5 Day 22 (1811);
The public has the right to pass and repass in navigable rivers. Adams v. Pease, 2 Conn 481 (1818);
The public may gather seaweed between ordinary high water and low water. Chapman v. Kimball, 9 Day 38 (1831);
“Public rights include fishing, boating, hunting, bathing, taking shellfish, gathering seaweed, cutting sedge, and of passing and repassing ….” Orange v. Resnick, 94 Conn 573 (1920);
“It is settled in Connecticut that the public has the right to boat, hunt, and fish on the navigable waters of the state.” State v. Brennan, 3 Conn Cir. 413 (1965).
Although shoreline residents must share the public trust area with their fellow citizens, every coastal property owner enjoys unique legal rights by virtue of owning waterfront land. Just as an upland property owner has the right to access a public road, a coastal property owner has an exclusive right to access navigable water from his or her property.
This coastal right of access is known as a “littoral” or “riparian” right. Technically, “riparian” applies to rivers while “littoral” applies to coastal waters, but the terms are often used interchangeably.
The littoral right of access provides the property owner reasonable access to the water from his or her property.
Reasonable access can be achieved by launching a boat directly from the shore, by use of a mooring, or by constructing a dock suitable for the site conditions and properly permitted by DEEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Littoral access does not imply a right to build whatever size dock or wharf a property owner wishes, nor does it mean that a littoral owner may routinely exclude boats or moorings from the waters in front of his or her property.
In terms of access, navigable waters are equivalent to a public road, and a dock serves the same purpose as a private driveway. A littoral landowner may not exclude the public from lawful uses of navigable water, just as an upland owner cannot exclude the public from driving or walking on the street in front of his or her house. However, a duly authorized dock or other littoral structure is private property, and no one can legally interfere with the exercise of this right of access, just as individuals cannot use or block someone’s driveway.
Seems like the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club neighbor “shore” has a good case.
PS: Someone from SHYC told the Saugatuck Shores resident, “you can join our club.”
Today (Sunday, April 11, 1 to 1:45 p.m., Zoom, free) or next Sunday (April 18, 1 to 2:30 p.m., in person, $10 per person), join naturalist Veronica Swain for sessions on invasive plant identification and non-chemical removal. Click here to register for today; click here for next Sunday.
This Tuesday, (April 13, 12 noon, Zoom) the topic is toilets.
In “Pipe Dreams: The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet,” award-winning science journalist Chelsea Wald dives into the future of thrones with Peter Boyd, Sustainable Westport chair. They’ll profile scientists, engineers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and activists focusing on making toilets accessible and healthier for humans and the planet. No s*it!
Staples’ spring sports teams are back in action, after missing the entire 2020 due to COVID.
Two squads made impressive debuts. Carter Kelsey (6 innings, 12 strikeouts) and Matt Spada (1 inning, 3 strikeouts) combined for a 6-0 no-hit win over Darien. It was the Wreckers’ first game since winning the 2019 state “LL” championships.
Boys lacrosse delivered a 7-3 victory over New Canaan, traditionally one of the top teams in the FCIAC league.
And looking back at winter sports: The boys ice hockey team reached finished 8th in the state Division 3 hockey rankings. Four players earned Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State Division 3 honors: seniors Owen Sherman and Victor Sarrazin (1st team), and senior Zachary Schwartz and sophomore Aaron Kail earned (2nd team). Schwartz also received the state’s Hobey Baker Character Award, for outstanding performance on and off the ice.
Clockwise, from upper left: Owen Sherman, Victor Sarrazin, Aaron Kail, Zachary Schwartz.
MoCA Westport has announced a Summer Open Calls. The juried exhibition is open to all emerging, mid-career and established visual artists over 18.
It will be on view from June 25 to August 21, 2021. Submission deadline is May 21.
All mediums will be considered. There are no size limitations. Artists must submit digital samples of 5 to 10 works of art, a resumé and brief artist statement. Click here for applications. For more information email email@example.com or call 203-222-7070.
Staples High School 1967 graduate Ron Berler calls his baseball history “checkered.”
Playing in Westport’s Little League, he threw an on-field tantrum when Max Shulman — the author of “Rally Round the Flag, Boys!” but, more importantly for this story, the umpire — “blew a call” (Ron’s words) on a tag play he made at third.
In later years he was cut during tryouts at both Long Lots Junior High and Staples. He joined the only team that would have him: Staples Players theater.
After Northwestern University, he became a writer. The Chicago Tribune Magazine sent him to Arizona to do a “Paper Lion”-type spring training story. He suited up for the Chicago Cubs. Leo Durocher was the manager. Ernie Banks drove Ron from the team hotel to the ballpark each morning.
One day Ron lined a shot to right field, causing a rookie pitcher to be returned to the minors. But after one at-bat in the team’s first intra-squad game, Ron was handed an unconditional release from baseball.
He was, however, offered a position with the Wrigley Field grounds crew. He declined.
That was not the end of his baseball career, fortunately. For 18 years, Ron managed suburban Chicago Little League teams.
His day job included writing a weekly, youth-issues column for the Chicago Tribune. He recently reprised one of those pieces — about the unwanted pressures facing star youth athletes — for Medium. Click here to read “The Cost of Being a Little League Hero.”
As Westport youngsters return to the diamond — and all kinds of other athletic fields — it’s a tale worth heeding.
Yesterday’s 4th Westport Public Schools’ vaccine clinic was another success.
Hundreds of educators — along with their colleagues in Weston and Easton — have now received their 2nd COVID dose.
Yesterday’s event in the Staples High School fieldhouse was an “all in the family” affair. In the photo below, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice receives his injection from Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Technician Ben Frimmer.
Frimmer’s name may sound familiar. That’s because his day job is theater teacher and drama director at Coleytown Middle School.
Speaking of education: Eric Lawrence is the Connecticut PTA Outstanding Elementary School Teacher of the Year. The 18-year veteran is a technology instructor. Right now he also teaches 4th grade distance learning.
Yesterday, his Saugatuck Elementary School community came together to celebrate.
A parent said: “Mr. Lawrence, you have always been a truly outstanding teacher here at Saugatuck. But as we all know when we face really difficult times, the absolute best can come out in people.
“Many of us thought we could never express how much SSN (Saugatuck Seal News) meant to us from the early days of the shutdown through this year, but we hope we can express it now. The response to your nomination for this honor was overwhelming.”
She then presented him with a binder filled with letters from colleagues, parents, and leaders in the Cub Scout community, where his leadership also made a great impact.
Mr. Lawrence will be honored at a virtual celebration May 5.
You know that old mattress or box spring you’ve always meant to get rid of?
Now — well, on Saturday, May 8 (8:30 to 11 a.m.) — you can.
Earthplace hosts a free mattress recycling drop-off event. It’s sponsored by the Mattress Recycling Council, and they know what they’re doing. Each year they recycle more than 190,000 mattresses — and that’s in Connecticut.
They’re not only diverted from the waste stream. They’re used to make other products, from carpet padding and insulation to filters and mulch.
Can’t transport your mattress to Earthplace on May 8? Boy Scout Troop 36 offers free same-day pickup. Spots are limited; click here to sign up.
If you miss this event, you can bring your mattress or box spring to Park City Green in Bridgeport, a non-profit that recycles mattresses. Call for hours of operation and drop-off instructions: 203-212-3860 or 203-209-6915.
GE’s former CEO talks virtually on Thursday, April 22 (7 p.m.) about his 16 years at the helm. The Westport Library program is hosted by Westporter Steve Parrish.
Immelt’s first day on the job was September 10, 2001 — 24 hours before 9/11. His new book Hot Seat: What I Learned Leading a Great American Company details his proudest moments — and missteps — at the helm of the global giant.
The Westport Country Playhouse internship program began in 1946. Four years later, 19-year-old Stephen Sondheim spent the summer at the already-famous stage.
The program — now named for longtime Playhouse benefactor Joanne Woodward — continues this summer.
Interns will join the development, education and marketing teams, from June 7 to August 13. They’ll work directly with Playhouse staff, gain practical skills, and hear guest speakers including visiting designers and artists, commercial producers and more.
With a virtual season, the internships are also virtual this year. There are limited in-person requirements, based on department needs.
Application deadline is April 21. Click here for more information.
Stephen Sondheim (crouching, top of photo), during his 1950 apprenticeship. Also in the photo: future film director Frank Perry (front row, left) and Richard Rodgers’ daughter Mary (2nd row, 4th from left).
The Westport Weston Family YMCA has added over 150 live classes a week, and hundreds more on demand. They include cardio, endurance, strength, bodywork, dance, mind/body, seniors, adaptive, kids and family.
They’re all virtual of course — but available through a collaboration with 29 Y’s across Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.
You must be a YMCA member, of course. For details on the “Y Wellness 24/7” program, click here.
Congratulations to Staples High School basketball co-captain Nicole Holmes. The senior was one of only 4 FCIAC players — and 10 overall — named to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State team, in the “LL” (extra large schools division).
Holmes helped lead the Wreckers to a sparkling 13-3 record this winter.
Nicole Holmes (Photo courtesy of The Ruden Report)
And finally … on this day in 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. That was the effective end of the Civil War, though skirmishes continued for several weeks.
A week before spring vacation — with COVID still a strong concern — Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice issued travel guidelines.
He also reminded families of quarantine mandates for athletes staying overnight at out of state events, . Scarice wrote:
Although Governor Lamont’s Executive Order regarding travel is no longer in effect, the Department of Public Health recommends that all Connecticut residents follow CDC Guidelines for Travelers.
Students and staff traveling over the April vacation are asked to follow the guidelines below, which are consistent with the expectations that have been previously communicated.
While traveling, please continue to utilize all appropriate mitigation strategies (including mask wearing, distancing, symptom recognition, hand washing, etc.) regardless of whether they are mandated at your destination.
Before travel, review current DPH and CDC recommendations for travel during COVID-19, and plan sufficient time for any necessary actions.
Before returning to school after travel, we ask everyone to:
Get a viral test after returning to Connecticut, and stay out of school until you receive a negative test from the laboratory.
Be aware of and closely self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms during and after your trip, especially for the 14 days after returning.
Immediately quarantine if anyone with you on your trip tests positive after returning to Connecticut.
Be prepared to immediately quarantine if/when symptoms appear.
International travelers should be aware of the additional COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination prior to departure: click here. You may also find these Frequently Asked Questions helpful.
Connecticut mandates quarantines for any athletes participating in out-of-state events, if they include overnight stays.
As we conclude our second, and final, round of vaccinations for faculty and staff this week, we turn our efforts to supporting parents in vaccinating our 16+ student population.
At this point in the year, nearly 2/3 of our high school population is 16+. Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine has received emergency approval for administration to children ages 16+. This is not the vaccine that has been distributed to our local health district. However, there are options in our region to advance this effort.
There might be clinics in the region that will be dedicated to local students. We may have more specificity just prior to the April break. Stay tuned!
School districts across the state are awaiting guidance from the DPH regarding end-of-year activities, including graduation, proms, etc. It is likely that we will continue to be encouraged to favor outdoor activities, with universal mask wearing and social distancing.
Once the DPH document is released, the district will move from “save the date” to planning specifics of our end-of-year activities, knowing that any event can change at a moment’s notice until the pandemic is behind us.
Please continue to report any cases over the break to our hotline. We intend to stay on top of our reporting procedures and data, as we have with prior vacation periods.
Thank you for all of the support and patience this year.
Speaking of nature: Here’s an osprey update from the indefatigable Carolyn Doan.
“Our lovely osprey couple has been making their nest near Fresh Mart a little more comfortable. They’ve resorted to using what looks like a knit hat or glove. The female has taken matters into her own talons, and is getting sticks herself.”
During the pandemic, families have spent more time than ever. For some, it’s a wonderful way to reconnect. For others, it’s caused tension.
Dr. Bob Selverstone — a much-admired Westport psychologist in private practice for over 40 years, former Staples High School educator and counselor, and noted TV and radio guest — recently taped a session for the Westport Library.
It’s called “Making Marriage Even Better.” He should know: Bob and his high school sweetheart, Harriett, have been married for nearly 60 years!
Westporter Amy Hochhauser started JoyRide in 2011. For 10 years, she has nurtured and grown the popular cycling studio. She writes:
Founding JoyRide is one of the highlights of my life. In addition to the incredible community of riders, many of whom I count as close friends, it’s been tremendously rewarding to employ so many amazing people, in Connecticut and Texas. The JoyFamily is remarkable.
In addition to providing workouts, our team has always been committed to using our platform for good. To date, we’ve helped various charitable organizations raise over $750,000 for their causes. This brings us immense JOY.
Amy Hochhauser (right) with fellow JoyRide leaders (from left): Becky Cerroni and Rhodie Lorenz.
But times are tough. This year, we’ve had to close two of our beloved Connecticut studios just to survive — and we’re still struggling to make ends meet.
After months of mandatory closures and capacity restrictions, the reality is — despite being allowed to open at full capacity — social distancing requires us to limit the number of customers we can serve. Our business model was not meant to function with only 12-15 customers per class.
Most of our landlords have been great. A few, not so much. And as a female-founded, independent small business, we struggle to get the support and attention of some of our larger competitors.
JoyRide has moved classes outdoors …
We’ve had to guarantee many of our obligations personally. Despite believing that we’ve banked enough good karma to avoid this fate, when your landlord is a public company, good vibes and fairness don’t get you very far.
But we are not alone. Thousands of gyms and studios (and many other small businesses) across the country struggle with the exact same fate. We can all forecast a horizon in 2022 where things get better, but to get to that place, we need to survive the next 6 months.
… and cut capacity indoors.
If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that fitness and wellness are more important than ever. They combat not only obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but also the epidemic of loneliness and reliance on technology. We need to turn off the screens and sweat together! Human connection is a requirement for a JOYful life.
The Gym Mitigation and Survival (GYMS) Act — a bipartisan bill in Congress — would offer relief to health and fitness establishments. Most previous economic relief packages have either left out or not really helped the fitness industry.
If want to help, please click this link and ask our representatives to ask them to pass the GYMS ACT. We need all the help we can get.
For over 20 years, Joseph Oyebog has taught tennis all over Westport.
The former Cameroon Davis Cup player retains strong ties to his homeland. In 1999 he founded the Oyebog Tennis Academy. Westporters have been strong supporters of the project, which provides Cameroonian children with coaching, education and life values.
John McEnroe is a supporter too. He called his friend Yannick Noah. After the French star visited OTA in February, a video went viral.
But money is tight. The annual fundraiser at Intensity was canceled by COVID — for the second straight year.
Board members — many of whom live in Westport — are searching for a corporate sponsor, as well as donations of any amount. Click here to help.
And finally … on this day in 1964, Beatlemania had taken over America. The lads from Liverpool had the top 5 — five! — songs on Billboard’s Top 100. From #1 on down: “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Please Please Me.”
But that’s not all. The Beatles had 7 — seven! — other songs on the list: “I Saw Her Standing There” (#31), “From Me to You” (#41), “Do You Want to Know a Secret” (#46), “All My Loving” (#58), “You Can’t Do That” (#65), “Roll Over Beethoven” (#68) and “Thank You Girl” (#79).
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