There’s a new addition to the town’s “blight list.”
Westport’s Blight Prevention Board added 6 Ulbrick Lane, off Bulkley Avenue North, at its meeting this week.
It’s been vacant about 10 years. Grass has grown high outside; visitors report rodents and vermin indoors.
6 Ulbrick Lane (Photo/Jack Krayson)
Meanwhile, as first reported by Westport Journal, the house at 233 Hillspoint Road — diagonally across from Old Mill Grocery, now wrapped in blue after work construction was halted 2 years ago — has been taken off the blight list.
The Zoning Board of Appeals reached a settlement with the owners earlier this summer. Work was stopped after officials detected several permit violations.
Construction can begin again at 233 Hillspoin Road. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)
Also off the blight list: 1 Fresenius Lane, on Long Lots Road.
Gault and Penna are longtime key volunteers at the club’s Great Duck Race fundraiser for many years. Chief Kronick is a longtime leader of the town’s fire service. Dr. Wong recently retired from his ophthalmology practice, after many years.
The public is invited to attend, and enjoy a buffet breakfast. To confirm, text Ron Holtz at 203-993-4970.
The New York Times’ Ginia Bellafante weighs in on “The Last Movie Stars,” HBO’s 6-part series on Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
She includes this reference to their life here:
“Once, Newman came home to their place in Westport, Conn., to find Joanne refashioning an outbuilding in crazy colors with ad hoc furniture — a place for them, she told him, to retreat to their carnality.”
That’s quite an image. To read the full piece, click here.
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. The relationship is the focus of an HBO series.
“06880” has reported several times on the progress of David Hidalgo.
He’s the very talented, always-smiling and very hard-working carpenter/ painter/jack of all trades beloved by many Westporters.
He’s battled 2 separate leukemia diagnoses with a positive attitude. But his situation is now more challenging.
After a bone marrow transplant this spring, David had complications. He was hospitalized with a fever for over 2 weeks. There’s now a blood clot in his leg, and continued nausea. He has lost 60 pounds.
It has been a trying time for the whole family. His wife Haiying is caring for David and trying to clean houses when she can, while caring for 2 young children.
Money from an initial fundraising campaign is almost all gone. Any support that can be offered to David and his family is greatly appreciated. Click here for a GoFundMe link. Click here to help with gift cards for a meal train.
David Hidalgo with his children Santiago and Annika on Fathers Day.
A brilliant afternoon beckoned, but a large crowd stayed inside after yesterday’s Westport Country Playhouse matinee performance of “Kim’s Convenience.”
Playwright Ins Choi chatted with WCP associate director David Kennedy about the poignant, family-affirming comedy that moved from Toronto Fringe Festival sensation to Netflix TV smash.
Choi noted the play’s genesis as a way during a time of anti-Asian hate crimes. “The proactive part was continuing to write and share stories with heart, humor, and craft so people listen, laugh, and can’t deny how similar we all are.” he said.
The show runs through Sunday (July 17.) Click here for tickets and more information. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)
“Kim’s Convenience” playwright Ins Choi, (right) and David Kennedy, in conversation on the Westport Country Playhouse stage. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup noted the enormous amount of trash generated by this weekend’s multi-state lacrosse tournament at the Staples and Wakeman fields.
But athletes and their parents aren’t the only slobs.
This was the scene yesterday afternoon, at the Compo Beach pavilion:
I saw it, and tried to imagine what went through the minds of whoever is (ir)responsible for this.
Did they think: “Wow! This is one of the most amazing days of the summer! It’s a perfect Sunday. The sun is shining, it’s not too hot, I’m at a beautiful beach, surrounded by so many people enjoying themselvs.
“So I think I’ll just leave my pile of garbage, instead of walking 3 steps to the trash can, so someone else can pick up after me?”
Carl Swanson spent years volunteering in Houston, helping disadvantaged people find and keep lodging. He understands their plight.
But he’s concerned about a house on Maple Avenue North, near Old Road. The siding is falling off; the garage is full of trash, and the windows are shielded by newspapers. The resident appears to be living in his van in the driveway, Carl says.
Carl notes that the situation has gone on for quite a while. He worries that the home is both an eyesore and a health hazard. He hopes town officials can remedy the situation — and help the owner.
Defending state champion Westport beat Fairfield National yesterday 9-3, to win the district 2 championship.
The sectional tournament begins Thursday.
Congratulations to players Dylan Burdeshaw, Miles Delorier, Henry Ellis, Justin Goldshore, Wyatt Johnson, Christopher Lambert, Chase Landgraf, Jack McGrath, Luke Moneyhon, Torrey Rossetter, Toby Slavin, Grant Theisinger and Nolan Walters, manager Justin Walters and coaches Marc Theisinger and Jon Ellis.
Beechwood — the intimate, innovative and immersive arts salon on Weston Road — is postponing its 11th “Beechwood Open,” scheduled for July 31. The namesake Beechwood House, built in 1806, is undergoing extensive repairs.
It’s now combined with the very fun “Secrets of Beechwood” Scavenger Hunt (September 18, 2 p.m.).
e have hosted The Beechwood Open every year since we started. One of our most popular events, it is outdoors under the Copper Beech and full of unexpected art, music and community and is often the event that introduces new people to Beechwood. Last year’s Beechwood Open was a record-breaker for attendance.
Beechwood House, with a magnificent copper beech tree, was built in 1806.
The Bridgeport institution’s centennial celebration is set for this fall. It will be big — and it’s got some key Westport connections.
The event is October 29, at the Inn at Longshore. It’s c0-chaired by Westporter Claudette Kunkes. She’s on the board of directors for the Connecticut Zoological Society, which oversees the non-profit zoo.
For more information, including tickets and sponsorships, click here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eversource continues to restore power to the 1,450-plus customers who lost it in last night’s rain-and-wind storm.
The worst affected area was Hillspoint Road south of the I-95 bridge, down to Soundview Road. 550 customers were affected.
We’re lucky. Most trees still don’t have full leaves. If this happened a few weeks later, the damage could be much worse.
Downed tree, on Hillandale Road. (Photo/Bob Weingarten)
We’re also lucky that this is spring break for public schools. Easton Road is closed west of North Avenue, with a number of trees down. That would have played havoc with this morning’s bus rides to our 4 North Avenue schools.
The past 2 years have turned the world upside down.
Now Beechwood Arts — the intimate, immersive arts-and-more salon — is back. They’re celebrating the resilience of the human spirt — especially the artistic innovation and reinvention that’s occurred during these upside-down times.
Beechwood’s spring season is called “Upside Down.” Both are hosted by the Westport Library, produced by their superb Verso Studios staff.
On Friday, May 6 (7 p.m.): Dan Tepfer’s #BachUpside Down. He’s performed this innovative project worldwide. He’ll then join internationally famed pianist — and Beechwood co-founder — Frederic Chiu onstage, for a lively conversation.
The following Friday (May 13, 7 p.m.), “GatherRound UpsideDown Art & Story Share” brings the community together. Art will be projected o the Library’s large screen, as artists tell their stories. The first “GatherRound” drew over 200 people.
Click here to register for Dan Tepfer’s #BachUpsideDown. Click here to register for “Gather Round Upside Down Art & Story Share.” For more information, click here.
Note about the logo below: In some Yogic traditions the Tree of Life is turned upside down. The tree exposes its essence — that which grounds it and gives it life. That reflects how this period has caused many artists to tap into their essence, discovering what truly grounds them.
Jeff Bullwinkel grew up in Westport. He and his wife spend most of their time in Amsterdam. But they were back this weekend — just in time to enjoy the magnificent cherry trees on their South Compo Road property.
Jeff shares their beauty, as today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.
Lynsey Addario — the 1991 Staples High School Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist — is usually behind the camera.
Now the BBC has turned its lens on her. The international describes her this way, for its profile of her:
“She took the defining picture of Putin’s war so far: a family killed by Russian troops as they tried to flee to safety. The US photojournalist Lynsey Addario has reported from almost every major conflict in the 21st century, and now she is on the ground in Ukraine, documenting suspected war crimes.
“Lynsey Addario — who reported on the Taliban before most of the western world knew who they were — has borne witness to war, humanitarian disaster and the worst effects of climate change. She has been kidnapped three times, but still keeps returning to conflict zones. Mark Coles profiles the award-winning photographer whose images continue to make the front pages.”
Click here for this in-depth look at a true Westport — and international — hero. (With a bonus: interviews with her mother Camille, and older sisters Lauren, Lisa and Leslie.)
Congratulations to the Staples boys indoor track sprint medley relay team.
They finished 6th in the US last night, at the national high school meet in the New York Armory.
Samir Mott (200 meter leg), David Sedrak (200), Bruno Guiduli (400) and Jalen St. Fort (800) roared to a 3:35.43. That earns them All-American status — and fame that will last far beyond that very fast race.
Indoor track All-Americans (from left): Samir Mott, David Sedrak, Bruno Guiduli, Jalen St. Fort. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)
In 2018, freshman Corey Hausman died in a skateboarding accident at the University of Colorado. A varsity skier and track athlete, he had graduated from Staples High School just 3 month earlier.
At its banquet last week, the Staples ski team inaugurated the Corey Hausman Award. It will be presented each year to the senior racer who best epitomizes his special spirit, through a love for skiing, the desire to improve, a willingness to work and the ability to inspire others.
Olivia Marshall was the first recipient. Corey’s family presented the award, with coaches Rebecca Anderson-Furlong and Tom Owen.
Corey’s memory continues to be honored through College911.net and the College Safety Coalition. Both projects — initiated by the Hausman family — help make the college experience as safe as possible for everyone. (Hat tip: Michelle Howard)
From left: Coach Tom Owen, Olivia Marshall, Coach Rebecca Anderson-Furlong, Corey’s parents Nanette and Joel Hausman, and Corey’s good friend Michael Valarie.
Movies have always been part of Jonathan Moor and Taylor Franchi’s lives.
Growing up, he worked at Bowtie Cinemas just across the Norwalk line. Before they met, she went to movies by herself. As a couple, that’s one of their favorite activities.
Last night — to celebrate Taylor’s upcoming birthday — Jonathan took her to Bowtie. The movie was “Uncharted.”
They picked up their popcorn and drinks, and settled in. During the last trailer, Jonathan left for a couple of minutes.
When he returned — holding flowers — another video was playing. This one was all about them.
Taylor Franchi and Jonathan Moor, from the video.
To the soundtrack of James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go” — a song they heard on their first date, and which includes the line “I want to live with you” — photos of Jonathan and Taylor’s time together filled the screen.
At the end it showed four simple words: “Will you marry me?”
The final scene of the video.
Jonathan had planned his proposal perfectly. He’d enlisted the help of the Bowtie managers, who he knew from his time working there. They made sure no one else was in the theater. They kept the flowers Jonathan brought over earlier.
And of course, Jonathan created his video with love and care.
In 2014, “Tunnel Vision” — Miggs Burroughs’ clever series of lenticular photos, showing Westporters connecting with each other (and each one changes, depending on your viewing angle) — turned a drab pedestrian walkway between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza into a lively, creative tourist attraction.
“Tunnel Vision,” in the walkway between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza
Although — 7 years later — plenty of people still don’t know it exists.
Recently, the images were refurbished and reinstalled. A small reception, including a ceremonial re-lighting, is planned soon.
Also in the works: great visibility.
Miggs and Mark Yurkiw are seeking approval to add awnings to the tunnel’s front and back entrances. They’ll be an easy way for shoppers to find the handy cut-through (and enjoy Miggs’ photos).
They’ll also be an easily identifiable shelter for people waiting for a friend or ride, in all kinds of weather.
PS: Check out the new name: “Tunnel of Love and Community (TLC).”
Rendering of the proposed tunnel awning on Main Street.
Speaking of downtown: Westporters of all ages headed there yesterday, for the first annual Riverwalk clean-up.
Sustainable Westport, Staples High School’s Zero Waste Committee and the Coleytown Elementary School PTA’s Sustainability Committee met behind Starbucks, then fanned out to remove trash from the riverfront, on both sides of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.
They spent 3 hours, and filled 25 buckets.
The rest of Westport — and all kinds of wildlife — are grateful.
Looking for a special — and beautiful — holiday gift?
Longtime photographer Tom Kretsch has some ideas.
How about “Touching Maine,” his beautiful book of essays and images of coastal Maine? A 4″ x 4″ acryclic photo block? Or a gift certificate for one of his photos? There are plenty, taken throughout Fairfield County and beyond. Click here to see.
Email email@example.com for more information.
Since summer, a Mercedes sedan was parked on Myrtle Avenue, in the closest spot to the front exit from Town Hall.
It’s been there ever since.
Alert Westporters wondered what’s up. Dust settled on the car. Street cleaners swept around it, giving it a distinctive border.
Summer turned into fall. Leaves turned and fell. Frost arrived.
Still the car sat there.
The car, last summer. (Photo/Michael Moore)
We may now have an answer — of sorts.
A two-page letter has been taped to the rear window.
“Congratulations,” it begins. “you are now standing next to Hank the Tank.”
The note tells the story of the car — nicknamed, clearly, “Hank the Tank.”
It belonged to a mother who chauffeured her daughter to school and sports.
When the teenage girl inherited the car, it went to the dump and Dunkin’ Donuts. the beach and concerts. It got a speeding ticket on North Avenue.
It carried the driver’s many friends on every road in Westport. Lots of their stuff still sits in Hank the Tank.
Page 1 of the letter …
The girl who drove the car has moved on to college, the letter explains. But “saying goodbye to Hank the Tank is difficult,” the letter continues. “Some people have a harder time letting go than others.”
… and page 2.
But, the note concludes, Hank the Tank will soon be gone.
it will be less of a bother than it is, taking up a Myrtle Avenue parking space for many months.
It will continue to be useful, however.
Hank the Tank is being donated to the Westport Fire Department. It will be used for drills and education.
There’s always a story behind the story. Thanks, Hank the Tank, for sharing yours. (Hat tip: Svea Vocke)
In January, I posted a story about Julie Tran and her husband Chris Ziccardi. They were leaving the Old Hill home they built 7 years earlier.
Their plan was travel around the country.
In a 27-foot Airstream Globetrotter, hitched to their Ford F-350.
Time to check in again on the peripatetic couple.
They were back in Connecticut earlier this month. They’d triangulated the US, from Florida and Texas to California, then back East to New England. They’d seen the Grand Canyon, hiked in Acadia National Park, met wonderful people, and had memorable adventures.
Julie Tran and Chris Zaccardi, on the road …
But the most remarkable part of their journey, Julie says, was strengthening their bonds with each other.
“Some people would be nervous. How can you survive in a tiny home with your significant other, and no space for yourself?
“It can be very challenging,” she admits. We knew it would test our relationship. But we thought it would be a good way to work on it, and learn to communicate better.”
It was, in fact, like being on Survivor Island. They were in a vehicle, sure. But as individuals, Julie says, “You can’t go anywhere else.”
… and in front of their small home.
The first 5 months were filled with challenges. Battery, refrigerator and air conditioning issues frayed tempers.
“Things come up every day that you don’t deal with in a house. How do you deal with a flat tire? How do you get internet on the road?”
They did it by communicating. They made conscious efforts to talk through every problem.
Before bed every night, they express what they appreciate about the other. They also say what they would like to be appreciated for. They talk about what worked — and didn’t work — that day. Without judgment.
Each morning, they share their intentions for the day.
“It’s changed the energy in our relationship,” Julie says. “And it’s made us more resilient.”
“Each person has to take responsibility for their own actions,” Julie explains. “That’s how you move forward as a team.”
They moved forward in their Airstream, too. Julie has discovered “so much beauty in this country. It’s everywhere.
“I saw birds learning to fly over the ocean. They danced in the sky. I saw goats grazing in the grass.” Slowing down just for 5 minutes to appreciate those scenes is therapeutic.”
Julie has learned too to “feel at home no matter where I am. Home is not a location. It’s a state of being.”
RV owners are friendly and helpful. She started a Facebook group for that community. Some people, she says, have been encouraged to replicate what Julie and Chris are doing.
Chris gets a helping hand from a fellow RV owner.
“Especially in today’s environment, when we can feel we don’t have control over anything, it’s a privilege to provide that inspiration.”
Soon, the couple will gas up the Gulfstream, and head south again. The first destination is Key West.
After that: Who knows?
But Julie and Chris embrace not knowing.
And — thanks to the work they’ve done on their relationship, in the confines of their small RV — they embrace each other more tightly than ever.
Tomorrow (Sunday, July 25, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) marks Wakeman Town Farm’s first Sustainable Goods Eco Market.
Local vendors and artisans will be selling handwoven baskets and housewares; honey; handmade soaps, body butter and essential oils; skin and hair products for teens; candles; bags; clothing; honey and more.
There’s breakfast from The Granola Bar truck, and ice cream cones from Saugatuck Sweets too.
While adults shop green, youngsters can work on fun projects with WTF director of education Chryse Terrill, or visit with the animals. Expert Judy Panzer will answer animal questions for curious young minds.
Everyone can enjoy music by saxophonist Bobby Master, classical guitarist Jesse Balcom, steel pan and marimba player, and string quartet Vision Academy.
SA couple considering a moving to Westport from New York would love to take the train here, and explore our town by bike.
They asked “06880” about rentals near the station. I don’t think there’s any such thing (though it might not be a bad sideline for a nearby business).
So how about it, “06880” readers: If there are no bike rentals around, does someone have a pair to lend? Maybe meet them at the station, give some tips (or even ride with them)? Or drop bikes off there, with combination locks?
Sure, it’s a long shot. But it’s also one way to help show off our amazing town — and the great people who live here.
I don’t think this is the type of bike ride our guests are looking for.
On Thursday, State Senators Will Haskell and Tony Hwang were recognized for their bipartisan effort to pass SB 954. The bill will improve college safety, and is seen as a template for federal legislation, sponsored by Congressman Jim Himes. The goal is to increase transparency around college accidents and deaths in all US colleges.
The initiative comes from College911.net, an all-volunteer organization founded in the memory of Corey Hausman. The 2018 Staples High School graduate died from what started as a preventable accident on his college campus just 15 days into his freshman year. Corey’s was the third student death since the start of that semester.
Senators Will Haskell and Tony Hwang hold certificates presented by College 911.net. Also pictured: members of the 911 Young Adult Advisory Board (Brendan Carney, Rushil Marallapu, Kate Smith and William Bean), members of Corey Hausman’s family (Joel, Nanette and Lucas), and Jeff Mitchell, an ardent supporter.
The grounds of the Westport Weston Family YMCA always look gorgeous, thanks to Tony Palmer Landscaping.
Yesterday they were especially attractive. The Westport Garden Club chose the Mahackeno site for its annual #FridayFlowers display. They were created by Janet Wolgast, with help from new Y CEO Anjali McCormick.
One more reason to smile before — and after — your workout.
Longtime Westport resident Vivian Doak of Spring, Texas, died peacefully at home, surrounded by her immediate family, last Saturday. She was 91 years.
The oldest of 5 children, Vivian graduated from high school in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. After secretarial school in New York, she held various positions. In 1952 she married Malcolm Robert Doak, an Air Force pilot. Following stints in Memphis, Japan, Long Island and Poughkeepsie, the couple settled in Westport in 1964, where they raised their family. In 2009 Vivian and her husband retired to Lake Conroe, Texas, and finally settled in Spring, Texas, at The Village at Gleannloch Farms.
While in Westport Vivian was a mother, housewife, business professional and real estate agent. She served many roles, from Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader to PTA organizer; from church deacon to leading the local Women’s Council of Realtors.
Vivian enjoyed traveling the world with her corporate pilot husband, as well as cultural jaunts with her children. The Doak home was a welcoming place for neighborhood kids, and a great environment for their children’s friends to hang out, be fed delicious meals, and be appreciated. Many still recall her warm smile and generous laugh.
Vivian possessed an ambitious, artistic talent that influenced everything she did. She was an excellent cook and skilled seamstress, skills she passed on to her children, grandchildren and beyond.
She enjoyed dancing, and studied tap and other forms. A painter from early on, she later enjoyed the hands-on hard work of building, refinishing and reupholstering furniture. She brought a creative eye to numerous heirloom quilts made for family members.
Vivian reveled in leading her grandchildren in holiday crafts, and created hand-painted curios for her children and their families. She also mastered a host of magic tricks, and juggled to entertain her grandchildren.
In retirement Doak mastered the art of theorem painting, studying at the Fletcher Farm School for the Arts in Vermont. While a member of the Wilton Presbyterian Church, Vivian designed and oversaw the construction of their on-site Memorial Garden.
Vivian will be remembered for her kindness, patience, loving manner, infectious laugh and bright smile, and as the matriarch of a strong, loving vital family.
Vivian is survived by her husband Malcolm and their 5 children: Kathi Doak of New York City; Lisa Lyne (James) of Spring, Texas; Ivy Doak (Timothy Montler) of Denton, Texas; Robin Neyrey of Spring TX, and Malcolm (Carole Ann) of Kirby, Vermont; 7 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, and sister Marjorie Schoneboom of Long Island.
A memorial service was held at The Village at Gleannloch Farms. The family is appreciative of everyone there.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome, appreciated — and tax-deductible! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to “06880”: PO Box 744, Westport, CT 06881. Or use Venmo: @blog06880. Or Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)