David Squires’ quick walk to his mailbox yesterday turned into a leisurely stroll to the Greens Farms train station and post office, via Burying Hill Beach.
“Spring is busting out all over,” he says. “Stop and smell the pansies!”
Yesterday’s Roundup began with news of the rent reduction promised by local landlords Edward and Joan Hyde, to tenants like Westport Yarns.
Breno Donatti — owner of Winfield Street Coffee on Post Road West — quickly emailed, noting that his landlord, Alon Panovka, also agreed to waive April’s rent. He’ll discuss May when the time comes.
“Alon has been great to us in our 4 years here,” Breno says.
Winfield Deli closed March 17. He may even get credit for part of this month. Thanks, Alon! (Meanwhile, feel free to order gift cards to use when Winfield reopens!)
Some rules don’t change. This April 1 — as always — dogs are no longer allowed on Compo, Old Mill or Burying Hill beaches, or the Longshore golf course. Dogs are of course welcome at Winslow Park.
The Parks & Recreation Department also announces that because it’s uncertain when the beaches will fully open, beach emblem sales are postponed until further notice.
Parks & Rec reminds Westporters not to congregate at parks and athletic fields. “We encourage all to get outside and get some exercise, but please do not gather in groups,” says director Jen Fava.
Originally, the Westport Public Schools planned a 2-week closure. As it becomes clear that the shutdown will last (probably much) longer, the district is adapting to online education.
For Staples High School students, that means more interaction with teachers, in more manageable blocks of time. It’s a new way of learning, and administrators, staff and students are figuring it out together.
Whether you’ve got kids in high school or not — or none at all — a video from principal Stafford Thomas is, well, instructive. It shows how Staples is adapting; it outlines the promises and challenges, and it’s a vivid illustration of the cascading effects the coronavirus is having on us all. Click below to view.
Real estate agencies often compete for listings and sales. But many came together this week, to help fill a huge need at Yale New Haven Hospital.
A doctor told Sally Bohling they needed Lysol wipes, gloves and shoe covers. The William Raveis realtor called her friends contacted Karen Scott and Mary Ellen Gallagher, of KMS Partners @ Compass.
They put out the word to the Westport realtor community. Quickly, literally thousands of contributions poured in.
The booties idea was particularly inspired. “We aren’t hosting open houses, and the winter weather is behind us. So offering the ones we’re not using was a no-brainer,” Karen says.
Connecticut small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the pandemic can apply for 1-year, no-interest loans of up to $75,000,
The Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program will make $25 million available to state businesses and nonprofits with up to 100 employees. Loans are up to the lesser of either three months operating expenses and/or $75,000. Click here for details.
With sharply decreased train ridership, starting Monday (March 30) Westport Transit will replace commuter shuttles with an on-demand, door-to-platform minibus service. It will operate to and from any Westport location and the Saugatuck and Greens Farms stations.
Calls should be made the previous day before 5 p.m. (Saturday for Monday pickup) for morning commutes, and at least 45 minutes prior to pickup for the evening commute. The phone number is 203-299-5180.
Door-to-door services for seniors and residents with disabilities are unchanged.
For more information, click here.
It’s a small idea from Hallie and Maya Wofsy, but a great one: Put a red or pink heart on your door. The goal is to show support for all our amazing front-line healthcare workers.
Take a look on your walks through the neighborhood. The hearts are already there. And if you don’t have colored paper or markers, Maya will (very safely) drop one ready-made at your door. Email email@example.com for details.
And finally, when these 2 kids were quarantined in Italy, they decided to play a little Coldplay. On their violins. Their choice of a song — “Viva La Vida” — couldn’t be more perfect.
There are a lot more sheer rock faces in Westport than I thought.
“06880” readers took a break from hand washing, social distancing and toilet paper hoarding last Sunday to guess where the latest Photo Challenge might be.
Michael Tomashefsky’s rock wall (click here here to see) was — according to numerous wrong guessers — either off I-95 Exit 17; behind the Sherwood Diner; behind the Gault barn on South Compo; in the parking lot behind Trader Joe’s; at Erickson’s Pond (where is that?), or near the bridge by the Levitt Pavilion (huh?!).
It is, in fact, near 95 — but Exit 18. The exact location is behind the commuter parking lot on the Sherwood Island Connector, diagonally across from the transfer station.
There’s plenty of rock there. As well as history. In the early 1700s, that area was the site of the very first Greens Farms Congregational Church meetinghouse.
Congratulations to Brian Taylor, Andrew Colabella, Wendy Cusick, Jerry Kuyper and René Fontaine.
Special props to Fran Taylor, who nailed it despite having lived in Kentucky for the past few decades. Then again, she grew up right around the corner from the Photo Challenge wall.
I guess it’s her rock of ages.
Before responding to this week’s Photo Challenge, please read carefully:
We’re not looking for where these figures are today (behind a home on Hitchcock Road).
We want to know where would you have seen them from 2001 to 2008?
If you know, click “Comments” below.
Westport copes with the coronavirus …
Looking for an up-to-date list of what’s open, closed or semi-operating downtown? Click here for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association list.
Click here for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s list of restaurants that offer takeout and/or delivery services. In addition to ordering delivery directly, Seamless, Grubhub and UberEats also deliver without personal contact. They can leave the food at the door. Payment is automatically processed through a credit card in their systems. Most Westport restaurants are participating in one or more of these services.
Another resource: FindingWestport.com. Their “What’s Open” page includes stores, restaurants, gyms, services, real estate firms and salons around town.
To protect the public and police officers during the COVID-19 emergency, the Westport Police Department encourages telephone contact, rather than visits to headquarters.
Calls made to non-emergency and emergency lines will continue to be answered as always. The operator will ask questions about the nature and details of the call, to determine whether officers are required to respond.
Officers will continue to respond to crimes in progress, violent offenses and medical emergencies. If the call does not meet criteria for response but requires follow-up, the call taker will log the complaint. An officer or detective will remotely conduct a follow-up investigation.
Click here for information on online reporting.
The records division will no longer process requests at the window. All records related inquiries should be directed to 203- 341-6001. Requested records will be sent electronically
In addition, fingerprinting services are suspended indefinitely. ‘
Effective today, the Saugatuck and Greens Farms railroad stations buildings are closed to the public. This has no impact on normal railroad operations.
The closures are meant to keep people from congregating in close contact. It is unknown how long they will last.
Westporters without health insurance can pick up coverage starting tomorrow through April 2, through Access Health CT. Click here for information. (Hat tip: Mary Jennings)
Earthplace is continually updating its website with ideas and resources for crafts, home study, and outdoor and online activities. Click here for details.
Concerned reader Lindsey Blaivas writes:
Many of us have people come to our homes on a weekly basis — cleaning crews (mine are like family), babysitters (also like family), piano teachers and more.
Each have their own families and rely on their income. Please consider supporting them — for example, through Skype lessons or outdoor alternatives for cleaning crews (grills, outdoor furniture, garage cleaning). Think creatively.
Or maybe just pay them as you normally would, because they (like us) need to survive and protect their families. My cleaning people have reported many clients are cancelling without pay.
Please consider the macro impact on micro thinking. It’s not just one person cancelling — it’s everyone.
Grateful reader Deborah Green called Verizon with a question about her iPhone. She did not want to come in, because of her age.
Manager Dominic di Pasquale — whom she had never met — answered her question. Then, remarkably, he told Deborah to call if she needed him to shop for groceries or do any other errands!
She thanked him profusely. He replied simply, “We all have to be there for each other during these times.”
She made one more call: to Verizon’s HR department, to praise their magnificent employee.
The other day, Congressman Jim Himes held a fascinating, informative telephone town hall. He’s got another one set for tomorrow (Thursday, March 19, 3:30 p.m.)
The call-in number is 855-962-0953. The streaming link is Himes.House.Gov/Live.
For answers to his most frequently asked questions, click here. (Hat tip: Nicole Klein)
Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates is — like many small businesses — struggling. But owner Aarti Khosla is still thinking of others.
Customers can buy her “Give a Little Love” chocolate hearts, to send to first responders, hospital workers and others on the front lines. She’ll match whatever you buy, to let them know how much we appreciate their work.
She started by campaign by donating 100 hearts to Norwalk Hospital and EMS. Click here to donate.
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has extended its Soup Contest through April. They encourage everyone to try soups via restaurant takeout or delivery services.
Normally, this would be an inspirational, upbeat story: Female Staples graduate, now in her 33rd year flying for American Airlines, surveys the skies from her captain’s cockpit.
But after 4 round trips across the Atlantic Ocean since early March, Peggy Lehn has some harrowing tales to tell.
On March 2, the 1979 Staples grad — whose family has been in Westport for around 11 generations (her grandmother was born on the property that is now Longshore) — flew her 777 from JFK to Barcelona.
Her crew had never seen Las Ramblas — the city’s main boulevard — so empty. Shop and restaurant owners stood on the street, urging the few customers to enter.
After flying back to the US 2 days later, Peggy quarantined herself. “Who knows?” she wondered.
Pilots are exempt from longer isolation rules, however — and none were in place then anyway — so on March 7 she left JFK for Paris. The trip from Charles de Gaulle to the downtown airport usually takes an hour. This time, it was 18 minutes.
American Airlines encouraged the crew not to eat in restaurants, but rather buy food and bring it back to the hotel.
On March 9 she flew back to New York.
Peggy’s third trip was March 12, again to Paris. On the 14th she flew back to JFK. As she landed, she was told the plane would be met by the CDC. She was instructed to tell passengers to remain seated. Everyone would be tested.
Her flight was the first to arrive in the US after the travel ban. Port Authority police, wearing masks, met the plane. They waited 40 minutes for CDC officials. Wearing plastic visors, they handed forms to fill out. They told everyone to self-quarantine.
One at a time, passengers exited the aircraft. Each had their temperature taken. Another official wrote down the results.
It took 70 minutes to unload the entire plane, which was not even full.
On March 15 — Sunday — Peggy made her 3rd trip to Paris this month. Normally, she says, there are many flying “tracks” — routes — over the Atlantic. This time, there were only 3.
There was none of the usual chatter among pilots, because “there was nobody out there.” When she landed at Charles de Gaulle, she saw no other planes.
In the city she found just one small spot to eat in the normally bustling hotel; it served only coffee and pre-made salads. There were long lines at grocery stores. Shelves were bare. She finally found a bit of pasta to bring back to microwave.
On Monday, Peggy watched French president Emmanuel Macron address the nation. He told his citizens they had to face the virus like a war. She was impressed with his words and actions.
By the time Peggy arrived back at JFK yesterday, the CDC and Port Authority had a better grasp of handling international flights. Passengers came off in groups of 10.
Planes are usually full this time of year, Peggy says. Her aircraft holds 272 people. Yesterday, there were 206. Many were American Airlines personnel.
That was Peggy’s last transatlantic flight for a long time. Her March 28 trip has been canceled. She’s scheduled now domestically: Dallas, Los Angeles and the like.
Her airline will offer leaves — some paid, some unpaid. They’ve already stopped hiring.
“Everything changed in a week and half,” Peggy says.
Fortunately, no one on any of her flights appeared to be ill. She is happy too to see people in Westport taking the coronavirus seriously.
Peggy hopes our nation — and town — have learned from the experiences of other countries.
“Think of this virus as if you already have it,” Peggy says. “Live your life that way. Don’t give it to anyone else. Change the way you live.”
She already has.
Her 88-year-old mother lives in Westport too. These days when Peggy visits, she waves at her mom through a window.
(For a 2015 story on Peggy Lehn and her career, click here.)
The debate over tolls on Connecticut highways is far from over.
If we ever get them — for all vehicles, trucks only, whatever — they will be the modern, E-ZPass transponder type.
They won’t look anything like the old toll booths that jammed up traffic every few miles on I-95. There was one on the Westport-Norwalk line, just west of Exit 17.
They certainly won’t look anything like the rustic toll booths on the Merritt Parkway.
And they definitely will look nothing like the tollbooth that once stood on the east side of the Post Road bridge, in downtown Westport.
Yes, that really was a thing. The tollbooth was no longer operative, in this 1930s postcard from the collection of Jack Whittle. But at one point — decades (centuries?) earlier — people ponied up to cross the bridge.