Category Archives: Transportation

3rd Time’s The Charm

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce hopes for good weather this Sunday — the new date for the twice-postponed Dog Festival.

Hundreds of dog owners (and their dogs) hope so too.

In just 3 years, the event has become one of the most popular on our town’s busy calendar.

On tap at Winslow Park (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.): agility and training demonstrations, goofy competitions (including best dressed, best kisser, best trick and the dog that looks most like its owner), food trucks, plus children’s activities like caricaturists and face painters.

Parking is available at the Westport Country Playhouse. The entrance fee is $10 per person, $25 for a family of 4.

Dogs are free.

Two days later — on Tuesday, June 26 (5:30 to 8:30 p.m.) — the Chamber kicks off its 2nd year of “Tuesdays @ the Train.”

Held at Luciano Park adjacent to the Saugatuck station, it’s a fun way to unwind after work. Stroll off the train (or meet your commuter spouse or friend), then stay for live music, food, beer and wine, and games for all ages.

It’s the first of 3 train Tuesday’s this summer. The others come every 3 weeks: July 17 and August 7.

The Chamber has created another great event. The first, second and third will all be charms.

Pics Of The Day #427

One view of the I-95 bridge on the Saugatuck River … (Photo/Amy Lamb)

… and another. (Photo/Ashley Skatoff)

Another Closing: Commuter Coffee

Commuter Coffee — for over 4 decades, a quick stop across from the train station — serves its last breakfast (and coffee) today.

Owner Fred Whelan was too busy with his final customers to speak with “06880.” But an employee said another restaurant may eventually fill the Railroad Place space.

Commuter Coffee was started by Thomas Papan — Whelan’s father — in 1976.

(Hat tip: Ben Sturner)

Guilty!

(Photo/Kelley Spearen)

Yes, this is a handicap spot outside Fresh Market.

No, there was no handicap placard on the rear view mirror or dash.

Yes, this was the way the car was parked — for at least 15 minutes.

Yes, that certainly is an ironic license plate.

Pic Of The Day #407

Westport train station (Betsy P. Kahn)

Most Entitled Parking Ever?

Sometimes, “06880” readers find a way to excuse an “entitled parking” photo.

The brake slipped. There was no one else nearby. It was raining.

I can’t imagine any way anyone can defend this parking job though, in Colonial Green.

It’s deliberate. It’s aggressive.

(Photo/Breno Donatti)

And — of course — there was no handicap permit.

Dawn Henry’s Cross-Country Ride To Environmental Activism

Two years ago, Dawn Henry bought a Tesla.

It was not to save the planet. “I just thought it looked cool,” she admits.

The Westporter was a successful marketing executive. She’d spent 12 years working with Diageo. Now she was a sought-after consultant.

Environmental concerns were off her radar. “I vaguely knew about climate change,” she says. “But I wasn’t paying much attention.”

Dawn Henry

She flew to California to pick up the electric car, then drove it home. At nearly every charging station along the way, she chatted with people who were interested in renewable energy.

There were, for example, 2 solar installers from Germany. They talked for 45 minutes. Dawn learned a lot.

Back home, she watched documentaries and read about climate change. She realized that the effects will not be “300 years from now. It’s happening today.”

The 2016 election galvanized her. “What Scott Pruitt is doing to the EPA, the fossil fuel money that’s going into politics — our government is moving backwards,” she says.

She joined national organizations. She went to conferences, and got trained as an advocate.

She lobbied Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, and Congressman Jim Himes. “They’re great on the environment,” she says. “But I realized there’s not a lot that’s going to happen nationally. It’s more on the local level.”

Dawn Henry and her son Charles at the Climate March in Washington, DC, in April 2017.

She took the Climate Reality Project course in Seattle. The brainchild of Al Gore, it was “amazing,” she says. Back home, she made presentations at the United Methodist Church, the Fairfield Senior Center and Fairfield University. Soon, she’ll speak at the Westport Senior Center and Bartlett Arboretum.

Dawn joined the board of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Westport’s Green Task Force and the Electric Car Club.

“It’s hands-on. You can see results,” she says of the community organizations. “Energy, waste, water, conservation — they’re all important.”

So how does Dawn assess our town’s awareness of and commitment to environmental concerns?

“We’ve got good history and momentum,” she says. “There’s Net Zero” — the goal is to be fully sustainable by 2050. “The plastic bag ban. And we’re expanding our EV charging stations.”

Dawn Henry presenting at Indivisible’s ICT4 “Evening of Action” at the Unitarian Church last month.

Through her involvement in environmental issues, Dawn says, she has met “so many great people, in Town Hall and around town, I’d never have known.”

But, she notes, she and her fellow activists have “way more ideas and ambitions than we have hands to do them.” She invites anyone interested in helping to contact her (dawn@henrystrategy.com).

If you want, she’ll show you her Tesla.

It is pretty cool.

Wrong Way, Myrtle!

At first glance, there’s nothing wrong with this photo:

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

But look closely. The car is cruising the wrong way down the 1-way stretch of Myrtle Avenue, between Avery Place and Main Street.

After never in my life seeing that happen, I spotted it twice in 2 days recently. Alert “06880” reader/photographer JP Vellotti saw it too — a different time — and snapped this photo.

Then yesterday evening — while standing with 100 or so people outside the Westport Historical Society, at the opening of the (fantastic) new exhibit on our town’s African-American past — we all watched another car zip past Town Hall, headed the wrong way. (For good measure, it blew past the stop sign at Avery Place.)

I have no clue why there’s this sudden epidemic of driver cluelessness.

But it gives me a chance to ask a question I’ve thought about for years:

Why is Myrtle Avenue 1-way in front of Town Hall?

There’s no logical reason. The road is wide enough for 2-way traffic (if there’s no parking on the street next to the stone wall). It’s a waste of time — and a teeny bit of gas — to send people leaving Town Hall on a 180-degree loop from Main Street to Avery Place, just to go south on Myrtle toward the Post Road.

With 2 traffic lights on the way.

I know why Myrtle Avenue is one way at the Main Street/North Kings Highway light. There’s not a lot of room there, and traffic from Myrtle heads left, straight and right. All I’m talking about is 2-way traffic from the Town Hall exit, back toward Avery Place.

If someone has a good argument for keeping Myrtle Avenue 1-way, I’d love to hear it.

Otherwise, let’s make this little-but-big change now!

Traffic coming out of Town Hall should be able to turn left as well as right — right? (Photo/Alison Patton)

Pic Of The Day #374

Who doesn’t love Westport Wash & Wax? But someone should tell them that no one has retractable radio antennas anymore — or “car phones.” (Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

Electric Car Club Charges Ahead

Westporters own 266 electric vehicles. That’s the 3rd highest number in Connecticut. Greenwich leads, with 511.

But — at 1% of our total registered vehicles — we do rank first in the largest number of EVs per capita. That’s 3.5 times the statewide average.

Those are a few of the interesting facts to come from the Connecticut EV Club. That’s the new name for the Westport Electric Car Club. As EV popularity rises — there are 35% more plug-in vehicles in the state than a year ago — the local organization is growing too.

Robin Tauck (center) lent selectmen Jim Marpe and Avi Kaner (left) her 2 electric vehicles at an Electric Car rally. Kaner liked driving it so much, he bought this Tesla P85D model. On the right is former Westport Electric Car Club president Leo Cirino.

Bruce Becker is taking over from founder and longtime president Leo Cirino.

Other changes include partnerships with groups like the Acadia Center and Lime Rock Historic Festival, plus conversations with state transportation and energy officials.

One upcoming initiative: lobbying legislators to change the law prohibiting Tesla from selling directly to customers. (Connecticut allows cars to be purchased only through independent dealerships. Tesla sells direct from the manufacturer.)

State residents have reserved over 3,000 Model 3s — Tesla’s highly anticipated $35,000 vehicle. Club officer Barry Kresch estimates that 250 to 300 of those are in Westport.

So — despite the club’s name change —  our town will continue to have an outsize influence on statewide EV policy and affairs. “This is an environmental-thinking place,” Kresch says. “Its leaders are very green-conscious.”

And, he says, with 20 or so public charging stations — including both train stations, the library and Staples High School — Westport’s commitment to electric vehicles remains strong.

(For more information on the Connecticut EV Club click here.)

Electric vehicles lined up by the Staples charging stations (from left): Chevy Bolt, Tesla S, VW, Tesla X, Nissan Leaf.