Category Archives: Transportation

Pic Of The Day #1378

Train streaks through Westport (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Roundup: Real Estate, Burying Hill, Bridgewater, More


Just how hot was last year’s real estate market?

COVID-19 pushed the number of single-family home sales to a record 639. That compares to 356 the previous year.

Including condos, there were 688 residential transactions in 2020. The year prior: 389.

It wasn’t just volume that soared. Check out the MLS graph below, showing the dollar volume of closed sales over the past 3 years. Westport is in blue; Weston is green, Fairfield yellow, Wilton red.

Westport’s median sales price in December was $1,399,000. (Hat tips: KMS Partners and Chuck Greenlee)


Remember the November photo of the driver who zoomed past the fence and up the hill at Burying Hill Beach, parked at the top and admired the view of Long Island Sound?

Either she inspired a copycat. Or — just like the US Capitol on Wednesday — it is now okay to breach every normally accepted rule of behavior that has governed us forever.

Rusty Ford spotted this yesterday. And no, it’s not the same car at all.

(Photo/Rusty Ford)


Looking for a job?

Bridgewater Associates is looking for an executive chef.

The Westport-based world’s largest hedge fund ran a classified ad in the current Westport News.

The chef will provide catering services for executive-level meals and VIP meetings — over 150 business and social events annual, from small breakfasts to parties for more than 100.

But he or she won’t be stuck in the firm’s 2 offices here (Weston Road and Nyala Farm). Some of the cooking will be done on the VIP yacht.

The ad explains: “International sailing catering services include … creating menus for daily fare and social events; and procuring necessary culinary supplies in ports of call around the world for extensive travel time on the water. Travel to various unanticipated locations domestically and internationally, including onboard VIP yacht, is required.”

Interested? Send your resume to bw_talentacquisition@bwater.com, or mail to Bridgewater Associates, 1 Glendinning Place, Westport, CT 06880. Don’t forget the job code: BW55.

Bridgewater’s new executive chef will not be stuck at Westport headquarters.


Westport is a Transportation Leader.

That’s the official title. Our Department of Human Resources received the silver award for our CTrides 2021 Transportation Leaders program.

Earning Transportation Leader status requires an annual commitment by town government to work with CTrides to educate, encourage and incentivize employees to use greener modes.

Westport was recognized for providing commuting and CTrides information to all employees, establishing a telework and flexible work schedule program, and access to electric vehicle chargers at Town Hall.

1st Selectman cited interim Transit District director and RTM Transit Committee member Peter Gold for his support in receiving the award.


And finally … happy 80th birthday to singer/songwriter/activist Joan Baez!

 

 

Pic Of The Day #1361

Greens Farms train station (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Roundup: Colonial Green, Home Movie, Tutors, More


Unless you have business with one of the tenants at Colonial Green — an eclectic mix including attorneys, CPAs, and the offices of CLASP and Newman’s Own — there’s no reason most Westporters would ever see the lobby at 246 Post Road East.

What a shame. Its walls are lined with local history. There’s a great collection of large photos and old postcards, with intriguing text. They tell wonderful stories of Westport’s first library, National Hall, a spectacular hotel on Beachside Avenue, and more.

And who knew the Cribari Bridge was once painted red?

Thanks to Eve Potts, for this fascinating find!


Home Movie is a dark comedy about a wounded family’s struggles with death, deception and general mania.

Jarret Liotta — a longtime Westporter, and Staples High School graduate — filmed it entirely in Westport.

The title also refers to the help he got from many local people and groups, like the Westport Woman’s Club, Senior Center, Police Department, Kaia Yoga, Gold’s Deli, even Harding Funeral Home.

On January 7 (7 p.m.), Miggs Burroughs will host a live (virtual) Q-and-A with Liotta. Everyone registering for the event through the Westport Library (click here) will receive a link to view the film any time the week before the event.

Liotta — a noted writer, photographer and video producer — is also a filmmaker. He says his first film, How Clean is My Laundry, “received moderate acclaim but wasn’t very good.” His second, The Acting Bug, “was much better, but no one saw it.”

His current project is a comedy exploring racism and gun violence (!). It will filmed entirely in Westport.

Jarret Liotta


Top Hat Tutors — the Staples High School juniors and seniors who charge less than adult competitors, but deliver quality with a teenage vibe — is starting the new year right.

Now through March, they’re offering their services free, to low income families and students on tight budgets. The offer is available every other Friday and Saturday, between 2 nd 5 p.m. There is a limit of 5 students per time slot.

Top Hat tutors cover math, science, language arts, social studies and standardized testing prep, for all age students.

Click here for the special free tutoring service.  Click here for the Top Hat Tutors home page.


And finally … on this date in 1845, Texas became the 28th U.S. state. It had been an independent republic since 1836.

 

 

Pic Of The Day #1351

Train station marsh (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

A Holiday Pause

After a slow start, for the past few days this COVID holiday shopping season seemed as crowded as any other.

Today, with Christmas at home and dreary weather, the streets were deserted.

We haven’t seen the Post Road this empty this since the first days of the pandemic.

(Photo/Carolanne Curry)

Tomorrow, it’s back to the new normal.

Main Street Madness

Every once in a while, a driver heading south on Main Street — past Rye Ridge Deli on the right, and Brooks Corner on the left — will ignore the several large “One Way/Do Not Enter” signs.

And the oncoming traffic. And two rows of parked cars, one on either side of the street, all facing the same way.

It happens.

When it does, the wrong-way driver will get all embarrassed and shame-faced. Then, v-e-r-y s-lo-w-l-y, she (or he!) will slowly back up.

But not yesterday.

When surprised motorists and pedestrians informed this driver that he (or she!) was headed the wrong way, they* kept right on going.

And backed right into a vacant parking spot.

I have no idea what happened later. Did the driver leave the same way it came?

Or just keep going to the Post Road?

*It’s now proper usage.

Roundup: Food Drive, All-American, More


Two important organizations (Homes with Hope and the Norwalk NAACP) will benefit from a drive sponsored by 2 important department (Westport Police and Human Services), and an important business (Mental Grit Fitness).

This Friday (December 18, 12 noon to 4:30 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot), you can drop off non-perishable foods, toiletries and cleaning supplies.

You can help another way too: by volunteering at the drive. Click here to sign up.


Congratulations, Autumn Smith! The Staples High School senior soccer player has been named to United Soccer Coaches’ All-America team.

She scored 38 goals, and added 49 assists, in her stellar career (shortened this year by COVID). Due to the coronavirus too, there will not be an actual awards ceremony as in previous years.

That hardly diminishes Autumn’s accomplishment though. Well done!

Autumn Smith


Dan Hoffman writes about a pet peeve:

“When I make a local phone call with a 203 area code, I try to guess whether I need to use a prefix of ‘1’ or not.

“When I’m wrong, a program tells me either I need to use a 1 or I don’t need to use a 1.

“If the phone system knows the answer, why does it make me redial instead of just putting the call through? Always drives me nuts.”


They don’t call it JoyRide for nothing.

A new app — JoyRideGO — brings the popular Westport-based fitness community’s joy and energy to cyberspace.

It features on-demand and live fitness class to enJoy (ho ho) anywhere, any time. They include the signature JoyRide cycle classes; popular JoyX Strength, Pilates, barre and yoga classes, and hybrids like Cycle + Strength, Cycle + Pilates, Abs + Arms, and Abs + Glutes. All are taught by JoyRide instructors.

Classes range from 15 to 50 minutes. A 14-day free trial is available on the App Store and Google Play. Questions? Email joyridego@joyridestudio.com.


No one likes waiting in traffic.

Unless you’re by Playhouse Square, in front of Winslow Park Animal Hospital.

They always manage to amuse drives. Here’s their latest holiday tableau.

PS: Enjoy it now. Tomorrow it may be covered by snow.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Speaking of traffic: How’s this for a great photo of Westport’s worst intersection?

Taken this way by Rowene Weems, it looks almost magical.

(Photo/Rowene Weems)


As COVID cases rise, the Pequot in Southport — Westporters’ 2nd favorite library — has temporarily suspended browsing hours. Curbside pickup is still available.

The Pequot Library.

And finally … in honor of today:

Roundup: Sophie’s Rock, Kids’ Masks, Slow Down!, More


Sophia Grace was loving, sweet, courageous and radiant.

She was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare and debilitating genetic disorder. She died just after her 1st birthday.

In her memory, Sophia’s Hope raises awareness of the disease, as well as funds to cure it. As part of its education campaign, people paint a fun, cheery design on a rock; they print a message on it, then place it somewhere people will see it. They also spread the message (with the tag @sophias.eb.hope) on social media.

Sophia was the daughter of Westport Public Schools employee Tricia Lash’s friend and coworker. Tricia has painted this rock, and “hidden” it downtown.

If you see it, you’ll know the story.

But whether you find the rock or not, you can click here to help Sophia’s Hope.

(Photo/Tricia Lash)


As the weather cools, most Westporters crank the heat. But what if you can’t?

The town’s Department of Human Services’ “Warm-Up Fund” helps needy residents heat their homes.

It’s an ongoing problem. Last year, donations helped over 250 residents warm their homes during a relatively mild winter.

This year — who knows?

“The winter will be particularly challenging for households facing unstable employment, food insecurity, and financial vulnerability,” says DHS finance manager Susan Stefenson.

“Unfortunately, the number of households in need is growing due to the pandemic.”

The Westport Warm-Up program is funded entirely by donations. Recipients must be Westport residents, and demonstrate financial need.

Tax-deductible gifts are accepted online (click here) or by mail: Westport Warm-Up Fund, Department of Human Services, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport CT 06880.

For more information or to request assistance, email humansrv@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-1050.


Today’s Wall Street Journal features 4 kids, describing their “darnedest masks.”

One is Westport’s own Charlie Diamond.

Charlie describes a Star Wars mask, with comfortable ears and ships. Much better than those basic blue ones we adults wear! (Hat tip: John Karrel)


We see these little guys all over town — in parking lotscul-de-sacs and driveways.

“Slow down!” they warn. “Kids at play!”

This one at Staples High School met an untimely end.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Hey — at least it’s plastic. Not flesh and bones.

Slow down!


And finally … Sam Cooke was murdered 56 years ago yesterday. The gospel-turned-soul singer with the other-worldly voice — an important influence on the likes of Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Billy Preston — was just 32 years old.

Unsung Heroes #169

As Marty Fox and Patsy Cimarosa step down as directors of the Westport Transit District, Peter Gold steps up to nominate them as Unsung Heroes of the Week. Last week, he addressed his fellow RTM members:

I want to thank Marty and Patsy for their many years of dedicated service to the Westport Transit District.

Marty Fox (Photo/Ellen Graff)

When I first approached Marty about serving as a director almost 5 years ago, he foolishly believed me when I said the job would not be too time consuming. He signed on for an initial 4-year hitch.

Patsy, the former executive director of the Westport Housing Authority, also signed on, with a primary concern for protecting the Transit District’s door-to-door services for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Together they put in untold hours over the past 4 1/2 years, overseeing the normal day-to-day operation of the Transit System, developing annual budgets and shepherding them through the approval process, setting a high bar with their many accomplishments on behalf of the Transit District and the town.

Here is a list of only a few of their many accomplishments:

  • They changed the process of dispatching vehicles for door-to-door service within Westport, achieving savings of $100,000 per year.

 

  • They worked with the Norwalk Transit District, which operates the buses for the Westport Transit District, to develop better financial information and ridership reports for analysis and decision-making.

 

  • They completed 2 Transit District townwide surveys, which achieved high participation rates of 1,500 and 1,700 responses and provided valuable information on citizen attitudes, awareness of the Transit District’s services, demographics and train usage information

  • They worked with Human Services to evaluate alternative delivery models for door-to-door services. As part of this effort, they developed two RFPs and then evaluated the responses. This process showed that continuation of the current arrangements with Norwalk Transit District is best for Westport

 

  • Implemented the myStop app which allowed riders to track locations of shuttles, and developed instructions for using the app tailored to Westport residents.

 

  • They successfully applied for continuation of a state matching grant program for door-to-door services in Westport, resulting in $31,600 in annual grants for 2017, ’18, ’19 and ’20.

 

  • Worked with other groups in 2017 to ascertain the density of people around WTD routes, and unserved or underserved areas of town. This analysis confirmed that the Transit District’s fixed route structure was reasonable, given the available resources. The area served by commuter shuttles has recently been expanded to nearly the entire town, with the recent change from the fixed route system to the new Wheels2U Westport micro-transit model.

 

  • Worked with Rob Feakins, an award-winning advertising executive, to develop several comprehensive integrated marketing programs promoting the WTD, the myStop app, and most recently the new micro-transit system. The programs consisted of emails to railroad parking permit holders, people on the permit waiting list, and Parks & Rec email lists, cards and posters at train stations, Saugatuck coffee shops, the library, real estate agencies and other locations in town, and ads in the Chamber of Commerce directory and on WesrtportNow.com.  .

 

  • Most recently and most significantly, they developed and rolled out the new Wheels2U micro-transit program. It changes the old, fixed route system of commuter shuttles to an on-demand, door-to-train platform service covering nearly the entire town and more trains during peak commuting hours than the fixed route system it replaces. Since the Wheels2U vehicles travel only where commuters need to go it will be more environmentally friendly, result in shorter commutes to and from the station for many commuters, and lower operating costs for the WTD.

 

Patsy Cimarosa

As the end of their terms approached last January, with no new directors to take their places as COVID descended on us all, Marty and Patsy graciously agreed to stay on to continue to supervise the rollout of Wheels2U. Now that Wheels2U has been successfully launched, they want to finally move on.

I’ve worked closely with Marty and Patsy over the past 4 1/2 years. It has been a true pleasure to watch their professionalism, skill and devotion to their tasks.

Congratulations, Marty and Patty. You are true heroes — to commuters, and everyone else in town!