Category Archives: Transportation

Pics Of The Day: Special Rain Clouds & Rainbow Edition

For the 2nd straight day, rain clouds gathered over Westport this afternoon …

(Photo/Stephanie Mastocciolo)

(Photo/Matt Murray)

(Photo/Katherine Ross)

… and then the rains came …

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

followed by (of course) a (double) rainbow!

(Photo/Seth Goltzer)

(Photo/Chris Tait)

(Photo/Janine Scotti)

(Photo/Jeanine Esposito)

Even I-95 looks great! (Photo/Seth Goltzer)

Roundup: Le Penguin; Bears; Racial Inequality; Mullett; More


This sad announcement was posted to social media yesterday:

“It is with enormous sadness that we must announce the closing of Le Penguin in Westport.

“We hope you have enjoyed our food, our staff, our style and our sense of humor. We, Anshu & Antoine, are very proud of what we created. We are very proud of the relationships we have made, of the numerous smiles of gratitude we received from satisfied customers. We thank you for sharing your lives with us. In the meantime, come see us at Le Penguin in Greenwich and Le Fat Poodle in Old Greenwich.” (Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)


There were several bear sightings yesterday, in the northern part of Westport. A bear cub and large young male bear were observed, acting normally.

According to the Westport Police Deparment, black bears are increasingly common in Connecticut. They note: “Bears have an incredible sense of smell.  To prevent luring them towards your property, secure your garbage in sturdy covered containers in a garage or outbuilding.

“Residents who compost should do so responsibly. Do not throw meat scraps or greasy, oily or sweet materials in your compost pile. Clean greasy grills after each use, refrain from leaving pet food outdoors, and remove bird feeders from your property for the summer. Keep your eye on pets and small children playing outside.

“Use caution and do not approach the bear. The mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal. If left alone and given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas. For more information on bears, click here.

In 2013, Cablevision News 12 aired this shot of a black bear in Westport.


If you’re like me, you would love a Long Island Sound sunset cruise. But you don’t own a boat.

No problem!

A generous Wakeman Town Farm supporter is offering a private excursion, as a fundraiser in these tough non-profit times.

The winner will enjoy “libations and lobster rolls” on a “luxe 43-foot Intrepid.”

Silent bidding is today only; it ends at midnight. The minimum bid is $350. Click here (or email wakemantownfarm@gmail.com). Include your name — and good luck!


JoyRide is a full-service spin studio.

Today (Tuesday, June 30, 5 p.m.), they host the first installment of their speaker series on racial inequality. It’s called “Teachers Raise Your Hands.”

Guests are Alli Frank and Asha Youmans, authors of Tiny Imperfections. The Black woman from Seattle and white woman from rural Washington use their stories from in and out of the classroom to encourage us all to actively seek out difference, and find our inner teacher.

Click here to register — and to ask questions of the authors.

Asha Youmans and Alli Frank.


Hey, Mullett fans!

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library are teaming up for the next Supper & Soul event (Saturday, July 11, 8 p.m.).

It’s a livestream concert with ’80s tribute band Mullet. They specialize in classic Van Halen, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Journey and Poison songs — and look the part.

“What a perfect opportunity to have some friends over for an 80’s hair metal party,” says Chamber director Matthew Mandell.

“This socially distant version of the popular Supper & Soul event supports local restaurants while giving everyone an entertaining evening.”

“Attendees” are encouraged to order takeout from local restaurants, and eat home for the show.

To find out more and to order tickets (just $10.80!) for Stay Home & Soul, click here.

Mullett


The deadline to renew railroad station parking permits is exxtended to July 15. Renewals can be done 4 ways: click here, by mail (50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880) or at the box outside Police Department headquarters.

People on the wait list are required to update their information annually. Use the link above.

For more information, click here. Questions? Call 203-341-6052.

Railroad station parking has not looked like this for a while.


And finally … The groundbreaking 1937 song “Strange Fruit” compares the victims of lynchings to the fruit of trees. It’s been recorded by artists ranging from Nina Simone and UB40 to Sioxsie and the Banshees, but Billie Holiday’s is perhaps the most famous.

Though her label, Columbia, refused to record it — fearful of the reaction of Southern record store owners and its own radio network, CBS — they allowed her to release it on the Commodore jazz label. It sold a million copies — more than any other Billie Holiday song.

However, the song helped cause her demise. It enraged the director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who used his men to frame her. Click here for details about the song, and what it meant to her and her career.

Pics Of The Day #1168

Flower power at Compo Beach … (Photo/Lee Scharfstein)

… and Saugatuck Shores (Photo/Les Dinkin)

Pic Of The Day #1164

Bears and a flag, at the Exxon station (Photo/Ed Simek)

Roundup: Rotary; Reactive Attachment Disorder; Rocks; More


A little pandemic can’t keep Westport’s Sunrise Rotary club down.

Every April, they do a volunteer clean-up in town. The lockdown postponed this year’s event. But yesterday the members were out in force, ridding the I-95 Exit 17 parking lot of trash.

It was just like old times. Except for the masks.


Westporters have been intrigued by a Ford Escort at the train station.

During the pandemic it sat for weeks in the same spot. Last week it finally vanished. Some folks were pleased because it seemed the driver was okay; others wondered if the car had been towed, because the driver was not okay.

Well, the Ford is back. But now I’ve got another question:

There are hundreds of empty spots in the lot. Why does he (or she) choose such a random place to park?

(Photo/Curtis Lueker)


Bridgewater got Paul Podolsky to Westport. The 1991 Brown University grad  liked the town so much, he moved here.

Five weeks ago — after more than 20 years with the firm — he retired. His goal is to write full time. Judging by his memoir — released today — he’s got another great career.

Raising a Thief is the powerful, insightful and searingly truthful story of the orphan girl Podolsky and his wife adopted from Russia. They imagined she’d blend in well with their son, and enjoy all the wonders of Westport.

But she suffered from Reactive Attachment Disorder — a condition in which a child who has suffered physical or emotional neglect or abuse cannot form a healthy emotional bond with new parents.

Sonya lies and steals. She has an eating disorder, and tries to jump out of a window.

It’s a difficult story to read. It must have been even harder to live through — and then write.

Yet, Podolsky notes, Bridgewater helped. “The culture is all about radical honesty. I was accustomed to that.”

Founder Ray Dallio says of the book: “I am passionage about understanding how people think, and why … This book offers an invaluable picture about how the earliest childhood experiences shape thinking. I recommend it for all parents.”

Podolsky’s wife became a therapist, and now treats struggling families. They — and anyone with an interest in the human condition — will appreciated Raising a Thief. 

As for Podolsky, his next book is fiction. It’s based on his work in international finance, specifically China and Russia.

For more information and to buy Raising a Thief, click here.

Paul Podolsky


They’re the gifts that keep on giving.

From the earliest days of the coronavirus, stones bearing uplifting messages have been spotted around town.

They’re at Grace Salmon Park. Outisde the police station. On Burying Hill Beach.

Yesterday, Lauri Weiser spotted this particularly pretty one. Rock on, Westport!


And finally … summer arrived yesterday. Of the squintillion summer songs, this Gershwin tune — and this Billy Stewart version — stands at the top.

Roundup: Governor Lamont; Dr. Jackson; Shel Silverstein; More


On Wednesday, Governor Ned Lamont spoke to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, by Zoom. He discussed a variety of topics, including (of course) business concerns, and took questions from listeneres. Click below to see his talk.


Parks and Recreation director Jen Fava says: “Based upon changes in the governor’s restrictions on gathering size and the Phase 2 reopening guidelines, athletic fields are now open to the general public unless a permit has been issued by the Parks and Recreation department.

“The department is working closely with local organizations like Westport Little League, Staples High School athletics, Continuing Education and others to ensure they have the proper protocols and self-certification in place to meet state requirements before permits are issued. This process is taking place for leagues as well as for other groups that utilize our facilities to run various clinics and summer programs.” 

All valid permits supersede general public use. Gathering size is limited to 100. PJ Romano (Saugatuck Elementary School) and Jinny Parker (Staples field hockey) fields remain closed for the summer due to construction.

Starting yesterday, the Longshore golf ldriving range and practice putting area are open as well. Driving range balls will be available at the ball machine only ($6 per basket). The machine accepts only $1 and $5 bills; exact change is required.

Starting Tuesday (June 23), an additional half hour of tee times will be available Mondays through Thursdays, starting at 7:30 a.m.

NOTE: Social distancing and face covering rules must be followed at all Westport Parks and Recreation facilities.

The Wakeman athletic fields are among those that have reopened.


Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson has an amazing story. She grew up in a tough New Haven neighborhood, developed her singing gift in church, walked to lessons at Yale, and is now an international opera star.

She has many ties to Westport. She has sung at the Unitarian Church, taught at Greens Farms Academy, spoken at the Arts Advisory Council’s “Tea Talk,” and been part of Beechwood’s Immersive Arts Salon.

Dr. Jackson has developed an inspiring one-woman show: “From The Hood To The Ivy League (and Back).” Tonight (Friday, June 19, 7 to 9 p.m.) — in honor of Juneteenth — she sings and performs that show, as part of Beechwood’s Amplify Festival. Click here for tonight’s Facebook Live stream.

Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson


With the Westport Library and Levitt Pavilion closed, it may be a while since you’ve been to the Riverwalk.

But the next time you’re at that beautiful, calm-in-the-midst-of-downtown spot, check out the Storybook Project.

Created by Anne Ferguson, with thanks to the library and Westport Parks & Recreation, it’s a series of 30 or so charmingly illustrated pages from Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving.”

Spaced appropriately more than 6 feet apart, the installation runs the length of the Riverwalk and garden. The pages recount the friendship and conversation between a small boy and a tree. Both lonely, they share their innermost thoughts.

The pages are attached to sticks in the ground, and the intervals encourage visitors onward to read each page as they walk. The black and white sketches are beautiful, and begin below the steps at the back of the library. (Hat tip: Jill Amadio)


This week’s #FridayFlowers can be found on the steps of Christ & Holy Trinity Church.

The beautiful arrangement was created by Dottie Fincher and Janet Wolgast, longtime Westport Garden Club members.


For months, the few people parking at or passing through the railroad station eastbound parking lot have seen a red Ford Escort, plunked in the middle of the lot. It never moved.

Folks were worried. What happened to the owner? Was he okay? A month ago, “06880” ran a photo.

Now, Wendy Cusick reports, the car is gone. Which brings up more questions: Did the owner finally return? Was it towed? Again: What about the driver?

If anyone knows, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)


Just published: About that Wine I Gave You: Dreams of Love, Life and Death in the Vineyard. The novel — about winemaking in San Diego, with themes of friendship, survival, love, aging, immigration, theology and racism — is the debut work of Craig Justice.

A 1977 graduate of Staples High School, he’s had a varied career. After Duke he interned with NATO; learned to speak French, German, Russian and Japanese; wrote for the International Herald Tribune; earned an MBA, and embarked on a career in the projector industry.

He and his wife began making wine in their California garage in 2004. They now have 1,000 vines.

Growing up here, Justice worked at Chez Pierre restaurant. The staff came from around the world, giving him an open-minded world view that he retains today.

Whenever he’s back east he heads to Westport. He walks on the beach, then heads to a coffee shop or library to write (when that’s allowed).

For more information — including how to order Justice’s book — click here.

Craig Justice


And finally … as Westport opens up, this seems like the perfect up-tempo tune. The next time you go inside for some java, think of Al Hirt.

Pic Of The Day #1154

Saugatuck River and I-95 bridge (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Roundup: Staples Art Show; BMW Security; More


Staples High School is out for the summer. But the astonishing artwork produced by students — before it was closed by COVID-19, and afterward during distance learning — lives on.

The art department’s website includes a gallery, a “virtual art show,” and news. It’s filled with art of all kinds: watercolor, charcoal, pen-and-ink, photography, jewelry, prints, murals, masks, pottery, graphic design and more. Click here for the link.

It’s well worth visiting. Just make sure you have plenty of time. There’s lots to enjoy, and be proud of.

The entrance to the “Virtual Art Show.”


On Friday, attendees at Staples’ drive-through graduation ceremony got their first glimpse of the high school’s new security vehicle.

It looks like a shiny new electric BMW.

But looks are not always what they seem. In fact, it’s used — a 2015 model. And Westport did not spend a penny on it.

The vehicle was donated by a citizen to the Westport Police Department, which in turn gifted it to the town. The value — according to Board of Selectmen minutes — is between $5,000 and $20,000.

Just remember that donation, the next time someone makes some comment about Westport’s school security officers riding around in BMWs, (Hat tip: Dr. Edward Paul)


And finally … It’s been nearly 3 weeks since George Floyd was killed, and 3 months since the coronavirus upended America. Bob Dylan is (once again) right.

Roundup: Cupcakes; Teens’ Filmmaking Camp; Teens Drive; More


A Westport family wants to honor Staples High School’s Class of 2020 graduates. Fortunately, they live along the route that seniors will take tomorrow, as they drive from Long Lots Elementary School to the ceremony.

They’ve baked enough nut-free cupcakes for every grad. They’ll give them away — masked and gloved! — at 36 Hyde Lane, right before the turn on to Long Lots Road.

Fresh Market, Stop & Shop, Garelick & Herbs and Planet Pizza generously donated all ingredients.

Each cupcake will have a tag with information on how to make a donation to Westport Human Services, to support local residents in need. It’s not required — but as this family pays it forward, it’s one way for our great new graduates to do the same.


National Geographic explorer and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Mick Davie‘s presentation at the Westport Library last winter was a smash.

Now he’s back — COVID-style. He’s organized a virtual filmmaking camp for teenagers. The focus is on personal storytelling.

The 5-week program includes 3 two-hour online workshops each week; personal 1-on-1 virtual sessions with Mick, and additional instruction on editing and technical issues with experts in film and TV.

Working in teams of 2 and 3, students will learn all aspects of filmmaking. Their finished product — a short documentary — will be uploaded to the Library’s YouTube channel.

This fall, the Library hosts a Film Festival. At that point — fingers crossed — they’ll all meet in person.

For information on the film-making camp, click hereBONUS NEWS: The library is also planning a camp for 4th-8th graders. Details will be announced soon.


Like many businesses, Fresh Green Light Driving School is reopening.

In addition to continuing to offer online classes all summer, they start limited in-car driving lessons on June 20.  

They’ll work through a 90-day backlog of canceled lessons. New students will begin online, then eventually hit the road.

Connecticut is certainly not Georgia. Earlier in the pandemic, the Peach State allowed teenagers to get a provisional permit without a road test. Yee-haw!


And finally … this is both great wisdom, and one of the greatest live performances of all time:

 

The Sidewalks Of Westport

With Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools closed, it may be a while since you’ve driven on North Avenue.

If you have, you’ve noticed construction underway on a new sidewalk. It parallels the old one, from Long Lots Road north to Cross Highway. But it’s closer to the road, with no grass strip in between.

The old sidewalk was separated from North Avenue by a grass strip …

What’s up with that? several readers wondered.

I asked Peter Ratkiewich. The Public Works director said the new sidewalk will be 5 feet wide, elevated above the road by a 6-inch concrete curb. For the most part, it will run along the edge of the road. In certain areas with obstructions, it will deviate from the road edge.

The old sidewalk — parts of which were over 30 years old — will be removed entirely. That area will be restored with topsoil and seed.

… while the new one will not be. (Photos/Michael Fleming)

The new construction will facilitate maintenance (including winter, when it must be plowed or shoveled).

This is the same method of construction used all over town. The North Avenue sidewalk will look very similar to the one on Imperial Avenue, built about 6 years ago and hailed by many residents.

North Avenue resident Michael Fleming is not pleased, however. He started a petition asking the town to retain the sidewalk buffers.

The Imperial Avenue sidewalk.

In other sidewalk news, Public Works has nearly completed a new sidewalk on Maple Avenue North. They’ll start the Myrtle Avenue project soon.

Ratkiewich is still waiting for word from the state on the Riverside Avenue reconstruction project. It will include some sidewalk replacement.

The Main Street sidewalk project has been submitted to the state for final review. He hopes to have that project underway before fall.

Next year, Ratkiewich hopes to rebuild the Hillspoint Road sidewalk from Old Mill Beach to Greens Farms Road, and the Compo Road South sidewalk from the Post Road to Bridge Street.

The North Avenue project was scheduled before COVID-19. And yes, the lack of traffic has made the work easier.