Category Archives: Transportation

[UPDATE] Friday Flashback #234

A Friday Flashback in December showed a very cool magazine ad from 1964: a Pontiac Bonneville parked in the driveway by Chez Pierre (more recently, Tavern on Main).

Mark Mellor — whose dad was a noted illustrator, and whose stepmother Shirley Mellor owned Max’s Art Supplies — said the ad was drawn by Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman, top car artists of the 1960s and ’70s.

Elaine Marino found 2 more examples of their work. These were done using the small shopping center just north of Parker Harding Plaza.

Today’s it’s primarily offices. But back in the days of muscle cars, it was home to thriving shops like Pack Roads, a men’s store.

Of course just like in 2021, people parked wherever they wanted.

BONUS FEATURE: Native Westporter Peter Barlow sent along this wonderful photo he took of Pack Roads from the same time.

(Photo/Peter Barlow)

RTM March Meeting: Sidewalks And Schools

This is Peter Gold’s report on the March Representative Town Meeting. He is an RTM member writing for himself, not in an official capacity.

Schools and sidewalks — including sidewalks to schools — were the subject of the March RTM meeting.

The RTM unanimously approved $467,927 for design costs for new roofs at Staples High School and Saugatuck Elementary Schools (actual construction costs will) follow, and $280,364 to install a replacement cooling tower at Greens Farms School. These projects will be completed this summer.

During the debate, school administrators noted they have identified approximately $60 million in capital projects over the next 5 years. Around $12 million will be spent on these projects in the next 2 years, in part to address deferred maintenance.

The RTM also approved $515,000 for 2 sidewalk projects. $350,000 will be used to replace 1.3 miles of the existing sidewalk on North Avenue from Cross Highway up to Coleytown Middle School, completing a walking path all the way from Long Lots School to Coleytown.

Construction last summer of the North Avenue sidewalk. (Photo/Michael Fleming)

The remaining $165,000 is for replacement of the existing sidewalk on Maple Avenue South, between Clapboard Hill Road and the Post Road.  The state will reimburse the town $128,295 of this amount. Both projects are expected to be completed over the next 2 summers.

The Town has 23.4 miles of sidewalk, and repairs about 6.3 miles every year.  Decisions on which sidewalks to repair are based on many factors, including proximity to schools, conditions of the sidewalks and pedestrian use. The town also prioritizes repairing existing sidewalks over building new ones.

Several RTM members suggested it would be prudent to fund a more proactive approach to planning, building and maintaining the sidewalk network.

Roundup: Vaccine, Joe Duffy, Wheels2U …

===============================================

Yesterday’s vaccine clinic in the Staples High School fieldhouse was a rousing success.

Over 500 educators from Westport, Weston and the Easton/Redding district received doses. The health professionals were on top of their game; our Community Emergence Response Team kept things running smoothly. Next Wednesday’s clinic should cover the first dose for the rest of the school staff who want it.

A small part of the big fieldhouse.

======================================================

Speaking of the vaccine:

I was all set for my first dose at Stamford Hospital next Tuesday. But a pinched nerve in my back last week laid me up — and on prednisone.

I was warned to delay the vaccine until I’d been off it for a week. So yesterday — dreading the task — I went online for a new appointment.

The system was as agonizing as my back. Eventually I gave up and left voicemail on the VAMS system (877-918-2224). I was promised a call back.

My expectations were low. But sure enough, a few hours later a wonderful woman named Sierra called.

She won on top of her game. She was warm, efficient, even (dare I say it?) fun! She signed me up for Stamford’s Lord & Taylor parking lot March 20, and a 2nd does 4 weeks later.

Big props to Sierra, and the system. It’s not easy — but it works.

For great local vaccine info, join Facebook’s Westport Coronavirus Info group. It’s clear, updated often, and filled with facts.

======================================================

Within weeks, Westport Book Shop has established itself as the go-to place for the best in pre-owned novels, biographies, etc., etc., plus CDs and vinyl.

And art.

This month, Norm Siegel is featured at the Drew Friedman Art Place in the back of the Jesup Road spot.

Norm specializes in trompe l’oeil and photorealistic paintings. His paintings of famous and rare book editions are so realistic, you may try to turn the painted pages. Click here for a great interview with him.

Westport Book Shop — and the gallery — are open during new expanded hours: Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5.

Norm Siegel at the Drew Friedman Art Place.

==================================================

Today’s New York Times obituary of Joe Duffy notes that “his antiwar campaign for the United States Senate from Connecticut in 1970 galvanized a generation of campus liberals…. (He) later served as a cultural arbiter in the Carter and Clinton administrations and presided over two major universities.” He was 88.

It mentions one of his key supporters in his political campaigns — Westporter Paul Newman — and (though it does not note that she lived here too), his 1974 marriage to Anne Wexler. She ran his 1970 campaign, became an aide to President Carter, and then a prominent Washington political operative and lobbyist.

Click here for a look at Duffey’s fascinating life.

Joe Duffey and Paul Newman at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. (Photo courtesy of New York Times)

=======================================================

New posters and billboards at the Westport train station promote Wheels2U.

That’s our town’s on-demand, door-to-door, group ride service between homes and the station. Click here for information on fares, hours of operation and service areas.

======================================================

Positive Directions — Westport’s prevention and counseling center — is looking for a new executive director.

During COVID, the 49-year-old organization provided important mental health support to hundreds of residents. The prevention staff collaborated with town governments and other local partners, to help adolescents and families make healthy choices and decisions.

The search committee is looking for a leader with significant management experience and deep experience in the mental health. Resumes and cover letters are due by March 31 to: PositiveDirectionsEDSearch@gmail.com.

=======================================================

Don’t forget about Winfield Street Deli’s great “Giving Back” campaign. For every $20 check, the Post Road West coffee-and-more shop donates one meal to agencies that feed the needy.

Last year, they gave 6,000 meals. Their goal for 2021: 20,000. Stop by to help!

=======================================================

Dave Briggs’ fascinating InstagramLive discussions continue this afternoon (Thursday, March 4, 5:15).

His guest is Westport’s own Lindsay Czarniak. As “NFL on Fox sideline reporter Host of “The Athlete & The Artist,” she’s interviewed everyone from Brad Paisley and Danica Patrick to Alanis Morissette and (this week) Eddie Vedder. She’s also the wife of NBC’s Craig Melvin.

Search for @WestportMagazine on Instagram. Send questions any time by DM to @DaveBriggsTV.

=======================================================

“Seascapes” is the theme of George Billis Gallery’s new show. There’s a reception tomorrow (Friday, March 5) at the 166 Main Street space, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Check out these artists: Anthony Davis, Margery Gosnell-Qua, Glen Hacker, Georgia Nassikas, Richard Orient, Paul Schulenburg, Sheila Smallwood, Kenneth Templeton and Karen Woods.

“Penfield Swell” (Glenn Hacker, oil on canvas)

=======================================================

And finally … Bunny Wailer, the last surviving original member of the Wailers — died on Tuesday at a hospital in Jamaica. He was 73.

Bunny played percussion and harmonized. He may not have been as well known as his groupmates Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. But without Bunny, there would have been no Wailers.

Roundup: Outdoor Dining, P&Z Records, Food Drive …

================================================

Love outdoor dining? Think it’s too intrusive?

On Thursday, March 11, the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing. They’ll consider a text amendment that would continue outdoor dining for over 80 restaurants — which would otherwise expire March 31 — until further notice.

The text amendment would also be expanded to include certain retail businesses.

Click here for the full document. Click here for the retail portion

The March 11 meeting will be livestreamed at 6 p.m. on www.westportct.gov, Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.

Comments can be emailed before the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov, or during the meeting to PandZComments@westportct.gov. You can offer live testimony during the meeting if you request a link from maryyoung@westportct.gov by noon on March 11.

Romanacci’s Xpress was one of several Railroad Place restaurants with outdoor dining.

=======================================================

Speaking of the P&Z: Did you know that Westport has digitized its back-office land use permit process?

Users can search for and view records — free! — by clicking here. It even comes with a handy how-to tutorial:

=======================================================

The last Farmers’ Market of the winter is an important one.

On Thursday, March 11 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), the Market partners with Sustainable Westport to replenish 2 food pantries: Homes with Hope’s Gillespie Center, and  Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Both are running low.

Non-perishable items (canned goods, rice, beans, pasta, jams, sauces, etc.) can be dropped off at Farmers’ Market (Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Road).

It’s rare to see canned food at the Westport Farmers’ Market. A week from tomorrow, it will be a very lovely sight.

=======================================================

The other day, Positive Directions hosted Senator Chris Murphy, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

They joined Westport Human Services, Kids in Crisis, Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance, NAMI and Fairfield Public Schools for a discussion on behavioral health needs during COVID and beyond.

Senator Murphy heard ideas he’ll bring to Washington. Other leaders shared best practices. Click here to learn more.

======================================================

Seth Van Beever is a proud son of Saugatuck.

Actually, a proud great-great-grandson. His great-great-grandfather, James Barnes Sr., was the first tender for what is now called the William F. Cribari Bridge.

Seth has followed the debate over the 133-year-old bridge’s future closely. So when he saw a photo of an innovative solution — a road in the Netherlands goes under the water, so boats can sail above it — he thought of us.

(Photo courtesy of @alic3lik)

That’s thinking waaaaay outside the bridge — er, the box.

=======================================================

We dodged a bullet Monday.

High winds throughout Connecticut led to 18,000 power outages statewide. As of last night, there were still 4,600 Eversource customers without power.

Here in Westport, we had outages in only 3 scattered, small locations. As of last night, the only folks still without power here wee on Pheasant Lane, off Meeker Road.

=====================================================

Nancy Vener took this photo from Saugatuck Shores. Stony Point is on the left; Longshore, on the right.

But what’s that blue light? She said it showed up on several photos, at different heights. If you know, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Nancy Vener)

======================================================

Juanita Watson — a 30-year Westport Public Schools employee — died last Thursday. She most recently worked in Pupil Services.

Juanita Watson

======================================================

And finally … on this day in 1931, President Hoover signed a congressional act making “The Star Spangled Banner” our official national anthem.

For decades, it was sung the same way. During the 1968 World Series, our Weston neighbor Jose Feliciano broke tradition with this version.

The national anthem has never been the same.

 

Pics Of The Day #1415

Sherwood Mill Pond: 2 boats … (Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

… and 4 swans (John Richers)

Classic Westport Art For Sale

Longtime Westporter Martha Nachman is downsizing. She has a few items that might interest “06880” readers.

One is a nice Naiad Einsel framed poster of the Westport Schools Spring Art Show at Jesup Green.

She also has a number of Al Willmott’s small prints of Westport scenes.

Ned Dimes Marina (Don Willmott)

Church Lane (Don Willmott)

Many are in great shape. Some have stains.

]UPDATE: ALL THE PIECES HAVE BEEN SOLD!]

Saugatuck: Old Riverside Avenue (Don Willmott)

Greens Farms train station (Don Willmott)

 

Roundup: Historic Homes, Homes With Hope, DMV, More

=====================================================

The Historic District Commission meets on March 9 (7 p.m., Zoom). Among the agenda items, they’ll discuss demolition requests for 70 Compo Mill Cove.

From 1922 until his death in 2014, that was Allen Raymond’s home. A beloved civic volunteer who gave time, talent and money to Westport in countless ways, he paid a final visit there exactly a month before he died, age 91.

70 Compo Mill Cove

Also on the agenda are demolition requests for:

  • 10 Scofield Place
  • 32 Owenoke Park
  • 19 Old Orchard Road,

In addition, the Historic District Commission will be asked to approve:

  • An application for exterior repairs, new windows and siding at 18 Post Road West (National Hall), in a National Historic District
  • Eligibility for a Historic Residential Structures Special Permit for 188 Cross Highway
  • Exterior repairs at 39 Cross Highway, a local history property.

Click here for the full agenda, including log-in information and details for public comment.

=======================================================

Today is Giving Day. Homes with Hope — Westport’s wonderful supportive housing organization — is asking for help.

Just as they offer a variety of solutions — shelters, single-family homes, apartments and affordable housing, plus food and mentoring — there are several ways to support neighbors in need.

You can make a donation (click here).

You can post on social media, and ask your network to help.

You can create your own fundraiser too.

The tagline for Giving Day is “give where you live.” For people with nowhere to live, Homes with Hope can be life-saving.

=======================================================

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d type: Thank you, DMV.

When my driver’s license renewal came up, I was not one of the lucky thousands who can do it online. Dutifully, I made an appointment. And prepared for the worst.

But the pandemic has goosed the notoriously inefficient, user-unfriendly department into new ways of working.

And boy, do they work.

I drove to Norwalk. My temperature was checked; then I was checked in quickly. I got a number. Two minutes later, it was called.

The clerk — a Westporter! — was friendly and funny. The paperwork was quick; the photo was, well, a driver’s license photo. I thanked her, and headed home.

Total elapsed time, door to door: 39 minutes.

I’ve waited longer than that while talking with a DMV clerk at his window in the past.

Like I said: Thank you, DMV!

=====================================================

What have you been dying to ask superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice?

This afternoon at 3:15, you get your chance.

Just head to Instagram Live (@WestportMagazine), and fire away.

Can’t wait. You can DM your questions ahead of time: @DaveBriggsTV.

===================================================

During the pandemic, “CBS This Morning” has been honoring some of the 500,000 Americans who have died of COVID.

Tuesday’s show paid tribute to Sonny Fox. The longtime Weston resident — a legendary kids’ TV show host, among many other accomplishments — died last month, at 95.

Click here to view. (Hat tip: Larry Perlstein)

======================================================

And finally … today we celebrate 3 important holidays. February 25 is National Toast Day …

… and National Chili Day …

… and National Rubber Ducky Day.

Saugatuck Railroad Bridge: The Project No One Talks About

Everyone is talking about the William F. Cribari Bridge. It’s over 130 years old. Should it be renovated, or replaced?

No one is talking about the Saugatuck River railroad bridge. It’s 116 years old. It too is nearing the end of its useful life.

Metro-North railroad bridge, looking south toward Long Island Sound.

The Metro-North span is one of 8 movable train bridges in the state. If it is replaced by a fixed structure — a project that could cost $75 million — what will happen to businesses upriver, like marinas, that depend on it being opened?

And if it is unable to open, what does that mean for the equipment — tugboats, barges, piledrivers — needed to dredge the river?

Railroad bridge over the Saugatuck River. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Speaking of which: When will the river be dredged?

The last major work was done in the 1950s. Before and after, barges traveling to and from the Gault oil tanks (around the site of what is now Saugatuck Sweets) sometimes scraped the bottom of the river. Those barges, and tugboats accompanying them, helped maintain the river.

The Gault oil tanks on Riverside Avenue, between the Cribari Bridge (left) and the railroad bridge, were not environmentally healthy for the Saugatuck River. But barge and tugboat traffic helped prevent buildup of silt on the bottom.

First Selectwoman Diane Farrell turned down funding for a dredging project, more than 20 years ago. Since then, the addition of businesses like kayak rentals and the Saugatuck Rowing Club has spurred an increased demand for recreational opportunities.

There are signs near the Levitt Pavilion that the river is becoming unnavigable. If a navigable channel is dry at low tide, it will no longer be maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Saugatuck River is becoming unnavigable at times far south of the Pavilion. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

What will that do to the waterway that once drove commerce all the way from Saugatuck to downtown — and which figures prominently in plans for a revitalization of downtown, with ideas like docks and a floating restaurant?

The other day, the Army Corps took some river samples, tied to possible work on the railroad bridge. They’re likely to find contamination in the area of that span, and I-95. Decades of train travel, and cars and trucks driving on the nearby highway, must have had an impact on the river below.

The railroad and I-95 bridges. (Photo/Brandon Malin)

Westporters should consider — and be talking about — the futures of both the Saugatuck River from Long Island Sound up to the Post Road bridge, and the Saugatuck River railroad bridge near its mouth.

The Cribari Bridge is important. But its just one part of an entire marine and transportation ecosystem that impacts our entire town.

The Saugatuck River, near Rive Bistro (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Roundup: Cribari Bridge, Charlie Capalbo, WTF, More

=======================================================

1st Selectman Jim Marpe has issued a correction about the state Department of Transportation’s plans for the William F. Cribari Bridge. He says that deputy commissioner Mark Rolfe has not yet reached a final decision on the 5 alternatives under consideration.  In addition, the draft Environmental Assessment will not be released mid-March. It is at least a few months away.

Rolfe says, “The DOT seeks to continue the dialogue with stakeholders regarding this project. One potential solution is for the DOT to restore the existing bridge to a state of good repair and then transfer ownership of the bridge and a segment of Route 136 to the Town of Westport.”

Marpe noted that any DOT recommendation — when it occurs — will be subject to further review and approval.

William F. Cribari Bridge (Drone photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

=====================================================

Maple sugar and tree tapping. Kids’ cooking classes. How to raise a dog. The wonderful world of honeybees.

Those are  just some of the offerings at Wakeman Town Farm, in the weeks ahead. The sustainability center contains to sustain all of us, with programs and classes for every age. Click here for details.

=====================================================

Charlie Capalbo  — the 22-year-old Fairfield hockey player and grandson of Westport writer Ina Chadwick — has been diagnosed with leukemia.

The local Two Oh Three team is helping him, in his 3rd cancer battle.

The Westport-based firm has designed a line of products to raise both funds and awareness. Charlie has collaborated on the design process — a welcome distraction has he undergoes treatment.

The collection — #CapalboStrong — features products that help the community show Charlie that they’re all in this fight with him. Funds from products sold are assist Capalbo’s medical and travel expenses, while at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The collection was launched Sunday, to his network of friends. Hundreds of orders poured in. The Two Oh Three has now launched the custom designs on their full website.

Charlie says, “Seeing people ordering gear with my Capalbo Strong logo makes me feel connected to the outside world– like I know my army of friends and family are with me, even though I can’t see them now due to COVID-19. I’m so excited for this!”

“Our daily FaceTime calls with Charlie have been rewarding beyond words,” says Two Oh Three co-founder and Staples High School graduate Roscoe Brown.

“Constantly updating him on the number products we’ve sold helps remind him just how many people he has fighting along side him.”

Click here for the Two Oh Three #CapalboStrong Collection.

=======================================================

Bob Stefanowski lost his race for Connecticut governor in 2018. But he’s a winner now, promoting area restaurants during COVID with a series of “Let’s Save CT Restaurants” videos.

His latest features Winfield Street Coffee, with owner Breno Donatti. It was filmed at their Stamford location — not the Post Road West shop — but it’s worth a watch.

Breno talks about the many ways that — despite the pandemic — Winfield Street gives back to the community, from providing meals for the homeless to sponsoring a holiday toy drive.

Here’s the quick video. When you’re done watching, place an order!

======================================================

The Staples boys basketball team opened its home season yesterday with a victory over Westhill.

The only way to watch the win was on the livestream. Spectators are prohibited from gyms this winter, in all high school sports.

But the stands were “filled” — with fatheads. That’s the name for cardboard figures of fans. It’s a way to make the gym a little less lonely. It’s also a great fundraiser for the Staples Boys Basketball Association.

How many folks do you recognize in the photo below? Besides (of course) me — directly underneath the “E.”

(Photo/Dan Woog)

=======================================================

Christmas is long over. But Anthropologie’s giraffe remains penned in, between the store and Church Lane. Animal lovers, please help!

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

=======================================================

And finally … here’s wishing Ed Sheeran a “perfect” 30th birthday today.

 

Roundup: Pauli’s Bagels, St. Paddy’s Catering, Sybil’s List, More

======================================================

Bagels are back in the mini-strip mall next to Five Guys and a nail salon.

Bagel Maven closed last winter. The space is now filled by Pauli’s Deli & Bagels. It’s the second Pauli’s; the original is in Norwalk.

In addition to bagels and deli sandwiches, Pauli’s serves plenty of breakfast items, and coffee.

======================================================

Is it too early to think about St. Patrick’s Day?

Not if you’re a caterer.

Alison Milwe Grace — one of Fairfield County’s favorite chefs — has already planned her mid-March menu. She features tempting appetizers; corned beef and cabbage with roasted potatoes, roasted carrots and horseradish mustard, and Guinness Shepherd’s Pie.

For dessert: cupcakes with Irish cream frosting; Irish bread pudding with whiskey caramel sauce; Irish coffee crème brûlée, and Bailey’s chocolate mousse.

Of course, if it’s St. Paddy’s Day, Passover and Easter are not far behind.

Alison has menus for those too. Click here to see.

Alison Milwe Grace: catering, 2021-style.

======================================================

Carole Schweid appreciated a recent “06880” story about the law that business owners clear snow from their sidewalks.

But, she writes: “Riverside Barber Shop has done nothing to clear their sidewalks 

“It’s on the corner of Riverside, Treadwell and Saugatuck Avenues. There is nowhere to stand — except in the street.

“You cannot reach the button for the light to help cross the street, due to the snow. This is one of the most dangerous corners in Westport, where 3 busy streets merge.

“Every other business in the neighborhood — a place where people walk, due to the restaurants, etc. — has cleared their sidewalks.

“When I asked them to do something to make the corner safer by clearing a path, the woman who works there turned her back and walked away.”

The corner of Riverside, Treadwell and Saugatuck Avenues, at Riverside Barber Shop. (Photo/Carole Schweid)

=====================================================

For years, Westporters have relied on Sybil Steinberg’s curated reading list.

It’s never more needed than during a pandemic.

Now, the longtime Westporter — a contributing editor and former book review section editor for Publishers Weekly — returns with ideas for winter reading.

Click here for Sybil’s exclusive recommendations, courtesy of the Westport Library.

Or click below, for the video version:

=======================================================

Speaking of reading: Westport author Christian Hunter’s new book has just been published.

“Influence” is the story of a young woman’s journey from Venezuela to the United States, where she and her family come to grips with the disappearance of her father. Her mission is to find him, and become what she has always dreamed of: a celebrity.

Click below to learn more:

=======================================================

Among the approvals at Thursday’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting:

  • Conversion of the former Steinway piano store at 499 Post Road East (next to the fire station), to use by Bespoke Auto Hause for an automobile storage garage for privately owned cars.
  • Live music at Basso restaurant, on Jesup Road.

======================================================

And finally … Danny Ray died earlier this month in Georgia, at 85.

You may not have known his name. But if you saw James Brown perform, you probably saw “the hardest-working man in show business” being led away after putting everything into a song. Then he threw away his cape, returned to the stage, and gave the audience even more. Over and over again.

Danny Ray was that man. He was also the man who introduced the Godfather of Soul at his concerts.

When James Brown died in 2006, Danny Ray spoke at his funeral. “Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for star time?” he asked. Then he draped a cape over the open coffin.