Category Archives: Westport life

Entitled Parking: The Main (Street) Event

In nearly 11 years of posting photos of spectacularly selfish, jaw-droppingly self-centered, stupefyingly entitled drivers, I thought I’d seen everything.

Silly me.

On Monday, this person — I would not call him or her a “driver,” because that implies some sentience — landed his or her Jeep here:

This takes your breath away.

The person crossed the yellow line. The person stopped, going the wrong way against traffic — in a “No Parking” zone.

The person took the keys, opened the door, and left.

Without even the decency to park close to the curb!

Don’t believe me? Here’s another view.

(Photos/Dr. Edward Paul)

I would like to say that no one can top this. The bar has been set astronomically high.

But this is “06880.”

Someone will.

The Mink Of Ford Road

Alert “06880” reader — and avid fisherman — David Ader writes:

I’m a recently retired, now former financial strategist, who has decided to fish until I get bored.

I’m not bored yet.

I like to fish along Ford Road because it’s convenient, beautiful, and there’s not too much garbage for me to clean up to keep the place neat.

David Ader’s favorite spot on Ford Road. Unlike many fishermen, he’s not afraid to give the location away.

For the last while, especially in the morning, I’ve fished beside a mink who keeps me company. The mink bounds along the shore, stops to stare at me in sort of an acknowledgement, and in contrast to the osprey, kingfisher and once in a while bald eagle, doesn’t compete for the trout I dutifully throw back when I catch, which is rare enough.

Today I was saddened to find this fine furry fellow squashed in the middle of Ford Road. That’s a bit gross, I admit, but there was something really lovely going on.

As I watched him from a rock near the bridge that leads to Bridgewater, I saw all the cars and trucks passing by slow down to give the mink wide berth. Some slowed to a real crawl to look at it. Others just went by, still with a sense of respect or at least curiosity.

A cyclist on a very expensive bike, wearing racing clothes, stopped and just stared by himself for a moment.

The mink, in the middle of the road. (Photos/David Ader)

I heard a story that may be apocryphal: Some years back, enviro-activists freed minks from a mink “ranch” somewhere in this county; the minks we encounter are descendants of those coats that never were.

It’s possible, though I imagine cage-raised minks couldn’t survive in the wild and that this one’s line runs back to the beginning, to Indian times surely.

A few months ago I was picking myself up from the bank, having slipped in the river under the eye of that mink, or a relative perhaps. I picked up a stone that was clearly made for some purpose by the original inhabitants.

I liked the mink for its own antics, but too like to think that he’s a holdover from Westport’s more ancient heritage.

I hope another one, or two, show up when the weather warms up.

Oh, I did catch a large rainbow trout as well.

[OPINION] Everyone Talks About Traffic. Now We Need To Do Something About It.

Last Saturday’s traffic was INSANE. In late afternoon, it took one “06880” reader half an hour to travel from McDonald’s to downtown. Another spent 40 minutes getting from the Post Road to the train station.

Side roads were no better. Cars backed up on Cross Highway from Weston Road all the way to Bayberry Lane.

This was a particularly bad Thanksgiving weekend mess. But more and more, it’s the norm.

An alert “06880” who asked to be identified as GS has had enough. He writes:

I’ve lived in town a long time. I’ve seen the traffic get worse and worse.

You can’t get from here to there anymore. I envision a not-too-distant future in which our property values go down, because traffic has become what Westport is best known for.

One familiar scene …

Anyone who was on the road last Saturday around 6 p.m. can attest: You could have gotten where you were going faster walking than driving.

Do you commute to and from New York by car? It used to be that once you got past Stamford, you were home free. Now you spend 20 minutes just between exits 40 and 41 on the Merritt.

If you’re on I-95 and get off at Exit 17,  you’re dead in the water. If you continue on to 18, there is a 5-minute backup on the exit ramp.

Heading from Cross Highway toward Exit 42 at the wrong time of day? That’s a joke. I could go on and on.

and another.

For starters, there has to be an immediate ban on development. More people equals more cars.

Then you have to systematically examine the traffic patterns of every intersection, and the timing of every light. Yes, I’m sorry, you will need to replace some of those stop signs with traffic lights.

A few traffic officers stationed in the right places at the right times of day would provide some relief.

We need a plan, and it has to start with limiting new buildings.

Maybe we need to form a special commission. Or perhaps appoint a traffic czar.

Whatever we decide, we have to do something. Traffic in Westport has reached a crucial point.

Happy Thanksgiving, 2019

In 1941, The Saturday Evening Post published Westport artist Stevan Dohanos’ Thanksgiving cover.

A few years later Dohanos produced this illustration, titled simply “Thanksgiving.” The house was a red gingerbread, at 55 Long Lots Road.

That home still stands — though it’s been remodeled. Much else has changed in Westport over the years too.

And much has not.

On this Thanksgiving Day 2019, “06880” wishes all our readers — in this zip code, or far away — a happy, healthy and heartfelt holiday.

As we count our blessings, I’ll start with this:

I am truly grateful for each and every reader. You make our community — online and off — one of the liveliest, most robust, most fulfilling and fun — on earth.

Great New Festival Shines A Light On Cribari Bridge

Westport is filled with holiday treats. But the lights on the Cribari Bridge outshine nearly every other winter wonder.

Ever since Al DiGuido and a crew of volunteers first hung hundreds of bulbs all over the historic span nearly 20 years ago, however, the actual lighting has been a low-key affair.

This year, there will be a very impressive ceremony.

No, it won’t rival the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center.

Ours will be better.

The William F. Cribari Bridge, in all its holiday glory. (Photo/JD Dworkow)

This Friday (November 29, 6:30 p.m.), Westporters are invited to the Saugatuck Rowing Club. There on the patio — with a perfect view of the Cribari Bridge — there’s hot cocoa, spiked cocoa, Saugatuck Sweets sundaes, Donut Crazy donuts, cookies, popcorn, a hot dog cart, live music, a cash bar and more.

The actual lighting takes place at 8 p.m. But the party lasts till 9:30.

Kids go free. It’s $20 for adults — but 100% of the proceeds benefit Al’s Angels. That’s the organization founded by bridge lighter (and Saugatuck Sweets owner) Al DiGuido. All funds help children and families battling cancer, rare blood diseases, natural disasters and severe financial hardships.

The Cribari Bridge lights were created as a symbol of hope for all in town.

Let’s hope there’s a huge turnout of angels on Friday, when Al turns on the lights.

(For tickets and more information on Saugatuck Rowing Club’s Bridge Lighting Festival, click here.)

Another view. (Photo/Joel Treisman)

 

To Catch A Thief

Earlier today, I posted a story about an epidemic in town: Citizens stealing signs advertising non-profit events.

I used a generic photo. Obviously, I did not have a handy image of someone caught in the act.

Now I do. Even better: It’s a video.

A Westport resident captured this scene, from a dashcam.

The view is from Church Street South, near the Post Road intersection.

The sign advertises — er, advertised — Bedford Theater Company’s production this weekend of “Bye Bye Birdie.”

It’s in 2 separate videos, because the dashcam records in 3-minute increments.

In the first, we see a man who has parked his silver SUV in the lot of the now-closed Mobil Self-Serve (right). He walks from right to left, toward the sign:

In the second, longer clip, he lifts up the sign and brings it back to his vehicle, on the right.

It’s easy to say, “No big deal. It’s only a sign.”

But when you see a neighbor of ours behaving like this — a grown man removing a sign for a middle school play — you have to wonder what kind of town we’re living in.

Did You Vote?

Yesterday was Election Day.

In mid-afternoon, Darcy Hicks posted this on Facebook:

I just drove a neighbor who needed a ride because she got home from surgery one hour before, and she wanted to get to the polls before her anesthetic wore off.

She was determined, as an American, a Vietnam veteran, and someone who took an oath to serve this country, to vote. I was so humbled and honored to meet her, and she made me so proud to be an American. If she can do it, shaky, in pain, so can you. Exercise your right to vote!

Lisa Alter soon added this:

The lovely Westport resident I drove to the polls this morning walked with a cane and some difficulty – and she managed to get there and vote. Please, everyone: Exercise your right to vote.

Turnout here yesterday — for an election that will help determine the future of our middle schools, redistricting, affordable housing, the vitality of downtown, taxes, and much more — was about 33%.

That’s right: One of you voted. Two others did not.

That’s embarrassing.

And shameful.

Here’s my two cents: If you were eligible to vote yesterday, but found some reason not to, you forfeit your right to criticize any political decision made in town for the next 2 years.

Elections have consequences. Every vote counts.

Did we count yours?

 

Is Halloween On Or Off? Check In Here!

Yesterday, town officials sent out a message about Halloween. They said:

Because trick-or-treating is not a town-sponsored event, the team agreed that it is best to leave the decision up to families and individual neighborhoods to change the night within their own neighborhood.

Makes sense. But at 10 a.m. — with rain coming down, and light rain and showers forecast for the rest of the day — how to decide?

“06880” rides to the rescue.

Click “Comments” below to weigh in: Trick or treat tonight? Tomorrow? Saturday? Some other solution?

“06880” won’t render an official verdict. As town officials noted, that’s up to Westport families and neighborhoods.

But at least you’ve got a forum now to debate, and come to a consensus.

Trick or treat!

Will Westporters trick-or-treat — or welcome guests — tonight? You decide! (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

Signing Up A Thief

Lawn signs — which really should be called “traffic island signs,” but that takes too long to say — are an easy, cost-effective way of advertising a political campaign, non-profit fundraiser, school play or sports tryouts.

Plenty of Westporters don’t like them. They clutter the landscape. Plus, many individuals and organizations ignore town regulations governing their placement and duration.

But one person really hates them. He (or she)* deliberately removed several signs from the North Avenue traffic circle at Long Lots Road. Others were taken from Bulkley Avenue and Greens Farms Road.

We can’t tell whether the vigilante took signs for non-profits, candidates, or both. All the evidence is gone.

Well,  not all. The metal frames remain.

The traffic circle at Long Lots and North Avenue.

That’s a deliberate act.

You can love the signs. You can hate them.

But you can’t take them.

And you sure can’t take them, leaving only the frames behind.

That just advertises you’re a jerk.

* Though for some reason I’d bet anything it’s a guy.

Thanksgiving Feast Is On The Marc

It’s one of Westport’s greatest traditions: the Community Thanksgiving Day Feast.

For decades, it’s happened organically. Members of the sponsoring Saugatuck Congregational Church — and many others — sign up to bring food, or help elsewhere. Over 200 people show up, alone and with families. There’s music, fellowship and fun.

Every year, many hands help create Westport’s Community Thanksgiving Feast.

Sometimes there are tweaks. Sign-up Genius now makes it easier to assign tasks. When a fire rendered Saugatuck Church unusable, Christ & Holy Trinity stepped into the breach.

Last year brought a big change. Marc Weber and Anthony Miami took over the turkeys.

Plus the stuffing, gravy, potatoes, salads, vegetables, desserts — everything about the meal from, well, soup to nuts.

They were not simply volunteers. Weber owns OnTheMarc Catering. Miami is executive chef of the Inn at Longshore.

These guys are pros.

Marc Weber

Five years ago Weber — a Culinary Institute of America graduate who began as a private chef, then grew his business to include clients like the Warehouse at FTC, Audubon Greenwich and Hudson Loft — partnered with the Longshore Inn.

He works all over Fairfield County, Westchester and New York City. But he lives in Westport.

And he wants to give back.

He’s on the board of an organization that helps local families find volunteer opportunities. At Longshore, he works with non-profits like Sunrise Rotary and Tiny Miracles.

His mother — a philanthropic adviser — emphasized the importance of “skills-based” volunteerism: contributing not just money, but talent and expertise.

Last year for the first time, Dan Levinson and Monique Bosch of Main Street Resources coordinated Westport’s Thanksgiving Feast. They asked Weber to help. He and Miami fed nearly 300 people, at very low cost.

“We know how to do it,” Weber says simply.

This year (Thursday, November 28, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), they’ll do it again.

Once again, they’re doing it gladly.

“I was so impressed by the number of families who volunteered,” Weber says of last year’s event. The first selectman helped serve. High school kids transported food from the Inn.”

That’s right: Now, the food is cooked off-site. It’s a big step up from the former potluck-type planning.

The annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Feast draws hundreds of people.

Of course, Weber and Miami can’t do it all alone. Westport Rotary, the Senior Center, Gillespie Center, Homes with Hope, the Unitarian Church, United Methodist Church, Bedford Middle School and Coleytown Elementary School all participate.

So do over 80 volunteers. They decorate, set up, greet, serve, clean up, even drive attendees who need transportation.

Monique and Dan hope for the usual donations of turkeys from Stew Leonard’s, pies from Temple Israel,  bread from Sono Bakery and s’mores from Westport Boy Scouts. Other generous donations traditionally include floral arrangements from Westport Garden Club and greeting cards from Coleytown Middle School,

Somehow, it all comes together. It’s a true community feast.

But now the turkey and trimmings are prepared by true pros.

(To volunteer at Westport’s Community Thanksgiving Day Feast, click here. If you need a ride, call the Saugatuck Church: 203-227-1261. For more information, call Monique Bosch: 203-858-8829.)