Category Archives: Westport life

“Oh? So That’s What That Arrow Means? My Bad!”

At first glance, this Entitled Parking photo doesn’t look too bad. Just one car straddling a parking spot line, and another plopped in what clearly is not a parking space.

(Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

But look closer. That’s not a fat parking line that the Acura is parked over. It’s a directional arrow, pointing one way into the lot behind Serena & Lily, in the Baldwin lot on Elm Street.

And that Volvo is also smack over another arrow, pointing the way out.

In other words, these 2 Very Important People completely block entry and exit into the lot. In order to get out or in, drivers had to go all the way to the back, near the fence, then circle around.

Of course, there were several empty spots nearby.

But at least the weather was nice. So these 2 guys (or gals) could enjoy the very brief walk to wherever they urgently needed to go.

Haters Gonna Hate

Last year, when political election and Black Lives Matter signs were uprooted, defaced or otherwise damaged, many Westporters were outraged.

A few, though, said: Not so fast. Maybe they were blown over. Maybe the spray paint was just vandalism. Maybe it was kids making mischief.

Last night, this happened on Sylvan Road North:

The message seems unambiguous:

Hate does have a home in Westport.

“06880” Party In Pictures

If you couldn’t make last night’s “06880” blog party, I understand.

We competed with the Senior Center lobster dinner, and the Chamber of Commerce after-hours social.

Plenty of readers are on vacation. Others live far away.

But the 120 or so folks who made it to Compo Beach last night had a great time. Politicians, candidates and commission members (even the P&Z — thanks for canceling your meeting!) mingled with artists, bankers, retirees, stay-at-home moms and dads, teachers, lawyers and local merchants (thanks, Julie, for repping Savannah Bee Company!).

Special thanks go to Westport’s Parks & Rec beach crew, who went waaaay out of their way to be helpful, warm and welcoming.

We ate. We drank. We chatted about everything except politics.

We watched the sun set. We realized how grateful we are to live in Westport — or to have some ties to it.

See you at next year’s bash!

Nicole Klein and her son Carter came to their first “06880” party 5 years ago, just 3 weeks after moving to Westport. They’ve been regulars ever since.

Great minds think alike. They did not coordinate their outfits — but they sure looked great! (Photo/Susan Garment)

Sean Byrnes’ 1967 Corvette — a true 427, as the license plate notes — was a huge hit.

Author Prill Boyle and Homes with Hope CEO Jeff Wieser mixed and mingled.

Former Westporter Bonnie Bradley — whose family lived near Compo for many generations — came from Roxbury for the “06880” party. She brought a special gift: This painting of the Saugatuck River and National Hall.

It’s not an “06880” party without an 06880 hat. (Photo/Susan Garment)

“06880” Readers Pick The Worst Signs In Town

The other day, I posted a photo of my choice for Worst Sign in Westport. The message — “When Flashing School Bus Stopped Ahead” — is both grammatically challenged and bizarre. In Westport, a school bus is always stopped ahead.

I asked “06880” readers to send in their least favorite signs. A wide variety get our goats — and for many different reasons. Here are a few:

(Photo/Eric Bosch)

The Little League diamond on North Compo is not exactly Eric Bosch’s field of dreams. He says:

“There are 64 of these large advertising signs (specifically positioned for maximum road traffic visibility) on Westport town property. I guess the town’s rules aren’t enforced when business ads make money. Get ready to see the political banner-size signs to go up in this space soon.”

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

Chip Stephens does not care for this faded, passive-aggressive sign near Whole Foods near the Norwalk border, “welcoming” drivers to Westport.

(Photo/Brian Porter)

Brian Porter admits that the sign above — at the steps to Old Mill Beach, off Hillspoint Road — may not be the worst. However, it is confusing. “If you ignore one sign, please comply with the other and clean up after Fido,” he writes.

An anonymous contributor sent the image above, from the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. I agree: You should definitely not park that way, ever.

(Photo/Chris Woods)

For over a decade, this sign — and the accompanying traffic light — near the VFW at the Riverside/Saugatuck/Treadwall Avenue intersection has been Chris Woods’ pet peeve. Chris adds, “The 3-lights-for-2-lanes going the other direction are equally confusing.”

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

JP Vellotti offers this innocuous-looking sign, from a recent Levitt Pavilion show. He explains: “The au pairs all sat together. The woman in charge brought the sign. Funny, because I’ve been in big groups there. We figured out how to sit together without something that looked like a free ad. At least it wasn’t a politician running for office meet-up!”

Thanks for all the submissions. But I still think mine is the worst:

“06880” Party On Tonight!

It’s all good for tonight’s 6th annual “06880” Compo Beach “blog party.”

We’re set for 6 p.m. at South Beach — the alcohol-is-fine-except-no-glass-bottles end, furthest from the cannons.

Please bring your own food and beverages. If you’d like to bring something extra to share, feel free!

We’ll provide the “06880” community — a chance to meet commenters and lurkers. Each year there are oldtimers, newcomers, politicians and normal human beings. It’s a chance to talk, laugh and trade stories about this wild, wacky and only slightly dysfunctional town we share and love.

Plus, the weather is supposed to be perfect.

See you tonight!

PS: If you’re coming over the William F. Cribari Bridge, allow extra time. You never know when it might be closed.

We’ll be just to the left of this jetty (near the boat and kayak launch). Without the car, though. (Photo/Linda Gramatky Smith)

And The Worst Sign In Town Is …

Last week, “06880” reported on Planning and Zoning’s enforcement of the town’s longstanding ordinance against temporary signs.

The removal of dozens of placards — promoting everything from the Library book sale to (ironically) junk removal — drew dozens of comments.

It’s about time! praised some.

Governmental overreach! howled others.

Predictably, the discussion veered away from the direct topic at hand. Eric Bosch noted that there are 309 permanent signs at Compo Beach alone.

Chris Woods suggested that people send in photos of the “worst” signs in town.

Great idea! 

Here’s mine, from Wilton Road:

Hey — this is Westport! Every place here has a school bus stop ahead.

Besides, have you ever seen this sign flashing? How would that even work? Do school buses have a special method to switch on these lights?

That’s my worst/least favorite/most annoying sign (though there are many contenders). What’s yours?

Email photos to dwoog@optonline.net. And let us know exactly why that particular sign is worse than all the others.

“Don’t Worry, Honey. I Can Fit In There. Then Just Scoot Out The Driver’s Side Door After Me.”

Spotted — and photographed — by JP Vellotti at Sunday’s Levitt Pavilion show:

P&Z Signs Off: The Sequel

I was busy this afternoon, posting a story about the Planning & Zoning Department’s decision to remove all illegal signs from town-owned property.

Chip Stephens and Al Gratrix were busy too.

They did the actual removal.

The P&Z Commissioners — call them the “De-Signers” — uprooted several dozen offending placards, all over town. Many were in otherwise handsome traffic islands and gardens, like those at the eastern end of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Post Road bridge. (Regulations concerning such signs have been in place since at least 2002.)

A small bit of Chip Stephens and Al Gratrix’s haul.

They’re not finished.

Every illegal sign — even those for beloved institutions like the Westport Library book sale — is fair game, Chip says.

(Photos/Chip Stephens)

Westport’s streetscape is changing. The signs are everywhere.

 

P&Z Signs Off

Tag sales. Computer help. Painting services.

Effective immediately, those signs — and all those others crowding town-owned roads, traffic islands and rights-of-way — will be removed.

And discarded.

That’s the promise of the Planning and Zoning Department, according to a press release sent earlier today. It reiterates regulations that have been in place since at least 2002.

A few caveats:

Temporary signs advertising charitable events may be placed on town property. They require approval by the chief of police, P&Z director and Parks and Recreation director (or their “designated representatives”). Qualifying organizations (“i.e., local non-profits”) must fill out a request form — including proposed locations.

There’s a maximum of 15 signs for each event. They can’t be placed more than 2 weeks before the event, and must be removed within 2 days. Maximum size is 2 feet by 3 feet.

In addition, signs cannot be placed on school property without permission of the superintendent’s office; or “within the interior of Compo Beach or Longshore”; or on Town Hall property, trees or utility poles, or in any way that interferes with traffic visibility.

Political signs are considered “an expression of free speech,” and are allowed on public property. But the guidelines above — amazingly — also refer to “temporary signs for political purposes.”

Signs on private property require owner’s approval. It is “suggested” that they be removed within 2 days after the publicized event or election.

The town does not control — and is not responsible for — signs on state property. Town guidelines say, “It is not advisable” to place signs on property, rights of way and islands on Route 1, 136, 57, 33 and the Sherwood Island Connector, or the I-95 and Merritt Parkway ramps.

All that info was announced today. Let’s see how much better the town looks tomorrow.

Hey, they did say “effective immediately.”

Andrew Colabella Grades The Fireworks: A+

Andrew Colabella is a lifelong Westporter. The 2007 Staples High School graduate worked for the town as a seasonal employee from 2004 to 2014.

Today he’s an RTM representative. Inspired by last night’s 62nd annual PAL fireworks, he writes:

This year’s fireworks were far better than last year’s.

Lasting 28 minutes, introducing shapes, emojis, the letters “USA” and a great big finale, Grucci — a 6th generation family with an expertise in pyrotechnics — gets an A+.

(Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Westport PAL quickly shut down a couple of vendors selling toy machine guns. Other vendors sold toys that lit up, cool hats and other stuff.  Most importantly they brought back Michelle Pauker to the national anthem. She gave us chills that lasted into the fireworks. Another A+.

Parks and Recreation, from guest services and clean-up crew to their supervisors opening the gate 30 minutes earlier than expected (causing little to no traffic), left patrons and visitors beyond ecstatic.

Parking was fantastic. With 200 passes left unsold, foot travelers were copious. Carmen Roda, Rick Giunta, Jen Fava and Ed Frawley were on the ball, making entry and exit smooth. Their enthusiastic, hardworking crew of employees worked nonstop all morning, afternoon and into the night, to help everyone enjoy the show. Guest Services also get an A+.

Parks and Rec operations supervisor Dan DeVito helped out by collecting fireworks tickets in the Soundview lot. The process was quick and easy.

Police, fire, emergency services and mutual aid from other towns — including bomb-sniffing dog and officers patrolling on foot, bike and car — ensured that all was quiet. Another A+.

Trumbull and Norwalk were among the towns providing support last night.

Compo Beach lifeguards, dressed in their finest reds, offered first aid. Injuries were simple and few. A dozen missing children were returned to their parents. One husband was reported missing by his wife. Jonathan was found. (Sorry Jonathan 😂) A+ again.

Joey’s by the Shore employees were on target with their meals and services. Cleanliness was stellar. I can still taste the food. 😋 A+!

Kids hung out behind the lifeguard shack and mingled, carrying out typical mischievous (and safe) behavior.

Unfortunately there was some confusion about patrons reserving tables and leaving them unoccupied (that’s a big no).

One other negataive: After the sand and dust settled and everyone left, the trash and litter left behind on the beach was greater than last year. There were more water bottles, beach chairs, plastic toys and vendors’ specials, food wrappers, tinfoil, Ziploc bags and other garbage than last year.

As I drove around last night, observing crews working into the night, house parties rocked the neighborhood. Young kids in love walked with people they just met, catching a glimpse of the red moon together on a bench, or leaving a party wandering into the darkness to find what may or may not become the next unplanned adventure — it all reminded me how this is my last 4th of July in my 20s.

(Photo/Suzanne Sherman Propp)

I’m no longer young and able to enjoy these things I once did. Yet I find myself at the lifeguard shack every year, greeting old faces, familiar friends, new people, surrounded by lifeguards and guest services colleagues and first responders who I stand by so proudly.

It’s hard to face. I’m getting older, and I am not ready for it. But I’ve loved Westport since I was young enough to remember, and fall harder for this town every day.

Last night I got to see families and friends enjoy the fireworks as much as I do. And everyone got a kick out of my outfit, which I proudly wear every year.

Andrew Colabella celebrates the holiday.