Tag Archives: affordable housing

From Glendinning To Bridgewater … And Next, A Few Homes?

Over the past few years, a few big housing developments riveted Westport’s attention. There’s 1177 Post Road East, opposite Greens Farms Elementary School, for example, and 3 others in various stages of construction: 157 units on Hiawatha Lane Extension, 68 on Lincoln Street, and 16 more being shoehorned onto Wilton Road opposite Fort Apache on Kings Highway North.

Sometimes, Westport is handcuffed by state legislation that trumps local boards and commissions (and traffic and safety concerns). The driving force: the need for each town in Connecticut to provide a share of “affordable housing.”

1177 Post Road East

But local officials have been proactive. They’ve searched for sites where a new development might work (like the state maintenance facility between Walgreens and West Parish Road), and enacted zoning regulations to encourage “cluster cottage” housing on town-owned land.

All of that construction — already done, and planned — has one thing in common: It’s south of the Merritt Parkway. That’s where zoning enables its construction.

Recently, however, a unique property came on the market. It offers a chance for a small new development, with a decent-sized affordable housing element.

Glendinning Place is the 16-acre site first developed as an office park in the 1960s by Ralph Glendinning. His eponymous company was the first marketing promotion firm in the world.

(The wooded land next to the Saugatuck River — much of which he preserved —  had a long history with business. The Dorr-Oliver Company, which made chemicals and other products, was headquartered in a nearby former mill.)

One view of the Glendinning property …

Eventually, Bridgewater Associates became the office park’s tenant. The world’s largest hedge fund was famously secretive. Westporters barely noticed the firm, which departed over a year ago to consolidate all its operations at Nyala Farm, next to I-95 Exit 18.

Three partners — Westporter David Waldman, and New Haven-area Urbane Capital and Sachem Capital — purchased the property in September, for $10.6 million.

They’re leasing out the office space. But they saw a chance to use 3.7 acres to build 14 single-family, 2-story detached homes that they believe fill an unaddressed niche: 3-bedrooms, and just under 3,000 square feet.

Ten of those homes would be sold at market rates. The other 4 would be deed-restricted, as “affordable” (using state guidelines).

The developers need a text amendment. But they felt the timing and the site was right, for a small project including several affordable homes, on the only commercially zoned property north of the Merritt Parkway.

… and the office building.

Rick Redniss — whose Redniss & Mead land use and engineering firm is working on other local projects like Delamar Westport and The Clubhouse — is helping guide the project through the approval phase.

He calls it “an opportunity to add affordable housing in pretty innocuous ways. Generally, it’s very difficult to do that without an 8-30g proposal” — an often-adversarial process, pitting developers against the town.

However, he admits, “this is a balancing exercise. It always is, with housing in a Gold Coast town.”

Traffic concerns will be minimal, he says. Soil tests have been positive.

But feedback from neighbors — including concern about the septic threshold of 7,500 gallons a day — caused the partners to rethink the project.

They withdrew a planned text amendment application, as they reduce the number of homes. The goal remains to have 20% of them be affordable.

A new proposal and text amendment, and future meetings with neighbors, are in the works.

A previous rendering showed 14 homes built just below the top yellow line (underneath “Aspetuck Land Trust.” That number will be lower, in the next plan to be submitted.

Redniss remains convinced that Westporters want to do their share to provide affordable housing.

“I defended the town when it’s been attacked about housing,” he says. “Over the last 8 years, Westport has been proactive. It’s not ‘no’; it’s ‘let’s try to accomplish different ideas, and meet the diverse needs of the community.'”

Housing is a complex issue, he notes, involving everything from politics and zoning to history and tradition.

“Everyone has a responsibility to do their fair share,” he says. “This is a modest proposal. It’s not 150 units. It’s in a commercial zone.

“If we can’t do this here, where can we do it?”

Conceptual plans for the Glendinning homes.

(“06880” covers every aspect of Westport: real estate, business, politics, the environment, and more. Please click here to support hyper-local journalism. Thank you!)

Roundup: RTM Agendas, Rev. Hoskins Tribute, Bagels …

John McCarthy is trying again.

This morning, the former Representative Town Meeting member brings another petition to the RTM and town clerk.

This one — signed by more than 20 Westport electors — asks the RTM to vote on a resolution at its October 3 meeting, affirming that the word “shall” means “mandatory,” as already defined in the Town Charter and the RTM Rules of Procedure.

If passed, the resolution would “compel and require” the moderator to place on the RTM agenda any petition signed by at least 20 electors at least 14 days prior to a meeting.

The impetus for McCarthy’s petition is a previous attempt to add an agenda item to tonight’s meeting regarding a review of the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee’s goals, process and proposed plan for Parker Harding Plaza.

The request — signed by over 50 electors, and verified by the town clerk — was denied by RTM moderator Jeffrey Wieser. His decision was affirmed in an opinion by assistant town attorney (and former RTM moderator) Eileen Lavigne Flug.


In other RTM news, members Seth Braunstein and Matthew Mandell have  proposed an ordinance to create an Affordable Housing Fund.

A first reading is on the agenda for tonight’s meeting (Tuesday, September 5, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium).

“Creating a fund to accrue monies for the purchase of land, construction of housing and/or the buydown of market rate housing both aids the establishment of such homes and gives the town greater control over its own destiny,” the 2 members say.

In 2022 the Westport Planning & Zoning Commission adopted an Affordable Housing Plan, under state statute 8-30j, which called for the creation of such a fund. This ordinance follows through on that request.

Following RTM committee discussions, Braunstein and Mandell hope for a full vote at next month’s meeting. The next step would be for the P&Z to create a regulation to fund the initiative.

Among Westport’s current affordable housing options: Sasco Creek Village.


Sunday’s Saugatuck Congregational Church service honored their late, longtime senior and youth minister Rev. Ted Hoskins.

Among those at the pulpit: Rev. Peter Powell. Forty years ago, he worked with Rev. Hoskins to establish a homeless shelter and food pantry here.

In a tribute to both Rev. Hoskins and the church, Rev. Powell said:

“In my experience Ted lived the charge given in Matthew 25. As you read his obituary you could not fail to see how he fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, healed the sick and visited those in prison.

“Some examples from my experience. The Westport Emergency Shelter was a response to homeless, now better described as unhoused, men sleeping in a room in this church. The legacy lives on. The Gillespie Center has 15 beds because Saugatuck Church found 7 bunk beds and 1 cot for the men.

“These beds were moved over to the Vigilant Firehouse. The Westport/Weston Health Department came in, measured the space and determined the number of cubic feet each bed required. When I pointed out that they backed into that number they refused to change.

“The Linxweiler House was empty, and Ted established a program he called Operation Bootstraps there. Unfortunately that program didn’t work, but with the guidance of Jim Gillespie the program was transformed into a sober house requiring all residents to have a job and stay sober. It worked for many years. It was a Ted legacy.

“In my early years at the Interfaith Housing Association Ted visited the firehouse and gave $100 bills to the night staff on Christmas Eve, the anniversary of our opening. He was always involved.

“In the early ’90s when I needed a new office, he gave me and IHA space in this building. I was here for a few years.

“Ted was your pastor, but he was also pastor to the town of Westport…. A conversation with Ted could resolve difficult issues. He was our social conscience. You shared him with the town. His shoes have never been filled as the acknowledged religious leader and social action conscience of Westport.

“When the unhoused men moved to the firehouse with Ted’s leadership, you opened your building to 12-step programs, helping Westport become a center for recovery for the entire region.

“I believe Ted could do all of this because he was your pastor. Hhe loved you and you loved him, and you both knew you were in love. He was a very public figure and crucial to the development of social action in Westport, but first he loved and cared for you. He did not wag his finger at you; he taught you how to respond to the Gospel. He had the credibility to do that because he was first and foremost your pastor. He visited, counseled, baptized, worshiped, married, buried and preached to you with a deep understanding of who you are and together you and he transformed Westport. He could not have done it without you ,and you could only do it because it was intrinsic to his life with you.

“Thank you for sharing him with all of us.”

Rev. Ted Hoskins


Sunday’s Roundup noted a second epidemic of dozens of bagels spread around High Gate Road. This time there was a plastic bag, with many more bagels, nearby.

Last winter there was a similar scene at the same spot, off Maple Avenue South.

“Weird,” I wrote yesterday.

I soon received an email from “Peter T.” He said: “Regarding the Bagels on High Gate Road, they are there for the Deer to eat along with the cracked corn. Nothing weird about it!”

I asked who put them there, and whether he knew if deer liked bagels.

This time, “Nancy” responded (from the same email address). She wrote: “I live on the street and yes deer like the bagels and cracked corn that is out there.”

I asked about the unopened plastic bag. She said: “Why does it matter. The neighhood feeds the deer all year long”

A Google search reveals that bread (and I put bagels in that category) can be dangerous to deer. Corn can be deadly too.

Meanwhile, a reader points out, “deer around here eat everything that grows. They are hooved rats. And since it’s summer, they don’t lack in food sources.”

If last winter was any indication, those bagels will stay out on High Gate for weeks.

Unlike the mice and rats get them first.


Lachat Farms’ grand (re-)opening was this past weekend.

In today’s “What’s Next in Weston” podcast, 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor and Carol Baldwin, president of the Friends of Lachat Town Farm, discuss funding of improvements, and programs coming soon.

Click below to listen. The podcast is a service of the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.


The big space recently vacated by Bed Bath & Beyond on US 1 — just over the border in Norwalk — will be filled in November.

The new tenant is a combination Bob’s/Eastern Mountain Sports store.

Bob’s Stores (sports clothing, shoes) is moving from Main Avenue to where Bed Bath and Beyond was on Westport Avenue in November. (Hat tip: Bruce Schneider)


This was a big weekend at Lime Rock — and not just for the 3 Westport race car drivers mentioned in Sunday’s Roundup.

Roger Kaufman writes: “I was stunned and honored to be given an award Sunday at the Lime Rock annual Labor Day weekend, festival and car show. It was Best in Class in the ‘Swedish category.'”

“My trusty 1963 Volvo 122S, which I’ve owned for 40 years, was a Westport car. It was sold by Lillian Oster and imported in 1963 via Larry Terrino on the Post Road. It’s my third one, and a tried and true companion for almost half a century.

“I had never been to Lime Rock or done many car shows until recently. But I decided to give it a whirl.

“It was of interest yesterday to the folks at Lime Rock that when Paul Newman saw the car in Weston around 2007), he came over to me at Peter’s Market, where he was bagging groceries with Joanne.

“He stuck his head in the driver’s side window and said, ‘what a great car !’ Cars were his hobby, and we had a great chat.

Roger Kaufman’s ’63 Volvo.


When most people rudely reserve picnic tables at Compo’s South Beach, they simply throw a tablecloth over the top, pretending not to see the “Picnic Tables May Not Be Reserved” sign.

Yesterday, the stakes got a little higher.

Here’s how one aggressive picnicker claimed his (or her) spot:

(Photo/Sallie Pecora-Saipe)


Meanwhile, Sunday was also a perfect late-summer day.

The kind of evening to head to the beach, and celebrate without a care in the world.

(Photo/Harry Mortner)


Reports are swarming in of spotted lanternfly sightings — and killings.

Ken Yormark squashed one inside Home Foods.

Mary Foss-Skiftesvik spotted the invasive species on her Saugatuck Island dock and garden:

(Photo/Mary Foss-Skiftesvik)

And Dave Shea writes: “While kayaking Monday morning, I found this floating halfway between Compo and Cockenoe.

“While I gave the little bugger credit for being a good swimmer, I did my civic duty, then buried him at sea.”

(Photo/Dave Shea)


Janine Scotti sends along today’s beautiful “Westport … Naturally” photo — and its back story:

“What do you give a chef who is also the salt of the earth for his 74th birthday (coming soon)?

“A plot at the magnificent Westport Community Gardens. My beloved husband Pietro [former owner of Da Pietro restaurant] was in awe of the gardens, He is thrilled to be a part of this thriving community.

“I just gave him a private dusk tour. He wanted to see all the beauty of every plot. Hats off to you all!”

Pietro Scotti, with a giant sunflower. (Photo/Janine Scotti)


And finally … on this day in 1836, Sam Houston was elected first president of the Republic of Texas.

(“06880” is where Westport meets Texas — and the world. If you’re from here, there or anywhere, and you like this blog, please support our work. Just click here. And thank y’all.)

Roundup: Reader Survey, Baron’s South, Millennial Workplaces …

How do you get “06880”?

Phone? Laptop? Desktop? Tablet?

To make this site as user-friendly as possible, we’d like to know how you access us. And which browser you use.

And just for kicks, your age.

We’ve created a lightning-quick, 3-question survey. Please click here. Your answers are confidential — but very, very helpful.

Tons o’ ways to find us.


Yesterday’s meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Zoning Regulation Revision/Sustainability Subcommittee marked a small step on a long journey.

The subcommittee discussed the possibility of using town-owned residential properties on Baron’s South for affordable housing.

The preliminary concept includes creating a new zone where existing structures are located.

That would enable their adaptive re-use (interior changes only), for conversion to affordable multifamily units.

The late Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff’s “Golden Shadows” home is currently unoccupied. Two structures are currently used for workforce housing.

The P&Z Affordable Housing subcommittee will now create a draft text change, reflecting the concept.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Planning & Zoning director Mary Young joined in the discussion. Public comment was favorable.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin (shown in this file photo from a previous meeting) are exploring the use of existing structures on Baron’s South for affordable housing.


I’m not sure why the qualities of a workplace are different for millennials than the rest of us (older or younger).

But Fortune magazine recently used 500,000 survey results, with 60 statements and 2 open-ended questions, to publish a “Best Workplaces for Millennials” report.

Fortune broke down the rankings into two lists: the top 100 large companies with more than 1,000 employees, and the top 100 small-to-medium sized companies with between 50 and 999 employees.

In the large (1,000 or more employees) category, Westport’s own Bridgewater Associates ranked 60th out of 100.

The world’s largest hedge fund was lauded for fully paid healthcare, a good 401(k) match, and inclusive culture.

In the small-to-medium (50 to 999) category, Daversa Partners in Westport was rated #22.

The Greens Farms Road executive recruiting firm was cited for a “culture that makes employment feel rewarding.” (Hat tip: Allan Siegert)

Millennials love working at Bridgewater.


Westport Police made 3 custodial arrests between July 19 and 26.

A man who took a person’s cell phone during a domestic argument, preventing a 911 call, was charged with assault, disorderly conduct, and interfering with an emergency call.

A man was arrested for driving under the influence, and failure to stop at a stop sign, following an accident on Greens Farms Road at Nyala Farm Road.

A third man was arrested for failure to appear, during an active warrant for his re-arrest.

Police also issued these citations:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 6 citations
  • Failure to renew registration: 2
  • Disorderly conduct: 1
  • Evading responsibility: 1
  • Reckless driving: 1
  • Failure to yield right of way: 1
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 1
  • Failure to obey stop sign: 1
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 1
  • Failure to register a commercial vehicle: 1
  • Failure to comply with state traffic commission regulations: 1

Interfering with a 911 call is a serious offense.


Residents turn to the Westport Library for information, inspiration and  entertainment.

And — in emergencies — for heat, air conditioning, electricity and WiFi.

Now — thanks to a post-COVID $57,462 American Rescue Plan Act grant enhancing its technological infrastructure and wireless connectivity — the Library will serve the community even better when disaster strikes.

When extreme storms like Irene and Isais disruption many lives, more than 12,000 patrons utilized the Library’s internet.

Often, service could not meet demand. The ARPA grant extends the wireless signal beyond Jesup Green and Levitt Pavilion, with 4 more wireless access points installed.

In addition, the Library’s firewall was updated for added safety and security.

That’s great to know.

Let’s hope we never have to use it.

When the power went out during Tropical Storm Isais, Westporters took advantage of the library’s WiFi — masked and socially distanced, of course. (Photo/Miggs Burroughs)


John Richers makes his Church Lane Summer Music Series debut this Saturday (July 29). He starts strumming his guitar at 6 p.m., next to Spotted Horse.

A Westport resident since 2017, he emerged from the COVID shutdown with over 75 songs in his rock/folk/country repertoire. Since venturing back on stage, John has performed at a variety of Fairfield County venues.

Audiences sing along to favorites from the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Byrds, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp and Van Morrison, while savoring deeper cuts from the likes of Steve Earle, John Prine, the Wallflowers and Decemberists.

John Richers


Doughnuttery — the sugared mini-doughnut company founded by Westporter Evan Feldman, with 4 New York City locations, 1 on Long Island and 1 in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (!) — has just gone international.

The newest shop is on Avenida Presidente Kennedy, in Santiago, Chile.

Can Westport be far behind?


Staples High School Class of 1972 graduate Brian McGeady died peacefully last Thursday, with his family by his side. He was 69.

He grew up in a tight-knit family with 5 siblings across from Longshore, where his love of golf began. While at Staples he worked at Manero’s and Ye Olde Bridge Grille, which allowed him to buy a prized red ‘Cuda.

He graduated from Boston College in 1976 with a degree in accounting. and worked for Kahan Steiger and Co. in Stamford. Upon passing his CPA exam he was offered a partnership, and remained there until he retired.

He also earned his master’s degree from the University of New Haven. In 1981 Brian married Diane Grosso.

He loved golf, paddleball, the New York Yankees, and spending holidays and vacations with his family.

In addition to his wife Diane, Brian is survived by his children Sean, Kyle and Megan; granddaughter Harper; his faithful companion Rudy; siblings, Meg (Bradley) Sagendorf, Richard (Mary), Elizabeth O’Brien (Chris), Kieran, Lee Yin, (Dan(; his brother-in-law David Grosso, and mother-in-law Eleanor Grosso, and several nieces and nephews. Brian was predeceased by his sister Katherine.

Calling hours are today (Thursday, July 27, 4-7 p.m., Lesko & Polke Funeral Home, Fairfield). A Mass of Christian Burial will take place tomorrow (Friday, July 28, 10:30 a.m., St. Pius X Church, Fairfield(. Interment will follow at Assumption Greens Farms Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Brian McGeady


Longtime Weston resident Frances Manere died Friday at home, surrounded by her family. She was 85.

The Norwalk native was an excellent cook and baker, who enjoyed traveling the world with her late husband Bob.

Survivors include her sons Robert (Robyn) of Bethel, Michael (Lisa) of Hudson, Massachusetts, and Brian of Weston; her brother James Buchta (Connie) of Norwalk; sister in law Rosemary Buchta of Norwalk; 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. She was pre-deceased by her brother, Jack Buchta.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday (July 31, 12:30 p.m., St. Francis of Assisi Church, Weston). Interment will follow in Assumption Cemetery, 73 Greens Farms Road Westport. Click here to leave online condolences.


Johanna Keyser Rossi sends today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo — the first one “06880” has run of a cicada — and says:

“You hear them, but did you ever see one?

“Walking to my car from my house, on the ground in the street was a cicada. I didn’t want him run over, so I  moved him to a safe place.”

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … Sinead O’Connor died yesterday, at 56.

The New York Times called her an “outspoken Irish singer-songwriter known for her powerful, evocative voice, as showcased on her biggest hit, a breathtaking rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and for her political provocations onstage and off.” Click here for a full obituary.

(Whether you get “06880” on a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop — see story above — we are glad you’re part of our online community. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Baron’s South, Harvest Restaurant, Cooling Centers …

Today’s meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Zoning Regulation Revision/Sustainability Subcommittee (Wednesday, July 26, noon) opens with an interesting agenda item.

“Presentation of Affordable Housing Concept for the Adaptive ReUse of Existing Residential Structures at Baron’s South” is part of the P&Z’s 5-year affordability plan.

The subcommittee will explore the possibility of using existing town-owned residential properties for affordable housing.

Though much of Baron’s South — the 22 acres of land between South Compo Road and Imperial Avenue — is hilly and wooded, it includes structures like “Golden Shadows,” the late Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff and his wife’s former home.

It was used most recently by the Westport Library to store books, but has largely been in a state of disrepair.

Click here for a Zoom link to today’s meeting.

“Golden Shadows”


The owners of 6 Connecticut restaurants will pay over 100 workers more than $858,000 in back wages and damages.

One is in Westport: Harvest.

A US Department of Labor investigation found that employers violated overtime and record-keeping regulations, including compensating managers from tip pools for regular employees; failing to pay employees for all hours worked, and not paying employees 1 1/2 times regular pay for working over 40 hours a week.

Kleber Siguenza was cited as having an ownership interest in all 6 restaurants. He was in the news earlier this week when a court ruled in his favor, as the rightful co-owner of Weston’s Cobbs Mill Inn(Hat tips: Allan Siegert, Karen Jennings)

Outdoor dining at Harvest restaurant, on Railroad Place.


With a heat advisory in effect for the area through Sunday morning, Westport’s Office of Emergency Management has opened 5 cooling centers:

Emergency Management director Nick Marsan offers these tips:

Stay cool: Keep your body temperature cool to avoid heat-related illness

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to the morning and evening.
  • Find an air-conditioned shelter. Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths.
  • Pets that cannot be brought indoors should be provided ready access to water and shade to keep them cool.

Stay Hydrated: Because your body loses fluids through sweat, you can become dehydrated during times of extreme heat

  • Drink more water than usual.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids.
  • Drink two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.

This will not be the weather over the next few days. (Photo/Dick Kalt)


The Westport Country Playhouse is almost there.

The historic theater announced yesterday that they are just $200,000 short of their $2 million “Save Your Playhouse” goal. The campaign ends Monday, July 31.

Over 300 donors have contributed or pledged $1.8 million. The aim is to transform the 92-year=old Playhouse into a center for a wide array of performances that appeal to a broader audience, while continuing to produce high-quality theater.

“While there’s a deep respect for the Playhouse history and what it is today, there’s also an eagerness for growth, change, and the next chapter,” says board chair Athena Adamson.

“We are listening; we care about what the audience wants to see on the Playhouse stage. In turn, the audience is stepping up to offer their support.”

Beginning in 2024, the Playhouse will be a performing arts center from January through August. Presentations will include single night events like cabaret, comedy, music, play readings and speakers. From September 2024 through March 2025 the WCP will mount 3 theatrical productions.

“The community is changing and we must adapt our programming,” Adamson says. “We won’t lose our theatergoers; we simply are looking to increase our audience by offering more entertainment options. Our board of trustees wants the Playhouse to be here for the entire community, with performances on stage to appeal to everyone.

For more information on the fundraising campaign, click here. For naming opportunities, email development@westportplayhouse.org.

The Westport Country Playhouse is just $200,000 shy of its $2 million fundraising goal.


Sustainable Westport is our town’s environmental eyes and ears.

The other day, they noticed — and gave a shout-out to — the Police Department’s use of electric vehicles.

They’ve added 2 new EVs to their fleet — an all-terrain utility vehicle and an electric motorcycle — and expect a third Tesla patrol car this summer.

Earlier, the WPD purchased 7 plug-in vehicles: 2 Tesla patrol cars (Models 3 and Y), a Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, a Honda Clarity PHEV, a BMW i3 battery electric vehicle, and a Ford Interceptor conventional hybrid patrol car.

The new all-terrain utility vehicle is powered by 6 12-volt batteries, lasting 8-12 hours. Though it looks like a golf cart, the vehicle can drive across terrains (including sand) and includes a winch for heavy-duty applications. It is used often at Compo Beach and Winslow Park.

The Zero electric motorcycle will be used for parking and traffic enforcement. It contains a 17.3 kWh battery, and has a range of 183 miles in the city and 85 miles on the highway.

In 2019, Westport Police purchased their first electric patrol vehicle, a Tesla Model 3, for $52,000. Over a 4-years it is projected to save the town $50,000.

Tesla vehicles also are expected to provide a longer service life: 6 years is the projection compared to 4 of Ford Explorers. The WPD hopes to actually get 8 years.

“Kudos to the Westport Police for continuing to be a leader amongst police departments and municipalities nationwide,” Sustainable Westport says.

The Police Department’s Tesla Model Y, and all-terrain utility vehicle.


Westport’s sister city with Lyman, Ukraine began with a suggestion from our friends in Marigny, France — our much longer-established other sister city.

That relationship began right after World War II. Bonds tightened as we helped the Normandy town recover. Marigny has never forgotten Westport.

When we were planning LymanAID — the celebration/fundraiser earlier this month, at the Ukrainian American Club — our Marigny amis sent gifts for a raffle: 3 gorgeous books, sweatshirts and calvados.

One of those books has been donated to the Westport Library.  “601 Communes” includes a history and photos of Marigny. It’s accompanied by a letter — in French and English — from author René Gautier.

The library will display both soon.


Rachel Suggs is a rising junior at the University of Chicago. The 2021 Staples High School graduate is double majoring  in law, letters and society, and Middle Eastern languages and civilizations.

Last summer and this, she’s internet at the Jerusalem law firm Decker, Pex, Ofir & Co., which specializes in immigration law.

She’s seen the current political upheaval up front. She wrote this piece for The Times of Israel: “Israel Must Ratify a Constitution, Protests Prove” (click here to read).

This is not Rachel’s first Times of Israel article. She previously discussed Israel’s quota for non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees and the right to abortion.

Rachel Suggs


Robin Clark has been selected for another term as Westport Woman’s Club president.

Under Robin’s leadership this year, the WWC awarded over $100,000 in community service grants, scholarships, and food supplies to those in need.

She has personally raised tens of thousands of dollars for food drives, collected and shopped for food donations, and volunteered countless hours helping others.

Robin gives much of the credit for her community work to her employer, Westport National Bank, where she is vice president and branch manager.  The bank is a strong supporter of employee volunteer initiatives.

Robin Clark


The view in and around the Levitt Pavilion is almost as great as the show itself.

Johanna Keyser Rossi spotted these flowers — just in time for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … as the heat settles in, let’s listen to the very cool Sly & the Family Stone:

(Hot tip: Please click here to support “06880,” your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Roundup: Parker Harding Petition, Help For Fire Victims, D-Day Hero …

The Downtown Plan Implementation Committee’s idea for Parker Harding Plaza — eliminating the cut-through from Main Street to the Post Road, in favor of 2-way traffic closer to the back entrances of stores in the lot, along with the loss of 44 parking spots — has run into heavy traffic.

A petition on Change.org has garnered over 500 signatures. It says:

“We, the undersigned, respectfully OPPOSE the Westport Downtown Plan Implementation Committee’s proposed plan to eliminate the Parker Harding Access Road and 44 parking spaces as part of a larger proposal to re-conceptualize and redesign Parker Harding Plaza. If approved, this proposed plan will result in a dramatic increase in traffic throughout Westport and make finding Downtown parking more difficult.

“The Westport Downtown Plan Implementation Committee is an appointed committee responsible for initiating and carrying out the implementation of the Downtown Master Plan. We encourage the Westport Downtown Plan Implementation Committee to propose a viable alternative that does not impose further burdens on the residents of Westport, visitors, and downtown business owners/employees.”

The proposed plan eliminates the cut-through, and reconfigures spaces. Click on or hover over to enlarge.


Meanwhile, a minute or two from downtown, Winslow Park just got a bit safer.

Mark Mathias writes: “It’s great to see an AED (automated external defibrillator) back at Winslow Park. It was missing for at least a couple of years.

“I also like that despite the ‘Call 911 for code’ label, there’s no lock on the hasp.  When seconds matter, having to call for a code seems wrong.

“I hope the AED stays in the locker in case someone needs it. I also hope that the other AEDs around town have been deployed.”

AED at Winslow Park. It’s located near the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot. (Photo/Mark Mathias)


Monday’s fire on Old Hill Road destroyed the home — and all personal possessions — of a Westport family.

Grace Firth — a single mother, whose family lives abroad — along with her daughter Bria (a Coleytown Middle School 7th grader) and an aunt, Sylvia, who is with them — escaped with only the pajamas they were sleeping in.

They have lived in Westport for several years. Friends have created a GoFundMe campaign, to help.

All money raised will pay for clothing, household items, and new housing — the most urgent need. Click here to help.

A Facebook “Westport Front Porch” post by Julie Einziger Sternberg lists sizes:

Shoes (Grace 6, Sylvia 9 or 9.5, Brie junior 4); clothes (Grace medium/large size 10, Sylvia xl tops/large bottom, Brie large kids/sweats and hoodie — she loves those).

A meal train has been set up too. Click here to sign up.

Grace and Bria Frith.


“Work, Live, Ride” — a bill increasing housing density near train stations, including Saugatuck and Greens Farms — will probably not be enacted during this Connecticut General Assembly session.

Click here for the full Connecticut Mirror story.

The “Work, Live, Ride” bill could have increased housing around the Saugatuck and Greens Farms railroad stations.


Firefighters from across the region gathered yesterday evening at Assumption Church. A solemn ceremony sponsored by the Bridgeport Area Retired Firefighters honored all those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

A reception followed at the VFW.


At 6:30 a.m., 79 years ago yesterday, Allied forces began the largest sea invasion in American history. Over 350,000 soldiers and naval personnel landed on the Normandy beaches. Thousands of paratroopers assisted.

Five days later, the beaches were secured. Nearly 2,500 mile of coastline was taken. “Operation Overlord” turned the tide of World War II.

Over 5,000 Allied forces — including 2,001 Americans — were killed on D-Day. Many more perished, and were injured, during the ensuing Battle of Normandy.

Robert Loomis — a 19-year-old infantryman at Utah Beach — was fortunate. He returned home.

He was honorably discharged later, as a sergeant first class. His decorations include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge, Presidential Citation, Army Meritorious Citation, French and Belgian Fourrageres and the French Legion of Honor.

He and his family moved to Westport in 1958. He commuted to New York as an art director.

He was also very involved here, as a volunteer. He spent 25 years as an EMT with the Norwalk Hospital Emergency Department and Westport Emergency Medical Service. He also helped his wife with Meals on Wheels.

In 1985, Bob Loomis designed the logo for Westport’s 150th anniversary celebration.

In 1994 Loomis returned to France, for the 50th anniversary celebration of D-Day. He and fellow Westporter Clayton Chalfant visited Marigny, Westport’s sister city in Normandy.

Loomis died on June 8, 2016 — in the midst of the 72nd anniversary of Operation Overlord. He was 91. Click here for his full, fascinating, obituary.

Last night’s Representative Town Meeting session included a moment of silence for Sgt. Loomis, and all who served on D-Day. (Hat tip: Andrew Colabella)

Bob Loomis proudly displays some of his medals. The next day, he added the Croix de Guerre.


Also last night at the RTM: member Jessica Bram paid tribute to former moderator (and later, 1st Selectman), on what recently would have been his 78th birthday. Joseloff died in 2020.

Bram said: “Gordon contributed so much to Westport. He was a volunteer EMT, Westport firefighter, and what he may have been proudest of, publisher of WestportNow.com which was a groundbreaking hyper-local blog that connected us all as a community in real time.

“Gordon was so modest you might not know he had lifelong career at CBS News, the only journalist who got into the Gdańsk Shipyards — for anyone who remembers that—was an Emmy winner, served as both Moscow and Tokyo bureau chief, and sat just off camera alongside Walter Cronkite during CBS  evening news broadcasts.

“I take note especially of how much he contributed to this RTM, where he was proud to serve as Mmderator for 10 years. He told me that he always wore a jacket and tie at RTM meetings to show his respect for his role as moderator….

“We have much to be grateful to Gordon for, for how much he contributed to Westport. But perhaps here especially, where he served 10 years as moderator of this RTM.”

Gordon Joseloff (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Gordon Joseloff (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


On July 13, “Booked for the Evening” honoree Laura Linney will entertain and enlighten an already sold-out Trefz Forum audience.

It’s a major fundraiser for the Westport Library.

Now there’s a way to see the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress — in the comfort of your home. And you don’t even have to live in Westport.

The Library will livestream the ceremony, and Linney’s talk. The cost is just $20. Click here for details, and to purchase a virtual link.

Laura Linney


Speaking of the Library:

Verso Records: Volume One — the debut album from Verso Studios, which was launched Sautrday night at the Trefz Forum — is now on sale.

It’s available at the Library Store, online via Bandcamp, through the Verso Records website, and soon at record stores around the area.

The bright yellow vinyl sells for $22, and includes a digital download. A $10 digital-only version is also available.


Speaking of music at the Library:

On Monday night, the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston welcomed the Staples High School Jazz Band Combo Blue. The Trefz Forum was packed for the sextet’s 40-minute set, with Y’s Men and jazz lovers (some were both).

Click below to enjoy:


This year, Neighbors & Newcomers of Westport celebrates its 60th anniversary.

The organization — far more than a “welcome wagon” — offers an array of activities for new Westporters (and those who are not so new). Lasting friendships are formed.

All residents — members or not — are invited to their 60th anniversary celebration this Friday (June 9, 6:30 p.m.) at the Compo Beach brick pavilion.

Food and water will be provided; BYOB. And — as old-timers know: No glass!

For more information on the group, click here.

Neighbors & Newcomers enjoy a hike.


Last night’s News 12 “Crime Files” segment on the Joan Wertkin murder included interviews with family members, police officers and others — and archival footage from the days immediately after the May 24, 1989 crime.

But — despite hints that the killer is known — no names were revealed.

According to the show, however, investigators are coming close to closing the long-open case.

A News 12 “Crime Files” screenshot shows an aerial view of the Main Street shopping plaza — the site of Coffee An’, among others — behind which Joan Wertkin’s body was found.


TAP Strength celebrates the summer solstice with a special drop-in class (yoga and sound bath).

The date is June 21 (of course); the time is 6 p.m. Call 203-292-9353 or email nancy@tapstrength.com to register.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Tom Feeley.

He shot it at 6:05 a.m. yesterday, at PJ Romano Field. It’s not edited or altered in any way. “Courtesy of Canadian wildfires,” Tom says of the bright orange hue.

(Photo/Tom Feeley)


And finally … wildfires are deadly. This song, however, is beautiful:

 (Every day, “06880” scours Westport — and the world — for interesting Roundup features. If you enjoy this feature, please help support our work. Just click here — and thank you.)

Roundup: Wertkin Murder, Scholar-Athletes, Affordable Housing, …

A murder that has haunted Westport for over 30 years may finally be solved.

At 11 p.m. on May 24, 1989, officers and firefighters responding to a fire behind the Coffee An’ strip mall found a burned woman’s body.

Shortly after, her husband reported 38-year-old Joan Wertkin missing.

Joan Wertkin

Tomorrow (Tuesday, June 6, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.), News 12 airs a new episode of “Crime Files.” The still-open case has recently generated new tips and leads.

News 12 spoke with family members, and the Westport Police Department. “Crime Files”‘ investigative team has discovered never-released details.

Mark Holofcener — Wertkin’s only sibling — is grateful for tomorrow’s show.

“I want anything that will bring justice,” he tells “06880.”

“I don’t know what it takes to put someone in jail, but I’m pleased attention is still being paid to it. There are a lot of parts to this puzzle. My hope is that all the pieces will come together, and we can see the complete picture.”

He too has spoken with News 12.

In addition to airing tomorrow on Optimum Channel 12 at 7 and 9 p.m., the “Crime Files” show will be streamed on Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV and Pluto TV.


Three dozen Staples High School scholar-athletes were honored last night, at a unique dinner.

The coach of each varsity sport (there are 36) nominates one candidate, for his or her combined academic and athletic achievements. Each is given one question to answer on the spot, involving their interests, activities and passions.

Questions last night ranged from astrophysics (“what’s the biggest problem in the universe you’d like to solve?”) to interning in the selectwoman’s office (“what did you learn about government that surprised you?” to rugby (“it’s been called a game for hooligans, played by gentlemen — which are you?”).

But the highlight of the night came from boys ski team member Jet Tober. A freestyle rapper who took Advanced Placement Mandarin, he was asked to rap — in Mandarin. He brought down the house.

Congratulations to all the scholar-athletes: Fall sports: Emma Porzio (fall cheerleading), Matthew Fleming (boys cross country), Eva  Simonte (girls cross country), Francine Stevens (field hockey), James Hillhouse (football), Finn Wolter (boys golf), Alex Laskin (boys soccer), Samantha Dewitt (girls soccer), Kate Whitaker (girls swimming), Kate Valante (girls volleyball), Benjamin Madoff (boys water polo).

Winter sports: Gavin Rothenberg (boys basketball), girls basketball (Scarlett Siegel), Jenny Bradshaw (cheerleading), Ava DeDomenico (gymnastics), Connor Moynihan (boys ice hockey), Chloe Hackett (girls ice hockey), Jonas Varnas (boys indoor track), Gabriella Gerig (girls indoor track), Jet Tober (boys skiing), Emma Nahon (girls skiing), Ryan Salik (boys squash), Rebecca Schussheim (girls squash), Joshua Tanksley (boys swimming), Jackson Oliver (wrestling).

Spring sports; Ethan Cukier (baseball), Keeva Boyle (girls golf), Michael Nealon (boys lacrosse), Cameron Retcho (girls lacrosse), Sam Pirkl (boys rugby), Parker Pretty (girls rugby), Grace Alfaro (softball), Alex Guadarrama (boys tennis), Lucia Wang (girls tennis), William Fitch (boys outdoor track), Isabelle Bland (girls outdoor track), Witt Lindau (sailing), Kareem Abouzeid (boys volleyball), Clara Smith (girls water polo).

After the dinner, scholar-athletes posed with their parents and coaches. Boys basketball honoree Gavin Rothenberg is shown with his coach Dave Goldshore (far left) and parents.


Speaking of Staples, here’s one more shot of Saturday night’s pre-prom festivities.

This is a different take. John Videler’s drone shows both the prom-goers and their proud parents.

(Drone photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)


“Fair share” — a proposal by which the state would assess the need for affordable housing, then mandate that certain towns above a certain poverty level provide such housing — was removed from a bill early Saturday morning.

The legislation that was then passed, by a narrow margin, by the House of Representatives includes a study of affordable housing needs in Connecticut. But it will be used for “informational purposes” and is “aspirational goal-setting,” according to one legislator.

The bill now goes to the state Senate. Click here for a full report, from CT Mirror.


Davide opens — or, to use its word, “arrives” — on Church Lane June 10.

(Photo/Sal Liccione)

Its website says, somewhat ungrammatically:

“Davide, founded by Joseph Davide in 2020, pays homage to Italy, his origin and culture for inspiration while weaving it with the thread of the laid back attitude of modern luxury.

“Each collection being presented as ready to wear collections. Davide’s aesthetic tells the story of the classic man evolving from adolescence to adulthood.

“With no background education in fashion design, Joseph steers Davide with the vision of modernity and sophistication evoking a style of quality downtime through its relaxed silhouettes in his crafts.”

This may be Davide’s first retail outlet. No others are listed on the website.


Among the non-art attractions at Westport’s recent Fine Arts Festival: a fun fundraising contest by Staples Tuition Grants.

Entrants guessed the number of jellybeans in a jar. The actual number was 51,196. Eoghan Scully guessed 51,215 — only 19 off.

The very close 2nd and 3rd place guesses came from Crystal Benaroya and Annie Bowens. All receive gift certificates to their favorite Westport restaurants.

The contest helped STG award a record $405,000 in grants this year, to 119 students.

51,196 jellybeans!


Elisabeth Levey captured (by camera) these critters, coming out to play.

Or perhaps they were just posing for our daily “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Elisabeth Levey)


And finally … on this day in 1783, the Montgolfier brothers publicly demonstrated their “montgolfière.” Today it is known as a hot air balloon.

(Soar to new heights with “06880”! Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Affordable Housing: Westport Leads, But State May Not Care

Westport is a state leader among suburban communities in addressing affordable housing.

The Representative Town Meeting may soon address the issue, through a fund to pay for land and development.

And Westport’s state representative “hopes for best, and expects the worst” as Hartford addresses the issue.

Those were 3 of the main takeaways from last night’s “Affordable Housing Needs and Solutions: What Westporters Should Know and How They Can Help” Zoom meeting.

A virtual audience of 100 people heard RTM moderator Jeff Wieser lead a panel of experts: State Senator Ceci Maher, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin, RTM Planning & Zoning Committee chair Matthew Mandell, and Westport Housing Authority chair David Newberg.

Maher called Westport “a leader (in) thinking, planning for and examining all housing options.”

Dobin noted that the town needs 1,040 deed-restricted affordable units to reach the state mandate of 10% of the housing stock. Counting units now being built or in the pipeline, she expressed confidence that we are on the way to meeting that threshold.

136 Riverside Avenue has been renovated, and now houses adults with disabilities. It is off-site affordable housing, part of the new Mill project, and an example of a creative approach to developing affordable units.

She cited the 5-Year Affordable Housing Plan, adopted last year (click here to read). Drafted to “proactively create affordable housing, in a way that fits with Westport’s New England village feel,” it includes ideas for building on town-owned land; collaborating on state-owned land, at sites like the Post Road near West Parish Road; developing “cottage clusters,” and establishing a trust fund to acquire land.

Over several decades, Newberg said, the Westport Housing Authority has invested $57 million in affordable housing. They operate 4 residential communities: Canal Park, Hales Court, Hidden Brook and Sasco Creek Village.

Among Westport’s affordable housing options: Sasco Creek Village.

Their biggest challenge is finding land to develop more. “If we built 221 more units, we could fill them tomorrow,” he said.

Some of the funding for that land could come from an Affordable Housing Fund. Mandell described various forms that could take, and a variety of revenue sources for it, such as conveyance taxes by buyers of residential property.

Steinberg spoke last, and was the least optimistic. He cited 2 bills pending in the General Assembly.

HB 6633 — the “Fair Share Bill,” which could result in the loss of local zoning — is “vindictive to communities like Westport,” the state legislator said.

HB 6890 — nicknamed “Work, Live Ride” — seeks to increase housing density near transit points. It too would override key local zoning considerations.

While other towns in Connecticut look to Westport as a model for proactivity and practical solutions, Steinberg said, he worries constantly what his colleagues representing large cities will do to the suburbs.

Affordable housing units are part of 1177 Post Road East. The project helped Westport earn a 4-year moratorium on 8-30g proposals. 

Wieser then turned the session over to the audience. To the question of how Westport can create more homes for first-time — presumably lower-income — buyers, Dobin reintroduced the idea of small cottage clusters, as well as a fund through which the town could purchase small “starter” homes. That would save them from demolition and the new construction of large homes that follows.

Answering a question about the next moratorium from 8-30g — the state mandate for building affordable housing — Dobin said that Westport is well on the way to amassing enough “points,” from projects underway and planned.

However, she added, there are no guarantees. A planned multi-family development at the former Men’s Wearhouse on Post Road East is now apparently off the table.

Dobin said that shows the importance of the town providing housing, on land it owns, rather than relying on developers.

Another questioner asked about the possibility of amending 8-30g. “I’ve been trying for 13 years” without much success, Steinberg said.

Meanwhile, one resident asked, what can Westporters do? “Read the Affordable Housing Plan,” Dobin urged. “Get involved with the RTM and P&Z. Go to meetings, and speak up.”

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog. Please click here to support our coverage of town issues, events and more.)

Roundup: Affordable Housing, Utility Poles, Pride …

A follow-up on the Representative Town Meeting’s recent “Community Conversation on Affordable Housing” promises to be as important and illuminating as the first.

“Our Town’s Affordable Housing Needs and Solutions: What Westporters Should Know and How They Can Help” will be held — virtually — on Wednesday (May 17, 7:30 p.m.).

RTM moderator Jeff Wieser will lead a panel of men and women who know the topic intimately: State Senator Ceci Maher, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin, RTM Planning & Zoning Committee chair Matthew Mandell, and Westport Housing Authority chair David Newberg.

As with the first session — which drew 200 people — there will be plenty of time for public questions.

Click here to join the Zoom meeting.


Paul Rohan writes:

Over the years, I have read many comments, complaints and suggestions about utility poles on “06880.”

I am reminded of them all each day on my morning walk, as I pass by this set of seemingly unstable utility poles on Hillspoint Road between Harding Lane and Valley Road.

For over 5 years, I wondered when the appropriate utilities will transfer all their lines to the newer replacement pole and remove the decayed one.

It seems it will never happen. But lately there has been some progress: a new black nylon band has been added to somehow supplement the existing the wooden brace clamp, the metal support arms, and bands of rope!


A crowd of nearly 300 “walked the line” to see Johnny Folsom 4’s tribute to Johnny Cash Saturday night, at the Westport Library.

A record 126 people had dinner at 10 downtown restaurants before the show, as part of “Supper & Soul.” The downtown dinner and concert series is produced by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

Johnny Folsom 4 (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)


Just in time for Pride Month, Westport Pride has a new web presence.

The colorful, easy-to-navigate site (www.westportpride.org) builds on the non-profit’s mission to “elevate, educate and empower” the town about LGBTQ issues and community members.

Upcoming events include

  • Pride Celebration (Sunday, June 4, noon-4 p.m., Jesup Green)
  • “Light Up the Night” drag show (Saturday, June 17, 5 p.m., MoCA)

An oral history project — organized in conjunction with the Westport Museum for History & Culture — is looking for people to interview about their lives and times: in school, at the Brook Café, or anywhere else in the area. Email cmenard@westporthistory.org.


The Westport Rotary Club recently joined Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County, to rebuild a house in Bridgeport. The project helps residents  become homeowners.

This was the first time Westport Rotary volunteered at Habitat. It was so popular, a return visit has been scheduled for next year.


Saturday’s list of National Merit Scholar winners omitted one name: Liyana Asaria-Issa.

The Greens Farms Academy senior joins 3 other Westport residents as recipients of $2,500 scholarships. Congratulations, Liyana!

Liyana Asaria-Issa


Sholdr is a new clothing brand.

Co-founder Christian Montgomery — a 2018 Staples High School graduate — is creating quality, comfortable clothing, inspired by the oceans.

His goal is to build a community around the brand — and one that supports mental health awareness.

One of the founders lost a friend to suicide. He had recently joined the military. So Sholder is donating 5% of profits to the Headstrong Project. The non-profit provides mental health resources to active military members, and veterans.

This Saturday (May 20, noon to 4 p.m.) they’ll run their first pop-up event at the Two Roads Vendor Market (1700 Stratford Avenue, Stratford). Sholdr will be in the hopyard talking about their mission, and selling shirts and hoodies.


Between the trains, weather and riders, the Westport train station gets plenty of use.

It usually looks pretty good. But it doesn’t clean itself.

This weekend, Les Dinkin spotted a crew, working hard to make sure it’s ready for Monday.

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)


“Westport … Naturally” begins the week with this colorful view from Ellen Wentworth’s window:

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)


And finally … Saturday’s “Supper & Soul” included a great concert by Johnny Folsom 4, a Johnny Cash tribute band (story above).

That’s a great segue into a song from the Man in Black himself:

(It’s a new week — and another reminder that “06880” relies on reader support. Please click here to donate. Thank you!) 

[OPINION] Legislative Watch III: “Live Work Ride” Act Addresses Transit Area

As chair of Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission, Danielle Dobin keeps an eye on Connecticut’s state legislature.

There’s a lot going on in Hartford. Here — writing as a private citizen — is what Danielle sees and hears: 

HB 6890 — “Live Work Ride: An Act Concerning Qualifying Transit-Oriented Communities” — proposes withholding, withdrawing, and even potentially clawing back discretionary state infrastructure funding from communities that fail to adopt regulations permitting greater density, with limited parking and a prescribed affordability component, around transit.

In simplest terms, for Westport to continue to receive discretionary state infrastructure funding (for example, millions of dollars for sidewalks and bridge replacement), our town would be required to adopt a “reasonably sized” 20-unit/acre zoning transit-oriented district that meets the approval of a newly appointed State Responsible Growth Coordinator.

The “Live Work Ride” bill would impact Saugatuck, near the train station. (Drone photo/Patrick Sikes)

My take: What’s interesting is that Westport already has 4 non-residential zoning districts surrounding the Saugatuck train station permitting multi-family across 30.92 acres at 18 units/acre, with a minimum of 20% affordability component.

The newly adopted GBD/Saugatuck Marina zone directly adjacent to the train has an even greater 25% affordability component for off-site affordable units within ¼ mile of the train station.

Applying the Live-Work-Ride requirement of 20 units/acre in Westport would result in an increase of only 63 units permitted over the entire district of 30+ acres. This analysis does not include the Summit Saugatuck/Hiawatha parcels, which are actually zoned at an even far greater density.

Two issues stand out locally:

Special Permit Oversight. Westport must retain our special permit review process which provides critical oversight of each proposed development, given the massive traffic issues in this area and environmental issues related to developing adjacent to the river and in the flood zone.

Our town must be permitted to require that developers – who will sell or rent the vast majority of units for sky-high luxury pricing – provide adequate parking for residents, especially those in affordable units who can’t afford to “buy” spaces in private lots. Residents of multi-family units deserve the same consideration regarding parking as residents in single family homes.

People in most Connecticut towns, including Westport, require cars to get to work, preschool, after-school activities, medical appointments and food shopping.

A staffer for a group advocating for the adoption of this legislation spoke at a recent subcommittee meeting, and suggested students could walk to and from the train station area to school. That would take an hour and a half to our middle school or high school.

Franklin Street already has some of the most affordable housing in Westport — and limited parking.

Leaving the subjective approval of each transit district to an as-to-be-appointed “coordinator,” the identity of whom will change over time, is deeply problematic.

Any statewide proposal must make clear that towns may continue to require special permits, that parking can be reasonably required given real world conditions, that there be a minimum reasonable size (for example, 10 acres) for the transit-district, and that communities that have already zoned for multi-family with a healthy affordable component be rewarded, not penalized.

Westport has added, and continues to add, hundreds of multi-family units. It is absurd to suggest that the state should withdraw or claw back funding for sidewalks, bridges and other infrastructure funding that encourage residents in multi-family and single-family homes to walk and bike to school and work.

A pro-transit legislature should not adopt legislation making it harder for people to go green. There is also no imaginable justification to limit funding for brownfield cleanup in Westport — certainly not next to a tidal river flowing to Long Island Sound.

Our ecosystems are interconnected, and the remediation of toxic pollutants should be prioritized statewide.

Readers should note that as currently drafted, the bill’s language is contradictory, with one section (12[b]) stating that non-compliant towns will simply receive less priority for transportation and brownfield remediation funding, but a different section (12[f]) stating that a municipality will be required to return any discretionary infrastructure funding unless that municipality enacts qualifying zoning reforms.

I urge all residents to share their thoughts with the Legislature. Of all the proposals put forth this legislative session, this seems most likely to be adopted, as Governor Lamont provided for implementation funding in his proposed budget.

(To view the full bill, click here. For background information, click here. To testify in person or remotely at a March 15 hearing on the bill, click here. To submit written testimony, click here.)

(“06880” roams to Hartford — when it affects Westport. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

[URGENT] 8-30g Meeting Tonight Is Zoom Only

The Westport Library is closing tonight at 6, because of the impending snowstorm.

Tonight’s special panel on affordable housing — “The Impact of Connecticut State Statute 8-30g: What We Can Expect for 2023” (Monday, February 27, 7 p.m.) — will still be held. However, it will be a Zoom session only. Click here for the link. 

Panelists include State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, Westport town attorney ira Bloom, Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin and Connecticut Center for Ending Homelessness CEO Evonne Klein. The event will be led by Westport Representative Town Meeting moderator Jeff Wieser.