Alert “06880” reader, RTM District 4 representative and frustrated driver Andrew Colabella writes:
The condition of Hillspoint Road left by Aquarion was subpar. Dipping and diving while driving along the roadway, I thought that after digging up the entire road, they would come back and either repave what they had previously dug up to be smoother, or mill the entire road or lane.
The last 2 weeks, only certain areas were dug up and repaved.
Hillspoint Road has looked like this for a while …
Hal Kravitz, Chris Tait, Robin Tauck, Jenny McGuinness, myself and many other members of the public were deeply upset. Even 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Director of Public Works Peter Ratkiewich were displeased by the work.
However, good news came in a letter from Peter Ratkiewich. He wrote:
Due to the condition of the asphalt, Mr. Marpe has authorized me to place a sacrificial cover of pavement, about 1” thick, over the entire road to make it acceptable for the summer. This will buy us some time and make the walking surfaces safe for the summer months.
We will do this from Compo Road South to Lamplight Lane, which is the worst of the worst. This takes away the Optimum problem too, as they can install their trench any time (it’s only for a couple of services, not the whole length like the water line).
We will use FGB Construction to do the work. They will try to get started next Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest. The work should only take 2 days or so, then everyone should be out of there.
We will eventually end up milling this up and putting down a full 2 inch mat, but the temporary pavement could possibly give me a one year window so that I might be able to fix the sidewalk too.
… and this. (Photos/Andrew Colabella)
This is a road many of us drive every day. I want to thank everyone who spoke out and politely objected to the current condition of the road.
The importance of speaking up when there is an issue or question should always be addressed with haste, and no hesitation.
Residents who live in town and have issues with primary or secondary roads can call Town Hall: 203-341-1000.
If there’s a pothole, damaged curb from a snowplow, dead animal or issues with town infrastructure, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-341-1120.
Also, never hesitate to reach out to your RTM representative about any town issues. We are all here to help you.
Here’s to a smoother future, as we come out of hibernation from the pandemic.
Single tickets for Westport Country Playhouse’s all-virtual 2021 season go on sale Tuesday (May 4, noon).
The Playhouse’s 2021 season — from June 15 through December 19 — has been reconceived as diverse entertainment, tailored for digital enjoyment. All content will be available on the Playhouse website, on-demand for patrons’ convenience. Single tickets, starting at $25 for staged productions and $20 for Script in Hand play readings, may be purchased by phone (203-227-4177) or online.
The first of 3 new virtual productions is “Tiny House,” a comedy (June 29- July 18). The second virtual production, “Doubt: A Parable” — a Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama runs November 2-21.
Two HD video productions from Playhouse archives will stream on-demand: “Man of La Mancha” (August 23-September 5), and another (to be announced, September 13-26).
Three Script in Hand play readings include “The Savannah Disputation” (June 15-20). The others are October 19 – 24, and December 14 – 19.
Special pre- and post-show events are planned, including virtual LGBT Night Out cocktail parties, and interactive talkbacks.
For the 2nd year in a row, there will be no audiences in the Westport Country Playhouse. But the show(s) will go on.(Photo/Robert Benson)
If you missed it — no problem. The Westport Arts Advisory Committee has created 2 displays of lawn signs, featuring inspiring art and words from elementary and high school artists. They’re outside Town Hall and on Jesup Green, through May 5.
Student artwork on Jesup Green (Photo/Amy Schneider)
According to the guy dumping sheetrock, the sandwich shop will relocate soon diagonally across the street.
He waved vaguely in the direction of … the spot Subway originally occupied, before moving to where it is (or was) most recently.
We’ll try to get a definite answer soon. (Hat tip: Amy Schneider)
No sandwiches for sale yesterday.
Westport’s Plastic Pollution Project is a model for many communities.
Future Frogmen — the environmental action and education organization — just posted a podcast about it. It features RTM member Andrew Colabella, a driving force behind the initiative. Click here to hear.
The warning signs are pretty clear: There’s a low bridge ahead.
But all too often, drivers on Compo Road South think they don’t need to heed the “Low Bridge” warning signs.
It happened again yesterday morning.
No one has yet come up with a solution for people who think they are exempt from the laws of physics. If you’ve got one, click “Comments” below.
And finally … in honor of all those truckers who do manage to make it without a mishap:
Joe Saviano died last weekend in New Milford Hospital. He was 65.
The first baby born in Norwalk Hospital in 1955 (January 2), he grew up in Westport. He was a champion pole vaulter at Staples High School, where he graduated from Staples High School in 1973.
Joe retired from the Westport Parks and Recreation Department, where he worked for most of his career. He was an avid fisherman, nature enthusiast and photographer. RTM member Andrew Colabella offers this remembrance.
Have you been to a game at an athletic field in town, and noticed the perfectly groomed grass? How about the perfectly edged gardens in town parks? Have you thought about the guy in the tractor who grooms the beach, leaving oddly satisfying smooth lines?
This is a dedication to just one of those talented former Parks & Rec maintanance employees.
At 5 a.m. — bright and early before sunrise, Joe Saviano inspects his tractor and beach rake. Sporting a town polo, a hat he obtained from a garden place or distributor/wholesaler, and a bandanna, he makes his way to Compo Beach.
Joe starts on South Beach by the barbecue grills. He slowly raises the benches with the bucket to move them out of the way, then rakes up the charcoal, ash and trash left by washed up waves and last night beach goers.
As the sun peeks over the horizon, it’s time for coffee at Elvira’s. If he’s lucky (which is every day), one of the usual beach walkers, runners or visitors brings him one.
His fans, friends, runners taking a break, even curious dogs, all stop to watch him ride by. If they’re lucky (which is always), Joe stops to say hi, ask how they are, gives the dog a pet, and offers a cigarette to the runners (as a joke).
It’s now past 7 a.m. Time to make a pass on east beach, as the town garbage truck makes its rounds picking up trash cans. Racing from can to can to beat the dust blowing off the beach rake, Joe stops to tell a corny dad joke. That turns into more jokes, and stories of when he was a champion pole vaulter.
Joe closes the cab door, raises the throttle, engages the beach rake, then makes his way to the jetty to loop back to the cannons until every inch of beach is raked — all before the swimmers and sun worshipers lay their towels, chairs and umbrellas out on the sand.
Next up are Old Mill and Burying Hill Beaches. Easy little strips, but a chance for Joe to practice and critique his operating skills, as he removes all the pebbles from the sand, and seaweed that washed up past the high tide line. Spotting a low spot in the beach, Joe shifts the high sand away from the wall to smooth out (all in one shot).
Joe Saviano, working at Compo Beach.
When the beaches are all groomed, Joe rides shotgun in truck 100, with Joey Arciola driving. The two Joes ride from job to job, working together. Joe Saviano chats away; Joe Arciola listens.
On the job site though, barely any words are spoken. The two work in silence and sync. If something is broken they just happen to have the right part, or a way to jerry-rig it. Most of the time, their innovative, makeshift part never needs replacing.
That was a normal Monday, Wednesday and Friday for Joe.
For over 30 years Joe Saviano maintained town parks, beaches and field. He applied his natural green thumb, immunity to poison ivy and carpentry skills to building bleachers and split rail fences, and growing the greenest grass and most mesmerizing flower beds and gardens anywhere.
Joe was wise when it came to finances too. He always found the craziest deals. Joe’s truck was over 15 years old, but had little mileage. He never paid for a single repair on it!
Joe also never purchased cigarettes. He thought they were overpriced and filled with cancer. So he grew and rolled his own cigarettes, from tobacco he grew or purchased. It never made sense to me, just like his theories about extraterrestrial life, what was beyond our galaxy, and the purpose of some of the jobs we had to do at work.
Joe never sugarcoated anything. He was always straightforward and honest, and spoke his mind. Even if you didn’t agree, you respected his honesty and creative thinking.
When Joe wasn’t at work he could be found at Jr’s Hot Dog Stand, in the first chair. Congregating around him were big town names, high-ranking employees, retirees — all close friends shooting the breeze.
One of Joe Saviano’s favorite spots.
He cold also be found at his mother’s home, tending the garden and taking care of her. Or New Milford, where he settled down to raise his son Joseph Danial. And his vacation spot, his cabin in upstate New York — off-grid, where he fished and perfected his photography skills.
Joe left behind a legacy of talent, hard work, dedication, multiple friends and relationships. He also left his mark on the town, one that will be forever imitated but never duplicated.
Most importantly, Joe left behind his print on this earth.
So the next time you visit a town park, athletic or recreational field, or a beach, Joe’s mark can be found everywhere. Take time to notice the work of the bleachers he put together for you to sit on, the perfectly manicured pesticide-free cut grass with water-based stripes applied by careful eye, the boardwalk you walk on, the wooden guardrails you lean on waiting for your ride, or the barbecue grills you cook on to serve friends and family to as the sun sets.
Hardworking, talented people maintain those areas every day.
Joe was one of those people.
Joe, we’ll miss you!
Joe Saviano kept Loeffler Field — where the Staples High School boys and girls play — looking great.
Alert “06880” reader/ardent preservationist Bob Weingarten has been thinking about recycling — not just old homes, but egg cartons. He writes:
Whenever I go to a Westport supermarket to buy eggs, I see 3 different methods to packaging. (The exception is Trader Joe’s, which only sells eggs in cardboard cartons.)
Eggs are packaged in either Styrofoam, plastic with a paper advertisement on top, or cardboard cartons. Prices range from about $2.29 to over $6. Cardboard packaged eggs are the least expensive.
But that’s not the issue.
I’m concerned about the type of packaging used for eggs. Styrofoam and plastic cartons are non-recyclable; cardboard cartons can be recycled. Non-recyclable waste is a big — and costly — issue.
I talked with RTM members Dick Lowenstein and Andrew Colabella. Andrew said that enforcing a town ordinance to restrict egg carton packaging is not possible. A packaging ordinance can only be enforced if the eggs were packaged on town premises.
I believe we need to do something. There are 3 alternatives.
Enact a town ordinance. I think this is possible. Westport passed an ordinance banning plastic bags, although they were not created in Westport.
Encourage residence to only purchase eggs in cardboard cartons. I switched to cardboard recently, and have no problems with the eggs. After using all the eggs, I recycle the cardboard carton. Very easy!
Encourage our supermarkets to only sell eggs in a cardboard carton, as Trader Joe’s has done.
The use of cardboard cartons does not affect the taste of eggs. But it does reduce the amount of waste we place in landfills, and saves the town money for waste disposal.
Reducing the amount of daily waste is a priority for many Westporters. But although we want to do the right thing, we don’t always know how.
Wakeman Town Farm does.
This Monday (January 13, 7 to 8:15 p.m.), the Cross Highway sustainability center hosts an environmental awareness event. The multi-generational roundtable will offer information on how Westport schools combat waste, how we can incorporate initiatives into our own homes, and what we can do to help government effect greater changes.
State Senator Will Haskell will moderate the discussion. Participants include Stacy Jagerson Fowle and Ashley Moran, elementary school teachers who have helped lead the district’s push toward composting and zero waste; Bedford Middle School 7th grader Samantha Henske, a student leader in the fight for climate justice, and RTM member Andrew Colabella, who helped implement Westport’s plastics ban.
Monday’s event is free, but registration is required. Click here to register.
Greens Farms Elementary School offers 3 choices for waste. To find out what your family can do, head to Wakeman Town Farm on Monday night.
Alert “06880” reader and RTM member Andrew Colabella writes:
As we embark on the 6-month anniversary of the first single-use plastics ban east of the Mississippi, I extend a big thank you on behalf of my co-sponsors: P3, the Conservation Department and Westport Weston Health District.
Last May, the Representative Town Meeting passed an ordinance that prohibits food establishments from distributing certain plastic food service containers to customers. Food products produced and packaged off-site are exempt.
We lead 46 states, along with cities in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. It takes a village to clean a village, but it takes a town to lead the world. Our intent was to lead with perseverance, ease, and informative alternatives to make the transition smooth.
On November 7, the ordinance took effect in Westport. This means that single- use plastic items such as straws, stirrers, plates, cups, to-go containers, and all expanded polystyrene products such as Styrofoam cannot be distributed to patrons of food service establishments in town.
However, PLA (plant-based) containers are allowed. In addition, plastic straws will still be available upon request to those who need them for a medical or physical reason.
New straws at Pink Sumo.
The ordinance tried to be realistic in its wording, taking into consideration whether acceptable alternative options for certain products are available. This is why utensils are not covered under this ordinance: There are no viable, cost-effective alternatives readily available.
Plastic utensils for take-out orders are available upon request. Plastic lids are also allowed.
The purpose of the ordinance is to collectively change our behavior, to steer us away from increasing our individual carbon footprint, reducing waste, and incentivizing new product development. This should also result in the added benefit to our food service establishments of reducing their garbage output, and extending the length they hold inventory of these products.
Establishments throughout town have already started switching over to more sustainable serving products. However, the Conservation Department — which is responsible for enforcement — has agreed that all establishments which still have an inventory of single use plastic products may be allowed to use and distribute them past the November 7 date.
It would be counterproductive to force establishments to throw out products that can still serve a purpose. Please be patient and respectful of these businesses, as we all work together.
Single-use plastic is everywhere. (Photo/Bob Weingarten)
The transition will take time. You may note that some newer products look and feel like plastic, but actually are not. This polylactic acid material is a plant/leaf –based product allowed under the ordinance. PLA is beneficial because, if it is incinerated along with other garbage generated in Westport, no toxic fumes are emitted.
PLA is not recyclable with other recyclable plastics, but it is compostable under the right conditions. Unlike plastic which is made from petroleum, PLAs contain no benzene or styrene, which are carcinogenic products, and are made from a renewable resource.
Out of 78 million metric tons of plastic produced yearly, only 14% is actually recycled. At one time China, India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and other Asian countries purchased our plastic recyclables. They have now ended up in their tributaries, creating floating garbage islands around the world.
These countries no longer accept our recycled plastic products. Westport has always led the East Coast as an agent of change for advancing environmental protection, education, innovation, safety, and reducing waste fiscally and physically. This ordinance is one more example of that effort.
As we change the way we use these products provided by our businesses, which are often disposed of frivolously, we are committed as a town to reduce our waste.
We also expect private industry to introduce more environmentally friendly, harmless alternative packaging products. In the end, reducing usage, reducing demand and increasing inventory lifespan will reduce our waste.
On September 11, 2001, Westport native and current RTM member Andrew Colabella was in 7th grade at Bedford Middle School. He remembers:
I was sitting in Mr. Summ’s English class. We were called to the auditorium. Another fire drill? Motivational speaker? A boring play? Seemed too soon in the beginning of the year to be doing this.
Mrs. Wormser spoke with Ms. Reneri, standing with Mr. Delgado, about 2 planes hitting the World Trade Center. They had no other information to give.
Why would they call us to the auditorium about that? Planes crash every year. I started thinking, what if there is more to this? My friends said I had no idea what I was talking about.
Terrorism wasn’t new to me. My cousin John DiGiovanni was killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
We headed to lunch at 10:32. Parents were coming to the school picking up their kids. Some cried hysterically as they left the guidance office. Even teachers tried to hide their tears.
I went into the hall to hit the power button on the TV. There it was: 2 smoldering towers. People jumping from the high floors. Maybe they’ll land safely. Maybe they’re bringing helicopters with water to put it out, or throw rope to get them out.
It was serious. It was real.
The iconic 9/11 photo was taken by Westport’s Spencer Platt. He lived near the Twin Towers on that awful morning.
I called home. Dad was safe.
A girl walked out of guidance, crying with 2 friends. I never forgot that memory.
Later I learned about Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. I stood with my mom at Burying Hill Beach, watching smoke pour out like blood from a bad cut.
We had been cut. Nearly 3,000 people died, including 343 firefighters, 71 police officers, and EMTs and military personnel. That’s not counting the countless number of people who became sick and died long after the attacks.
Sherwood Island State Park, my backyard, holds the memory of 161 names — all Connecticut residents who died on 9/11. On a clear day, you can see the Manhattan skyline from the site.
I never forgot. If you’re reading this, you never forgot where you were or what you were doing that day.
As we grow older, more and more people born after 2001 have no memory of it. I’ve spoken with youth, even people my age, who never heard of the 1993 attacks, Pearl Harbor, the Korean War, the Oklahoma City bombing, even World War I.
Educating future generations is imperative. The history of how we got to where we are today, and what we endured as a nation, is vital. We can never forget those who died for no reason. We can never let our guard down.
Our world changed. The unthinkable happened. We were brought to our knees. But we got right back up, and struck back.
Today I have been selected to read 21 names from the podium of Ground Zero. It is an honor to read names of men and women. I never knew or met nearly all of them, but they are known to and loved by others: a parent, child, grandchild, cousin, spouse, but overall, a soul. These are the 21 names:
Manuel D. Mojica Jr
Manuel De Jesus Molina
Justin John Molisani Jr
Kristen Leigh Montanaro
Michael G. Montesi
Antonio De Jesus Montoya Valdes
Thomas Carlo Moody
Krishna V. Moorthy
Paula E. Morales
Gerard P. Moran Jr.
John Michael Moran
Lyndsey Stapleton Morehouse
Steven P. Morello
Yvette Nicole Moreno
Richard J. Morgan
Leonel Geronimo Morocho Morocho
And my cousin, John Di Giovanni
“No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time” is affixed to the Ground Zero wall. Each square is a different color, representing each different, unique person who died that day.
A few days ago, “06880” reader and RTM member Andrew Colabella shared his memories of Sean Brown, a Staples High School classmate who died a few days earlier.
Today Andrew follows up with these thoughts:
Grieving is something we all do at some point. We can never picture or imagine how we will grieve. Suddenly, we are put to the test.
Memories spring to mind. They run as tears hit the page. Life flashes before our eyes, filled with memories. “Who was that in this photo?” “Why do I look like that?” And “wow, we were so young.” Bob Seger said it best: “We were young, and we were running against the wind.”
Rebellious but sensible, stubborn but witty, quick yet relaxed. That was Sean.
Do you ever go to a certain place in this bubble of a town, and flash back? Does something that happened 10 or 15 years ago feel like yesterday?
Do you ever remember when time would stand still in a particular moment of life? Sometimes you wish it would be over with. Sometimes you wish it would last longer.
Last Sunday, a planned 4-hour gathering turned into a 7-hour reunion. Faces looked the same, voices sounded the same, everything seemed the same…but did it? Morgan Brown put together photos of Sean’s childhood. If only time could stand still like photos, Sean would be here. We would have more time with him, would have done more, said more, been together more.
All roads lead to Westport. And the DNA of Westport is spread throughout the world. As Sean’s father Doug made his way to Los Angeles to pick up his son’s ashes and belongings, he ran into people he’d never met, but who knew Sean from Westport.
Andrew Lunt received some of his clothes, fragments of evidence that this soul existed not only on earth, but in our lives. Proof that we are not dreaming of this short but mighty blond-haired, blue-eyed, raspy-voiced character. If only we could wake up from this nightmare of a friend missing.
Old Mill echoes with splashes of water cascading over the tidal gates. A younger generation has become fond of jumping off the gates into the deep pools, where fish tease first-time fisher kids.
Andrew Colabella and Sean Brown fished here. For decades, countless other kids have too.
Ship’s Corner — where kids once stood outside — went from mannequins with clothing samples to sparkling, shimmering interior design pieces.
At night Main Street was alive with kids playing “Manhunt,” chasing each other from roof to roof as police rushed to put their spotlights on us (but never caught us). The stairs to Onion Alley, where we all met while our families were at dinner, is now Bedford Square.
That Sunday, a warm sun and cool wind brought us together at Evan Harding Point. The people we once knew, but may have lost touch with, came together. Some discovered passion and talent, and became chefs. A sustainable engineer traveled from Florida; old lovers came from Colorado and Boston.
That night, we celebrated Sean Douglas Brown. I wish I could end this happily, but it wouldn’t satisfy what we truly wanted. It wouldn’t be the truth.
What I can end on is that our night ended with this group photo. As the sun and celebration came to an end, our souls came together in the light, because of one soul.
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