Tag Archives: Andrew Colabella

Roundup: WTC, RTM, Y …

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A crowd of 100 people gathered in the cold yesterday evening at Town Hall, for a candlelight vigil to support Ukraine. Mark Yurkiw reports:

“I was surprised to learn how many Ukrainians and non- Ukrainians showed up. and how concerned so many were for their friends and family in Ukraine.

“They told stories of intermittent conversations between scrambles to bomb shelters, and children sleeping on thin mats on concrete. An invisible yet potent bond wove through the crowd.

“It took me by surprise, and made me realize how cathartic it is for a crowd of strangers to feel almost instantly connected.”

A rally in Westport is set for this Saturday (March 5), at 11 a.m. on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown.

Ukraine rally at Weston Town Hall (Photo/Mark Yurkiw)

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February 26 marked the 29th anniversary of the first World Trade Center bombing — the one in 1993.

There’s a new memorial on the site, built after the 2001 terrorist attack. For almost a decade, RTM member Andrew Colabella has gone there on that date, to pay respects and join the survivors who gather there.

His cousin was one of 6 people killed in the 1993 attack.

This year, Andrew met Daniel Geraghty there. In November, the former Staples High School English teacher published Cast Away Stones: An Eyewitness Account of 9/11 and Memoir of a Survivor, Soldier Citizen, a gripping account of his 20-year battle to overcome PTSD.

Andrew Colabella (left) and Daniel Geraghty, at the 9/11 Memorial.

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Speaking of the RTM: Sure, you hear about it all the time. (Like in the item just above this one.)

But admit it: Do your know what it does? Or even what the acronym stands for?

On March 23 (7 p.m., Westport Library in-person and Zoom), Westport’s League of Women Voters presents “Know Your Town: The RTM.”

Former moderator (what’s that?!) Velma Heller will discuss its history. Current member Matthew Mandell will explain what it can do — and what it can’t. Current moderator Jeff Wieser will offer his insights too.

Click here for more information, and registration.

Okay, okay: RTM stands for “Representative Town Meeting.” Impress your friends!

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The other day, “06880” published Carl Addison Swanson’s “Kvetch of the Week.” He noted that an 80+ North Avenue neighbor was afraid to get her mail, for fear of being hit by a speeding car.

Carl noted his frustration at trying to get blinking lights or other traffic control devices on the heavily traveled road, home to 4 of Westport’s 8 schools.

Fast (ho ho) forward a few days. There’s now a sign showing “Your Speed” at the base of the hill, near the Bedford Middle School entrance.

Congrats, Carl — and everyone else who lived in the area. And let’s hope there are more such solutions to come.

“Your Speed” sign on North Avenue. (Photo/Carl Addison Swanson)

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The new manager and vice president of People’s United Bank’s Westport office is … Matthew Cummings.

It’s a homecoming of sorts. He’s a 1986 graduate of Staples High School, where he captained the ski team and played football and baseball. He lifeguarded in the summers, then graduated from the University of Colorado.

Matt’s (very proud) mother is Betty Lou Cummings, former 2nd selectwoman, Apple Festival co-founder, and volunteer with countless other organizations and projects.

She’s also a former Michigan State University cheerleader. And Betty Lou never stops cheering for her son.

Matthew Cummings

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After 34 years leading the Westport Weston Family Y’s gymnastics program, Sally Silverstein has retired.

But she won’t be forgotten.

This Friday (6:30 p.m.), the Y, hosts a naming ceremony for the Gymnastics Center’s new Sally Silverstein Viewing Area. Many of the program’s 500 gymnasts will be there. Of course, Sally’s many friends — and all her former athletes, and their families — are invited.

Sally Silverstein

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Speaking of plants: Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows some nice basil, flowering in Molly Alger’s windowsill:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally …  it’s March 1. It’s the month that comes in like a — well, you know:

Roxy’s Final Journey

Longtime Westporter, RTM representative and animal lover Andrew Colabella writes:

We are born to die, but we’re living until then. The same goes for pets. I consider them like people. They have feelings, emotions, habits, schedules, wants and needs.

Many of us have had this discussion with ourselves or others: What do we do when we think the end is near?

As I searched for the answer as a human, I realized that we try to tie up loose ends every day, thinking about our families and loved ones to leave them with the least amount of issues, surprises and unanswered questions, along with something for them to remember us by, or even improve their quality of life.

The end is unknown. But for our pets, a service can help our beloved fur kids or fur siblings.

For 14 years, Roxy was part of Andrew Colabella’s family.

Final Journey is an in-home pet euthanasia service that brings comfort and peace to loving families during a challenging time. Based in Monroe, 4 expert veterinarians are a call away to come to your house. They help you decide if it’s the right time to pass.

A call was made in the morning. We were told they would be at our house at 12:15.

A veterinarian and assistant showed up then. They wore robes, scrubs, masks and gloves. Each carried a bag. One was filled with medical supplies; the other, blankets and a book.

They asked us where our dog Roxy wanted to be, and where we felt comfortable as a family to sit. We chose the fireplace, next to one of her 4 beds (we all spoil our dogs).

We described Roxy’s recent medical history, detailing her sleepless last couple of nights, restlessness, tripping, coughing and panting. We said she still had a great appetite, a schedule, and still wagged her tail.

We were torn.

Our veterinarian, Dr. Sarina Hinsley, spoke to us about lymphoma and its side affects, as well as palliative care for dogs. Chemotherapy would extend time by a little, but would not improve quality of life, habitual behavior or energy.

She took Roxy’s vitals, listened to her heartbeat and breaths, and checked her lymph nodes. Our dogs cannot speak like us, but they do show pain.

We knew. It would be selfish for us to keep her alive while she suffered, trying to keep up with what she’d done every day for the last 14 years.

At that moment, our questions were answered. The other bag opened. We were shown urns. They said she would be cremated, then returned to us with her name inscribed on the box and prints.

A piece of hair was trimmed. Roxy had her last snack (chicken): her motivation and favorite word.

The Colabella family, with Roxy.

The sedative made its way through her. She relaxed in my arms, becoming at ease and at peace.

Roxy was warm, and snuggled into my shoulder and elbow. Her breathing became slow; her noises — bear cub-like, just as when she was a puppy and healthy — pinged our ears.

Her heart, beating just like it was 14 years ago when we adopted her from Virginia, slowed down, and came to a rest. I held my hand there, hoping it would keep going another second. Just one more. Even a half.

Roxy was diagnosed last week. She passed today as we surrounded her with love, just like when she came into our world.

I carried her out in a blanket with dogs on it that said, “I love you.”

We did. We all did.

Andrew Colabella

She exited our home with love, into the caring arms of these people who love their dogs too. They are professionals who took their time with us. They talked us through the whole process, telling personal stories of how their own pets died at early or late age, due to cancer or illness.

I carried Roxy out of the house one last time, her black fur shining, her wet nose now cold and drying, her feet sticking out with dirt still on them, smelling of fresh bread, Fritos, and her home.

I put her in the lap of the assistant. I kissed Roxy goodbye, telling her I loved her and will always miss her as she goes for a ride.

It’s the first time in 14 years she’s not home under our roof. The hallways do not echo with her claws clicking the wood floors, or her loud, deep hibernating bear snore that could be mistaken for an earthquake.

Our society has become more compassionate about our animals over the last couple of decades. How we buy or rescue our pets is just as important as how they leave. While they are only here for a part of our lives, they stay with us for the rest of our lives — and we are their entire life.

My experience with Final Journey was more than I expected. Passing at home with us, where was all she knew, put her at ease. It made her comfortable on her own next journey.

Hillspoint Road Work: Help Is On The Way

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 publicworks@westportct.gov 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.

Roundup: Mahackeno Outdoor Center, Oystercatchers, Tulips …

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The Mahackeno Outdoor Center opens this Saturday (May 1).

And (except for the pool) it’s open to everyone — member or not — through May 31. From June 1 through September 30, the Outdoor Center is for members only.

Here’s the schedule for the first week of May:

Saturdays, May 1 and 8:

  • All day: Playgrounds, gaga pit, basketball courts, climbing wall, sports fields.
  • 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Yard games
  • 1 p.m to 6 p.m.: Archery, slides, pool
  • 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Canoes and paddleboats

Sundays, May 2 and May 9

  • All day: Playgrounds, gaga pit, basketball courts, climbing wall, sports fields.
  • 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Yard games
  • 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Slides, pool

·Monday, May 3 through Friday, May 7:

  • All day: Playgrounds, gaga pit, basketball courts, climbing wall, sports fields.
  • 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Slides

TBD: Archery, canoes, paddleboats

  • ·     3:00pm-6:00pm: slides
  • ·     Archery: hours TBD
  • ·     Water front activities – canoes and paddleboats: hours TBD

For more information, click here.

The Westport Y Mahackeno Outdoor Center playground.

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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)

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Renato’s Jewelers is helping fight food insecurity — and offering a chance to win a princess cut diamond necklace, set in 14k white gold and valued at $1,700.

For every $50 donation made through Team Renato to Homes with Hope, you earn one chance to win the necklace. Click here to donate (and win?!).

Renato Jewelers’ necklace.

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Westport loves our ospreys. And our American oystercatchers.

Tina Green spotted the beautiful bird yesterday morning, at Compo Beach. She alerted Westport Parks & Recreation, to warn beachgoers to stay away.

Incubation is 25 to 27 days, Tina says.

(Photo/Tina Green)

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It’s tulip time.

Wendy Van Wie waves hello from her Cross Highway home. Say it with flowers, for sure!

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Last month, student artwork designed for the “Westport Youth Arts Collaborative: America’s Voices” project was featured at our 5 elementary schools.

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)

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Happy 32nd birthday to Andrew Colabella.

He’s a young Westport RTM member — but he cares about Westport (and knows its history) as if he has lived here for 100 years. Have a great day, Andrew!

Andrew Colabella, at the 2019 Memorial Day parade.

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And finally … the Levitt Pavilion has hosted some legendary fundraising benefits.

The most memorable may have been Willie Nelson. He owned the stage from his first lick, and got stronger with each song.

Near the end, I thought I saw Keith Richards hanging out near the stage. Sure enough, he ambled out, guitar in hand.

He said, “I’ve always wanted to sing with Willie.” And then he did.

Today is Willie Nelson’s birthday. Unbelievably, it’s his 88th. He — and Keith — will outlive us all.

 

 

Roundup: Subway, Stupid Drivers, More


Westport’s Subway station — er, restaurant — is closed.

But not permanently.

Workers yesterday began dismantling the interior of the local outpost of the biggest fast-food chain in the world (44,000 locations, 112 countries).

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.

(Photo/Jeff Wieser)

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:

Remembering Joe Saviano

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 Saviano

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.

[OPINION] Eggs Cartons, Over Easy

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.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

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.

  1. Enact a town ordinance. I think this is possible. Westport passed an ordinance banning plastic bags, although they were not created in Westport.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.

Zero Waste Roundtable Set For Wakeman Town Farm

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.

Single-Use Plastics Ban: It’s Now The Law

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.

 

9/11: Andrew Colabella Remembers

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:

  • Boyie Muhammed
  • Manuel D. Mojica Jr
  • Manuel De Jesus Molina
  • Justin John Molisani Jr
  • Franklyn Monahan
  • Kristen Leigh Montanaro
  • Michael G. Montesi
  • Antonio De Jesus Montoya Valdes
  • Thomas Carlo Moody
  • Krishna V. Moorthy
  • Abner Morales
  • Paula E. Morales
  • Gerard P. Moran Jr.
  • John Michael Moran
  • Lyndsey Stapleton Morehouse
  • Steven P. Morello
  • Yvette Nicole Moreno
  • Richard J. Morgan
  • Sanae Mori
  • 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.

Where were you on 9/11? What were you doing?

Who did you know? Who do you remember?

This is my story. What’s yours?