Tag Archives: Aquarion

Roundup: Beach Dogs, Earth Animal, Salmon Trees …

Tomorrow is October 1.

Every dog owner — and probably every dog — knows what that means.

From Saturday through March 31, canines are allowed back on Compo Beach.

They’re prohibited from the pavilion, playground and walkways. They must be leashed in all areas, except the off-leash area (south of the pavilion, including South Beach).

And it goes without saying — though the Parks & Recreation Department says it anyway, because some dog owners don’t care about this crap — “you are required by law to pick up your dog’s feces.”

Oh happy day! Frank, Oggy, Utah and Winston (Photo/Nicola Sharian)

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Speaking of animals:

Earth Animal has donated $20,000 to build a new barn at Wakeman Town Farm. It will provide shelter, feed storage and veterinary care space.

The funds came through a 6-month Little Barn Project. A percentage of store sales — including WTF merchandise — went to the farm. Earth Animal then matched the funds.

“My sister Abbey and I fell in love with the farm and all that it does for the community, the animals, children, families and their dedicated sustainability mission,” says Merritt Goldstein, whose family owns Earth Animal.

“We asked what we could do for the farm and began supplying food for the animals. We realized that the existing barn was run down, and needed to be rebuilt.”

Wakeman Town Farm barn.

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Aquarion has requested a revenue increase of $49.9 million — a 25% increase. If approved by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, it would add about $4.25 per month to the bill of a typical residential water customer using 72,000 gallons of water annually.

Public hearings will be held next Thursday, October 6  (via Zoom; click here) and Tuesday, October 25 (via Zoom; click here). (Hat tip: Jeff Manchester)

For more information, click here and here.

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As if Westport does not have enough traffic and school bus problems:

Andrew Colabella reports that a bus broke down in this most inopportune spot prior to starting its route today:

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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Ribbons around trees usually mean they’re coming down soon.

Probably not so at Grace Salmon Park.

These pink ribbons are undoubtedly in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

But it might not hurt to get rid of these particular ones.

They’re trees of heaven — a very invasive species.

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Some people don’t look at food expiration dates.

Jarret Liotta does.

The native Westporter sends this photo:

(Photo/Jarret Liotta)

He writes: “This is probably my third in the last couple of months. Perhaps you can suggest a new ‘06880’ game: Readers can search Stop & Shop for their favorite expired products.”

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The Joggers Club is moving from Greens Farms train station to Compo Beach.

There are fun runs every Saturday at 8 a.m. (parking available even without a sticker). There are short (3-5 miles) and long courses (6 to 9 miles) each week.

The cost is $50 (not each time!). New Joggers Club members receive a Brooks racing shirt.

The club also introduces a new members-only track night, every Wednesday at 6:15 p.m., at the Staples High School Track.

Got kids? The Joggers Club Jr. welcomes youngsters in kindergarten through 8th grade. They work on speed, strength and how to love the sport.

The Joggers Club was founded in 2007 to help runners build friendships, form bonds,  have fun (and run).

For more information, click here, or go to Instagram (@TheJoggersClub.CT),
Facebook or Strava for weekly courses and local running chatter.

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Speaking of sports: Tennis fans would give anything to watch Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal up close and personal. When they do, it costs big buck$. And they’re surrounded by thousands of other people.

Squash aficionados can watch their heroes — Paul Coll (ranked #2 in the world), Diego Elias (#4) and Faraz Kahn (#53) — on October 6.

The site is Intensity — the tennis/squash/fitness/dance center just over the Norwalk line. (It’s also home to the Staples High School squash teams.)

The event starts at 5 p.m. with junior clinics. Adult clinics follow at 6, with the pro exhibition matches beginning at 7.

Admission includes food, drink, and photo and autograph opportunities — something else you’d never get with Federer or Nadal. Click here for tickets.

Paul Coll — the #2 squash player in the world — comes to Intensity.

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Slava Ukraini!

Last week, Westporters Anna Dubchak, Steve Taranko, Vitaly Yakubovskiy and Mark Yurkiw, plus Luba Zam from Norwalk, held the first meeting of the
Ukrainian Society of Fairfield.

The group hopes to assist Ukraine cope with the horrors of the Russian invasion.

Non-Ukrainians are welcome to help too. For more information, email: UkrainianFairfield@hotmail.com.

The Ukrainian Society of Fairfield.

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There’s always something going on at Sherwood Mill Pond.

Matt Murray spotted this great blue heron yesterday. Today, it’s our handsome “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … rapper Coolio, the rapper and Grammy winner of hits like “Gangsta’s Paradise,” died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 59. Click here for a full obituary.

This may be the first YouTube video I’ve ever linked to with over 1 billion views.

(“06880” is your source for all local news (and worldwide hit songs). Please click here to support this blog.

 

Roundup: Water, Weeds, Lichen …

Online registration for fall Westport Parks & Recreation Department programs begins at 9 a.m. on Wednesday (September 7).

Among the events: traditional favorites like tennis clinics, Sports Squirts, IST football, Wakeman Town Farm and Skyhawks Sports Academy, and new ones: Future Wreckers’ basketball clinics, Next Generation skateboard clinics, Overtime Athletics Heads Up dodgeball and Kaboom Kickball.

Click here to search for programs (adult and youth). Click here to make sure your online account and family information is up to date. Click here to register.

Having trouble accessing your online account, or need an address change? Do not create another profile; call 203-341-5152 or email recreation@westportct.gov for help.

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A resident of Pequot Trail, off Sylvan Road North, writes:

“A house on our street has the greenest lawn in town, because they water it twice a day. Many neighbors have reported the house to Aquarion and the town, and placed notes in the mailbox. Yet the sprinklers keep running:=

 

“We’re curious about what happens in this situation, when someone blatantly ignores repeated notices about water usage/restrictions.”

We’re curious too.

Aquarion calls its water restrictions “mandatory.”

But its website says that residents “should” follow the twice-weekly (not twice-daily) schedule.

And its FAQ page answers a question about penalties for “violating the two-day mandatory irrigation schedule” this way:

Our main commitment is to educate the public about how they can use water more efficiently and sustainably; however, we can penalize violators, including shutting off their water, if their failure to follow the schedule impairs public resources.

Sounds as if “can” has not yet translated to “will.”

Perhaps the next step is to print this story out, and put it in the green lawn owner’s mailbox.

And then send a copy to Aquarion.

PS: This was the scene this morning, with several sprinklers going. Sunday is a legal watering day for house numbers ending in even numbers, or homes without numbers. The Pequot Trail home has an odd number:

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Meanwhile, Seth Schachter offers this sad photo for our continuing drought coverage.

It’s at the Turkey Hill North/Post Road intersection. He calls it “weeds need water too.”

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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On the brighter environmental side:

Fran Taylor graduated from Staples High School in 1971. She’s lived for years in her native Kentucky, and loves it. But she remembers Westport fondly too. Fran writes:

“I love the Ned Dimes Marina photos on ‘06880.’ They bring back many memories of hanging out there regularly with a variety of friends.

“Imagine my surprise when I finally identified the name (Maritime Sunburst Lichen) of the yellow lichen creeping on to my back porch in Lexington — a thousand miles from any ‘maritime’ setting.

Maritime sunburst lichen, in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo/Fran Taylor)

“It looked familiar, but I couldn’t place where I’d seen it before. Cue Ned Dimes Marina — and just like that, so many memories came flooding back.

“Thanks to 06880 for keeping those precious memories, which trigger sights, sounds, smells and emotions, alive a half century later.”

And thank you, Fran. Please come visit whenever you can!

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The curtain rose officially last night for “4000 Miles.” The Westport Country Playhouse production stars Staples High School Class of 2013 graduate Clay Singer, and Fairfield resident Mia Dillon. The thought-provoking, rollercoaster-of-emotions show runs through September 4.

Last night’s curtain call, wit Clay Singer and Mia Dillon. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Jim White has lived or worked in Westport for 18 years.

His sister Kate White has no connection here, beyond knowing how much he loves this town.

But when Kate — a best-selling author, and former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan — was writing her 16th suspense novel, The Second Husband, she set it in Westport

Jim had a great time helping his sister with background research. Among the local spots mentioned: Terrain, Spotted Horse and the Whelk.

Surprise! Those are some of Jim’s favorite restaurants too.

“It’s an excellent read,” Jim praises. And, he adds proudly, “Not only is she an amazing writer and editor, but she recently gave the commencement address at Union College — where she received an honorary doctorate of letters.

“She was in the first class of women accepted at Union, and was part of their celebration of 50 years of being co-ed. She has been a great inspiration to me, and I am sure many others.”

Jim hopes to get Kate here for a book signing or discussion. In the meantime, click here to order.

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Hayden S. Cabral died suddenly but peacefully in his sleep on Thursday. He was 21 years old.

Hayden is survived by his father Kevin Cabral, his mother Dawn Loecher, step-mother Laura Cabral, brothers Logan and Payton, sisters Lianna and Hailey, aunt and godmother Susan Cabral-Hiltz, uncle Harry Hiltz, uncle and godfather Scott Loecher, grand-uncle Carlo and aunt Marcy Cabral, cousins and many great friends.

He was predeceased by his grandparents Joseph and Betty Cabral, and Janet and Robert Loecher.

Friends will be received at the Harding Funeral Home tomorrow  (Monday, August 29, 4 to 8 p.m.) A Funeral Mass will be held at Assumption Church on Tuesday (August 30, 1 p.m. Burial will follow at Willowbrook Cemetery.

Hayden Cabral

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature features a beautiful blue heron. Amy Schneider sighted it on the Saugatuck River, near the Levitt Pavilion.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … today is the 67th anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till. In 1955, the Black 14-yer-old was abducted, tortured and murdered in Mississippi. His brutal  death — and the decision by his mother to have an open casket, and a public funeral — helped galvanize the civil rights movement.

(“06880” is supported solely by readers. Please click here to contribute.)

Forget Yesterday. Drought Forces Mandatory Sprinkler Use.

It’s been a glorious summer.

Temperatures are in the Goldilocks zone. The sun shines nearly every day; breezes are cool.

The only thing missing — until yesterday — was rain.

Despite those downpours, lower rainfall than normal, plus high water demand (pools and lawns, we’re talking about you), led Connecticut’s lnteragency Drought Working Group has to declare Stage 2 Drought conditions for the entire state.

Aquarion has instituted a mandatory, twice-weekly irrigation schedule for 13 towns. Westport is one of 7 in Fairfield County. The others are Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Newtown and Stamford.

For homeowners, that means sprinkler usage is based on the last digit of the house address.

If your house number ends in an even number, or you have no house number, you can use a sprinkler on Sundays and Wednesdays only, from midnight to 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. to midnight.

If your house number ends in an odd number, you can use a sprinkler only on Saturdays and Tuesdays, from midnight to 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. to midnight.

Aquarion encourages customers living outside the 13 towns to voluntarily follow the same schedule.

Aquarion president Donald Morrissey says, “Our reservoir levels are currently sufficient, and we’re hopeful that rain amounts will soon return to normal.  With our customers’ support, we are better able to mitigate the impacts of the current drought conditions.”

Hmmmm….

Other outdoor conservation measures include:

  • Adjusting your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn provides shade to the roots and helps retain soil moisture, so lawns requires less water.
  • Adjusting sprinklers so they water theh lawn and garden only, not the street or sidewalk.
  • Using hand watering or drip irrigation for shrubs and flowers.
  • Delaying new plantings until fall.
  • Inspecting irrigation systems for leaks, broken lines or blockages. In addition to water, this saves money and time.

Indoor water conservation measures include:

  • Turning off water while lathering up, shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Minimizing baths, and the amount of water used for them. Trim one minute off the length of your showers.
  • Washing only full loads in dishwashers and washing machines.
  • Hand washing dishes in a pan or the sink, not under continuous running water.
  • Reusing dehumidifier water, or using a bucket to capture shower and bath water while waiting for it to warm up; then using that to water plants.

Click here for additional water conservation tips.

(“06880” is a full-service blog — and dependent on reader contributions. Please click here to support our work.)

“Smart Water Westport” Urges Action

According to “Smart Water Westport,” our town ranks first in Connecticut in water conservation.

However, the grassroots group says, Westport residents pay 50% more for water than Norwalkers, and more than double what our neighbors in Rhode Island and Massachusetts pay.

Meanwhile, Smart Water Westport has their eyes on the North Avenue water tanks. A few years ago, they secured almost 2,000 signatures on a petition for “smarter water solutions” in the debate over new tanks. In 2019, a regulator ruled that Aquarion intended to improve the situation, which led to a settlement. Construction began in 2020. 

Since then, residents near Staples High School — and everyone traveling the busy road — have watched  the project unfold.

Today, Smart Water Westport sends an open letter to Marissa Paslick Gillett. She chairs Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA). It says:

For the past 6 years, Westport residents have learned about the water systems in our town and state. While there are probably as many opinions on water as faucets in Westport, most of us agree on one point: If we knew in 2017 what we know now, there is no way that the tanks on North Avenue would have been approved.

One view of Aquarion’s North Avenue water tanks …

Today, we formally ask your agency to review the project in Westport. The reasons for such a review are the following:

  • Tank size: The new tanks on North Avenue are larger than the PURA ruling allows.
  • Water volume: Westport’s lack of water volume has never been an issue.
  • Violation of zoning laws: Aquarion essentially wrote its own permit.
  • Soil contamination: The soil on North Avenue was so contaminated that a specialized removal site rejected the delivery.
  • Innovation: Aquarion has no plans to install any 21st-century technologies.

Westport already has the nation’s highest utility costs in the Lower 48. You testified in March 2022 that Connecticut residents are suffering “death by a thousand cuts” (CT Examiner). We do not believe that it has to be this way, and we invite your agency to work with us to ensure:

  • fair and affordable rates for all residents,
  • safe water and increased fire protection, and
  • modern water management that actively addresses future challenges.

… and a close-up.

There is an urgency and importance for change now. Consider:

  • Water conservation and smart management will be imperative going forward; it must be part of the Connecticut Development and Future Commission working plan.
  • Important PURA projects, like the performance-based rate-setting framework or the advanced metering infrastructure, must include water issues.
  • Aquarion’s parent company, Eversource, has promised higher returns for investors, and this will result in even higher bills for Connecticut residents.
  • Issues surrounding water quality and fire protection have not been addressed.
  • Climate change has not even been considered in the State Water Plan.

Over the past 6 years, a group of neighbors has analyzed almost every number that Aquarion has publicly stated. In doing so, they have found many unanswered questions, instances of misleading information, and weak oversight, and this may explain why Connecticut ratepayers pay the nation’s highest water bills.

We are hopeful that this project will become a case study and model Westporters can look to with pride.

Kind regards,

Smart Water Westport

Roundup: TikTok Teen Arrests, Water Main Break, Wall That Heals …

Last Saturday night, the Westport Police Department received several calls from locations around town. All concerned a group of youths in a vehicle, shooting projectiles at pedestrians. One victim was struck in the eye.

Callers provide a detailed description of the vehicle. Officers found and stopped it near Greens Farms Road and Compo Road South.

All 3 occupants were juveniles. Police found toy air guns that fired gel-like projectiles at high speed.

The teens were participating in TikTok’s viral “Orbeez Challenge.”

The 3 juveniles were charged with multiple counts of assault 3rd degree, reckless endangerment 2nd Degree, and breach of peace 2nd degree. They were released to their parents.

Victims from that evening are encouraged to report the incidents to the Westport Police Department.

Gun and pellets used in the Orbeez Challenge.

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A photo contest for the cover of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce 2022-23 Visitors/Membership Guide is now open.

In 2015 and ’17, the Chamber received over 1,000 pictures from dozens of photographers, amateur and professional. Westport residents Mark Litvinoff and William Scalzi won, with their shots of the Levitt Pavilion and a serene dock setting respectively.

Scores of runner-up photos were used inside the 68-page booklet and map guide. Every winner received credit in the publication.

Any resident or businessperson from Westport or Weston may submit what they believe is the “quintessential” photo that represents our community. Use Dropbox, Google or an email attachment to send one or more photos to matthew@westportwestonchamber.com; use the subject line “Photo Contest.”

The deadline is June 19.  Be sure to have a full resolution of the photo for printing, but email a lower resolution for greatest efficiency.

Questions? Use the email above, or call 203-227-9234.

The 2017 guide.

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An “06880” reader reports that on Sunday, a number of homes in his Long Lots neighborhood lost water.

He called Aquarion, and was told there was a water break somewhere on Long Lots Road. That’s a first for him, in over 30 years here.

The break — apparently near Fairfield County Hunt Club — was fixed a few hours later. However, brown water persisted at least through yesterday.

What’s particularly distressing to him is that Aquarion never called him — either about the break, its cause or its resolution. There was a notice briefly on the water company’s website, he says, but it was soon gone.

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As Rev. Alison Patton heads to her sabbatical, visiting minister Rev. Dr. Jim Antal hits the ground — and Saugatuck Congregational Church — running.

The climate activist delivers a public lecture on June 9 (7:30 p.m.): “Let’s Makek our Coastal Community a Climate Leader!” The event is co-sponsored by Wakeman Town Farm and Sustainable Westport.

The lecture is followed by a community conversation about the topic.

In addition to his public talk, Rev. Antal will share a 3-sermon series, “Responding Faithfully to the Climate Crisis,” at Saugatuck Church on the first 3 Sundays in June.

Drawing from his activism and his book “Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change,” Antal will challenge attendees to see their place in the work of climate justice.

The 10 a.m. topics are:

  • June 5: “Welcoming the Fullest Truth”
  • June 12: “Attenting to the Source”
  • June 19″ Living Into a New Story.”

The public is welcome to attend those services too.

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Terrence Dunn was sworn in as Westport’s new fire marshal yesterday. He replaces Nate Gibbons, who has retired.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker calls Dunn “a genuine and humble leader who has the skills and experience necessary to ensure that the Fire Department continues to provide exceptional service to the community.”

He was hired as a Westport firefighter in 2003, and promoted to fire inspector in 2009. He graduated from the University of New Haven with a major in arson investigation and a minor in criminal justice.

Along with state certification as a fire marshal, Dunn is licensed as an assistant building official. He is first vice president of the Connecticut Fire Marshal’s Association, a member of the Fairfield/New Haven County Fire Marshal’s Association, the International Association of Arson Investigators, and District 8 Building Official’s Association.

A formal pinning ceremony on June 21 (5 p.m., Christ & Holy Trinity Church) will celebrate the department’s promotions and medals.

Fire marshal Terry Dunn

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“The Wall That Heals” is a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. Since its dedication in 1996, it has been displayed at nearly 700 communities across the country.

From tomorrow (June 2) through June 5, it will occupy a place of honor at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Norwalk.

Yesterday, the Westport Police and Fire Departments helped escort it from its staging area at Sherwood Island State Park to the park. Click here for details of the exhibit.

The staging area at Sherwood Island. (Photo and hat tip/Chris Swan)

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Anthony LoFrisco is a Westport motorcycle rider. He’s organized a series of rides.

But they’re not just rev-up-the-engines-and-make-loud-noises jaunts. Starting last Sunday, and continuing each month through August, they deliver donated items to food pantries throughout Fairfield County.

The first was to the Gillespie Center in Westport, from Grace Community Church in New Canaan. Parishioners provided cereal, peanut butter, jelly, pasta sauce, canned goods and other items.

The weather was beautiful. The riders — on 4 BMWs and 1 Harley — met at the Westport train station, headed to the church, then returned here for the drop-off.

The next deliveries will be in Stamford, Bridgeport, and then the Gillespie Center again. Anthony invites everyone to drop off non-perishable food items at 11:15 a.m. on June 26, July 31 and August 28 — and/or join the motorcycle riders.

For more information, email anthony@lofrisco.com.

Motorcycle gang at the Gillespie Center.

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This weekend, celebrate Connecticut Trails Day (actually, 2 days). The event draws thousands of people of all backgrounds, ages, abilities and interests, across the state. 

Friends of Sherwood Island State Park will host 4 hikes:

Saturday, June 4: Butterfly Walk (10 a.m.): Explore the gardens and natural areas around the park’s Nature Center, searching for caterpillars, skippers, moths and butterflies. Bring binoculars and a camera or smartphone. You’ll learn how to report your findings on iNaturalist, so scientists everywhere can see how these insects are doing.

Saturday, June 4: Kayak Paddle (1 p.m.): See Sherwood Island from the water. Explore the park’s shoreline. Bring your own kayak, canoe or other paddle craft, and a pump/bailer. A life vest and whistle/horn are required by state boating regulations.

Sunday, June 5: Archaeology Walk (1 p.m.): See interesting terrain, and examine traces of past inhabitants, from 1000 B.C. to the 1940s. Learn about recent excavations, including Native American, early settlers, and onion farmers.

Sunday, June 5: Nature Walk (2 p.m.): Go beach to beach  along Long Island Sound. Discover habitats, inhabitants, birding locations, viewing platforms, a purple martin enclave, and other special features of this waterfront park. Other points of interest include Connecticut’s 9/11 Memorial, model aircraft airport, trail heads, wetlands, and a pine forest.

Click here for more details. For questions, and to register (recommended, but not required), email cece@historicalperspectives.org, or call 203-984-1488.

Sherwood Island State Park is a natural wonderland. (Elena Nasereddin)

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1999 Staples High School graduate Kyle Martino has been the National High School Soccer Player of the Year, MLS Rookie of the Year, a US men’s national team athlete, and a highly regarded analyst on NBC Sports.

Now he’s the founder of the Over Under Initiative. The non-profit increases access to sports in urban neighborhoods, by converting basketball courts and other blacktops to multi-sport spaces. Martino designed the innovative and elegantly simple conversion process himself.

On June 13 (5:30 p.m., Autostrada, 499 Post Road East), Martino joins Westporters Dan Donovan, Mark Kirby and friends for a fundraiser. Tickets are $250 each. To attend and for more information, email rsvp@overunderinitiative.com.

Youngsters play at Cesar Batalla School’s new multi-sport court. The soccer goal can be pulled out of the ground, then sunk back into the ground, with ease. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Lou Weinberg sends along this gorgeous “Westport … Naturally” image of a Lansdowne song sparrow — and adds a link to its equally beautiful song:

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … Happy Connecticut Trails Day!

Water Flows From Aquarion Tanks

There was no official announcement. Or perhaps I missed it.

But — along with its monthly water bills — Aquarion sent this information to customers recently:

“Westport’s New Water Tanks Operational

“Aquarion customers in Westport now have a significantly expanded water storage supply for fire protection and everyday needs with the recently completion of the construction project on North Avenue. The project replaced a rusting steel tank built in 1956 with a pair of new, concrete ones.

“Combined, the tanks can store 4.3 million gallons of water — almost triple the capacity of the one they’ve replaced.

Construction on the North Avenue water tanks. (Photo courtesy of Aquarion)

“Westport was just one of many communities across the country where old and obsolete water infrastructure was in need of an upgrade, especially in the face of 6 or more decades of population and economic growth.

“In the spring, we’ll begin a major landscaping project that will not only restore the site but improve its aesthetics as well. We’ll also complete the exterior finish work on the tanks. Meanwhile, the tanks themselves are fully operational.

“We’re delighted to bring water service in Westport to this robust new level, and thank local residents for their patience during the construction phase of this project.”

The $10 million project drew protests from neighbors and town officials. It proceeded only after a settlement was reached, covering areas including height, landscaping, and traffic management during construction.

(Hat tip: Seth Schachter)

The Rage Of Aquarion

Prospect Road is a Westport gem.

With its stately homes, old growth trees, and the gardens and greenery of John and Melissa Ceriale, no one would confuse the Greens Farms neighborhood with the Third World.

But when the Ceriales turned on the tap a few days ago, after a summer away, the water was brown.

Half an hour later, it had not cleared.

They were not alone. Turns out their neighbors had brown water since July 4th.

Their toilets and laundry were stained. They could not shower. They spent a lot of money on bottled water.

Discolored water on Prospect Road.

Neighbors alled Aquarion — repeatedly. The water company’s responses included:

  • “Check your water tank.”
  • “Just run your faucets. This happens to my vacation home in Rhode Island as well.”
  • “Is there construction in your area?”
  • “The fire department may be testing.”
  • “Do you live near a golf course?”

Workers flushed the hydrants and lines three times. Each time they said they tested the water; it was all good.

Wesptort Deputy Fire Chief Michael Kronick was very helpful, trying to reach Aquarion engineers.

Finally, one of the Ceriales’ neighbors found personal contact information for Aquarion’s CEO and vice president of operations. She called and emailed.

That seemed to get some response. The other day, workers reappeared.

“That’s just not right,” the neighbor said — referring both to Aquarion’s lack of urgency and solutions all summer, and the need to involve the C-Suite.

Fortunately, Melissa notes, the flowers and plants in her gorgeous garden don’t mind brown water.

But the rest of Prospect Road does.

Roundup: Theaters, TVs, Films …

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Westporters know that this is a great community for music.

Now it’s official. The Westport Public Schools are officially a “Best Community for Music Education.” The designation comes from the NAMM Foundation — part of the National Association of Music Merchants.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because this is our 9th “Best Community” honor in a row.

The award is for school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. School officials answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs.

The schools benefit from partners like the Westport Library, Levitt Pavilion, PTAs, Westport Permanent Art Collections and Westport Arts Advisory Committee.

No word on whether there’s an official ceremony for the award. If so, there will be no shortage of entertainment.

Staples and middle school musicians work hard to put on good shows. (Photo/Inklings)

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Speaking of the arts: White Barn — Lucille Lortel’s famed experimental theater that straddled the Westport-Norwalk line — and the actress/director’s nearby home were demolished a while ago.

Now a number of trees have been cleared too, in preparation for the construction of 15 homes.

Some remaining wetlands won’t be touched, nor will 5 acres around the pond that are now part of the Norwalk Land Trust.

But this is the scene, not far from what was once the White Barn Theater:

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And speaking of the theater (again): The Westport Country Playhouse is still going strong. However, due to COVID, its 4 productions are online this year.

But the stage won’t be completely dark. Three cabaret performances will take place live. The special shows — music and comedy, with limited seating — are benefits for the storied theater.

On June 26, Brad Simmons and Tony Pinkins present Broadway favorites, contemporary covers, classics and more.

Larry Owens’ “Sondheimia” (July 17) explores time, love and ambition through Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics.

Tony Award winner Ali Stroker shares songs from her repertoire on July 24.

Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday (May 14, noon). Click here for information and purchases.

Meanwhile, the Playhouse is partnering with the Connecticut Comedy Festival to present Michael Ian Black. The show is this Saturday (May 15, 7 p.m.) — and while it’s live, it’s outdoors. Attendees should bright chairs, to set up in the parking lot. Food will be available for purchase in the garden.

Black is remembered for the cult classic film “Wet Hot American Summer” and the Netflix series of the same name, as well as his work in the comedy troupe The State. Click here for tickets and more information.

The Westport Country Playhouse offers limited seating for this year’s cabarets.(Photo/Robert Benson)

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The Westport Garden Club’s annual sale — a beloved event since 1928, though canceled last year by COVID — returns this Friday (May 14, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).

More than 1,000 perennials, including native varieties, will be for sale on Jesup Green. Club members will be on hand to answer questions. Can you dig it?

Getting ready for the sale.

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Speaking of which: The Westport Garden Club’s plant sale is not the only place to ask questions.

This Monday (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), Wakeman Town Farm’s Pollinator Pathway talk offers a an opportunity to ask master gardeners: What to plant where? What’s eating my plants? How can I keep them happy?

University of Connecticut advanced master gardener Alice Ely and veggie whisperer/WTF farmer Ryan Brunelle will “field” questions. Click here to register.

Master gardener Ryan Brunelle.

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Digital Eye Strain and Computer Vision Syndrome are real issues. One of Mark Motyl’s young relatives suffers from looking too long and closely at his phone.

The pandemic exacerbated the problem, with remote learning and working, followed by more hours watching TV. Light-emitting pixels damage many eyes.

Motyl offers a solution. He’s the creator of Vivid-Tek — an immersive theater whose components hide in a credenza or bench.

Light from Vivid-Tek’s screens is reflected — not direct. Without sacrificing resolution, it is gentle, tolerable, and more “cinematic.”

Motyl’s screens can be used during the day for remote learning, Zoom calls, exercise classes, gaming and more. When not in use, they disappear into custom furniture.

Vivid-Tek’s showroom is at 1252 Post Road East (the former Splatterbox, near Fortuna’s). For more information click here, call 203-(203) 246-2011, or email info@vivid-tek.com.

Vivid-Tek’s screen and controls can be hidden in a bench.

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Last month, “06880” reported that 2 Bank of America branches — the one next to the Starbucks drive-through, and another further east on the Southport line — had been permanently closed.

But, BOA said, customers could use the main Westport branch — next to Design Within Reach.

Yesterday, I had a non-ATM banking need. I headed downtown.

Nope! Still closed!

That’ll teach me to read “06880.”

That about sums it up.

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Work on the Aquarion water tank opposite Staples High School is moving along. Earlier today, a huge concrete pour was captured by alert “06880” reader — who was probably stuck momentarily in traffic — Seth Schachter.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Speaking of Staples: The boys rugby team is having a great season.

They’ve qualified for one of 16 spots at the national tournament in Kansas City June 17-19 — and are raising $50,000 to cover travel expenses. Click here for more information, and to help.

The 2021 Staples High School boys rugby team.

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Staples High School Class of 2011 graduate (and swim team captain/musician) Margot Bruce is finishing up an MFA in cinema at San Francisco State University. Her thesis project is a film called “Harbor.” But she needs to raise $15,000 to make it.

Margot has launched an Indigogo campaign (click here). Click below for a short video, in which she explains the film’s intriguing themes.

Click below to see Margot’s first-year film. Filmed entirely underwater, it is a metaphor for grieving the loss of a loved one.

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The canal separating Canal Road from Saugatuck Island floods regularly.

But not always.

Other times — like yesterday — it looks like this:

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografik)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Eve Potts. Even the roadway near her Regents Park condo are beautiful this spring.

(Photo/Eve Potts)

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And finally … on this day in 1989, Ron Wilson died of a brain aneurysm, at 44. You may not know his name — but you sure know his drumming:

Roundup: Aquarion, Abilis, Art …

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Do you know a person, business or organizations in Connecticut dedicated to environmental protection and sustainability?

Connecticut’s water utility wants to honor them, with an Aquarion Environmental Champion Award.

Winners will join previous honorees, including Sikorsky, Bigelow Tea, Pratt & Whitney, the Trust for Public Land and Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition.

Winners in the Adult, Non-Profit Organization, Large Business, Small Business, and Communications categories can select an environmental non-profit to receive a $2,500 grant. The winner of the Student category (grades 9-12) will receive a $1,000 award.

Click here for details.

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COVID has done 3 things, all related:

  • Postponed United Methodist Church’s annual giant tag sale for 2 years in a row.
  • Spurred many Westporters to clean their closets, cupboards and bathrooms.
  • Decreased donations to non-profits that provide items to clients.

On Saturday, May 15 and Monday, May 17 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), there’s a solution to all 3. That’s when you can drop off items at the church (49 Weston Road).

Here’s what’s needed:

Gently used items: baby clothes, children’s clothes (ages 4-10), youth clothing for teenagers (desperately sought!), men’s and women’s suits, pajamas, jackets, t-shirts, dress shirts, shoes of all sizes and designs (dress, sneakers, sandals, etc.), socks, dishware, cups, glasses of all sorts, suitcases, traveling bags.

New items: hair products (shampoo, conditioner), skincare products, deodorant, toothpaste, floss, sunscreen, nail clippers, razors, soaps, lip balm, moisturizer, lotion, hairbrushes, shower gel, shaving cream, mouthwash, wet wipes, diapers, canned foods, Jersey Mike’s gift cards worth $10 and $20 (for homeless youth).

Items should be sorted (gently used, new), packed into large plastic garbage bags, and labeled clearly (for example, “Children’s Clothing” in one bag, “Shoes” in another).

They’ll be distributed to Person to Person, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Summerfield United Methodist Church, and agencies working with the Greater Bridgeport Council of Churches.

Questions: email ganderson24@optonline.net or kbrumit@optonline.net.

United Methodist Church, 49 Weston Road. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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People with disabilities face many challenges. So do their siblings.

Abilis — the non-profit that helps hundreds of special needs families — holds a “Sibshops” workshop on May 19 (5 to 6:30 p.m., Zoom). It’s open to area children ages 10 to 14 whose brother or sister has a disability.

Sibshops are “high-spirited, fun workshops that combine recreation, discussion and information.” They provide safe spaces for siblings to share thoughts and feelings, while meeting others in similar circumstances and learning about the services their brother or sister receives. Click here to register. Questions? Email schulte@abilis.us.

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Art has helped many people through the past (very difficult) year.

A new virtual exhibit — “The Healing Power of Art” — shows viewers exactly how that happens.

It features works from 18 artists, including Westporters Rebecca Fuchs, Dorothy Robertshaw and Lisa Stretton.

Art can be purchased directly through the website, at various prices. Click here for the virtual show; click here for a video on how to navigate through it.

“Sherwood Umbrellas,” by Ceal Swift

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Lauren Weisberger’s novel The Devil Wears Prada, offered a devastating view of fashion publishing. Her 6 books have sold over 13 million copies.

Her newest — Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Pretty — goes on sale May 18. The night before (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), she’ll chat virtually with Westporter Jennifer Blankfein about her latest book, and the women — a TV anchor with everything, and her stay-at-home supermom sister — in it.

The conversation is sponsored by the Westport Library. Click here to register.

Lauren Weisberger

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Friends of Sherwood Island’s annual general meeting will “bee” very special.

A presentation titled “Pollinator Pathways & The Green Corridor:
Improving Biodiversity on Protected Land in Our Own Yards” is set for May 23 (4 p.m.).

Click here for more information. Questions? Email lizannlwv@gmail.com or call 203-451-5755.

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And finally … happy 70th birthday to Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club drummer, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, producer and right-across-the-Fairfield-line neighbor Chris Frantz.

[OPINION] Aquarion’s Diversionary Tactics

Dr. Stefanie Lemcke is a technology entrepreneur. She moved to Westport in 2012, and is an immediate neighbor to the Aquarion property. She, her husband Marc and several other Westporters started Smart Water Westport, to educate the community on water issues. She writes:

Aquarion is the only water provider in Westport. and many towns nearby.

Water prices are proposed by Aquarion, and set by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. As Westporters might suspect from watching their water bills, prices always go one direction: up.

Though Connecticut has plenty of water, only residents of Hawaii and Alaska pay more.

Over the past few years, Aquarion filed for a special permit to dismantle the existing water tank on North Avenue, and replace it with 2 much larger tanks that would quadruple the water storage capacity.

PURA members and protesters at the Aquarion North Avenue water tower site visit in 2018 …

At meetings and through petitions, residents requested lower height of the tanks. Neighbors formed Smart Water Westport to argue for better management of our water, and smaller tanks.

The group raised 2 main arguments:

  • The North Avenue property was not zoned for such a large facility in a residential neighborhood (according to town zoning, water tanks are only allowed in AA neighborhoods if they served the immediate neighborhood)
  • The amount of water wasn’t needed for our town. The population had not increased, so why would we need 4 times the storage capacity?

Our state senators and First Selectman Jim Marpe wrote to Aquarion, supporting our request to decrease the tanks’ size.

Danielle Dobin, now chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission, wrote a personal appeal to Aquarion’s CEO to reconsider construction in this location.

Aquarion countered that Westport indeed faced a water shortage: Water usage was skyrocketing, and the company had implemented an irrigation schedule here to save water.

The company even bought television ads to convince us that without these tanks, we would face a terrible shortage of water.

In the end, a settlement granted Aquarion the right to build the tanks at a reduced height of the roof. The total price tag: $10 million, and a 2-year construction period.

… and the current tank.

Curiously, almost immediately after winning approval to build the tanks in the middle of a residential neighborhood, Aquarion applied to divert water from the Westport system to lower Fairfield.

The amount is unbelievably high. The permit asks to divert more than 14 million gallons per day.

Aquarion is telling us that we have more than enough water in our region, and we can easily divert some to Darien, New Canaan and Greenwich. Aquarion even sells water to Westchester and New York City.

All the arguments for building the tanks are suddenly flipped. There will be no shortage. There is plenty of water here: The Westport wells are actually not for Westport, but for Lower Fairfield.

On average, more than 60 million gallons per day is available (a number the company did not disclose during the water tank hearings).

The town of Fairfield and environmental agencies have filed for intervenor status, asking Aquarion to be transparent with their analysis and reasons regarding the need for this substantial increase in the volume of water diversion, as well as its impact on water quality, the environment, water usage and conservation.

Watch your water bills. Refurbishing the old tank would have cost just $1.5 million. Now, customers are paying for more than $10 million.

To make matters worse, we are paying for water that is diverted elsewhere, and sold to New York City.

Please email our town and state representatives, and our local P&Z chair. Ask them to get involved in the diversion petition, and to question Aquarion’s practice.

Also, register for May 4 (3 p.m., Zoom): the last discussion around Aquarion’s water diversion permit. Every citizen should have a say in how one of our most prized assets is being used — and the price we pay for it.