Tag Archives: Baron’s South

Roundup: Weston Market, Baron’s South, Parks & Rec Programs …

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Peter’s Market closed in January. For 7 months, Weston residents — and their neighbors in northern Weston — have schlepped to Westport or Wilton for basic needs.

Soon — “as soon as possible,” in fact — Lily’s Market will open in Weston Shopping Center. The news was first reported by Weston Today.

Among the familiar faces: Jay Stasko, who worked at Peter’s on and off since he was 16 (and whose daughter is Lily), and DJ Hall, who managed it for 22 years.

Westporter Mark McWhirter will head up the business side.

Also in the works; Weston Pharmacy. The goal for Ken and Susan Lee — who signed the lease — is to open in early September. (Hat tip: Dick Wingate)

Coming soon: Lily’s Weston Market

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Registration for Westport Parks & Recreation fall programs begins online on Wednesday, September 8 (9 a.m.)..

Programs are available by clicking here. Visit us at http://www.westportrecreation.com to view our upcoming Fall programs!

Administrators say: “Please log into your online account to verify your family information. Once you have logged into your account, click ‘manage family members’ on the bottom right. To view more details, click the name of the member you want to view. Please check email addresses provided and other personal information that may have changed. Make any necessary changes and hit ‘save’ at the end.”

Have an address change? Email recreation@westportct.gov.

If you cannot log into your online account, do not create another profile. Email recreation@westportct.gov or call us 203-341-5152 for help.

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The Parks & Recreation Commission meets next Wednesday (7:30 p.m., Zoom) to review 2 Baron’s South conceptual plans. To attend via Zoom, use Meeting ID 840 1308 5788; Passcode 398959.

What’s next for Baron’s South? The Parks & Recreation Commission will begin discussing the issue next Wednesday . (Photo/Cathy Walsh)

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Heather Frimmer’s new book, “Better to Trust,” launches with a party at the Westport Library. It’s September 21 (7 p.m.), and includes an interview with Suzy Leopold.

Click here to register (in-person or virtually), and obtain a signed copy.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” contribution is not, notes Margo Amgott, “cute fawns, bunnies, local turkeys or fuzzy bears.” It is, however, what’s been hanging out at her house.

(Photo/Margo Amgott)

“Her web is about 4 feet wide,” Margo describes. (I have no idea how she determined its gender.)

“She’s still most of the day. But a half hour or so every day she spins (pun intended) into action.

“She’s got long black stockings and gloves, yellow markings, and is about 2 feet inches long. She has a large sac (venom? Babies?).

“We are terrified but also charmed. Anyone know what she is?”

If so, click Comments below. And let Margo know whether she should be completely charmed. Or totally terrified.

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And finally … Charlie Watts’ passing marks the end of an era. The Rolling Stones’ drummer (and bandmate of our neighbor Keith Richards) died yesterday in London. He was 80.

The New York Times called his style “strong but unflashy.” It cited his work on 3 songs in particular as emblematic of the group’s success:

“He was relentless on “Paint It, Black” (No. 1 in 1966), supple on “Ruby Tuesday” (No. 1 in 1967) and the master of a funky cowbell groove on “Honky Tonk Women” (No. 1 in 1969).”

Thanks, Charlie. You gave us plenty of satisfaction.

 

Baron’s South: Revisiting A Plan

As the Planning & Zoning Commission discusses possible rezoning of portions of Baron’s South, from passive open space to more organized recreational purposes, some Westporters remember previous discussions.

A few years ago, town officials commissioned a landscape plan to restore and revitalize the park, following a tree removal project.

The September 2017 draft plan, prepared by Aris Land Studio, included:

  • An improved entryway/driveway from Compo Road South, replacing 2 narrow, poorly marked entryways.
  • New ADA-accessible parking areas in that same area.
  • A restored footpath system linking the Senior Center to other park sites.
  • Habitat restoration areas, meadows, new gardens, and an area for contemplation.

The draft plan

Like many plans, this one seems to be sitting somewhere, unimplemented.

Is it a good idea? Has its time come and gone? What exactly should we do with Baron’s South — if anything?

Click “Comments” below, to add to this long-running, recently revived discussion.

Baron’s South Meeting Changed To Wednesday

The lead “06880” story this morning — about the future of the Baron’s South property — noted a public meeting set for tomorrow. The purpose of the session is to discuss a potential rezoning of a portion of the land.

The meeting — called by the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Zoning Regulation Revision Subcommittee — has been changed to Wednesday (July 28, 12 noon).

Members of the public can attend the virtual session via Zoom. Click here for the link.

Public comments can be made during the meeting. Comments can also be sent prior to the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov.

Vegetation surrounds a Baron’s South pathway. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

[OPINION] Townwide Effort Needed At Baron’s South

Longtime residents and Westport Preservation Alliance founders Morley Boyd, Wendy Crowther, Helen Garten and John F. Suggs are passionate about honoring and saving Westport’s historic structures and open spaces. Over the years they’ve served on many town commissions and committees 

Though Baron’s South — the town-owned property between South Compo Road and Imperial Avenue, not far from the Post Road and downtown — has always been on their radar screen, they are now very worried about its future. They write:

What should we do with Baron’s South?

This question has haunted the wooded, hilly, 22-acre parcel in the heart of town since we acquired it in 1999.

In 2016 it was zoned as passive open space.  Shortly thereafter, an extensive tree removal project took place, and a landscape plan was commissioned but never finalized. Since then, the town has largely ignored the property.

As a result, Baron’s South is rarely visited by the public. The weeds are taller than the deer, and the former pathways are disappearing behind encroaching overgrowth.

Vegetation surrounds a Baron’s South pathway.

In fact, many Westporters don’t even know where Baron’s South is.

Now the Planning & Zoning Commission is considering rezoning swaths of the property for active, organized recreation. This could mean bocce courts, swimming pools, even new buildings.

These are worthy ventures. But aren’t there already plenty of places in Westport to get active? And wasn’t the goal of the “open space” designation to permanently preserve and conserve this unique, centrally located piece of green infrastructure so that all Westporters could enjoy its quiet and natural beauty?

There’s no doubt that Baron’s South needs an infusion of energy. But why isn’t harnessing passive energy the goal?

Let’s form a town and citizen-driven cooperative to direct resources and passive energy toward the restoration and conservation of this incredibly special property. With the guidance of local environmental organizations like Earthplace, Wakeman Town Farm and Sustainable Westport, let’s engage children, parents and grandparents to work side by side to gradually remove debris and invasive plants, install beneficial native plants and trees, create pollinator meadows, improve the park’s many entrances, and build pervious paths to lead us to its interior rooms.

Golden Shadows, the home of former property owner Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff.

Along the way, we and our kids can learn to notice and appreciate the park’s wildlife and beneficial insects, rather than fear them. We can learn the value of native plantings, water conservation, biodiversity, and sustainability. We can come to understand the negative impacts of monocultures, climate change, pesticides and herbicides.

Passive open space requires active management and attention. Re-committing ourselves to this goal is the change that is needed.

As anyone who has ever done yardwork or gardening knows, the work can be as physically challenging as any ball game and as meditative as yoga. Bring your energy, your calm, your curiosity, your children and your save-the-planet sensibilities to bear on this great park.

Let’s save Baron’s South for a better good — the good that comes from quiet places, thoughtful passive-use planning, hard work, and the wisdom of Mother Nature.

The next meeting of the Zoning Regulation Revision Subcommittee takes place via Zoom at noon tomorrow (Tuesday, July 27). The public can participate. To get the Zoom link, call 203-341-1076 or email mperillie@westportct.gov.

(Want to learn more about Baron’s South? Click here for stories from the “06880” archives.)

Wildlife amid the growth at Baron’s South. (Photos/Wendy Crowther)

Weekend In Westport: Pandemic Edition

Spring is here. And here’s what Westporters saw this weekend:

As always, the Minute Man saves Westport. (Photo/Bruce Becker)

The Senior Center is closed — but open for beauty. (Photo/Molly Alger)

As he did in life, Cameron Bruce provides a ray of sunshine. His garden is at the corner of Old Hill Farms and Winding Lane. (Photo/AnneMarie Breschard)

Walking — carefully apart — on Canal Road. (Photo/Gene Borio)

Park Lane (Photo/Molly Alger)

Baron’s South (Photo/Molly Alger)

Sue Terrace (Photo/Molly Alger)

Saugatuck Shores (Photo/Gene Borio)

Waiting to meet, properly socially distanced at Winslow Park. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Pic Of The Day #1065

I can no longer swim at the Y. So today — for the first time in a long while — I took a walk through Baron’s South. I was the only one there — except for these 3 guys. (Photo/Dan Woog)

3 Million Records — In Westport?

A few days ago, the New York Times ran a story about the Archive of Contemporary Music. The non-profit houses one of the world’s largest collections of popular music: over 3 million recordings, plus music books, memorabilia and press kids.

There are “shelves upon shelves upon shelves of vinyl records and CDs, signed Johnny Cash records… boxes of big band recordings, world music and jazz and original soundtracks.”

Keith Richards

It also holds the bulk of Keith Richards’ famed blues collection. (He’s on the board of advisers.)

But rising TriBeCa rents are forcing the mammoth collection elsewhere. They’ve got until June to find a new space.

Nile Rodgers —  the record producer and co-founder of the band Chic — is also on the Archive’s board.

Which raises an intriguing idea, first proposed by alert “06880” reader Jeff Mitchell. With those 2 luminaries so involved — and living in Westport and Weston, along with other great recording artists like Michael Bolton and Jose Feliciano, not to mention our long musical history of legendary concerts from Bo Diddley to the Doors; REO Speedwagon writing 157 Riverside about their time here; Johnny Winter and Joe Cocker recording and rehearsing in Westport — why not invite the Archive of Contemporary Music to set up shop here?

I’m (semi) serious. We already have a Museum of Contemporary Art (formerly the Westport Arts Center). a Westport Museum for History and Culture (most recently the Westport Historical Society), plus the Westport Country Playhouse (unchanged after 90 years). This would be one more cultural attraction.

Where would they go? That’s for wiser heads than mine to decide. But we do have an unused building sitting smack in the middle of Baron’s South.

And we keep talking about all those vacant stores on Main Street…

New home of the Archive of Contemporary Music? (Photos/Chip Stephens)

Photo Challenge #238

At first glance, last week’s Photo Challenge was impossible.

Molly Alger’s shot showed some beautiful wineberries. They looked delicious — and it seemed they could be anywhere.

Lurking in the background, though, was a small part of a building.

It was easy to miss. But Andrew Colabella saw it — and recognized it as part of Golden Shadows, Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff’s 1950s-era “mansion.”

Today, we’d call it a “house.” It’s still there, on the now-town-owned property called Baron’s South.

Click here to see the photo. To see it in real life, use the South Compo Road entrance (or walk through from Imperial Avenue). Most people don’t know, but the park is open from dawn till dusk.

Here’s this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, fire away!

(Photo/Lee Scharfstein)

[OPINION] Good News — And Not So Good — At Baron’s South

Alert “06880” reader, historian and preservation advocate Morley Boyd writes:

In April, I raised environmental and safety concerns about the appearance of a large pile of fill at Baron’s South. The mysterious mound, estimated at roughly 5,500 yards, was discovered in what had once been a meadow dotted with mature trees.

Upon closer inspection I noticed that material in the mound included asphalt, jagged shards of metal, tires, pieces of what appeared to be asbestos cement pipe, plastic containers and the shattered remains of a toilet.

Earlier this spring, Morley Boyd photographed debris in the fill behind the Senior Center.

While erosion prevention netting had been placed across one side of the mound, gullies had formed anyway, and the entire top was exposed. Runoff was visibly headed to drains connected to nearby Deadman’s Brook, a tributary of the Saugatuck River.

Runoff from the fill heads toward Deadman’s Brook.

After learning that the fill had been excavated from a nearby construction site associated with the now completed Senior Center expansion project, I wondered what else might be in the fill. Had it been tested? And why was it there in the first place?

First, I reached out to those whose homes abut the park to see what they knew. After learning the homeowners had been told by the Senior Center project manager that the giant mound was permanent, I made private inquiries about the fill with town officials.

The site of the fill (just south of the Senior Center) is shown by a red arrow (bottom) in this Google aerial image.

When that inquiry went unanswered, the story appeared on “06880.” Shortly thereafter, in reaction to public outcry, the town retained the services of Steve Edwards, recently retired director of public works. He was charged with having the fill professionally tested for the presence of toxic substances.

My concerns proved valid. The recently released toxicology report indicates that the material contains DDT, traces of petroleum byproducts, and a level of arsenic that exceeds state standards for human exposure.

Because of the toxicology report and public pressure, the town has now agreed to remove all of contaminated fill (ideally within the next few months, according to the current director of public works), and restore the meadow to its previous condition.

Morley Boyd says that 6 feet of fill was dumped into the meadow near the Senior Center. (Photo/Morley Boyd)

At Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, town officials said the tree warden has prepared a replanting plan for the site, including new trees.

In the meantime, residents hope that the toxic pile, which remains fully exposed in the midst of a public park, will be cordoned off to safeguard the health and safety of visitors.

On the whole, this is good news. The town deserves credit for taking responsibility. Still, a number of unanswered questions remain — notably, why did this happen?

The approved site plan for the construction project did not permit the area in question to be disturbed, and the project’s contract included a specific line item for hauling away any excess fill.

Further, many question the wisdom of the town’s proposed plan for reusing the contaminated fill: a parking lot project at the Greens Farms railroad station.

Although the toxicology report — consistent with state guidelines — recommends that the contaminated fill be buried beneath several feet of clean fill if it is to be moved and reused, there is an apparent regulatory conflict.

While state standards for the use of fill are more relaxed, Westport’s are quite stringent. They specifically do not allow the use of fill containing “petroleum based products or materials.”

Since the Baron’s South fill has been shown to contain — in addition to other toxins — chunks of asphalt, it remains unclear how the town can use the fill at the Greens Farms train station and also comply with its own regulations.

If there is any doubt as to whether or not this contaminated fill can be safely remediated for reuse in a public space, wouldn’t the wisest solution be to just dispose of it at a proper facility?

Whatever ultimately happens to the toxic fill, the good news is that a quiet corner of Westport’s “Central Park” will soon return to its natural state. And that’s in large part due to the vigilance and concern of the “06880” community.

Photo Challenge #230

Last week’s Photo Challenge was straightforward.

Molly Alger’s image showed a handsome stone pillar. It’s flanked by a road on one side, and a long, hilly driveway on the other. (Click here to see.)

Westporters drive by it all the time. It’s on South Compo Road, near Park Lane.

Many folks don’t know, though, that it’s the main entrance to Baron’s South.

We — as a town — own that great 22-acre property between South Compo and Imperial Avenue. It’s open sunrise to sunset. Now you know how to get into it.

Andrew Colabella, Seth Braunstein, Jonathan McClure and Amy Schneider already know. They correctly answered last week’s Photo Challenge.

Today’s Challenge honors the many Westporters who have given their lives, while serving our country. If you know where you’d see this inspiring plaque, click “Comments” below.

HINT: It’s NOT at Veteran’s Green, opposite Town Hall. But you should go there tomorrow, immediately after the Memorial Day parade. The brief ceremony is moving, and important. And there you’ll see many plaques with the names of Westporters killed in action. But not this one.

(Photo/Jay Dirnberger)