Tag Archives: Burying Hill Beach

Pic Of The Day #1644

Art at Burying Hill Beach (Photo/Ed Simek)

Question Box #4

Our Question Box is once again full.

Here are the latest answers — to the best of my ability, anyway. I’m stumped by many of these queries. So readers: Please chime in with any additional information. Click “Comments” below.

And if you’ve got a question for our box, just email dwoog@optonline.net.

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Is there a noise ordinance regarding parties in Westport? (Chris Grimm)

No. According to Police Chief Foti Koskinas, the only noise ordinance covers “reasonableness” and “time of day.”

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What is the history of the canal that runs under the Kings Highway Bridge, and empties into the Saugatuck River. Where does it begin? What is its purpose? (Nancy Beard) 

A very interesting question — and one I’ve never thought of.

It begins near Richmondville Avenue, not far upstream. It’s listed on maps as a branch of the Saugatuck River. It appears in its present form on an 1878 map of Westport, so perhaps it is natural.

Jeanne Reed grew up on Short Street, off Richmondville. She says they called it a “brook,” not a canal.

Wendy Crowther adds more. She writes:

“A few years ago, Morley Boyd and I did historical research on the mills that once existed along the Saugatuck River north of the Post Road.

“The most well known is Lees Manufacturing Company, located off Richmondville Avenue. Portions of this mill stand today (and are being converted into housing).

“Another mill, Phoenix Manufacturing, no longer exists. It was located on the land where the water company sits today, on Canal Street.

“Both mills used water power from the Saugatuck to manufacture their goods.  To do this, they dug canals off the Saugatuck to siphon water from the river and direct it toward their turbine blades. The canal that leads to the turbine is called the head race. The canal that leads water away from the turbine to return it to the river is called the tail race. Small signs of these original races still exist today (if you know where to look).

“During our research, Morley and I heard stories that the canal/tail race would often turn the colors of the rainbow during the day, when Lees Mfg. was dying their threads and yarns. According to a historic site plan of Lees mill, its dye house was located immediately beside the tail race. We theorize that the race was pressed into service as a convenient way to dispose of wastewater from the company’s dye operation.

“When the water company was established downriver from Lees Mfg. in the early 1900s, dyes were not a good thing to flow into the water supply from upriver.  Morley and I speculate that Lees’ original tail race was redirected and lengthened to parallel the Saugatuck River all the way down to the area just behind Coffee An’, where it was joined with Willow Brook. From there, the combined waters from the canal/tail race and Willow Brook emptied into the Saugatuck, downriver from the water company. This way, the dye bypassed the water company’s section of the Saugatuck.

“This is the canal that remains today. We believe that it served as a very long tail race for Lee’s Mfg. Co.

“We suspect Canal Street got its name not only from this canal, but also due to the two supply/tail races (canals) used by the  Phoenix Mill (where the water company stands today).”

“This was just a theory.  We paused our research then to focus on other projects.”

Traffic nears the Kings Highway North Bridge, near Canal Street — and the “canal.” (Photo courtesy of Google Street View)

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Nicki and I were walking in Winslow Park. Deep in a woodsy area we came upon what appeared to be an outdoor forest church, complete with pews and a dismantled podium (see below). What’s that about? (David Pogue)

According to Bob Mitchell, this is the Woodland Chapel of nearby Saugatuck Congregational Church. It was constructed by Tobey Patton (son of the church’s minister, Rev. Alison Buttrick Patton) as his Eagle Scout project.

Interestingly, that part of Winslow Park is not town property. It’s owned by the church.

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What is the back story of these oars on the building just over the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge on Post Road East? (Jilda Manikas)

I am not very helpful today. Beats me!

Readers: If by a “stroke” of luck you know, click “Comments” below.

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Why is this deactivated (?) squad car seemingly permanently parked in the Petco/Michael’s/Home Goods/Panera plaza? I don’t think it ever moves. Does it deter crime? (Chris Grimm)

No clue! But for a long time there was also one parked behind what used to be Blockbuster (!) at the Post Road/North Maple corner, across from the Exxon gas station.

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Are there any open water year-round swim groups here? And are there any mushroom foraging organizations? (Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

Finally! A two-fer I can (sort of) answer.

Burying Hill Beach’s High Tide Club is still active, as far as I know. They don’t swim all year, but they did go through October. Click here and also here for a pair of “06880” stories.

As for the ‘shrooms: Try Earthplace.

The High Tide Club’s recent late-summer picnic at Burying Hill Beach.

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Have a question for the Question Box? Email dwoog@optonline.net.

Roundup: Food, Clothing, Art

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Fred Cantor just finished reading noted food writer (and former Westporter, and Weston High School graduate) Alexander Lobrano’s memoir, My Place at the Table.

It’s mainly about his experiences as a food critic in Paris.

But, Fred says, Lobrano does not neglect his childhood here.

The book opens with excerpts from a 2nd grade writing assignment (saved by his mother). His teacher, Miss Armitage, asked students to write about one of their “very favorite things.”

Lobrano’s essay was called “The Very Best Sandwich.” Miss Armitage gave him an A. She also rates “thanks” in the Acknowledgments.

Lobrano also writes about his elementary school cafeteria cooks: “…hardworking women…(who) cooked some off the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten—spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce and meatballs, handmade pierogi filled with potato purée or cheese topped with crisp fired onions, and moussaka slathered with bechamel sauce.  They made everything from scratch…”

He also praises the fresh produce at Rippe’s and Wakeman’s farms.

High praise indeed, from someone who has eaten at the finest restaurants around the world.

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It’s still September. But the Westport Woman’s Club is accepting donations for its November clothing tag sale.

Tax-deductible donations of new or gently worn women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, plus accessories like shoes, handbags, scarves, hats and jewelry, are welcome through October 27.

Items can be dropped off weekdays between 9 a.m. and noon, or 1 to 4 p.m., at the WWC (44 Imperial Avenue).

Funds raised from the clothing tag sale help support the town’s food closet, charities throughout Fairfield County, and need -based student scholarships. For more information, call 203-227-4240 or email wwc@westportwomansclub.org.

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The opening for George Billis Gallery‘s current show was held during a hurricane.

So the artists will enjoy a (hopefully more serene) closing reception. It’s set for this Wednesday (September 29, 4 to 7 p.m.), at the 166 Main Street space.

George Billis Gallery

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Burying Hill Beach is seldom crowded. With summer gone, it’s even emptier. But those who love it — like Wendy Levy — are rewarded with “Westport … Naturally” scenes like this:

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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And finally … happy 37th birthday, Avril Lavigne!

 

Roundup: Robbery, High Tide, Triathlon …

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A rash of car break-ins and thefts is bad enough. Yesterday, a different crime was committed: an alleged robbery, just before noon on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

A man approached a couple quickly from behind, Westport Police say. The suspect walked in step with the male victim, allegedly brandishing a knife, threatening the female and demanding to be brought to the couple’s car.

The woman darted across the Post Road to escape. Her husband followed, and flagged down a patrol officer driving by. The suspect fled toward Jesup Green

A detailed description of the suspect was relayed to all officers. Patrol units flooded the area. During a search of the area, a member of the Westport Fire Department said he had seen a suspect fitting the description across from Playhouse Square.

Officers quickly James S. Cummings, 41, of Bridgeport. He was identified by the victims as the man who accosted them on the bridge. A knife was found in his possession.

Cummings was charged with attempt to commit robbery in the 1st degree, attempt at larceny in the 3rd degree, carrying a dangerous weapon, and threatening in the 2nd degree. He is being held on a $250,000 bond.

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Here’s the latest on one of Westport’s greatest, and so-glad-it’s-back-after-COVID, traditions: the Rotary Club’s Lobsterfest.

A crowd of 1,500 is expected this Saturday (September 18, 3 to 7 p.m.), for a townwide party.

Fewer than 80 tickets remain. You can get them at Hook’d by the Sound (Compo Beach concession stand), or by emailing leslie2of8@gmail.com. They’re $70 each, for either 2 lobsters or a 14-ounce steak.

Plus lots more, of course. Volunteers and Rotarians will cook and serve 2,500 lobsters, great steaks and a raw bar. They’ll serve beer and win (with a Tito’s scotch tasting). Plus there’s a great band, and plenty of kids’ activities (including magic shows, and an antique fire engine to climb on).

COVID protocols include 30% more tables, further apart, and fewer seats per tables. Masks are optional, but recommended when spacing is not possible.

There’s also a drive-through option, for guests who choose to party elsewhere.

As well as an exhibition tent, and a kickoff for Rotary’s Afghan relief resettlement project.

Volunteers are still needed! To help, click here or email lobsterfestvolunteers@gmail.com

As the sun set on Lobster Fest in 2016, no one wanted to leave.

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Burying Hill’s High Tide Club has been around a long time.

Not as long as the venerable beach perhaps. But its members have seen — and swum in — more than their share of incoming and outgoing tides.

Membership skews older. But recently an influx of younger swimmers has waded into the water. They’ve enjoyed the social gatherings too, while forming one of Westport’s most fun, under-the-radar groups.

Nico Eisenberger reports that at high tide yesterday — just after 4 p.m. — members brought food and drinks to celebrate another great season.

High Tide Club: It’s not just about swimming. (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

The late summer weather was perfect. The camaraderie was strong. Nico says he and his wife “feel blessed to have this place, and these fun and funky folks, as part of our daily lives here.”

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Yesterday’s Westport Kiwanis Club Minuteman Triathlon was another success.

The family-friendly event at Compo Beach included a jetty-to-jetty swim, and short bike and running courses throughout the flat neighborhood streets. It was perfect for first-timers, and families that race together.

It was advertised as open to all abilities, and that was true.

MyTeamTriumph was out in force. The organization helps children, teens, adults and veterans with disabilities who otherwise could not participate in endurance events like triathlons and road races.

Volunteer “angels” take “captains” out on the water in special inflatables. They assist with wheelchairs for the biking and running parts too.

There were plenty of smiles yesterday at the Minuteman Triathlon. And regardless of times, everyone was a winner.

MyTeamTriumph captains and angels. (Photo/Peter Swift)

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Munich has Oktoberfest. Westport has Westoberfest.

Now we’ve also got Oaktoberfest.

Okay, there’s no drinking, drinking games or lederhosen. But the October 4 event (7 p.m., Wakeman Town Farm) is still worth checking out.

Sponsored by Westport’s Tree Board, it’s a chance to learn about all the good things trees do in our yards — and how to return the favor, by caring for them.

Attendees receive free samplings, too.

Panelists include Mary Ellen Lemay (Aspetuck Land Trust), Danica Doroski (Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection), Doug Williams (Bartlett Tree Experts), and Tree Board members.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

White oak tree at Kings Highway Elementary School.

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Jesup Green is the site of this Saturday’s free, outdoor Japanese Fall Festival (September 18, 2-4 p.m.). The event — sponsored by the Japan Society of Fairfield County — features taiko drummers, an Okinawan dance performance, a live play of the Japanese folktale “Tanabata” (“Star-crossed Lovers”), traditional Bon dancing, Japanese calligraphy and a craft activity to make dance hats.

Click here for details.

A scene from the 2019 Japan Fall Festival.

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“06880” has posted many stories and photos of “Gloria,” the oyster boat owned for years by the late Alan Sterling.

It was beached this summer in Gray’s Creek, between Compo Beach and Longshore.

Bruce McFadden has watched and — photographed — the craft for years. He wonders if this is its final resting place.

“Gloria” (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

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Linda Doyle was harvesting rhubarb for jam, when she spotted this guy in her garden. What a great way to start off the “Westport … Naturally” week!

(Photo/Linda Doyle)

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And finally … in honor of yesterday’s gathering at Burying Hill Beach (see story above):

Pic Of The Day #1605

Burying Hill Beach tidal marsh (Photo/Maggie Moffitt Rahe)

Roundup: Real Estate, Trash, YMCA …

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July’s real estate numbers are in.

According to Brown Harris Stevens, while the total number of closed homes declined from 96 to 69 from last year’s frothy July numbers — still the 2nd-highest number of closings for  the month since 2001 — the average closing price rose 19%, from $1,627,253 to $1,929, 908. That’s the highest for July since 2008.

Houses sold, on average, for 101% of the list price. That’s the 5th straight month the figure has surpassed 100%.

As of July 31, there were also 103 pending sales. Another 178 were listed as “active inventory.”

As for condos: 31 closed in July 2021, up from 22 the previous July. The average closing price for condos in the first 7 months of 2021 was $628,002, a rise of 34$ since the comparable period a year ago.

The total volume of house house and condo closings since January 1 is $644,692,685. That’s up a whopping 45% since the first 7 months of 2020. (Hat tip: Chuck Greenlee)

This 4-acre property on Beachside Avenue — once part of the JC Penney estate — is listed for $6,495,000. One drawback: It is not actually on the water.

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Lou Weinberg is best known as the chair of Westport’s Community Gardens.

But the Westporter’s stewardship of the earth extends to the water. He writes:

“A recent walk along Burying Hill Beach yielded an astronomical amount of garbage. The bag on the right was what my wife and I picked up. The garbage on the left was left by a generous donor or donors.

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

“As I’m sure you can guess, there were plenty of single-use plastic bottles, bottle caps, aluminum cans, balloons, fishing line, food wrappers, etc. On this walk, we even saw a used diaper and the leftovers from somebody’s lunches.

“What one can do: The Burying Hill lifeguards gave us the bag. Perhaps others who are taking a stroll along the beach and beyond could bring their own bags, or get one from the guards. Any effort to bag the garbage may result in one less piece of plastic ingested by wildlife, and a cleaner environment. Nature deserves better.”

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Several years ago, the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club ordered a historical plaque, commemorating its Westport Historic District Commission Preservation Award of 2018 for the heritage of its building.

Delivery problems delayed the ceremony until this week. Westport Museum of History & Culture house historian Bob Weingarten — who made the presentation to former commodore Paul Rosenblatt — provides the backstory:

The SHYC clubhouse was originally a stable. It was built circa 1887 by Henry C. Eno, as part of his Queen Ann seaside summer estate.

The SHYC was established 1959 by J. Anthony Probst. He remodeled the stable into a clubhouse, with the help of landscape architect Evan Harding. During the 2018 presentation, the HDC noted that underwater marsh land was dredged to create a harbor. It was the first of its kind on the eastern seaboard to feature an underwater bubble system, allowing boats to remain moored year-round.

Former commodore Paul Rosenblatt, the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club plaque, and the historic clubhouse.

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As I walked out of the Y yesterday, a man approached.

“Is this the YMCA?” he asked.

Duh! I thought. What else would it be?

Then I looked around. There is virtually no signage anywhere.

There’s nothing on Wilton Road, or Merritt Parkway Exit 41 — the only 2 ways to enter the parking lot — that say “Welcome to the Westport Weston Family YMCA!”

The sign above the entrance reads “Bedford Family Center.” Who — including most members — knows that’s the name of the Y building.

High above the entrance — where no one looks, and besides, it’s very hard to make out — is the “Y” logo. But that’s it. It doesn’t even say “YMCA.”

I guess there really is no such thing as a dumb question.

Can you see the “Y” above the “Bedford Family Center” sign? (Photo/Dan Woog)

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No one likes to see a police cruiser in their rear view mirror.

But everyone should support the Westport Police Benevolent Association’s 3rd annual Car Cruise. It’s tomorrow (Saturday, August 21, 4 to 8 p.m., Saugatuck train station parking lot #1).

Cars of all years, makes and models are welcome. It’s a family-friendly event, with music, food trucks and a raffle.

The fee to enter and display a car is $20, with the funds earmarked for causes like the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Special Olympics, and Veterans & Families of Fallen Officers.

The first 100 cars receive a gift bag. Trophies will be awarded too.

A previous Westport PBA car rally

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In 2017, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke a story about Westporter Harvey Weinstein in The New York Times. The smoldering #MeToo movement suddenly caught fire.

The 2 journalists will speak at the Westport Library’s inaugural fundraising event, “The Exchange: Conversations About The Issues of Our Time.” The October 5 (10 a.m.) event will be moderated by Westport corporate executive Joan Gillman,

Click here for more information, and tickets.

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.

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The other day, “Westport … Naturally” featured a snowy egret enjoying a meal. Today, we show one in flight.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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To purchase tickets or a table for this special event go to

And finally … speaking of the YMCA (as we were above): Maybe we need these guys as greeters in front.

Pic Of The Day #1545

Burying Hill Beach (Photo/Judith Katz)

Pic Of The Day #1519

Burying Hill Beach (Photo/Daniel Johnson)

Burying Hill Is Sound

The 2021 Long Island Sound Beach Report was released this morning.  According to Save the Sound, 79% of the more than 200 Long Island Sound beaches earned “A” or “B” grades for water quality last year.

And there — listed in the Top 10 public beaches in Connecticut, based on water quality — is Westport’s own Burying Hill.

It and Stamford’s Quigley Beach were the only Fairfield County spots on the list.

Water quality at Burying Hill Beach is excellent. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Key findings of Save the Sound’s 2021 Long Island Sound Beach Report include:

  • That still leaves 16% of Sound beaches with moderate to poor grades. meaning more work must be done to improve water quality and avoid beach closures.
  • Rain is the primary driver for water pollution at area beaches. Water quality failure rates doubled when it rained, even 48 hours later.
  • Rain causes water quality failure for several reasons, including stormwater runoff or sewer line overflow when communities depend on combined stormwater/sewer lines, or have aging sewer lines with undetected leaks.
  • Climate change will mean more rain for the region. It is crucial to invest in stormwater and sewage infrastructure to avoid more beach closures.

Click here for Save the Sound’s interactive maps, listing beach water quality. The full Beach Report can be downloaded from there too.

Roundup: Autism Awareness, Burying Hill Rocks …

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To honor Autism Awareness Month, Westport Police officers bought special commemorative badges. They’ll wear them on their uniforms throughout April.

The blue badge prominently features the puzzle piece logo — the symbol of autism awareness. A portion of the badge’s purchase price will be donated to Autism Speaks.

Westport Police officers show off their autism badges.

In addition, Fleet Auto Supply donated autism logos for the doors of all police cars.

During Autism Awareness Month, the Police Department reminds Westporters about the town’s Disability Registry. A combined effort of the Westport Disability Commission, Human Services and the Police, the confidential registry provides essential information to assist police and other emergency workers to address the needs of residents of all abilities. Click here for signup information.

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Westport’s rockiest beach is getting some love.

Two machines were hard at work yesterday and today, at Burying Hill Beach.

One ran rocks through a sifter.

Another smoothed the sand.

(Photos/Art Schoeller)

It’s not as difficult as freeing a 220,000-ton ship from the Suez Canal.

But it’s close.

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Concerned how much longer the bull market will run? Worried what’s next?

Y’s Women’s Investment Group has a few slots for new members. The club has analyzed the market for more than 20 years — and achieved better results than some famous prognosticators. For more information, email dynamicr@icloud.com.

Y’s Women membership is $45 a year. To learn more, click here. For the latest newsletter, click here.

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Betty Stolpen Weiner writes: “I recently moved back to the area (Weston), and wanted to share a nice Westport experience.

“I needed a large and very heavy table moved to my basement. I saw on Facebook that the Staples High School wrestling team moves furniture in exchange for a donation for the team.

“Sal Augeri sent his son Nick over with some friends to help. I was so impressed with how polite, responsible and helpful the boys were! It was a nice reminder of why I chose to move back to the area.”

If you’ve got moving (or other physical labor) needs, email salaugeri@me.com or terrybrannigan5@gmail.com.

Among the wrestlers’ jobs: moving a chicken coop. (This was before the pandemic, which is why they’re not wearing masks.)

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Samantha Lavy and Jennifer Strom — aka the JSRC Group of therapists — has opened a Westport office, at 26 Imperial Avenue. They’ll continue their Stamford practice too.

“We support couples, families, teens, and individuals as we all move through these challenging times and beyond,” they say. “We also continue our work advising families navigating the particular complexities and family dynamics which often occur in the context of family business and wealth.”

For more information call 203-212-8383, or email hello@jsrcgroup.com

Samantha Lavy (left) and Jennifer Strom.

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A worried “06880” reader writes:

“I was on my way to the transfer station, when a lady behind me took a picture of my minivan. I thought, oh boy, I bet with the wind, a trash bag fell out of the can on my cargo hitch.

“I got the station. Sure enough, one bag was missing.

“I drove the same route back, and found it. I picked it up and drove home.

“I am writing just in case a picture of my super-cool white minivan with an awesome cargo hitch gets carrying a couple of trash cans gets to you.

“I thought the lady who took a picture of my minivan would post it on social media and send it to you. I thought I would have to sell the super-cool minivan to avoid being identified and embarrass my children forever.

“I swear I pick up after my dog and park my car using one spot. Nevertheless, the fact that someone had a picture of my car was a very strong incentive to trace down the fly-away-trash bag.”

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And finally … tons o’ musical birthdays today, with a variety of genres. We salute:

Jay Traynor, the original “Jay” of Jay & the Americans (replaced later by Jay Black); born in 1943, died in 2014, age 71.

Eric Clapton: 76 years old today.

MC Hammer: 59 years old.

Tracy Chapman: 57 years old.

Celine Dion: 53 years old.

Norah Jones: 42 years old.