Summit Saugatuck — the 187-unit development on Hiawatha Lane Extension, near I-95 Exit 17 — has plowed ahead.
Last summer, what seemed to be the final steps for construction occurred. The last tenants left their homes, and heavy equipment moved in.
For 2 decades, neighbors have fought the proposal. Yesterday, after countless setbacks, Carolanne Curry — one of the most dogged opponents — sent this message:
“For 20 years we’ve been living with the bad news — the disrupting presence of developer Felix Charney wrecking havoc and and uncertainty in our lives. But today there is good news for all of us who want to Save Old Saugatuck.
“For many months our attorney, Joel Green, has been preparing significant legal steps to appeal the recent court ruling. He has prevailed in submitting a formal filing with a 170-page plaintiff’s brief, taking our case from the CT State Superior Court to the CT State Appellate Court. This was no easy task as Charney’s attorney, Tim Hollister, created many delays and presented misinformation and intimidations.
“Once an appeal has been filed, no property development should progress until the appeal has been settled. Over the next several months Attorney Green will have the opportunity to present the compelling reasons that legally support retaining a single family neighborhood on Hiawatha Lane Extension, and simultaneously would protect every other home in our community of Old Saugatuck. (To read online or download a PDF file of the entire brief, click here.)
“This initial appeal is just the first step in the appeal process… and we will continue to take this as far as possible.”
Artist’s rendering of the proposed 187-unit apartment complex on Hiawatha Lane.
Rain gear has been added to the list of material being collected for Ukraine, at the next 2 Westport Farmers’ Markets (February 2 and 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Lane).
Also needed: gently used winter coats, mittens, hats and gloves. Cash contributions to help with shipping costs are welcome too.
Questions? Want to help? Email Mark Yurkiw: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Yurkiw is helping collect supplies for his native Ukraine.
Longtime Westporter Martin Rosenfeld died Monday at his home in Rockville, Maryland. He was 95 years old.
Living here from 1998 until 2021, he and Martha, his wife of 66 years, were active members of the community.
Together, they donated over 16,000 volunteer hours, during nearly 20 years of service at Norwalk Hospital. Countless area residents remember Martin from his help with patients, visitors and staff in the ambulatory surgical waiting room.
Longtime members of a synagogue in New Rochelle, when they retired they looked for a community where they could continue to be active. At The Conservative Synagogue of Westport they found a young community with many children, which they immersed themselves in.
They assisted in the office, shined the silver on the Torah scrolls, and provided Passover Seders for people without local families. Martin played a key role as a tutor in the synagogue’s B’Nai Mitzvah program.
At the age of 70, Martin learned to read Torah for the first time. Until the pandemic diverted synagogue services to Zoom, he was still going strong — in fact, he was the synagogue’s most prolific reader.
Martin and Martha Rosenfeld
He and his Martha were avid attendees at adult education programs, inspiring all. In 2018, the couple were honored by the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County.
Born in the Bronx, Martin was a graduate of DeWitt Clinton High School and New York University. A veteran of World War II, he then attended Yale University where he became fluent in Japanese.
In addition to his wife Martha (Elowsky), Martin is survived by his daughter Elizabeth, son and daughter-in-law Reuben and Ora, and 3 grandsons.
His funeral and burial services were held Tuesday in Elmont, Long Island. Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn and Cantor Luis Cattan officiated.
Longtime Westporter Joseph Crosby, Jr. died this week, after a brief illness. He was 82.
Raised outside Philadelphia, Joe entered the Navy as an officer after graduating from LaSalle in 1962. While stationed in Puerto Rico he met his wife of 55 years, Carmen I. Crosby (Brau).
They settled in Westport in 1969 and raised their family there, the greatest joy of his life.
Joe was a pilot with American Airlines, retiring as captain in 2000. His favorite trips were those that brought him home each night. His children called him “the only pilot who doesn’t enjoy traveling.”
Joe also loved sailboats, and purchased his first in 1976. Over the years the boats got bigger, and the family summer cruises longer. They traveled to Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
At home, Joe spent mornings discussing the New York Times, afternoons watching the birds, squirrels, chipmunks and ducks that graced their yard, and evenings in the living room with cocktails and snacks.
His favorite activities were watching sunsets on the boat, and spending time with his grandchildren.
Joe is survived by his wife Carmen; daughter Tracy Crosby (Peter Vath); son Joe (Tricia Mulligan), and grandchildren Caleb and Leah Vath, and Samantha and Ryan Crosby.
His family expresses appreciation to all the healthcare professionals at Bridgeport Hospital, especially the Progressive Care Unit, Vitas, and the 7th floor team.
The family will receive visitors on February 4 (11 a.m., followed by a service at noon) at Harding Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Bridgeport Rescue Mission in Joe’s name.
Joseph Crosby, Jr.
It’s been nearly 2 weeks since we ran a “Westport … Naturally” photo of the black buzzards buzzing around the dumpster behind Gaetano’s and Shanghai Gourmet.
They’re still there, enjoying Italian and Chinese food to go.
Though Superior Court Judge Marshall Berger dismissed a suit by Hiawatha Lane residents against Summit Saugatuck — developer of the 157-unit apartment complex by I-95 Exit 17 — the neighbors vow to fight on.
Carolanne Curry writes: “A close analysis by (our) attorney of the findings in Judge Berger’s decision, would show the Judge’s decision to be weak enough, flawed enough, and sufficient enough to warrant an immediate and vigorous appeal. During a conversation on Friday our attorney relayed that the merits of an appeal were convincing and justifiable. (Read the decision dated May 31, 2022 here.)
“We have come too far to simply relinquish our sincere efforts and the many successes we have achieved, especially while there are viable pathways to further success that are still within our reach. Our chances of success today are like all the chances we’ve continuously embraced for nearly 20 years. We’ve gone ahead each time and achieved many wins. We still remain an affordable working class neighborhood. We still remain a community with history… and hope. We still remain committed to stopping something so very wrong.”
An appeal would take 12 to 18 months, Curry says. That would put a hold on construction.
The biggest challenge, she says, is funding. Her email included a goal of $50,000 to cover the current balance owed, and legal fees going forward. Click here for details, and more information.
One of the Hiawatha Lane homes on the demolition list.
With 23 sponsors, it was already clear that a “sense of the meeting” resolution supporting a woman’s right to abortion would pass the 36-member Representative Town Meeting.
But — after impassioned debate — the non-partisan legislative body enacted the member without dissent from the 29 members still on the Zoom call.
The RTM has weighed in on national issues before. In 1969, they voted 17-15 to oppose the Vietnam War. After the Sandy Hook massacre, they resoundingly called for an end to gun violence.
District 4 representative Andrew Colabella told “06880” after last night’s vote:
“Tonight the RTM, men and women, stood together and in unison, eloquently and passionately to adopt a resolution asserting that Westport supports the constitutional rights and principles established in Roe v. Wade, and opposes the elimination of those rights by any subsequent Supreme Court decision.
“Putting aside individual beliefs and political affiliations, this nonpartisan body, like always, setting precedent by discussing and taking action voiced, loud and clear with great enthusiasm while holding back tears.
“The future is terrifying. We are fortunate and lucky to live in such an educated and strongly passionate diverse and inclusive town that, like our state, goes above and beyond to protect women’s rights.
“Furthermore, the best health care is provided free of political interference in the patient-physician relationship. Personal decision-making by women and their doctors should not be replaced by political ideology. This was affirmed in our unanimous vote.
“And like the people that we are in this town, ready to give a helping hand, will take pride in helping those beyond our borders whatever decision is rendered.”
He and his wife Liz were part of a private audience with Pope Francis.
The pontiff said: “The promotion and deepening of Jewish-Christian dialogue has been something close to my heart since I was a young boy, because at school I had Jewish classmates; it is a dialogue made up of encounter and concrete gestures of fraternity.
“It is good that we should help one another, because in each one of us, in every religious tradition and in every human society, there is always a risk that we can hold grudges and foster disputes against others, and at times do so in the name of absolute and even sacred principles.”
The delegation responded: “Your Holiness, we hope that all people will stand together against antisemitism, against anti-Christian discrimination and against intolerance directed at Muslims. In recognition of our common home and common destiny, let us protect the environment, care for the most vulnerable and promote mutual understanding rather than mutual recrimination. Thank you, Your Holiness, and may God bless all people everywhere with shalom, with peace.”
Pope Francis shook Kaner’s hand, looked him in the eye and said, “Pray for Peace.”
And finally … Jim Seals — half of the ’70s soft-rock duo Seals & Crofts — died Monday in Nashville. He was 79.
I knew (but never really cared for) the group’s hits like “Summer Breeze” and “Diamond Girl.”
But I did not know — until I read his obituary — that Jim Seals and Dash Crofts were part of the Champs, who had a 1958 hit with “Tequila,” another song that did nothing for me. (They joined after it was a hit.)
Nor did I know that Seals’ brother Dan was a member of England Dan & John Ford Coley (“I’d Really Love to See You Tonight”). You guessed it …
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One week after the Planning & Zoning Commission agreed to a settlement with Summit Saugatuck — allowing a scaled-down 157-unit housing development to be built on Hiawatha Lane (off Saugatuck Avenue adjacent to I-95 Exit 17). seemingly ending 18 years of proposals and litigation — there is a new twist.
Earlier this afternoon — one day ahead of the filing deadline — a petition signed by over 60 electors was delivered to the town clerk. Lead petitioner Gloria Gouveia and Save Old Saugatuck leader Carolanne Curry presented the signatures.
If Town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton ascertains that there are at least 20 valid signatures, the petition will be forwarded to the Representative Town Meeting, as provided by the Town Charter. A public hearing would follow.
The RTM has 30 days from today to hear and decide the petition.
Last Saturday, Carolanne Curry noticed some workers bustling about in a West Ferry Lane parking lot near the train station. It’s owned by the town, but is a convenient spot for Gault customers.
After years of being on edge about potential development of Hiawatha Lane — her neighborhood — the longtime resident worried something was up.
The West Ferry Lane parking lot, after some work was done. (Photo/Carolanne Curry)
Something was up. But she needn’t have worried.
Yesterday, Gault Family Companies president Sam Gault replied to her email. He said:
Carolanne, thanks for reaching out. I offered to do a clean-up of this parking lot for the town, to make it look presentable for our neighborhood.
This has been an eyesore for many years (overgrown bush, dead trees, leaves, sand from plowing, etc.). The soil that you see is sand buildup over the years leveled out.
We have a few more trees [in poor shape] to take down. We are distributing wood chips over the entire area, and re-installing a nice black chain link fence that will disappear to the eye (as opposed to the rusted, dented, broken fence that was there).
This will upgrade the entrance to our neighborhood that has been neglected for years. Any questions, please reach out. If you want a tour, let me know.
The jury is still out on Summit Saugatuck’s proposal to build 187 units of housing nearby.
But the verdict is in on Gault. After 156 years in the area, they’re still at the top of their game.
Carolanne Curry is a 20-year resident of Saugatuck. She’s concerned about possible changes to the neighborhood — and about the process. She writes:
It was painful to hear the response given to Helen Garten at the last Transit Oriented District meeting.
Speaking as a public member attending the 8 a.m. session, Helen questioned the gap of understanding between the TOD committee members appointed by the 1st Selectman, and the frustrated “Don’t ruin our community” members of the public, who have religiously attended this dance marathon of TOD meetings for over a year.
Helen said that public input is not acknowledged to any degree in the TOD report that is shaping up to account for the $450,000 in state money spent by Westport to create a design plan to improve transportation at our transportation center.
One of the plans from the Transit Oriented Design proposal.
The response from those conducting that TOD session was that Helen perhaps had not attended a sufficient number of meetings, or else she wouldn’t be asking that question.
A comment about attendance was nowhere near appropriate. The right response would have been:
The TOD committee members understand that 1) development, 2) intensity of development, and 3) the inevitable “overdevelopment” of Saugatuck Center is the pursuit of this TOD committee. Even if it results in the loss of identity, community and history.
This appears to be one more battle between the forces of artificially forced development, and those who encourage relevant and organic growth of a community.
Hats off to Helen for warning that community input was not being acknowledged.
One of the final 2 TOD meetings is again at 8 a.m. — tomorrow (Tuesday, January 30, Town Hall). The public must keep asking questions about increased traffic and development in Saugatuck center.
An aerial view of Saugatuck, from the consultants’ draft report.
Alert — and worried — “06880” reader Carolanne Curry writes:
I am trying to understand how the strong and resilient community of Old Saugatuck finds itself under siege for the 5th time, by a developer who wants to build a building he shouldn’t be building, in a residential area he should be building in, and (as a topper) he wants the Town of Westport to give him public sewer access for his proposed 155 apartments on Hiawatha Lane Extension.
All this building on a nondescript street carved out of wetlands and swamps, bounded by roads, railroads and highways, so that a natural cocoon of 8 streets slowly shaped this community.
Hiawatha Lane is a narrow street, filled with homes that are modest by Westport standards. It’s accessible only via West Ferry Lane off Saugatuck Avenue, next to the I-95 eastbound entrance/exit ramp.
Felix Charney of Summit Saugatuck LLC is the developer with this fixation to build on Hiawatha Lane Extension. Surprisingly, despite his failed efforts, he is making his 5th request for public sewer access before the Planning and Zoning Commission tomorrow (Thursday, July 7, 7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium). This time, he is appearing with the active encouragement of the 1st and 2nd selectmen.
I’m curious how Charney and Westport Housing Authority chair David Newberg got to be “building” partners on Hiawatha Lane Extension? When in 2015 did the town, through the offices of the 1st and 2nd selectman, invite and encourage the formation of a Charney/WHA partnership? Why would WHA accept such a contentious role in further alienating residents of Old Saugatuck?
Why would the 1st and 2nd selectmen resurrect such a poorly conceived proposal for 155 apartments? It comes with the same problems that existed in 2005. There is no sewer. Has anything changed?
And why make WHA complicit in the destruction of a community that is an authentic model of affordable, workforce housing, exactly the kind of housing for which WHA advocates? Housing in Old Saugatuck is the direct result of its history with the railroad, the Saugatuck River and the construction of I-95.
Old Saugatuck is a community. Felix Charney would make it a commodity.
A rendering of the proposed Hiawatha Lane development.
On an even more critical note, when did our Town Hall leaders plan to tell the residents of Old Saugatuck that they were no longer on the side of preserving the precious heritage and homes of the community, but had given their allegiance to Felix Charney? Was this what voters and taxpayers had in mind from their leaders?
In the David and Goliath scenario that will play out tomorrow, before the P&Z with this developer once again, the residents of Old Saugatuck call out to their neighbors, friends and supporters to come to Town Hall. Be a presence and a voice with us, and for us.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe replies:
Felix Charney put forth a sewer extension request last year related to his proposed development that received a negative recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Earlier this year, Mr. Charney presented a pre-application proposal for his Hiawatha Lane properties that differed from the previous year by incorporating a joint venture with the Westport Housing Authority.
He has now presented another sewer extension request related to that latest proposal. Because that request is in process, I cannot comment on the merits of this proposal outside of public session. The sewer extension request and rationale will be discussed following the town’s standard policies and procedures tomorrow in public session. That will be the time for the public to hear more about the proposed plans, to comment, and to have an open dialogue with the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The sewer extension request will ultimately be heard by the Town’s Water Pollution Control Authority in public session, which will afford another opportunity for dialogue. Because I am a member of the WPCA that will hear this sewer application, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on this proposal outside of the WPCA public hearing process.
I offered the Westport Housing Authority a chance to reply. They declined to comment at this time.
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