Tag Archives: Cross Highway

Christie’s Closes Soon. Another Westport Institution Is Gone.

In 1926, Christie Masiello opened a fruit and vegetable stand on Cross Highway. For nearly 7 decades she and her nephew Don were staples of that northern Westport neighborhood: a place to buy food (and gas). And — just as important — to meet.

The place went through some changes — it was briefly a dry cleaner — but when John and Renee Hooper bought it in 2009, Christie’s regained its rightful place as a neighborhood store. And community center.

John added burritos, prepared foods and more to the menu. He rented space to Frosty Bear ice cream. There was a farmers’ market on Sunday mornings.

Nearby Staples High and Bedford Middle School students flocked there after class (sometimes during). Neighbors stopped in a couple of times a day, for whatever they needed. (Including cumin for a Christmakkah meal — click here for that great story.)

It was the only place around for builders, construction workers, tradesmen and delivery people too. They packed the parking lot at lunchtime.

Christie’s was also the go-to place during weather disasters. When hurricanes howled or blizzards blew, the store was the neighborhood port in a storm. John offered ice, water, food, cell charging — whatever anyone needed.

If his power was out too, it was still the place to gather, swap stories, and get energized for the cleanup ahead.

(Photo/Katherine Hooper)

But all those will soon be memories. With sadness, John has announced that Christie’s is closing next month.

Rent and taxes are high, relative to sales and income that can be generated in his out-of-the-way place.

The lease was up in June. But John and Renee stayed on, to see if they could create a plan to make things work.

Christie’s is a non-conforming use, in a residential neighborhood. Zoned as a retail food establishment, it can operate as a takeout deli, with limited tables and chairs to seat approximately 9 patrons indoors.

The Hoopers wanted to offer brunch in the winter — in front of the fireplace — and on the porch in summer.

Christie’s handsome front porch.

They hoped for limited dinner too, in the form of Friday Family Fun Nights  (Saturdays too).

But before they could get approval from Planning & Zoning, they needed an okay from the Health Department.

Health officials said the septic system could not handle the additional stress. And — according to state regulations — the surrounding soils made expansion of the current system unfeasible. John and Renee had to operate as they currently do.

“Local officials were great,” John says. “They tried to work with us. But state laws prohibit expanding the septic system.”

So Christie’s will close soon after their last catering event: a Staples PTA holiday lunch for teachers.

That’s fitting. John has always been a huge supporter of Westport (and Fairfield) schools. He’s provided great food as cheaply as he can — sometimes at cost.

Four middle schoolers hung out the other day at Christie’s — near a menorah, moose and reindeer.

“Renee and I are thankful for all the great friends and supporters we’ve met,” John says. “I’ve watched a lot of kids grow up. It’s been amazing, and what I’ll miss the most.”

“Closing Christie’s is sad for me. But Renee is comforted that I will be able to devote more time to her growing food company.” White Oak Farm & Table sells non-GMO and organic shelf-stable food to stores nationwide.

Everyone who made Christie’s their home away from home is sad too.

Really, everyone in Westport should be.

A little bit of what made our town special will soon be gone.

Thanks, John and Renee, for 9 great years.

And Christie’s, for 92 of them.

Pic Of The Day #443

Ed Gerber’s Cross Highway home was built in 1764 — more than a decade before the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was built by Eliphalet Sturges, who has one of the great names in the history of Westport.

Cleanup Continues

Friday’s nor’easter has moved out to sea.

Power is back on. Roads are cleared.

But for this homeowner on Cross Highway, near North Avenue, recovery will take a bit longer.

Meanwhile, tides are still running much higher than normal. This was the scene earlier this afternoon, at the Black Duck.

(Photo/Ward French)

 

Surf’s Up!

It sure doesn’t feel like May 25.

Alert “06880” reader Matt Murray captured these shots at soggy Compo Beach a short while ago:

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photos/Matt Murray)

Canal Road is closed due to flooding. Police warn of potential flooding elsewhere in town.

Meanwhile, Cross Highway and Prospect Road were closed due to downed trees and wires.

More rain is forecast for tomorrow — but temperatures will rise to about 71.

The weekend — and Memorial Day — could be cloudy, with temperatures hovering around 70.

That’s okay. After last year’s rainout, we’re ready for a parade.

Weather or not.

May 25, 2017 - Ed Simek - Compo

(Photo/Ed Simek)

Mailboxes Etc.

Last night, a number of mailboxes in the Greens Farms and Cross Highway neighborhoods were vandalized or stolen.

Police believe it was the work of teenagers.

Normally, this would not be an “06880” story. But there’s more.

This weekend marks the 3rd anniversary of a Westport woman’s husband’s death.

When they moved into their home, she wanted a red mailbox. He bought it for her, as a gift. Now it’s gone.

The post that held the missing mailbox.

This Sunday is also Mother’s Day. The woman calls this “the hardest weekend of the year for me.”

She adds:

“I love Westport. I feel proud of calling this community home. I have great respect for the families that live here.”

However, she is appalled by what happened. She feels that her family — and others — have had their privacy violated. She calls what happened “irresponsible and damaging.”

This is a long shot. But if you’re reading this, and you stole that red mailbox — or know where it is — do the right thing.

Bring it back.

Ron Malone Escapes House Fire

Former Westport police chief and RTM member Ron Malone was treated for smoke inhalation, after a fire at his Cross Highway home this morning.

The blaze began around 6:10 a.m., in the kitchen. Firefighters and police responded very quickly. They made sure Malone and 2 dogs were safe.

According to reports, Malone lived part-time at the property, which he inherited from an uncle.

Ron Malone’s house, after the fire. (Photo/Mark Yurkiw)

86 Cross Highway: Another Preservation Success Story

There’s something about Cross Highway. For some reason, it’s become the epicenter of preservation in Westport.

“06880” has chronicled the stories of #93, the former home of noted artist George Hand Wright; #108, an 1805 dwelling that may have been built by a free black man; #113, where several outbuildings included one of the first gas stations in Westport, and — most recently — #180, a 2.9-acre property with a 1728 saltbox and 1790s-era barn.

All were saved from almost certain destruction by owners who loved the history, charm and livability of those homes — and found ways to save them.

Meet the latest addition to the Cross Highway saga: #86.

Eight years ago, Bill and Sarah Dransfield moved to Westport. They left Manhattan for the usual reasons: schools. Their 1st child was entering kindergarten. The couple are both teachers — he’s at The Allen-Stevenson School on the Upper East Side, she’s a fitness instructor (now with Total Training & Endurance) — they could not afford New York’s astronomical tuitions.

They rented on Long Lots Lane. They painted, cleaned up the yard — and watched as nearly every home nearby turned into a teardown.

Sarah and Bill Dransfield, on the property they now own.

Sarah and Bill Dransfield, on the property they now own.

This past spring, they learned their own rental home would soon be torn down too. They began looking for one to buy.

It was not easy. They had a limited budget. They wanted to stay in the Bedford/ Long Lots district, where their 2 kids were in school.

And they really wanted an older house. “One with character and charm,” Sarah explains.

They were outbid on a Roseville Road farmhouse. November 1 — the day they had to be out of their rental — loomed.

While Sarah was looking at a place on Main Street — she was literally inside the house — a friend who lives on Victoria Lane sent a text. Her neighbor’s house had just come on the market. “It’s a gem,” the friend said.

Sarah’s realtor quickly replied: “It’s out of your price range.”

But she agreed to show it to Sarah. The moment she walked in the door, Sarah says, “I knew this was it. It’s exactly what we wanted. I cried!”

A springtime view of 86 Cross Highway, as seen from the road.

A springtime view of 86 Cross Highway, as seen from the long driveway. The house is set back from the road.

She particularly loved the 2 fireplaces, and the office overflowing with books and papers. “I realized how much the owner had enjoyed being there,” Sarah says.

The house was built in 1910. Since 1962, it was owned by Sarah and Steve Herz. She too was an educator — a longtime and much-loved English teacher at Bedford and Staples, who died 2 years ago — while he earned renown in a 2nd career as a poet.

When Bill saw the home, he noted a problem with the ceiling: The house had a flat roof. But the couple saw plenty of potential. “The inside just needs to be loved again,” Sarah says.

They wrote a letter to the Herz children, who were selling the home. The Dransfields said they were both teachers, and wanted to raise their children in a home that had so obviously meant so much to Sarah and Steve Herz’s children, Mark and Kate.

“They got it,” Sarah Dransfield says. “They know it’s hard for teachers to live in Westport.”

They agreed on a price. The buyers’ landlord allowed them to stay in their rental property until mid-December.

On December 19, the new owners moved in. Bill cut down a small fir in the yard, for their Christmas tree.

A rear view of 86 Cross Highway.

A rear view of 86 Cross Highway.

There’s a lot of work to be done. The Dransfields will put in a sloped roof. They hope to expose some of the old beams in the kitchen. They’ve found some old photos, and plan to bring back the landscaping as it was when the Herzes bought the house.

Sarah and Bill are thrilled to own their first home. They’re even happier that it’s the type they always coveted: an older one, with character and charm.

Sitting in their new kitchen, they talk about the home next door. It’s a teardown — and it looms over that stretch of Cross Highway, which has managed nonetheless to maintain several older properties.

“Not everyone can move into a ready-made home,” Sarah says. “And not everyone wants to.”

For now, the streetscape of Cross Highway remains less changed than many others in Westport.

Those who care about preservation can thank Ed Gerber (#93), Jeff Porter and Rachel Ember (#108), the Ronemus family (#113) and Mark Yurkiw and Wendy Van Wie (#180) for that.

And — though #86 sits back a bit from the road — we can now add Bill and Sarah Dransfield to the list.

With, of course, an assist from Steve and Sarah Herz, and their kids.

Cross At Your Own Risk

As construction on the North Compo/Main Street culvert continues, drivers are forced to use alternate routes.

A short stretch of Cross Highway has long been closed at Main Street. But that doesn’t stop impatient folks from using it.

Alert “06880” reader Susan Isenman was startled to see a car speed past her — and roar onto Main Street without stopping.

A while later she spotted a “friendly policeman” on Main, writing a ticket to a similar offender. He told Isenman he’d written 4 the previous day.

Cops hear all kinds of excuses. But — as the photo below shows — “I didn’t see the signs” won’t fly here.

(Photo/Susan Isenman)

(Photo/Susan Isenman)

Let The Chaos Begin

Alert “06880” reader Susan Iseman snapped this photo moments ago, on the first day of the North Compo Road closure, from Cross Highway to Main Street:

(Photo/Susan Iseman)

(Photo/Susan Iseman)

The road will be shut for 30 days, due to culvert work.

Meanwhile, not far away, Jeff Gray reports that — contrary to previous indications — North Avenue is still closed, at the Merritt Parkway bridge.

Safe travels!

A Modest Traffic Proposal

News that culvert work will close Compo Road North between Cross Highway and Main Street beginning Monday — for 30 days* — has raised the specter of even-longer-than-usual delays from Coffee An’ to the take-your-life-in-your-hands Main Street/Weston Road/Easton Road intersection. And, of course, on side streets.

Alert “06880” Westporter Chip Stephens has a simple, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?! solution:

Open Cross Highway to 2-way traffic, from North Compo to Main Street.

This short stretch of Cross Highway is now one-way. Temporarily opening it to two-way traffic could ease construction-related delays.

This short stretch of Cross Highway is now one-way. Temporarily opening it to two-way traffic could ease construction-related delays.

It’s not unheard of. Back when Chip — a 1973 Staples High School graduate — was a kid, traffic flowed both ways there. Now it’s eastbound only.

The temporary fix would not solve all of Westport’s traffic woes.

But it couldn’t hurt.

*Official estimate. If you believe that, I have a North Avenue Bridge to sell you.