“06880” has performed many civic functions over the years.
We’ve told you where to get COVID vaccines (remember those?).
We’ve given you details on dumping your yard waste after a storm. We’ve provided primers on septic systems.
Today, we’re a Driver Ed teacher.
Alert “06880 reader — and terrified-to-be-on-the-road-these-days Westporter — Lynn Flint sends along these reminders of who has the right-of-way at 4-way stop signs.
Three examples: Hillspoint and Greens Farms Roads; Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane; Cross Highway and North Avenue (tricky, because one of the stops is not visible to all other drivers).
The North Avenue/Cross Highway intersection may be the most dangerous one in Westport without a light. Who goes first?
Here are the rules:
1. The first vehicle to arrive has the right of way. Pretty easy: You get there (clearly) first, you go first.
2. Always yield to the right. When 2 vehicles arrive side by side, the one furthest to the right has the right of way. (That’s “right” — an easy way to remember it.) If there are 3 vehicles, the one furthest left goes last (“left = last”).
3. Straight traffic has the right of way over turning traffic. This applies when 2 cars face each other. If they’re both heading straight, or turning in the same direction (say, both left or both right), both can go at the same time. If one is turning, but the other is not, the turning driver yields to the straight-ahead driver. NOTE: This assumes that a driver who is turning uses the turn signal. That’s the little arm on the steering column. It is not difficult to push up or down, and it is not there for decoration.
4. Right turns take the right of way over left turns. This is Advanced Placement Driver Ed. Imagine 2 cars facing each other. One is turning right; the other is turning left. If they both go at the same time, they’ll crash. So the car turning right — the one closest to the turn — goes first.
There is no written test for this — just a practical exam.
The Man of Steel arrived on the Trefz Forum big screen. Westporter Arlen Schumer presented an in-depth lecture on Curt Swan — the longtime local illustrator who for 29 years was DC Comics’ primary Superman artist.
it’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Arlen Schumer and Curt Swan at the Westport Library! (Photo/Dave Matlow)
Swan’s 3 children were all in the audience. Chris lives in Westport; Karen Brooks is in Wilton, and Ceal Swift is in Westbrook.. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)
Chris Swan and his sisters Ceal and Karen, in the Westport Library audience. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
Camp A Cappella CT — the innovative program teaching vocal technique, beatboxing, ensemble skills and choreography to area youngsters — returns this summer with an in-person program.
And another star on its faculty.
Michelle Pauker — the 2013 Staples High School graduate/Broadway performer who wowed a recent SRO MoCA crowd with an evening of song — will work her considerable magic.
Michelle earned a BA in music from Baldwin Wallace Conservatory, concentrating in musical theater. Many Westporters already know her through her private lessons.
Michelle joins music educator Amanda Violone, in the upbeat, fun camp program.
Camp A Cappella CT was created by Danielle Merlis, following the success of her Cello Camp. The award-winning musician was initially inspired at Long Lots Elementary School, earned first chair honors in the Staples High orchestra, and went on to perform with Chris Brubeck and the Eagles, at venues like Lincoln Center.
Camp A Cappella CT welcomes singers in grades 1 to 12. It runs August 22 to 27 at Christ & Holy Trinity Church, alongside The Cello Camp, now in its 7th year.
For information and registration for Camp A Cappella CT. click here.
PS: You don’t have to attend (or have a kid who does) to enjoy the camps’ final concerts (August 27, 5 p.m. cellists, 7 p.m. singers, Christ & Holy Trinity Church). Everyone is welcome.
Next up on the big screen: Westporter Kathy-Ann Hart.
She’s the latest addition to the cast of “Madame Web.” The Marvel comics-based film’s cast includes Dakota Johnson, Mike Epps, Adam Scott and Sydney Sweeney.
Though she began performing as a child in her native Trinidad, Hart is a newcomer to film. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2003, she worked for many years as a corporate attorney and non-profit executive. She moved to Westport in 2017.
Gas prices have dropped for over 50 straight days. They’re now nearly $1 less than this spring’s (very high) highs.
Today — and today only — you can get $1 off each gallon, at the Shell station across from Westport Country Playhouse.
They’ve renovated their interior, so it’s a brighter and better-stocked (if not particularly healthy) convenience story mart than before. They’re celebrating today, with the special $1 off offer. (Hat tip: Ifeseyi Gayle)
The Shell station opposite Westport Country Playhouse. (Photo/Ifeseyi Gayle)
The Weston Flea is Saturday, September 10 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Weston High School). This month, organizers invite anyone looking to sell home goods, tag sale items, crafts, art, new business ideas and more, to reserve space.
Popular items include toys, garage and garden items, tools, rugs, candles, soap and jewelry. The cost is $25 for 2 parking spaces ($20 for seniors).
This fall, Fairfield Museum presents an immersive exhibit on the life and work of Richard Scarry.
The children’s book author and illustrator — known for the book “Busytown,” and characters like Huckle the Cat, Lowly Worm, Miss Honey and Mr. Frumble — lived in Westport. He began illustrating in 1948, but his work remains popular today. The Fairfield Museum show will introduce him to the next generation.
It will include original artwork, unpublished drawings, rare books, large-scale reproductions of his illustrations, a reading nook, and a museum-wide scavenger hunt.
For a place that looks almost exactly like as it did 7 decades ago, Christie’s has seen a lot.
For decades, Christie Masiello and her nephew Don ran the Cross Highway store as a country market. Nearby residents bought milk, eggs and produce there.
When the Masiellos finally sold it, there were changes (including a brief, forgettable moment as a dry cleaner).
In 2009 John and Renee Hooper bought it, and brought back the comfy, community gathering place vibe. They added burritos, prepared foods, Frosty Bear ice cream and a Sunday farmers’ market.
The couple wanted to offer brunch in the winter by the fire, and on the porch in the summer, plus a limited dinner menu. But state regulations prohibit expanding the septic system — a prerequisite for the changes — so after 9 years the Hoopers closed Christie’s.
Chef’s Table took over in April 2019, adding premium sandwiches, soups and a salad bar. But it closed this past January. Owner Rich Herzfeld said, “Very simply, the location didn’t work out for us.”
Jonathan Mathias thinks it can work for him. The 1977 Weston High School graduate — who for 20 years has built A Dash of Salt into a full-service catering firm with clients throughout the tri-state area, and as far as Maine and Florida — had long been encouraged by Christie’s owner, Tim Purcell, to give it a try.
Now Jonathan wants to.
He’s got some intriguing ideas. He’d transform the patio, with inviting seating, and hang rattan swings by the entrance. He’d bring back the ice cream hut, and sell Arethusa dairy products from Litchfield inside. He’d offer pick-up Community Supported Agriculture boxes from a farm partner, and local fresh eggs too.
With a bit of attention and fixing up, Jonathan says, Christie’s could be vibrant and exciting. He mentions Harbor Market in Sag Harbor as a model.
But he needs community support. He was buoyed by many positive comments when he floated the idea on Facebook.
Of course, online likes don’t translate into cold cash. Putting a first-class market requires extensive funding. Purchasing the building would be ideal. He’s looking for investors who share his vision.
Interested residents — or anyone who would like to know more — should email email@example.com.
Last Saturday’s traffic was INSANE. In late afternoon, it took one “06880” reader half an hour to travel from McDonald’s to downtown. Another spent 40 minutes getting from the Post Road to the train station.
Side roads were no better. Cars backed up on Cross Highway from Weston Road all the way to Bayberry Lane.
This was a particularly bad Thanksgiving weekend mess. But more and more, it’s the norm.
An alert “06880” who asked to be identified as GS has had enough. He writes:
I’ve lived in town a long time. I’ve seen the traffic get worse and worse.
You can’t get from here to there anymore. I envision a not-too-distant future in which our property values go down, because traffic has become what Westport is best known for.
One familiar scene …
Anyone who was on the road last Saturday around 6 p.m. can attest: You could have gotten where you were going faster walking than driving.
Do you commute to and from New York by car? It used to be that once you got past Stamford, you were home free. Now you spend 20 minutes just between exits 40 and 41 on the Merritt.
If you’re on I-95 and get off at Exit 17, you’re dead in the water. If you continue on to 18, there is a 5-minute backup on the exit ramp.
Heading from Cross Highway toward Exit 42 at the wrong time of day? That’s a joke. I could go on and on.
For starters, there has to be an immediate ban on development. More people equals more cars.
Then you have to systematically examine the traffic patterns of every intersection, and the timing of every light. Yes, I’m sorry, you will need to replace some of those stop signs with traffic lights.
A few traffic officers stationed in the right places at the right times of day would provide some relief.
We need a plan, and it has to start with limiting new buildings.
Maybe we need to form a special commission. Or perhaps appoint a traffic czar.
Whatever we decide, we have to do something. Traffic in Westport has reached a crucial point.
Gery Grove moved to Westport from Brooklyn 7 years ago. She thought the drivers here were crazy — but they’ve gotten worse. She lives on a street that is a Waze shortcut, and uses the Bayberry Lane/Cross Highway intersection often. Everywhere in town, she says, people speed.
Paloma Bima has lived in Westport for 16 years — 14 of them on Cross Highway. “I have seen way too many accidents,” she says. “I love walking to Wakeman, but it is dangerous!”
Andi Sklar’s family rented for 4 years on Bayberry Lane. They then built a house on Cross Highway, and have been there for 6. Every day, she sees drivers run the stop sign at the intersection of those 2 roads. She worries about the safety of her daughter, who attends Bedford Middle School and walks to Chef’s Table.
The loss of any life, especially someone young, can be devastating. But why does it resonate here in Westport so much? Because as a community we observe countless near misses – misses that might end up differently the next time due to our pedestrian-unfriendly roads, and our constant battle with speedy or reckless driving.
(Details of that accident have not been revealed, so this is not meant as an accusation of reckless driving against the driver on Bulkley.)
The next day, Gery Grove passed a multi-car accident at the corner of Bayberry and Cross Highway. While waiting for police to wave her through, a dark grey Ford Explorer behind her honked aggressively. The driver stayed on her bumper all the way to Long Lots Road.
Less than a day had passed since a pedestrian was killed nearby. Many children live in this neighborhood. They walk to or from school, and Chef’s Table.
Slow down, Westport. Another serious accident is right around the corner.
The intersection of Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane is just one spot with frequent reckless driving, running stop signs, and near misses. The three of us have been searching for ways to manage the dangers on our roads.
After near misses with her own children at that intersection near her home, Andi worked with Westport police on the visibility of stop signs.
Officer Al D’Amura has been extremely helpful. After riding together, he cut big branches that might have blocked the signs.
He also had an officer sit at the intersection. That provided only temporary relief. Andi said he is requesting that Public Works trim more bushes.
Paloma sought approval for a crosswalk from one side of Cross Highway to the other near Wakeman Fields, in light of the recent creation of a mega-campus at Bedford and Staples. So far, no measures have been enacted.
Gery grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Years ago they installed cameras, to catch speeders. Tickets are sent by mail. The first time she returned home, she wondered why everyone drove so slowly. Clearly. the cameras work.
One loss of life in this town is one too many. The time to consider solutions was before this young man was killed – but it definitely needs to be before another tragedy.
We have fallen victim to Waze, tight schedules, our devices, distraction and carelessness.
We have to ask our town to take real, concrete measures to clamp down on speeding, consider more pedestrian safety measures like sidewalks and crosswalks, and truly make those who believe the rules don’t apply to them rediscover the value of human life.
Or at least, to feel the presence of the laws they seek to violate.
A typical Westport driver.
Let this week be a collective call to action for our town leaders to make sure we give this issue the attention it deserves.
We have to do something. We are told not to be helicopter parents. But it’s hard to let kids roam around Westport these days.
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