We may not be able to solve the COVID crisis. We can’t agree on where to put affordable housing, or what to do with trees on private property.
But together, we can fix one of Westport’s gravest threats: the Compo Shopping Center parking lot.
Yesterday, I asked for ideas about the clusterf*** that confounds us all. It is — as readers repeatedly report — a death trap. An embarrassment. And (this should get everyone’s attention) a detriment to business.
You did not disappoint. Ideas poured in — plus aerial photos, complete with arrows and Xs.
Sure, it’s the last day of the year. You’re distracted with New Year’s preparations, deciding which sweatpants to wear as you sit home tonight.
But I want to make sure that some of the best solutions don’t get buried in the Comments section. So here’s a summary of what you said.
Evan Stein has a thorough solution — with a diagram:
Evan suggests: Close all connections from the rear parking lot to the front. Re-stripe the lots, for angled parking.
Divide the lot with a barrier (giant planters with trees or shrubbery) into a south lot and a north lot. Each would have one entrance, and one exit. Enter the south lot from the south. Enter the north lot from the north.
Each lot exit would have an independent traffic light. The exit from Compo Acres Shopping Center (Trader Joe’s) would also have its own traffic light. There would be a 5-light cycle:
• South lot green
• North lot green
• Compo acres green
• Route 1 green (no turning allowed)
• Pedestrian crossing.
Elizabeth Thibault likes Evan’s idea, but notes that Post Road traffic frequently blocks the light at CVS. She’d make the lights one way, going into the plaza and then flowing out the back. If that doesn’t work, at least paint a giant box in front, and ticket drivers for blocking the entrance.
Elizabeth has a more radical suggestion: Remodel each business, making the main entrances in the rear. She’d keep the glass windows and displays on the Post Road side, to attract drivers, but would make the store layouts favor back entry.
Doug Kniffin offers 4 fixes, from easiest to most difficult:
Adjust the CVS-adjacent traffic signal for 3 separate phases: a) Post Road both directions; b) CVS lot exit only, with cars able to turn east and west; c) Trader Joe’s lot exit only, with cars able to turn east and west.
Paint solid yellow lines down the center of the parking lots in front of CVS and Gold’s Little Kitchen. This will help keep drivers on the “right” side of the lot.
Change the exit ramp next to Cohen’s Optical from exit-only to entry-only. The exit ramp now is useless. A new parking lot entry will reduce traffic going into the entry further west, at the traffic light.
Take space from the north end of the People’s Bank parking lot; create entry/exit access lanes between the back of the Compo Shopping lot and North Compo Road. People’s rarely uses this space, but an exit/entry there will reduce the traffic traveling through the front lots.
Beth Berkowitz suggests angled parking too. That makes it harder for 2-way traffic to imperil drivers.
She’d also make the spaces closest to the road parallel parking — not head-in — and would turn the entrance/exit in front of CVS into entrance only. Traffic could exit only through the south (North Compo) end, or the back lot.
Wendy Crowther has one simple, quick fix: Eliminate the parking spaces that encroach upon the lot’s main entrance/exit, as well as those near the center driveway that passes between the 2 buildings. This would allow drivers to enter and exit the lot without the hassle of cars trying to pull in and out of those spaces.
After 13 years in Norwalk, Chef Renato Donzelli is moving here. He and his crew will double their current space, and have access to outside dining.
Donzelli says he will “introduce contemporary, inventive menu items to the already beloved Mediterranean repertoire.”
French, Portuguese and Greek specialties will be added, along with artisinal Neapolitan pizza made in a wood-fired oven.
He expects to open later this month, after renovations that include exposed brick walls, recycled wood and leather furniture, and artwork that pays homage to Donzelli’s Mediterranean background. (Hat tip: Jeff Jacobs)
I really like the men and women who work at CVS. Though overworked and (I am sure) underpaid, they are always polite, eager to help, and friendly.
And they do it all despite having to put up with what they know is corporate imbecility.
The other day, I made an appointment online for a flu shot. 10 this morning worked perfectly. And sure enough, at 9:30 a.m. I got a text reminder. It included instructions on how to check in online.
“Welcome, DAN!” the next screen said. “When you arrive at the store, tap the button to let our pharmacy know you’re here.”
“I’m here at the store,” I tapped.
The pharmacist seemed surprised to see me. “We’re out of flu shots,” she apologized.
“But I made an appointment online!” I said. “They told me to come in. Why couldn’t they have told me you ran out?”
“I’m sorry,” she apologized again. “They don’t have that capability.”
“That’s pretty stupid,” I said, stupidly stating the obvious.
“I know,” she agreed.
My blood pressure was dangerously high. I should have asked for some medicine.
Then again, it was probably out of stock.
Every I-95 driver knows the former Armstrong Rubber Company headquarters in New Haven. That’s Marcel Breuer’s 1960s-era concrete box on the left as you head north, just before the I-91 merge.
The former Armstrong Rubber Company headquarters. (Photo/John Muggenborg for New York Times)
It’s been vacant for a while. But it’s being converted into what the New York Times says “could be the most energy-efficient hotel in the country.”
Hotel Marcel’s developer and architect — Westport-based Bruce Becker — is building it to meet net-zero energy standards. It will generate as much energy as it uses.
“It’s probably the most challenging project I’ve ever undertaken, particularly since we’re doing it during a pandemic,” Becker told the Times.
“But I’ve been intrigued with the building at least since I was a graduate student at Yale in the late ’80s, and I thought it could be fascinating.”
One more Westport connection: Saugatuck’s LANDTECH is the project’s site/civil engineer.
Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Mark Mathias)
A while back, Katie Larson’s daughter asked what would happen if Santa Claus fell asleep on Christmas Eve. Cute!
Just as cute: The 1995 Weston High School graduate (Katie — not her daughter) has just published a children’s book. “The Night Santa Fell Asleep” is now available in paperback. Click here to order. (Hat tip: Erin Regan)
And finally … Booker T. Washington died 105 years ago today. The educator, author, orator and adviser to US presidents was 59 years old.
Yesterday around 9:40 a.m., I called CVS pharmacy. It took them more than 53 minutes to answer.
At about the 45-minute mark I called their customer service (800-746-7287) to complain. They answered within 30 seconds. After I explained the issue, they tried to call the Westport CVS — but could not get through.
They send a note to the store manager, and told me he would answer me within 2 to 4 hours.
Not sure if other readers have had this problem, but I believe they have. When standing in line to pick up a prescription, I always hear calls are “waiting to be answered.”
Friday’s rain was heavy. For most Westporters, it was a minor inconvenience.
For residents of Saugatuck Shores though, it was the usual story: flooding.
Here’s a shot of Canal Road, at midday:
Adam’s House is based in Shelton. But the organization — which helps youngsters grieving the loss of a loved one — has a strong local presence.
It was started by Allison Wysota. Her husband Adam died suddenly in 2012, when their 3 boys were in Weston schools.
Adam’s House is launching a “Mistletoes & Margaritas” online shopping fundraiser. It will be live November 30.
Area businesses are invited to join the e-commerce site. Bill Taibe is participating as a sponsor/vendor. He will sell gift certificates, and may do a bartending event with Don Memo.
Clem Butt, who sells wines all over Westport, will do a virtual wine-tasting. Jim VElgot will sell his artwork. Adam’s House volunteers hope many more Westport shops, restaurants, artists and others will offer their goods and services too.
Click here for the “Mistletoes and Margaritas” website.
A pair of Staples High School juniors want to make sure that children in the hospital are not forgotten during the pandemic. They created Mailed With Love — a service that collects cards and drawings from families around Westport, for kids at at Yale New Haven Hospital.
Everyone can make cards and drawings. Follow @mailed.with.love on Instagram for details, or email email@example.com.
Jane Malakoff is one of many Westporters who support their favorite restaurants during the pandemic. Every Saturday she orders dinner from Bistro du Soleil, on Riverside Avenue near the train station.
“Bistro is a small family owned restaurant, and perhaps off everyone’s radar,” Jane says. “Maria’s delicious dinners are my treat for the week. Only she, her husband and mother are in the restaurant.”
As restaurants across the state slowly open up, it’s good to remember that’s only part of the equation. With 50% capacity and outdoor dining only, many will still rely on curbside takeout and delivery.
Remember too to order delivery direct from the restaurant’s website, if offered. Third-party services like Grubhub take a large chunk of change from the order.
Maria and her husband, at Bistro du Soleil.
The Westport Library remains closed — though its online offerings are plentiful and busy.
Still, if you prefer the pleasures of an actual dead-tree book, the funky “Little Free Library” on Otter Trail off Imperial Avenue is open.
The selections are a lot more limited than the downtown library. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about social distancing.
PS: Note the sign: “Take a book. Share a book.” Donations welcome!
As of today, CVS is back open 24 hours (store only). Pharmacy hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m weekends.
And finally … as we see glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel, Fontella Bass’ plea may be answered!
Posted onMarch 20, 2020|Comments Off on COVID-19 Roundup: Human Services News; CT FAQs; What’s Open; Resource Pages Galore; Interesting Offers; Inspiring Stories And More
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has added a new page: Markets. It includes not just supermarkets, but food sellers like Balducci’s, Double L, Organic Market and Stiles, with hours of operation (including senior shopping) and phone numbers. Click here to see.
It’s an invaluable service — as is their other page featuring restaurants that offer takeout and delivery. Click here to see.
Human Services Department director Elaine Daignault says:
“The health and safety of our residents is our top priority. The Department of Human Services stands ready to help. Many seniors and other at-risk populations may need assistance in procuring supplies for extended self-isolation. DHS is investigating ways to provide safe and efficient help to at-risk homebound seniors and/or households.
“We encourage residents to call their neighbors and offer help, while taking care to follow CDC precautions by keeping a safe social distance. Remember that even if you are feeling well, you could still be a carrier of the virus.”
The Department has compiled a guide that provides up-to-date financial and social services information for the most vulnerable and at-risk members of the Westport community. Click here to see.
Residents should call Human Services at 203-341-1050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if they or a neighbor have an emergency need of food or medications, or need other help.
For general town information on the coronavirus, click here.
WestportMoms.com constantly updates their list of things to do with kids (Quarantine Scavenger Hunt, anyone?), along with resources and even a bit of humor. They’re on Facebook and Instagram too, and via email newsletter.
The State of Connecticut has a superb, 34-page document answering Frequently Asked Questions about the coronavirus. It covers everything from testing and childcare to the DMV, unemployment and medical leave. Click here to download.
Alert and involved “06880” reader Gil Ghitelman reports that his wife Doris just came home with bunches of flowers from Trader Joe’s.
“I thought she blew the week’s budget,” he says. “But she told me they’re for some friends and neighbors.”
Gil was still thinking about the budget when Doris added that Jared — one of the Trader Joe’s guys — heard about her kindness. He told her the flowers were on the house.
“The budget’s intact. A bunch of people are happy. And a big hat tip to TJ’s!” Gil says.
Several readers report finding discarded latex gloves in supermarket and shopping center parking lots. Bring a bag — then dispose of them carefully!
Connecticut restaurants are now allowed to sell alcohol with takeout and delivered meals. In addition, bars that deliver can sell beverages in sealed containers, just as liquor stores do.
Tonight (Friday, March 20, 7 p.m.), Senator Chris Murphy will host a telephone town hall. Click here to join in.
Besides the COVID-19 testing planned for Westport over the next 3 Tuesdays, there are other test options in Connecticut. Contact them for screening procedures:
• Yale New Haven Health system (833-275-9644)
• Hartford Health Care (833-621-0600)
• Stamford Health (203-276-4111)
• Connecticut Children’s Hospital (833-226-2362)
• DOCS Urgent Care https://docsmedicalgroup.com/telemedicine/
The Red Cross is in dire need of blood. Click here for donation centers, and to learn who is eligible to give during this pandemic.
Staples High School Class of 1985 grad Mitch McManus is president of BMW of Bridgeport. They’ll drop a loaner off at your home or workplace, then take your car in for service. I am sure many other dealerships offer ways to avoid crowds too. Call yours for details.
CVS is no longer open 24/7. The new hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. They do offer free delivery (1 to 2 days) of prescriptions and other “essential” items. Click here for details.
Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles will not allow remote or distance driver’s ed classes. (Probably a good move, all things considered.)
So The Next Street — a private company — has pivoted. They’re offering students a 10-week “Intro to Entrepreneurship” remote course — for free. (It is open too to anyone interested in starting and running their own businenss).
The course meets via Zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m. Click here for info.
You buy something at CVS — batteries, say, or mouthwash or whatever.
The helpful cash register person says, “Did you find everything okay?” (Has anyone ever said, “No!”?)
You hand over cash, or put your credit card in the chip machine (which may or may not work).
Your transaction may eventually be done, but the register isn’t. Coupons for everything — combs, Reese’s pieces, suppositories — come spitting out, in a receipt longer than a human being is tall.
It won’t fit in your pocket, purse or wallet. You can’t possibly wade through all of those coupons, to find one you’d actually use. You’d hand it to the cashier to toss, but he or she is already printing out another receipt, for the next discontented customer.
I learned a while ago how to avoid this agonizing practice. I signed up for “digital receipts,” which means they’re sent to my email. For some reason the cyberspace version includes only 3 or 4 coupons, which I click on to send directly to my “card” on the CVS app.
I’m not the only one who likes the idea. CVS itself pushes digital receipts. Here’s their display, right inside the Compo Shopping Center front door:
This collage clearly did not come from corporate headquarters. It was put together — hopefully on company time — by an employee who probably got tired of putting in a new roll of register tape after every third customer.
I like the men and women who work at CVS. They probably think it’s absurd to ask if I found everything okay, and I’m sure they dislike these skyscraper-long receipts as much as we do.
So do them — and yourselves — a favor. Sign up for digital receipts.
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