Tag Archives: Dick Berkowitz

Roundup: P&Z Revisions, Will Haskell, Dick Berkowitz And Nick Rossi Services …

=======================================================

It sounds like a ho-hum affair: the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Zoning Regulation Revision Subcommittee meets tomorrow (Wednesday, January 5, 12 noon, Zoom).

But their agenda is filled with interesting — and important — items.

They’ll discuss text amendments on these topics:

  • A tree regulation, intended to balance the right of people to use their property as they wish, with a desire to save mature trees. This item is not about specific properties. Input has been sought from developers and preservationists.
  • Amending open space regulations to permit certain organized activities in areas like Baron’s South and Riverside Avenue park. Right now, no such activities are allowed — not even (for example) an organized hike for children, followed by story time.
  • Amending downtown regulations to modify current prohibitions on single-tenant occupancy exceeding 10,000 square feet. This would permit more flexibility for downtown merchants.
  • Amending downtown regulations to remove remove current prohibitions on retail uses above the first floor. Current regulations allow studios and offices, for example, on 2nd and 3rd stories, but not retail. (Stores like the Gap have been grandfathered in.) This would provide more retail options, at potentially lower rents, and also allow current merchants to expand their operations.
  • Exempting “art” from coverage calculations. This would have the potential to allow more sculptures and other artworks in outdoor spaces.

All of these are discussion items only.

Click here for the Zoom link. The meeting can also be accessed by phone (646-876-9923; Meeting ID: 823 0856 3966; Passcode: 441250). It will be archived later on www.westportct.gov.

Public comments prior to the meeting can be sent to PandZ@westportct.gov for consideration by the subcommittee, but will not be read aloud at the meeting.

In most of downtown, retail is not permitted above the 2nd floor. The Gap was grandfathered in.

=======================================================

State Senator Will Haskell will not seek re-election.

Just 25 years old, but already in his 2nd term representing Westport and Weston (and 6 other towns) in the 26th District, the youngest member of the General Assembly plans to attend law school. He also recently announced his engagement to former Staples High School classmate Katie Cion.

Since his election in November 2018, Haskell has served as chair of the Higher Education & Employment Advancement and Transportation Committees, and on numerous others. He cites as his proudest accomplishments the creation of Connecticut’s free community college program; passing “the most inclusive paid family and medical leave program in the country,” and a sustained focus on transportation infrastructure investments.

State Senator Will Haskell,

====================================================

A small, private memorial service for Dick Berkowitz — the longtime civic volunteer who died New Year’s Eve — is set for this Sunday (January 9, 10 a.m.). Though attendance is limited, the service will be livestreamed, and available to his many friends and admirers. Click here for the link.

Dick Berkowitz

==================================================

A Mass of Christian Burial for Nick Rossi — last year’s Memorial Day grand marshal, who died New Year’s Day at 99 — will be celebrated at St. Luke Church this Thursday (January 6,, 11 a.m.)

For those unable to attend, click here; select “Livestream Mass” and click “Watch Now,” or view later.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities. Click here for a full obituary.

Nick Rossi

139 Main Street — the former site of Jack Willis — has been sold. A California-based owner/user is redeveloping the 3,400-square foot building for Brochu Walker, an :upscale women’s apparel brand that specializes in conscious luxury retail with a European flair.” They follows a “’kinder to the environment’ initiative” that supports “sustainability efforts resulting in ethically sourced, luxurious fibers.” Brochu Walker expects to open its first boutique in the Northeast early this year.

139 Main Street — future home of Bochu Walker.

===================================================

Recent foggy weather has not deterred Compo Beach’s dogs. They’re all-weather animals — and this one’s a perfect subject for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Tricia Freeman)

=======================================================

And finally … in  honor of the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting tomorrow, examining tweaks to help the retail environment on Main Street and environs:

 

Westport 2022: We Stand On The Shoulders Of Giants

What a way to start the new year.

In less than 48 hours, Westporters learned of the deaths of 4 neighbors.

Larry Aasen, Dick Berkowitz, Akiko Ikeda and Nick Rossi — all passed away over the past few days.

Three were in their 90s. One was 81.

Three spent most of their adult lives here. One moved here just 3 years ago.

All added immeasurably to Westport.

Larry Aasen was an avid and proud Democrat. He contributed to his party — but he reached across this aisle on the non-partisan Representative Town Meeting (RTM). With friends of all political persuasions, he pitched in enthusiastically to do whatever needed doing with the Y’s Men, Rotary Club, Saugatuck Congregational Church and more.

Dick Berkowitz was an attorney who touched nearly every facet of Westport life. He was elected to the RTM and Planning & Zoning Commission; was president of the Kiwanis Club and Birchwood Country Club; served on the boards of Staples Tuition Grants and Temple Israel; helped found what is now the Youth Commission, and coached basketball, football and baseball.

Clockwise from upper left: Dick Berkowitz, Larry Aasen, Nick Rossi, Akiko Ikeda (Dick Berkowitz photo/Ted Horowitz)

Akiko Ikeda made her mark with the elderly. She served in a variety of positions at the Senior Center, helping build it from the ground up. But she also chaired Community Nursery School board for over 15 years, and was president of Church Women United too.

Nick Rossi lived here for only 3 years; he moved in with his son’s family after his wife died. But he immediately became a beloved presence at the Senior Center, and his grandchildren’s arts and sports performances. Last spring, the World War II veteran was grand marshal of the Memorial Day parade.

All led remarkable, productive and fulfilling lives. If you haven’t yet read their full stories, click the links above.

But let’s reflect too on what they gave to Westport — and what their legacy means to us today.

Dick Berkowitz was 29 when he helped form Westport’s youth commission. For the next 55 years, he did whatever he could to make our town a better place.

Larry Aasen, Akiko Ikeda and Nick Rossi kept making Westport better well into their 90s.

As we begin a new year, we’re a town in transition. Over the past 2 years, our ranks have swelled with newcomers. Many are young families, leaving cities for different lives. They chose this community because it is a community.

We are blessed with superb schools, wonderful arts and recreational facilities, an astonishing library, and vibrant organizations serving every interest imaginable.

But we need many more Larry Aasens, Dick Berkowitzes, Akiko Ikedas and Nick Rossis to sustain them.

And sustain us.

Whether you knew some or all of these remarkable individuals, or never heard their names, the challenge is the same: Honor their legacy by doing what you can to make Westport better.

As they proved, you’re never too young — or old — to start.

Full Obituary: Dick Berkowitz

Earlier today, “06880” reported the death of longtime Westporter and wide-ranging volunteer Dick Berkowitz. His family has provided this obituary, honoring his full life.

Attorney, philanthropist, coach and mentor Richard (Dick) Berkowitz died on New Year’s Eve, after a hard-fought battle against a rare blood disease. He was 80 years old.

He was born on June 28, 1941, to humble beginnings in New Haven Dick’s parents, Elihu and Ruth Berkowitz, were hard working members of the community. He spent his days playing football and basketball, working as a short-order cook at Chuck’s Luncheonette on Whalley Avenue, and selling pennants and banners outside Yale Bowl.

Dick attended Hillhouse High School before heading off to his dream school, Dartmouth College After becoming the first in his family to graduate from college in 1963, he continued his education and graduated from the University of Connecticut Law School 4 years later.

Dick and Carole Chasnoff met as sophomores in high school. Two years later he mustered up the courage to ask her out. After graduating from college, Carole worked as a public health nurse to help pay for his law school.

Dick and Carole Berkowitz

Dick opened his own firm in Westport, where he practiced for 55 years. He represented high profile individuals, leading executives, and members of the media. Dick spent many years as managing partner of Berkowitz, Trager & Trager.

Over the years he was involved in many philanthropic endeavors, including: president of the Kiwanis Club of Westport, and member of the Representative Town Meeting and Planning & Zoning Commission.

He was also president of the Westport Bar Association and board member of the Westport National Bank.

Dick Berkowitz

In 1970 Dick was appointed by First Selectman John Kemish to chair a new commission on youth activities. It is still in existence as the Westport Youth Commission. He also served on the board of Staples Tuition Grants.

In addition, Dick was a mentor at Champions for Learning in Naples, Florida, and a founding and passionate supporter of New Heights Youth, a New York-based non-profit.

Dick was honored as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” for over 25 years. He was a past president of Birchwood Country Club in Westport, and a class president and alumni council representative for Dartmouth College. Classrooms are named in his honor at the Roth Center for Jewish Life at Dartmouth, and Westport’s Temple Israel.

Dick was a longtime assistant basketball coach at Staples High School, and a regular at football, basketball, tennis, field hockey and softball games. He spent long hours instructing various game officials on the fine points of their respective sport. For many years he coached Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and softball, and recreational basketball in Westport.

Coach Berkowitz

While he was incredibly accomplished, his ultimate legacy is that he was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother, confidante, and friend to many. He had a light that shined bright, and touched so many throughout his life. He was a mentor to young people. Many clients also became his closest friends. But family was the most important thing in his life, and it is his family who will miss him most of all.

Dick is survived by his wife of 58 years Carole; sister Jane (Eddie Brandwein) of Chicago; children Jody (Joel) Beck of Westport, Emily (Ken) Sandberg of Woodbridge; Suzy (Michael Weksel) of Edgemont, New York and Adam Berkowitz of New York City; grandchildren Sam, Zack, Rachel, John, Jack, Mia, Henry, Carina and Ben; granddogs Buddy, Bella and Eric, and great-granddog Beau. He also leaves cousin/brother Judge Stanley Novack of Stamford, and countless family and friends.

Contributions can be made to 2 charities that were dear to him: New Heights Youth and the newly established Richard Berkowitz Student-Athlete Award through Staples Tuition Grants.

Remembering Dick Berkowitz

Richard Berkowitz — an attorney whose involvement for more than 50 years in politics, sports, civic organizations, and much more helped shape Westport into what it is today — died peacefully on New Year’s Eve. He was 80 years old.

He practiced law here until his death, most recently “of counsel” at Berkowitz, Trager & Trager. He represented high-profile individuals, leading executives and members of the media. He was a president of the Connecticut Bar Association.

But his impact spread far beyond his profession.

Dick Berkowitz

In his 55 years in Westport, Dick was elected to the Planning & Zoning Commission and Representative Town Meeting (RTM).

He served as president of the Westport Kiwanis Club, Westport Bar Association and Birchwood Country Club, and was a board member of Staples Tuition Grants and the Westport National Bank.

He was a director of Project Renaissance, a drug treatment project; the Dartmouth Clubs of Westport-Weston and Fairfield County, and the Temple Israel Brotherhood.

In 1970 — 3 years after Berkowitz (then 29 years old), his wife Carole and children moved to Westport — 1st Selectman John Kemish appointed Dick to be chair of a new commission on youth and human relations activities. It was the forerunner of today’s Youth Commission.

He was a longtime assistant basketball coach at Staples High School, working with head coach Brian Kelley. For many years he coached Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and youth recreational basketball. He was also an avid member of the Compo Beach Irregulars, an “informal group of enthusiastic athletes.”

Rooms have been named in Dick Berkowitz’s honor at Temple Israel, and the Roth Center for Jewish Life at Dartmouth College.

He graduated from Dartmouth, and earned his law degree at the University of Connecticut.

He is survived by his wife Carole; children Jody, Emily, Suzy and Adam, and several grandchildren.

Information on services on memorial contributions will be announced soon.

Tom Ghianuly’s 50 Years

Last Saturday, I got what’s left of my hair cut.

Not exactly blog-worthy — except for this:

When Tom Ghianuly — who has been my barber at his Compo shop since I was a teenager, and who cut my father’s hair for even longer — asked what was new, I couldn’t tell him.

I couldn’t mention that the next day, over 100 of his many customers, friends and admirers had planned a surprise dinner in honor of his 50 years in business.

It’s not easy to keep a secret from a barber — especially one as well-connected and curious as Tom — but these guys did.

Tom Ghianuly listens as his friends and fans honor him.

The event was the brainchild of attorney Dick Berkowitz.  He had help from a group that included Jim Schadt, Alan Nevas, Ron Gordon, Les Giegerich and Steve Siegelaub.

It’s a microcosm of Tom’s clients and fans:  a former CEO of Reader’s Digest,a retired US District Court judge, a guy who built half of Westport — all there to honor their longtime, beloved barber.

Giegerich — 96 years old — was almost 50 when Tom started cutting his hair.  Seigelaub was 5.

That half-century span spoke volumes about Tom.

So did the presence of the Brooks family — Tom’s longtime landlord at Compo Shopping Center.  How often do landlords fete their tenants?

A few people spoke.  They presented Tom and his wife Carolyn with a weekend at the Ocean House at Watch Hill.

In typical Tom fashion, he never expected anything like this — even after half a century of work, even after seeing the Birchwood Country Club parking lot filled as he and the Berkowitzes drove up.  (Dick had told Tom he’d take him and Carolyn out to dinner.)

“Boy, this place is packed!” Tom said.

He had no idea it was packed for him.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff praises Tom Ghianuly.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff was one of the many Westporters already inside.  When the ceremony began, he read a proclamation.  Then he gave a framed copy to Tom, to hang in his shop.

I’m guessing that on Tuesday — when Compo Center Barber Shop reopened — Tom was embarrassed to put the proclamation up.  He’s much more comfortable with the many photos of historic Westport he’s collected, and which line the walls.

But after 5 decades, Tom Ghianuly is a very important part of town history too.