Tag Archives: First Selectman Jim Marpe

Marpe’s Message: Do Not Congregate This Weekend. Look Out For Each Other. Don’t Point Fingers. Be Safe.

First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

I’d like to update you on a number of aspects of the COVID-19 crisis that we are all facing. All the following information is on the Town website: www.westportct.gov. Please keep in mind that this is a fluid situation and conditions may change.

First, as we approach the weekend where the tendency is to leave our homes and socialize, it is more imperative than ever to stress the need for everyone to take this situation seriously and self-isolate.

Do not congregate in any location anywhere. This includes the town beaches, and Parks & Recreation and school facilities. If you must get provisions, practice social distancing at all times, even outside. These measures not only protect you, they are necessary to protect the public health and those around you.

This was the sight last Sunday at Compo Beach. It cannot be repeated this weekend.

Let me also assure you that the emphasis of town management activity is based on proven emergency response strategies. For the time being our Incident Response Team is focused on containment. Many other decisions will need to be made in the near future, but that is the status as of right now.

As I reported yesterday, 42 Westport residents have tested positive for COVID-19. That number is expected to grow. The virus is definitely among us. The Westport Weston Health District has tests scheduled for the next 3 Tuesdays. These will be conducted solely for Weston and Westport residents and by appointment only.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has prepared a list of restaurants that are available for curbside takeout and delivery, as well and stores that offer special hours for seniors to shop. Click here to see.

Curbside pick-up and delivery is available from many restaurants in town.

In future videos and postings there will be information relative to how upcoming town public meetings will be conducted, including how the budget process will proceed.  Also, we anticipate discussions on business recovery and town recovery plans when the time is appropriate.

These are unprecedented times. It is vital that we manage our emotions and natural anxieties.

Perhaps take a moment to call a neighbor, friend or family member who may need a personal contact and a friendly voice. Of course, we cannot physically get close, but we may be able provide some level of comfort to those less fortunate or in circumstances more dire than our own.

My office has received numerous e-mails and calls relative to a particular incident in Westport that seemingly precipitated the spread of the coronavirus in town. While I understand the inclination for some to know the numbers, know exact locations and the identities of people involved, it is now past the point where any of that is relevant. The fact of the matter is that this could have been any one of us, and rumor-mongering and vilification of individuals is not who we are as a civil community.

Please be assured that Westport’s public safety, health and municipal officials are in constant contact with each other, and state authorities and experts, while we make day-to-day and hour-to-hour decisions. Many will not appreciate the severity of the directives, while others will feel they are not drastic enough. I appreciate your opinion, but everything is managed and implemented to benefit all residents.

Town Hall is closed to the public. However, municipal officials are working tirelessly on the coronavirus crisis. And employees are available by phone and email. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

I would also like to take this moment to emphasize that I cannot be prouder of the response of our town employees. These dedicated personnel are among the most experienced and professional people that can be working on your behalf.  I appreciate their support, and I hope you will acknowledge their service if you see them – of course with appropriate social distancing.

In the meanwhile, continue to self-isolate and follow all the advice of the CDC: Wash your hands thoroughly, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw it away, keep surfaces sanitized, do not touch your face, and maintain social distancing. Follow us through social media and the website www.westportct.gov/covid19

Together, we will weather this crisis. Thank you and have a safe weekend.

To view this message as a video, click below:

Town Closes Beach Playground, Parking Lot

First selectman Jim Marpe says:

First of all, thank you to all our Westport residents for your cooperation during these unprecedented times.

Many of you have self-isolated in order to flatten the curve and curb the spread of COVID-19. I appreciate your actions.

Unfortunately, we believe you will need to do even more for the foreseeable future. Given the early spring-like weather, many of you have taken advantage of our beautiful Compo Beach and have congregated there.

We must remind you that congregating, even outdoors, in small or large groups, is contradictory to the advice of our Health Department leadership.

As a practical matter, we cannot close the entire access to Compo Beach.  However, we will be closing the playground at Compo Beach and the parking lots at Compo Beach and Burying Hill beach until further notice.

Whether you are using the beaches or just trying to get out of the house for a while, please do everything you can to practice social distancing and self-isolation.

Together we can minimize the impact of this terrible virus on our community. We have to work together and use common sense. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in these difficult times.

You can still go to Compo Beach. But the playground and parking lot are closed. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Pic Of The Day #941

First Selectman Jim Marpe (right) and artist Mark Yurkiw, at at the PoP’TArt pop-up gallery , 1 Main Street. The current show — with plenty of provocative work — is called “Words Matter.”

Colin Corneck: Veterans Inspire Me To Serve

Colin Corneck is a Staples High School senior. A soccer team member and swim team captain, he’s already received a Naval ROTC college scholarship. He’s also applying to the US Naval Academy.

He was chosen to represent Staples, at this morning’s Veterans Day ceremony in Town Hall. Here’s Colin’s address:

I am honored to come before you today. I was recently selected to give this speech because of my passion for serving our country. I’m fortunate to attend a school where there are several of us with the same interest – so on behalf of all of us, thank you.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity. And thank you for allowing me to join you today where I am surrounded by greatness — the greatness of each and every one of you – our American veterans.

Colin Corneck

Right now, I’m in the midst of the college application process. My goal is to become a naval officer after attending university. I have been fortunate enough to receive an NROTC scholarship and am applying to the Naval Academy.

I would like to thank our veterans for your heroic sacrifices. Your bravery and willingness to serve made it possible for my generation to be here today, a debt that can never be repaid but that instead should be paid forward.

When I was in 8th grade at Bedford Middle School, I was given the opportunity to hear from veterans, possibly even from some of you sitting before me today. I remember a particular story from a World War II veteran, who enlisted at the age of 16 and fought in the Pacific.

While I looked around and saw that my classmates were captivated hearing the courageous story, I felt touched on what I think might have been a deeper level. I don’t think I fully appreciated that many World War II veterans were my age when they began their service, but I was able to realize the momentous sacrifices that members of our armed forces make for the safety of the rest of the country. This was the first time I felt the calling, and the desire to try and follow the extraordinary footsteps each and every one of you has left behind.

I’m privileged to come before you today to talk about service and what it means to me. I come from a long line of people who served in the armed forces, including great-grandparents who fought in World War II and my father, who was a naval intelligence officer assigned to a Marine Corps F-18 squadron and then to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. I often talk to my dad about his military service.

He speaks of his time in service with the highest degree of pride, and tells me that it was one of his greatest life choices. It has developed him into a great leader, father, and overall person.

Veterans salute during the national anthem, at today’s Town Hall ceremony.

My discussions with him excite me to serve as I want to look back on my life knowing that I made a difference in the world, and that my time on this earth was well spent.

Service to me means the opportunity to protect our nation’s values. Just as the veterans we honor today put their lives on the line to protect our democracy and the ideas we stand for as a country, I want to do the same.

We are blessed to live in the greatest country on earth, created by ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and embedded in the Constitution. The ideals of personal freedom and self-government are enabled and protected by our Armed Forces.

The veterans among us today who fought in World War II protected our democratic style of government, and defeated armies fueled by the fascist fire of hatred. The veterans among us today who fought in Korea and Vietnam traveled halfway around the world to protect our allies and give them the opportunity to live democratically just as we do.

The veterans among us today who served in the Middle East and Afghanistan worked to stabilize regions and fight off terror before it gets to the front lines of our nation.

For your sacrifices and accomplishments, I thank you. Each and every one of you has been an inspiration to serve, and I hope to be able to protect our country in the same fashion that you have.

I was asked during one of my Academy interviews how I thought I would fit in with people who have very different backgrounds. Recently, I had the opportunity to have lunch with a group of West Point cadets: male, female, ethnically diverse, and from many different parts of the US. Regardless of background, what brought each and every one of us to that table was a strong connection forged by both a common belief in our country’s values and a commitment to defend those values.

Color guard, at today’s ceremony.

The same can be said for the various branches represented in this room. While there will always be friendly rivalries, there is a broader bond that unites anyone who has served in any capacity in any branch of our military.

I have a lot to learn – and relish moments like this where I can be in the company of each of you. You can teach us all so much. I also have a lot to give. I am extremely excited to enter the next chapter of my life, and to have the opportunity to serve.

One last time I would like to thank each and every one of you for your service. I am inspired to stand among you.

Today’s Veterans Day ceremony also included remarks from 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. He noted Westport’s support of all service members — from the Catch a Lift events, to the VFW and its fundraisers, to Homes with Hope’s supportive housing.

He urged all Westporters to re-commit to making sure that “all our veterans are able to live their lives in dignity, accessibility, and with a peace of mind that comes with our ongoing support.”

The Wilkinson family — Emma, Augie, Jack and Melody — remember their grandfather and great-grandfather who served.


Refreshing New Look For Westport’s Website

So much of Westport sparkles.

Our transformed library. Compo Beach, from the playground and pavilion to the new South Beach walkway and grills. Longshore. Staples High School. The Saugatuck River. From Harbor Road to Beachside Avenue, Sherwood Mill Pond to Mahackeno, this is a truly remarkable town.

Our website, however, sucked.

Last updated in 2011 — after 2 previous equally grim versions — it was an ugly, bloated mess. Typography, layout, massive text and lack of photos  — all that wouldn’t have been so bad, if you could easily find what you were looking for.

But you could not.

Happily, as of today Westport’s official website is as crisp, clear and clean as so many of our other wonders.

The new website landing page.

Don’t believe me? Click here!

The new site was more than 2 years in the making. First Selectman Jim Marpe appointed a Website Redevelopment Steering Committee, including town staff and residents with expertise in technology, design, economic development and community interests.

They worked with Granicus, a company that specializes in website services for local governments.

Since the 2011 version debuted, users have migrated from desktops to mobile devices. The new website, all agreed, had to be mobile-friendly.

In addition, town operations director Sara Harris says, users needed quicker access to information.

“Popular services” and “I Want To…” provide quick access to information.

One key feature of the new design is a better search bar. The former “mega-menu” has been cleaned up and streamlined.

The committee used Google Analytics to rearrange the “How do I…?” section. The most popular requests — regarding, for example, beach passes, railroad parking permits, town maps, employment opportunities, open bids and bid results, and videos of town meetings — are given the most prominence.

A one-click “Popular Services” section makes it easier to pay taxes, register for programs, and get meeting agendas and minutes.

News is more prominently displayed on the home page.

There are more photos too, showing (of course) Westport at its best and most beautiful.

An “Economic Opportunity” page is aimed at anyone considering opening a business or relocating here. The goal, Harris says, is to show the town’s great quality of life, and support of business.

For the first time, Westport is marketing directly to businesses and employers.

The site now offers a 1-click link to subscribe to some (or all!) town notifications: emergency alerts, meeting information, news, you name it.

And — this is very, very cool — the Town Charter, plus every ordinance and regulation (including Planning & Zoning, the Conservation Commission, and Parks & Recreation Commission) are all available on one page.

As often happens, after the 2011 website went live certain sections lay dormant. Now, every department has a designated content manager. They’re trained on how to keep their own pages fresh and updated — and respond to users’ evolving needs.

The Parks & Recreation page is one of the most visited on the town’s website.

As part of the project, volunteers with marketing and design backgrounds — including graphic artist Miggs Burroughs; advertising creative director Rob Feakins; brand innovation principal and Westport Downtown Merchants Association president Randy Herbertson, and marketer Jamie Klein — worked to refresh the town’s “brand identity.”

Westport’s new website logo.

They eventually settled on a new logo. Designed by Samantha Cotton — who grew up in and now works here — it suggests open space, the movement of water or sails, and “open warmth and refreshing coolness.”

After a month of testing by the committee and town staffers, the new website went live yesterday.

Harris says, “We’re confident that users will be happy with the experience. We think it represents the town very well.”

She invites residents — and everyone else — to test-drive the new website. The URL is the same: www.westportct.gov.

What do you think? Click “Comments” here.

And/or email the town directly: webmaster@westportct.gov.

Of course, you can also do it from the site itself. Nearly every page has a “feedback” button.

It’s simple. It’s easy.

And that’s the whole idea behind the refreshing new website refresh.

A highlight of the new WestportCT.gov website is the Highlights page.

Marpe’s Marriage

First Selectman Jim Marpe was not in the office — or on call — Saturday.

He had a good excuse. He and his wife Mary Ellen were giving away their daughter Samantha in marriage. The ceremony was held at the US Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland — the groom’s alma mater.

First Selectman Jim Marpe and his daughter Samantha.

The 2002 Staples High School and 2006 Penn State graduate — now a recruiter with Henkel Search Partners, a New York firm specializing in private equity firm recruitment — married Kristofer Andy Sandor.

A lieutenant nuclear submarine officer who worked in the office of the Secretary of Defense, he also served as a White House social aide in the Bush and Obama administrations. An MBA graduate of Stanford with a master’s from Georgetown, he’s now in the private sector, most recently as general manager of Citi Bike.

Samantha Marpe and Kristofer Sandor.

According to the New York Times they met in 2016 through a dating app, the League.

(Hat tip: Avi Kaner)

State Of The Town

Presidents have their State of the Union address.*

Governors have their State of the State.

This Sunday (February 10), Jim Marpe tells us all the State of the Town.

The first selectman will be joined by Board of Education chair Mark Mathias. After they deliver their thoughts on the town and schools, RTM deputy moderator Jeffrey Wieser will lead a question-and-answer session.

The event — a joint initiative of Westport Sunrise Rotary and the Westport Rotary Club — is set for 4 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.

Judging by one criterion, the state of the town is very good: There are refreshments afterward, in the lobby.


Town Hall is the site of Sunday’s State of the Town event.

First Night Dims — But First Light Shines On New Year’s Eve

Last month, First Night organizers announced the cancellation of this year’s New Year’s Eve festivities. Economics, changing entertainment options and an aging board all contributed to the demise of the 20+-year tradition.

But not everyone got the word.

On Saturday, December 15, the  Westport Historical Society held its final “Holly Day” celebration. As kids lined up for horse-drawn carriage rides and Santa’s lap, parents asked if they could buy First Night buttons. For years, the WHS had sold them there.

Horse-drawn sleighs were a feature of First Night. They’ll be back at First Light.

Giving the news that First Night was over saddened WHS executive director Ramin Ganeshram and her staff. “It was a beloved event,” she says. “Organizers made sure there was something for everything.”

That night, she asked WHS employees whether the Avery Place institution should offer a New Year’s Eve celebration for the town.

“NO! ” replied the staff, exhausted after weeks of their own holiday events.

But on Monday morning, director of operations Alicia D’Anna told Ganeshram she had a change of heart. She and her husband had talked. They wanted the WHS to do something after all.

In a local version of a Christmas miracle, the Historical Society took just a few days to develop Westport’s newest tradition: First Light.

It includes many favorite First Night activities, including performances, horse-drawn carriage rides, face painting, a digital caricaturist, a henna artist, and food trucks.

Plus a big bonfire right next door to WHS, on Veterans Green.

The WHS crew worked like Santa’s elves to get everything in place. They had help from many folks at Town Hall. Ganeshram singled out First Selectman Jim Marpe, for going “above and beyond” to make things happen.

TD Bank stepped up big time too, offering a venue for events that don’t fit in the cute but cramped WHS Wheeler House headquarters.

So First Night is gone. But First Light — at first just a flicker — has now grown into a full New Year’s Eve flame.

(First Light is set for 4 to 9 p.m. on Monday, December 31. Buttons are $10 online, $15 at the door; children under 2 go free. Click here to purchase buttons, and for more information.)

State Of The Town

Presidents make State of the Union speeches. Governors have their own (weirdly named) State of the States.

Now Westport introduces the State of the Town.

Unlike the other events, this one is a public forum. Questions are welcome from normal (as in, you and I) citizens.

It’s set for Sunday, January 28 (4 p.m., Town Hall). First Selectman Jim Marpe and Board of Education chair Michael Gordon will discuss town and school issues. Both are in charge of big budgets — and both wield important influence on what this town is, and where it’s going.

The State of the Town is a joint project of Westport Sunrise Rotary and the Westport Rotary Club. Incoming presidents Eileen Flug and Jeff Wieser joined current presidents Ron Holtz and Susie Basler to make the event a reality.

The State of the Town is a great way to learn what’s going on — and give feedback.

And enjoy fine refreshments, courtesy of Panera Bread.

Jim Marpe: Ready To Serve 4 More Years

Westport voters have re-elected Jim Marpe as 1st selectman. He and running mate Jen Tooker prevailed over Democrats Melissa Kane and Rob Simmelkjaer, and petitioning candidates John Suggs and T.J. Elgen.

Moments ago, Marpe gave a victory speech at Republican headquarters. Here’s what he said:

I want to begin by thanking the voters of Westport, and all of Jen Tooker’s and my supporters who are here tonight, for the extraordinary vote of confidence that you have shown us today and throughout the past months on the campaign trail. I am humbled by the honor of being re-elected as your first selectman, and grateful that you have seen fit to grant me another 4 years of this awesome responsibility.

I want to thank our competitors, Melissa, Rob, John and TJ, for stepping forward to serve this wonderful community and to put in the effort to run this challenging race. You deserve the thanks of all Westporters for putting yourselves out there. Jen and I look forward to working with all of you in the coming 4 years to make Westport the very best place it can be.

As the saying goes, success has many fathers (and mothers), and in this case it is true. Many of you suggested that I run again for first selectman. I am grateful for that confidence and support and by the fact that it comes from across the political spectrum.

And thank you to my family and the many outstanding volunteers who helped make this campaign a success.

First Selectman Jim Marpe

From the time I became first selectman 4 years ago, the process has always been about people – the people of Westport. In that time, and especially during the campaign, I have met with so many Westporters, often at the usual campaign places – the soccer fields, train stations, transfer station and through many community activities and fundraisers, and uncounted phone calls and front doors.  What I learned, or perhaps re-learned, was a simple truth: Whether your family arrived here generations ago or you just arrived last week, Westport is a very special place. Yes, we have beautiful surroundings, great schools, amazing recreational amenities and the charm of a New England town. But what really makes Westport a special place are the people — interesting, talented, creative, tolerant, smart and, yes, opinionated.

We all have the tendency to work and play among people who are like ourselves, but one of the great benefits of my job as well as the campaign trail is realizing the remarkably diverse population of Westport and the challenges that so many face. And you come to realize the importance of representing everyone in town.  From the person on Saugatuck Shores who is uncertain what to do about making his house FEMA compliant, to the widow in a deteriorating home in the Coleytown area who is not sure how she can afford to stay in Westport, to the young moms with toddlers who just want some benches and shade in our playground areas.

The selectman’s job – in fact any government responsibility – is all about service. I once told a group of Staples High School students that I viewed politics as simply another vehicle to be of service to our community and to the people of our community. So it’s time now to switch from the politics of an election campaign to once again representing all the people and to focus on what we have in common – not what divides us.   

Jim Marpe takes service to a new level. Every December 31, he volunteers at First Night.

Our vision has always been to make Westport one of the best places in America to live by:

  • Fully supporting the excellence of our schools by providing the students, parents and teachers the resources they need to keep our public education world class;
  • Renewing our commitment to seniors who want to age in place through innovative programs, living options, financial relief and an enhanced senior center;
  • Practicing fiscal discipline to safeguard Westport’s financial future;
  • Promoting the economic vitality of Westport while preserving Westport’s small town character and New England charm;
  • And enhancing the quality of life by delivering the highest quality town services and amenities that reflect the complex needs and interests of our fellow citizens.

But these are empty promises unless, as a team, your selectmen listen to you – the people – learn from you and then take leadership in addressing the priorities that you help us establish.

I view the selectmen’s office as a team. For the past 4 years I have had the privilege of working with Avi Kaner and Helen Garten, both of whom have stepped forward to take on major projects of their own. Please join me in thanking them for their many years of elected volunteer service to the Town.

I am also fortunate to have an incredible office manager in Eileen Francis – she keeps her cool when others around her are losing theirs – and our newest office members Kirsten Rosa, Sara Harris and Eileen Flug. And now in addition to Jen Tooker, we welcome Melissa Kane who has demonstrated that she is prepared to take on a wide variety of leadership responsibilities as part of the Selectmen’s team.

Jim Marpe praises his Town Hall team. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

But our team is even bigger than the selectmen’s office. We are fortunate in Westport to have so many dedicated, capable and experienced employees throughout all aspects of the Town’s operations. The town’s success during these past 4 years, and well before that, is the result of many outstanding town employees who I have had the privilege to work with. I look forward to continue collaborating with them to make Westport an even better place.

And the other key to Westport’s success is the huge community of volunteers.  Thank you to everyone who serves or has served in any sort of volunteer role, be it in government, schools, not-for-profit organizations or your house of worship.  Westport could simply not function without your interest, commitment and active support.

And so I ask you to join me as our new selectmen team begins its focus on the people of Westport and making this one of the best places to live for every Westport citizen. Let’s continue making ideas into reality. Thank you for your support and the confidence you have expressed in Jen and me in this election and thank you in advance for your help in realizing our vision.