Tag Archives: flooding

[OPINION] Another Long Lots Worry: Water

Peter J. Swift has lived in Westport since 1997. A master mariner, he spent 25 years at sea — including command of supertankers and liquefied natural gas ships.

He then spent over 25 years in senior shore management in international shipping, and his own maritime consultancy.

Peter is involved in international maritime charities. He is also a member of the Westport Community Gardens and Long Lots Preserve, and president of the Harvest Commons Condominium Association. He writes: 

There has been a lot of “water under the bridge” on the Long Lots School rebuild. Here are my observations, after speaking with local residents, civil engineers and architects., and attending many Long Lots School Building Committee meetings.

This is a much broader issue than Long Lots School.

Peter Swift

This serious problem affects all of Westport. 34% of all properties in Westport have a 26% chance of being seriously impacted by flooding.

We love our wet and rocky town. Yet brooks and watersheds, combined with rock, is a fact we have to plan for.

Obviously, some areas need special attention. The area from Long Lots Elementary School to Long Island Sound along Muddy Brook is a very serious one.

Here are a few examples.

When the lower ball field was constructed, despite engineering calculations to the contrary, considerable water ingress into Muddy Brook was experienced by neighbors.

During a 3-year delayed construction on a neighboring road, considerable increase of surface water was noted by neighbors .

Retention basins were added only after construction.

Peter Swift says, “the site is flooded because retention basin’s were put in after construction was delayed for years. Neighbors at lower elevations are left to manage storm water overflow.”

There is still concern whether this works, because it was designed only for a 25-year storm.

Recent drainage and sewer work in areas near Long Lots School revealed underwater streams, with a flow that should not be disturbed.

It’s no surprised this was once good farm land. There was water all around.

Neighbors near Long Lots report that their sump pumps run constantly. Some have 2, both running constantly.

The Long Lots retention pond often overflows the dry stone wall, which marks the boundary of Long Lots Elementary School … 

Because big houses are being constructed on plots that had smaller houses, the 25-year storm standard does not work. It must be improved.

I understand that the standard planning is for each construction to retain on site the estimated water run off for a 25-year storm. There are many instances in town where this has proved to be inadequate.

In turn stressing Muddy Brook as it runs downstream to Long Island Sound. (Photos courtesy of Peter Swift)

Can Westport not consider a higher standard, especially for large taxpayer funded projects?

We all live in Westport, and pay taxes. Even if we do not us our education system, we love and support it.

Why is there such a rush to get spades in the ground within a year ?

The school is 50 years old, and has had many extensions. Let’s get this right.

Can we not allow our professional engineers time to study this before decisions are made?

Not give them a decision to work with. The cart is before the horse.

This would allow more detailed study of the long-term problems of building on ball fields and community gardens which absorb surface water, and include wetlands.

(“06880” covers all aspects of the Long Lots renovation project — and all other local news. By supporting this blog, you support local journalism. Please click here to help. Thank you!)

Pics Of The Day #2336

Scenes from today’s downpour, and the flash floods that followed …

Post Road …

… and turning out of Playhouse Square … (Photos/Susan Garment)

… and Kneads Bakery (Photo/Michael Chait)

Roundup: Flooding, BMS Earthquake Help, Graffiti …

Today’s trash pick-up at Elaine Road has been canceled, due to predicted bad weather. A new date will be announced soon.


The coastal flood warning — in effect until noon today — is real. Here was the scene earlier this morning at Canal Road on Saugatuck Shores:

(Photo/Gene Borio)

And high tide was still 2 hours away.


When the Bedford Middle School community learned that Heba, one of their popular cafeteria workers, had relatives in Syria — and was still waiting for news after the earthquake — they swung into action.

In just a few days, donations of coats, sweaters, shoes, scarves, hats, blankets (and backpacks filled to the brim) poured in. Many of the gifts were new, or almost new.

Yesterday, Dan Barberio — a physical education teacher and member of the Spirit Leadership Team, who helped organize the effort — packed his van. He delivered it all to a mosque in New Haven, for shipment to Syria today.

Congratulations, BMS, for your important, school-wide effort.

Dan Barberio (far left) and Bedford Middle School students, with some of the collection for Syrian earthquake victims.


A reader found new racist graffiti — this time, on the picnic tables at Compo’s South Beach. She reported it to Westport Police.

Previous racist graffiti at the state boat launch underneath I-95 was also reported, and immediately removed.

Racist raffiti at the state boat launch. (Photo/Nathan Selsky)


Danbury countered Staples’ fast start with a faster finish — and excellent defense — at last night’s boys basketball FCIAC championship.

The Hatters’ 69-53 win, at Wilton High School, denied the Wreckers their first league championship since 1963, and their first ever on the court. (The previous title came by having the best record.)

Danbury — seeded 3rd in the tourney — had beaten #4 Staples 63-54, in the regular season.

But the blue-and-whites’ superb season continues. First-year coach Dave Goldshore’s squad — now 17-6 — begins action in the state Division II on Tuesday.

Ranked 7th, they host #26 Manchester. Tipoff is 6 p.m.

The 2023 Staples High School boys basketball team.


Wakeman Town Farm is getting a jump on spring.

Among its just-announced events:

Old-Fashioned Maple Syrup Boiling (Saturday, March 11, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; free). Farmers Ryan Brunelle and Sharon Stone boil maple sap into pure maple syrup from trees tapped on the Farm. Ask questions about tapping your own trees, and checking out WTF’s homestead-sized evaporator.

Learn About Chicken Keeping (March 27, April 24, May 8): A 3-session series for the novice; take 1, 2 or all 3. At the end, attendees of all 3 sessions can “adopt” 2 of the chicks raised on the farm, and bring home a starter pack with feeder, waterer, wood shavings and 5 pounds of organic feed. $60 per session; $50 for starter pack. Click here for more information, and to register.

Lamb socials (selected dates, March 31 through May 1; $20): Snuggle and  hold lambs, to socialize the new flock; watch them play. All ages welcome. Click here for details and registration.

Home Vegetable Gardening: Dos and Don’ts (Monday, April 10, 7 p.m.). WTF farmer Sharon Stone describes how the Farm prepares for the growing season, past mistakes they’ve learned from, and the importance of maintenance and management. All ages and gardening levels are welcome. Click here to register.

Lunch and Learn to Cook an Italian Meal with Chef Vita (May 16, 11 a.m.; $125). On the menu: orecchiette pasta. Click here to register.

In addition, registration for spring programs begins online next Friday (March 10, 9 a.m.). Click here for details.

Down at the farm … (Photo/Lauri Weiser)


Staples Player alum Remy Laifer has joined the national tour of “Fiddler on the Roof.” He’ll play Mendel.

The Class of 2017 graduate will also understudy for Motel — a role he played in Players’ production of the same show. (Hat tips: David Roth and Kerry Long)

Remy Laifer


Save the date, for one of our town’s best (and most delicious) fundraisers:

Taste of Westport returns May 10 (6 p.m., the Inn at Longshore).

The 17th annual event — featuring fantastic food, wine and spirits from more than 2 dozen of the area’s best vendors, plus live music ad a silent auction — benefits CLASP Homes. The non-profit provides homes, support and services to adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Tickets are $125 per person from March 10 until April 9, then $150 until they sell out. Click here to purchase. For sponsorship opportunities, email rhammond@clasphomes.org or call 203-226-7895, ext. 144.


NBC Connecticut’s “CT Live” featured a fascinating interview yesterday about the Westport Country Playhouse.

In just 5 minutes, cultural associate and archivist Bruce Miller gave a history of the famed space; described the stage, sets and costumes, and added a plea to support live theater everywhere, in these post-pandemic days.

Click here to see.

Screenshot from “CT Live.”


Rita Leyden died Thursday, at 85. She and her husband Tom — who died in 2020 — lived in Westport from 1965 through 2019.

Her son Tommy posted this tribute on Facebook:

“We mourn today because Mom has gone home, but we’re also celebrating and giving thanks for how fortunate we were to absorb her spirit, wisdom and love for 85 years.

“Where will I go for my fill-up of confidence and reassurance? A selfish reflection, but I’m not alone in saying Rita Leyden was the queen of providing a boost of conviction when you needed it, sometimes right after she tactfully told you there was room for improvement.

“Mom was a woman of extraordinary elegance and faith, a rare fusion of class and humility. Her virtuous essence was pure, her love was sacrificial and whole. She believed in reconciliation and the power of positive reinforcement, always empowering others to find their right path as she offered support.

“Inspired each day by her dedication to Catholicism, her regular trips to church kept Mom centered on surrendering her soul to God and living a life of generous example. She trusted prayer in times of need and times of thanksgiving. With a Miraculous Medal always around her neck, Mom sought peace and graciously granted forgiveness to everyone in her life who sought it. Those who couldn’t find the strength to ask, she forgave anyway, and that’s a lesson we can all carry with us.

“Her smile was soothing, the signature grin of an eager hostess, pleased to open her home to guests. When you entered 6 Bradley Street, and 2 Garden Street before that, you were part of the family. Now, that may mean you had to take the buns out of the oven, grab a knife out of the drawer or bring a plate to the table, but if you were spending time laughing with Rita, even washing a pile of dishes by hand was fun.

“Perhaps most endearing was Mom’s true appreciation for others. It takes great humility and self-confidence to listen intently and Mom was truly engaged. With a warm hug and intent eye contact, she would ask about your life, your accomplishments and your struggles because she cared about each and how they affected you. If you wanted her opinion, Mom would offer intelligent insight.

“She was able to balance her words of support and encouragement with wit and humor, sharply delivering a memorable punch-line or zinger with pizazz. Every family has classic moments and Mom delivered more than a few.

“Even in her final days, Mom was always thinking about the details that make a difference. Just last week, I made her famous chocolate chip bars for a colleague. She reminded me to cut them a little smaller than I did the last time.

“Like the stories in the thousands of books she flipped through over the course of eight glorious decades, her life story was page-turning in its excitement, colored with fantastic twists and turns, drama, sadness and laughter.

“We spoke 2 weeks ago about growing old and reaching the end. Mom shrugged and told me, ‘There’s nothing you can do. Just hang in there the best you can. It’s part of the journey.’

“Another morsel of wisdom from the woman who never failed to fill up my tank of reassurance.

“Give Dad a hug. I’m glad you’re reunited.”

Rita and Tom Leyden


A river runs through downtown Westport.

And though we don’t always notice, it’s one of our greatest natural resources. Andrew Fishman captured it recently, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Andrew Fishman)


And finally … in honor of Remy Laifer’s new touring gig (story above), here’s a video from his 2015 production, with Staples Players:


Roundup: Hamlet At Saugatuck, Police Arrests, Leaf Pickups …

The Planning & Zoning Commission took no action last night on the retail and hotel project known as The Hamlet at Saugatuck.

Discussion, including comments from the public, ranged from building heights and setbacks to where the proposal fits in the town’s affordable housing plans.

Conversations on the text and map amendment requested for The Hamlet will continue on November 14.

Part of the Hamlet at Saugatuck proposal.


Wakeman Town Farm has many traditions.

The Thanksgiving Pie Sale is only 3 years old. But it’s already one of the most anticipated of all WTF events.

Plus, it’s for a good great cause. Thanks to a partnership with Earth Animal, the Farm and Westporters will raise funds for Connecticut Food Share, helping neighbors in need.

Oronoque Farms is baking up a storm. Choices include apple and blueberry pies (traditional and crumb), and the holiday classic pumpkin pie.

Click here for pie sizes, prices, and pickup dates and times. Orders end November 18.


The Westport Police have released arrest reports for the October 26-November 2 period.

Three people were detained in custody. Two were charged with identify theft. One was charged with conspiracy to commit larceny, forgery and the sale of a controlled substance.

The following citations were issued:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast (8)
  • Cell phone, 1st offense (6)
  • Violation of any traffic commission regulation (4)
  • Misuse of plates (4)
  • Operating an unregistered vehicle (4)
  • Failure to display plates (3)
  • Discussion, act or intent to commit a crime (2)
  • Larceny, 6th degree (2)
  • Speeding (1)
  • Improper passing/cutting off (1)
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license (1)
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension (1)
  • Failure to have stop lamps/turn signals (1)
  • Stop sign violation (1)
  • Failure to obey control signal (1).


Speaking of cops:

The WPD and Stop & Shop are again sponsoring a Thanksgiving Food Drive. All donations support Homes with Hope’s Food Pantry at the Gillespie Center. and Westport Human Services’ Food Pantry.

Police officers and volunteers will accept non-perishable food items and cash donations at Stop & Shop this Saturday (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Suggested items include: Applesauce, Brownie/Cake/Pie mix, Breakfast Bars, Boxed Macaroni & Cheese, Canned Sweet Potatoes, Canned Vegetables, Canned Fruit, Canned Gravy, Canned meat/tuna, Cereal, Cranberry Sauce, Dry Milk Envelopes, Hamburger or Tuna Helper, Hearty Soups, Instant Mashed Potatoes, Oatmeal, Pasta Sauce, Peanut butter & Jelly, Rice, and Stuffing. No glass jars!

Items needed for Saturday’s food drive (without the glass jars!).


It’s leaf collection time!

The Department of Public Works begins curbside leaf collection on Monday (November 7).

All leaves must be placed in biodegradable paper bags near the curb of a town street by December 5. Residents living on private streets must place their leaves behind the curb of an intersecting town roadway. Leaves placed in plastic bags will not be picked up.

There is no need to call for a pick-up. Crews will complete pick-ups as schedules allow. For further information, call 203-341-1120 or click here.

Meanwhile, extended fall hours begin at the Bayberry Brush Facility (180 Bayberry Lane, behind the Aspetuck Health District.

The yard waste site is now open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. 3 p.m. Extended Saturday hours are in effect through December 10.

Westport residents with valid proof of residency may dump up to 6 30-gallon bags or containers full of leaves without a fee. Plastic bags are not allowed.

Any van, pickup or tag-along trailer exceeding the 6-bag limit will be charged $40 per load. Any vehicle or trailer larger than a conventional pickup with a 4-foot by 8-foot bed will be charged $90 per ton.

Any vehicles with a 9-foot body or vehicles changed to significantly enlarge their factory design size will be charged $90 per ton, estimated at 2 ton without weigh slip ($180).

Dump tickets must be purchased at Town Hall, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., or by Department of Public Works, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880.

(Photo/Scott Smith)


It’s been awhile since we’ve had major flooding here. (Knock wood.)

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker, and the Public Works, Planning & Zoning, and Conservation Departments have arranged a series of open meetings to discuss stream flooding and the town’s responses to it.

Officials and personnel experienced in flooding issues and flood plain management, as well as regulations and oversight authority, will attend.

Each meeting will cover specific streams in Westport. There will be a general overview, followed by a forum for anyone to raise specific issues. Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting specific to their neighborhood, but may attend any session they choose.

Information from these meetings will be analyzed, and sent to the Flood and Erosion Control Board to determine flooding priorities.

The meetings will take place in Town Hall on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. The full schedule:

Date Topic Room
11-10-2022 Indian River Auditorium
11-17-2022 Silver Brook & Willow Brook 201
12-01-2022 Muddy Brook Auditorium
12-15-2022 Pussy Willow Brook Auditorium
01-12-2023 Sasco Creek & New Creek Auditorium
01-19-2023 Deadman Brook Auditorium
01-26-2023 Stony Brook & Poplar Plains Brook Auditorium

Myrtle Avenue flooding in 2018.


Yesterday morning, “06880” reported on a new stop sign on the corner of Greens Farms Road and Bulkley Avenue South. Drivers blew right past it.

Yesterday afternoon, it was gone.

That was fast!

Just like the drivers who ignored it.

Now you see it … now you don’t!


Popular Westport photographer Tom Kretsch is being featured at Picture This – Nylen Gallery, the custom frame shop. The theme is “Chasing the Light.”

There’s a reception November 10 (5:30 to 7:30 p.m.). It’s a chance to relax — just like the moods of his local scenes. For more information, click here.

“Chasing the Light” (Tom Kretsch)


Many members of the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston spent years working in New York City.

Their hours were long, the commute hard. They didn’t have a lot of time to see a lot of the city.

Now — with many of them retired — they’re enjoying New York walking tours.

Tuesday’s — the 6th in the series — included a jaunt over the Queensboro Bridge. Also called the 59th Street Bridge (by Simon & Garfunkel) and the Ed Koch Bridge (by no one), it connects Manhattan with Long Island City, via Roosevelt Island.

Check out the photo below. Looks like the Y’s men were feelin’ groovy.

Y’s Men members (from left) former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, tour director Warren Jahn and Bob Mitchell near the peak of the Queensboro Bridge. (Photo and hat tip: Dave Matlow)


CAMP Gallery’s newest exhibit is a solo show by Westport artist Liz Leggett. It’s a new venue for the well-known MoCA curator.

Leggett’s vibrant abstract work formed a perfect background when she posed (below) with fellow Westporter Ifeseyi Gayle.


Westport attorneys Ken Bernhard and Ted Freedman have again joined forces for a “Soles4Souls” collection. They’re gathering donations of shoes from residents to help lift people out of poverty, and support those who are homeless in the US and around the world.

From now through Thanksgiving, there are collection boxes at Town Hall, police headquarters and the Senior Center. Donors can drop off new or gently used shoes (with no holes or mold). Please tie the laces together, or use rubber bands to keep matched pairs joined.

In the past, Soles4Souls has collected 3,000 pairs of shoes. Bernhard and Freedman hope for at least 500 pairs this year. For more information, click here.

(From left): Ken Bernhard, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Senior Center director Sue Pfister, Ted Freedman and Westport Police Officer Ashley Delvecchio start the Soles4Souls drive.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo looks like a painting.

This fall has been the season that keeps on giving. We are lucky indeed to enjoy scenes like this.

(Photo/Nora McIlree)


And finally … in honor of the Y’s Men’s trip to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge (story above):

(Also groovy: Supporting “06880.” Please click here to help.)

Be Careful Out There!

The flash flooding warnings were spot on.

Several roads in Westport — the usual suspects, and others less prone to flooding — are underwater right now.

And the tide is coming in.

Wilton Road, near OKO. (Photo/Frank Rosen)