Tag Archives: Fresh Market

Roundup: Remarkable Theater, Clear Cutting, Coffee An’ …

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Art imitated life last night, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

A 40-foot movie screen was erected for the Remarkable Theater’s 2nd season — and a cameraman was there to film it.

The (metaphorical) curtain rises tonight at 7:30 p.m., with “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” “Sneak previews” follow through Tuesday. Click here for details and tickets.

(Photo/Doug Tirola)

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A reader writes:

“We residents on Pequot Trail are very upset by this week’s clear cutting of a lovely wooded area that provided privacy for multiple properties around the entrance to our street. Every time I turn onto the street now, my heart sinks.

“We’re sad enough that the charming house is being torn down — we get that this is inevitable — but did all of the mature trees and coveted privacy for multiple homes need to be callously destroyed?

“I called the town and was told that initiatives to restrict tree cutting have failed multiple times. I wonder what needs to happen to get our town, which prides itself on being so ‘green,’ to put a stop to this kind of environmental desecration?

“To preempt  any comments about ‘city people’ moving in, this property was bought by a Westport family. That makes it so much more disappointing.

Clear cutting, around the house that will be demolished.

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When COVID canceled last year’s annual plant sale, the Westport Garden Club planted a sign: “See You in 2021.”

True to their promise, this year’s in-person (sale is set for Friday, May 14 (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). The new location is Jesup Green.

Gardeners can purchase plants the day of the sale, or online starting May 1. Click here for information.

Online orders will be available for curbside pick-up. And club members will be on hand during the sale to offer expert advice.

In more Garden Club news: “Friday Flowers,” the campaign initiated in the dark days of last spring to lift spirits and beautify the town, returns this summer. The first installation (May 7) is at Saugatuck Congregational Church. Floral arrangements made by club members will be displayed each Friday through Labor Day.

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The annual Compo Beach grooming project is underway. As the weather turns nice — and more folks are vaccinated — it comes not a moment too soon.

The work is impressive to watch on the ground.

And even more impressive by drone.

(Photo/Daniel Johnson)

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For a long while, Coffee An’ was open for takeout only.

They’ve now got indoor seating too. It’s limited, socially distanced, safe — and within amazing aroma distance of their wide selection of donuts (an’ more).

There are plenty of great breakfast and lunch places in town. Coffee An’ is at the topo of any list.

(Photo/Katherine Bruan)

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Amy Mandelbaum is vice president of the OUT Foundation, which encourages the LGBTQ community to participate in fitness, health and wellness activities.

She also owns CrossFit Westport. There’s no better place to encourage the inclusion she champions.

So on Saturday, April 17 (9:30 a.m. to noon), her gym — just over the Norwalk line, at 19 Willard Road — sponsors an “OUT Athletics” event. The warmup and workout is fun, doable — and everyone is welcome.

There’s food, coffee, and gift bags from sponsors like Garnier and Goodr sunglasses. Each heat lasts 45 minutes to an hour; then comes (socially distant) socializing.

For more or information or to sign up, click here.

Amy Mandelbaum

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With little rainfall and low humidity recently, Westport’s brush fire danger is high.

The Fire Department responded to 2 brush fires yesterday — simultaneously.

The one on Sherwood Island Connector was quickly extinguished. The other — between Parsell Lane and I-95 — brought 30 firefighters and officers from Westport and Fairfield, with 7 engines and 1 ladder. It burned 3 1/2  acres, but there was no property damage or injuries.

Westport Firefighters were dispatched to two simultaneous brush fires, one on the Sherwood Island Connector at Nyala Farms Road and the other on Parsell Lane.

Be careful out there!

(Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)

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This is amazing! Who would have guessed that “the friendliest curbside experience in America” is located right here in Westport? At our Fresh Market!

A cynic might demand proof.

I just want to know: Is this “the friendliest curbside experience” for supermarkets throughout America only? Or does it include everything: restaurants, bookstores, hardware stores, liquor stores, whatever?

Either way, this is very, very impressive.

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If you missed Monday night’s TEAM Westport Teen Diversity Essay Contest livestream — or read the essays on “06880” the next day, and want to watch the winners’ powerful deliveries — click below.

Spoiler alert: They’re great.

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“06880” has faithfully reported on ospreys: their return, their nests, even their empty platforms.

But they’re not the only wildlife to admire. Sherwood Mill Pond teems with more than ospreys. Matt Murray snapped this shot of a heron yesterday.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … today is the birthday of songwriter Yip Harburg. He was born on the Lower East Side in 1896. he survived the blacklist of the 1950s, and died in 1981.

Photo Challenge #307

Some people think a Photo Challenge is unfair because it shows an obscure part of Westport. Others get made because it’s a spot they’ve never seen.

To which I say: Suck it up. That’s why it’s a Photo “Challenge,” not a “Slam Dunk.” This isn’t intramural sports. Not everyone gets a trophy.

But I knew when I posted last week’s shot that it was totallyunfair. There was no way 50% of my readers would have any idea where to find Molly Alger’s image.

It was the ladies room at Fresh Market.

I couldn’t resist. It was a nice photo (click here to see). And — as John Kelly pointed out in the comments — Albert Ellis often asked his patients, “Where did you get the idea that life is fair?”

Susan Iseman was first with the correct answer. She was also last. No one else knew (though a few readers guessed it was a women’s room somewhere).

Who knew there are flowers in those places? Not I. And not half of my readers.

I will spare you a shot of a urinal for that half. Instead, here is this week’s Photo Challenge — back to 100% of our audience. If you know where in Westport it is, click “Comments” below.

And if you don’t know: I don’t care. Life is not fair.

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

Ospreys!!!!!!!

Exactly one year ago, Westport was all aflutter over a pair of ospreys.

Every spring, the magnificent raptors return “home.” They build nests at Longshore, Sherwood Mill Pond — and, most visibly, on a utility pole between Fresh Market and Terrain.

Last year though, Regency Centers — the owner of the property — suddenly removed the pole.

It took awhile to untangle who exactly did the deed — the management company or a sub-contractor (who claimed falsely to be Audubon Society workers). They also lacked the required permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Then we found out that the illegal osprey nest removal was done prior to Planning & Zoning Commission approval for parking lot renovation work.

A year later, the parking lot project is still underway.

But — as Westport hungers for a bit of good news in the midst of a brutal pandemic — we’ve got some.

The ospreys are back!

Eagle-eyed “06880” reader Carolyn Doan — who took these magnificent photos — reports, “They are doing their mating ritual. She calls out to him from the nest. He brings her food, and sits in a nearby tree. Sometimes he helps tidy up a bit.

“The construction guys who are there love to talk about them,” Carolyn adds. “They fill us in about the activities — what food the male is bringing in (mice, fish), which trees he likes to keep watch in, when she calls out. It’s very sweet.”

(Photos/Carolyn Doan)

Meanwhile though — because every silver lining has a cloud — there is this, from equally alert “06880” reader Dick Stein:

The last tree standing at the Fresh Market shopping plaza was cut down on Wednesday.

Before …

The 80-year-old oak sat on state property. The town of Westport had no say.

… and after. (Photos/Dick Stein)

A new sidewalk is being installed in its place.

Photo Challenge #272

I’ve run some weird images as Photo Challenges.

On its face, there’s nothing strange about last week’s. It showed a pleasant domestic scene: rocking chair, clock, old-fashioned radio, pastoral farm painting.

What made it odd is that it can be found in a very public place: above the produce section at Fresh Market, on the Post Road. In fact, there are several similar scenes throughout the store.

Who knew? Not I — and I shop there. Photographer Evan Barr had to clue me in.

Morley Boyd knew, of course. He knows everything. Sylvia Corrigan and Robin Levey did too.

Most readers were as clueless as I. But I’m sure all of us will look up a lot more the next time we check out the radishes and raspberries.

You, meanwhile, can check out the photo — and the comments, which veered into other realms, since most readers had no idea where the photo was taken — by clicking here.

Meanwhile, if you know where to find this week’s Photo Challenge, click “Comments” below.

One hint: It’s not at Fresh Market. Or anywhere else indoors.

(Photo/Michael Tomashefsky)

Little Beet Grows In Westport

Ongoing construction has made the Fresh Market shopping center a bit grotty.

But it won’t last forever. And when the work is done, a new fast-casual eatery will join current tenants like Colonial Druggists, Dan’s Liquors and Orangetheory Fitness.

The Little Beet opens this summer.

According to its website, the 5-year-old chain offers “wholesome, healthy food that not only tastes great, but makes you feel great.” Food is “carefully sourced … from farmers and purveyors we trust, guaranteeing all of our food is gluten-free and better for you.”

There are a dozen Little Beets already, in New York, Westchester, Long Island, Washington DC, Virginia and Florida.

The menu includes make-your-own rice and quinoa-based meals, poké and other bowls, vegetable sides, and breakfast sandwiches, parfaits and oatmeal.

The Little Beet Grain Bowls

A little bit of the Little Beet menu.

And if you don’t like it, there’s Dunkin’ Donuts across the street.

FUN FACT: The Fresh Market shopping center is actually called The Village Center. That’s as little known as the official name of the Sherwood Island Connector: State Route 476.

(Hat tip: Neil Markman)

Fresh Market “Freshens Up”

This summer, Westporters focused on a state Department of Transportation plan involving special left-turn-only lanes, curbing, sidewalks and more at the Fresh Market shopping center.

That’s far in the future. We should have been focused on a more immediate plan to renovate the facade. And the parking lot.

As customers have noted this week, work involved the installation of spiffy new old-fashioned light poles.

But there was a cost. Gone is some of the landscaping that once made the shopping center if not pleasant, at least tolerable.

(Photos/Michael Calise)

The work is not finished. Perhaps beautiful new trees and shrubs will be planted.

And perhaps one day I will walk to the planet Zork, too.

Bag It!

Westporters may not have noticed, because over a decade ago we were the first town east of the Mississippi River to ban plastic bags.

But a state law that went into effect August 1 mandates a charge of 10 cents for every single-use plastic bag.

In 2021, they’ll be outlawed completely.

There is no state-mandated charge for paper bags — which, by some estimates, cost up to 10 times more than plastic bags. Paper bags have their own environmental impacts too.

So although we haven’t noticed the plastic bag charge here, we’re seeing its ripple effects.

Many stores — including CVS and Fresh Market — have switched to paper bags without handles. They’re inconvenient, and perhaps a subliminal way to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags.

An “06880” reader reports that Walgreens is charging 10 cents for each paper bag.

Meanwhile — reading between the lines of this sign — it looks like Stop & Shop will start charging for paper bags next month.

Ins And Outs Of Post Road Shopping Centers

On July 8, representatives from Connecticut’s Department of Transportation gave a public presentation on proposed work on the Post Road. Much of it involves the stretch between Fresh Market, and the Roseville/Hillspoint Road intersection.

The $5.3 million project (80% federally funded, 20% state funds) would include special left-turn-only lanes, as well as traffic signals, curbing, curb ramps, sidewalks and crosswalks.

Proposals for the Post Road near Fresh Market.

Alert “06880” reader Jennifer Johnson agrees with many of the ideas. However, she also has concerns. She wrote the DOT about several, including the need for a sidewalk on the south side from Mitchells to the fire station, and care of the cherry trees in front of the Volvo dealer.

However, what really caught my eye was this:

Eliminate multiple single-property curb cuts. There are an excessive number of curb cuts (17) on both sides of the road, from the traffic light at Fresh Market to the light at Roseville/Hillspoint Road.

The number of curb cuts is a source of danger to people regardless of how they travel (foot, car or bicycle). Now is the time to correct problems that have evolved as the Post Road developed.

There are many ways in and out of the shopping centers, and adjacent lots.

I never thought about that — but now that I have, it makes a lot of sense.

Why do we need so many entrances and exits at Fresh Market? Across the street, there are also a number of ways to get into and out of the Dunkin’ Donuts/UPS Store/Westport Hardware/Mumbai Times lot. (No one ever calls it by its official no-meaning name, Village Center.)

There are other spots in town too with multiple entrances and exits, like Stop & Shop, and Aux Delices/Carvel/Stiles.

There are only a couple of ways in and out of the CVS/Trader Joe’s clusterf***. But at the end of her email, Jennifer notes that this intersection appears to have been ignored by DOT.

Finally, she asks that one person be appointed to oversee and coordinate all of DOT’s Westport projects (there are others besides the Fresh Market initiative).

Great idea! I nominate Jennifer Johnson for the job.

(For full details of the project on the Westport town website, click here. Questions about the Post Road project can be sent to  the CT DOT project manager: Brian.Natwick@ct.com)

Proposed work at the Post Road/Roseville/Hillspoint intersection.

Turn! Turn! Turn!

To everything there is a season.

And this summer, the state Department of Transportation is turning up the heat on turning lanes.

Special left-turn-only lanes are in the works for the Post Road.

There’s one proposed between Roseville/Hillspoint Road, and Terrain. That will permit turns into either the Fresh Market shopping center, or “Village Center” (Dunkin’ Donuts, UPS Store, Mumbai Times) on the other side of the street.

Approximate location of the turning lane proposed for the Post Road.

Also planned: left-turn lanes at Bulkley Avenue North and South, just past Super Stop & Shop headed to Southport.

The project — to cost $5.3 million (80% federally funded, 20% state funds) — will include new traffic signals, curbing, curb ramps, sidewalks and crosswalks.

A public information meeting is set for Monday, July 8 (7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium).

But don’t think about using those new center turn lanes anytime soon.

Construction would begin in the summer.

Of 2021.

Ospreys and Regency Centers: VERY Interesting Sunday Afternoon Report

It appears now that Regency Centers — the owner of both the Fresh Terrain shopping plaza and Terrain — is the bad actor in yesterday’s removal of an osprey nest on a pole between the two properties.

Regency’s management company — or a sub-contractor — took down the nest. When confronted by Terrain employees, they claimed to be Audubon Society workers. They also did not have a permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. A permit is mandated by the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918.

But here’s where the story gets really interesting.

This Thursday, April 4 (7 p.m., Town Hall), Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission has a regularly scheduled meeting.

Agenda item #3 is a request by Regency Centers for “Westport Village Center” — aka the Fresh Market plaza — for “a Site Plan approval for proposed exterior alteration to the building façade and modifications to the parking lot for property located in RBD and Residence A zones, PID# E09068000.”

In other words: The illegal osprey nest removal in preparation for parking lot work was done prior to P&Z approval.

Regency Centers — owner of the Fresh Market plaza — will ask the P&Z on Thursday for permission to make changes to the facade and parking lot.

And here’s where the story gets even more interesting.

Thursday’s meeting is a public hearing. Westporters are welcome to attend — and speak.

(You can also make your feelings known by email before the meeting: pandz@westportct.gov.)

Regency is well known to Westport — and the P&Z. When Regency bought the Fresh Market plaza, they promised to plant trees in front, and install a sidewalk. That has not yet been done.

Regency also owns Compo Acres Shopping Center (anchored by Trader Joe’s). Westporters — particularly those living behind the back parking lot — have not forgotten the work-first-ask-questions-later job done on the retaining wall there.

A similar incident occurred in the back of yet another property owned by Regency: the shopping center across the street from Fresh Market.

Thursday’s P&Z meeting should be very interesting indeed.

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Meanwhile, back to the ospreys. Someone involved in the utility industry — who asked for anonymity based on the nature of his work — examined this morning’s photo of the removal of the nest. He writes:

The photo taken by the high school freshman of the bucket truck yesterday tells this old utility veteran several things.

This is a “streetlight” pole, set exclusively for mounting the 2 streetlights clearly shown in the photo, whose lights provide security lighting for Fresh Market’s parking lot.

12-year-old James Doan took this photo today, of an osprey at its old nest pole. His mother Carolyn says, “The male is flying around the female with sticks and possibly food. The cry is tough to hear.”

All streetlights are supplied by secondary wires, energized 100% of the time. So this pole has active power supplied to it — a safety hazard for anyone choosing to work on this pole top.

The utility always works with safety most paramount. If this contractor wanted to take this action they should have contacted the utility well in advance to get approval.

Since the utility erected the platform originally. I assume they would never have granted approval for this action. They also would never allow this contractor to work on their pole without authorization, and proof that the contractor is “qualified” to work on energized equipment.

Looks pretty clear that regardless of what DEEP or Audubon said to this contractor, they were also violating various rules and regulations of the utility and perhaps should be treated accordingly. License revocation? Fines? Local Westport electrical inspector might also be someone to get involved with this in that regard.