The other day, amateur historian Bob Weingarten published a story in Greens Farms Living magazine.
Read the previous sentence carefully.
The publication calls itself Greens Farms. Not Green’s Farms. Or Greensfarms.
Punctuation matters. And the punctuation of Westport’s oldest section of town was the subject of Weingarten’s piece.
I’m interested. From time to time, I’ve referred to that neighborhood in several ways. I never knew the answer — and never knew how to find out.
Weingarten quotes author Woody Klein, who called John Green “the largest landholder” among the 5 Bankside Farmers who in the late 1600s settled around what is now Beachside Avenue (the “banks” of Long Island Sound).
This is where the Bankside Farmers first worked the land. It looks a bit different today.
The area was called Green’s Farms. But in 1732 it was changed to Greens Farms because, Klein says, Fairfield — the town of which it was part — did not want “any individual landholder to become too independent.”
The plural form, Weingarten writes, could mean either that Green had more than one farm, or that it was “adopted from the multiple farms of the Bankside Farmers.” So Greens Farms it was.
Except in property deeds, which referred to “the Parish of Greensfarms.”
However, in 1842 — when the parish was incorporated into the 7-year-old town of Westport — the spelling became Green’s Farms.
The church of the same name adopted the apostrophe. Today it sometimes uses one, sometimes not. Sometimes on the same web page.
The church — with or without an apostrophe.
Confusion continued, though. For decades thereafter, official documents and maps referred to both Green’s Farms and Greens Farms.
Weingarten also mentions two streets: Green’s Farms Road and Greens Farms Hollow.
The state Department of Transporation has used both spellings — and a 3rd: Green Farms, for the Metro-North station.
Weingarten cites one more example. The post office near the train station uses the apostrophe spelling on one sign, the non-apostrophe on another.
This is definitely not one of the options.
Weingarten favors Green’s Farms. So do I.
But “06880” is a democracy. So — even though the zip code is 06838 — we’ll put it to a vote. Click the poll below — and add “Comments too.”
All you have to lose is an apostrophe.
Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!
An “06880” reader living in Green’s Farms is stupefied by the drivers who roar through her neighborhood. Every day, cars race past at excessive — and dangerous — speeds.
Commuters drive particularly fast, she says. Through routes to the Green’s Farms train station, like Turkey Hill South, are “accidents waiting to happen.”
The area has also become a preferred route for folks taking Maseratis out for test drives, from the new Post Road dealership. “You can imagine,” she says.
Roadkill — including deer carcasses — are a common sight.
“The area is still called ‘Greens Farms,’ after all,” the reader notes. “It has a fair amount of open space, with an amazing amount of natural wildlife running around. Drivers should slow down and look around. It’s a beautiful part of town!”
Green’s Farms’ narrow, hilly roads are perfect for a Maserati test drive.
She believes this problem goes beyond speed. “It reflects a mindset of those who fly through neighborhoods in which they have little or no investment. They often have no concern for their impact on the safety or concern of others who live in the ‘transit corridor.’ Can you say selfish?”
She wonders if other roads in Westport have similar issues. South Compo, Roseville and Bayberry are possibilities.
“How are they monitored by the police?” she asks.
The reader would like more signs, speed bumps, and enforcement. She understands the police have other priorities, and “it requires continual calls and reminders to get a patrol car to set up.”
So, “06880” readers: What do you think? Has our reader pinpointed a real issue? How has your neighborhood been impacted by speeding? What are the root causes, and what can be done?
Click “Comments” to weigh in — and please use your full, real name.
Fred Cantor is an alert “06880” reader — and a talented researcher with an eye for intriguing stories about Westport’s past.
The other day, he sent 4 clippings from the New York Times. All were from 50 years ago. Westport was in the midst of a historic transformation, Fred said, as the town’s population rocketed skyward.
On February 2, 1964, 1st Selectman Herb Baldwin announced the formation of a Development Commission. The aim was to attract light industry, thus broadening the tax base.
“The move grew out of a recent fiscal seminar where concern was voiced over the town’s high bonded indebtedness, principally due to school construction,” the Times reported. The debt was approximately $12 million.
On June 26, the Planning and Zoning Commission tightened restrictions against new apartment buildings — despite acknowledging the need for apartments serving “older people and young married couples.” The previous day, the Zoning Board of Appeals denied an application for construction of a 48-unit apartment on the site of the Tennex factory on Riverside Avenue.
Many of today’s familiar Riverside Avenue buildings were once factories.
On October 4, 1964, the Times said that a group of Greens Farms property owners were “aroused by a proposal to build a department store, a supermarket and a parking lot for 617 cars in their midst, two miles east of the town’s center.” The centerpiece would be an Arnold Constable store.
Opponents cited a traffic hazard for students at nearby Green’s Farms Elementary School, and destruction of the “rustic charm” of the area. One person said, “We don’t want to turn Westport into another Rye or New Rochelle.”
Proponents countered it would add “sorely needed town revenue. They say the chief reason the town has sunk into debt over the last 20 years is that it has resisted business growth.”
The 7 1/2-acre property — bounded by South Morningside Drive and Church Street — would add between $40,000 and $52,430 a year in taxes.
Years after it was proposed, a shopping center was built near Greens Farms Elementary School.
Two months later, the P&Z proposed action to reverse the “hodgepodge” and “visual mayhem” — town officials’ words — of the Post Road. Fifteen properties along busy Route 1 would need special permits for development. New zones would be limited by “natural boundaries, such as topography, existing streets or similar barriers.”
Included was the Greens Farms tract. It took a number of years, but the shopping center — anchored today by Barnes & Noble — eventually was built.
Half a century later, some things haven’t changed. Westporters still debate property taxes and affordable housing.
But we no longer argue about shopping centers. They’re here, they’re there, they’re everywhere.
You would think that a certain amount of care and checking goes into the manufacture of street signs throughout Westport.
But you would be wrong.
Setting aside the lack of standardization — there must be half a dozen styles of signs on public roads, plus the hundreds of private ones — there are also instances in which even the people who live somewhere must be confused.
Consider Sipperley’s Hill/Sipperleys Hill Road. (Which, I am sure, most Westporters think of as “Slippery Hill.”)
Or Hillspoint/Hills Point. (Which, I think, was actually named for a family called Hill, not the geographic feature heading toward the beach. That means neither rendering is correct; instead it should be Hill’s Point, right?)
Now look closely at the sign above, on the right. It says Greens Farms Road. There’s an ongoing debate which is correct: that, or Green’s Farms.
Whichever side is right, I know the one below is dead wrong:
(Hat tip to Bruce Nemirow — who actually lives in Norwalk.)
5 RTM members — including 4 from Green’s Farms, the center of this issue — sent this letter to “06880.” Don Bergmann (District 1), and District 5 members Seth Braunstein, Peter Gold, Paul Rossi and John Suggs write:
An AT&T cell tower may be located in a Residence AA Zone, close to the intersection of Hillspoint and Greens Farms Roads. The tower will be 120 feet tall. It would loom above the tree line at this “gateway” intersection leading toward our beaches. The address of the site is 92 Greens Farms Road, a private residence.
The house on the left is 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)
We write to engage the public, and to express our abhorrence of a 120-foot cell tower in a residential zone. A citizens group has been formed, and all avenues of opposition are being explored.
Cell phones are part of day-to-day living. They are convenient and, in emergencies, important. Nevertheless, the adverse impacts of a cell tower resonate with most citizens.
Cell towers generate health risks. Also, the size of cell towers, particularly their massive foundations, requires and impacts upon a large land mass. That will be particularly so at 92 Greens Farms Road, since there are water courses that flow into a nearby pond and also under I-95 to the Sherwood Mill Pond.
The cell phone industry managed in 1996 to secure the passage of very favorable federal legislation. As implemented in Connecticut by the unfortunate creation of a State Siting Council, local communities are severely constrained in their ability to impact upon cell tower siting. Those constraints preclude challenges based upon the adverse effects from electromagnetic fields and radio waves generated by cell towers.
An AT&T cell tower.
Those dangers, particularly for the young and those with certain genetic pre-dispositions, are well known, but must be ignored in any site determination by reason of the law. The law also pre-empts local zoning regulations, for example a regulation adopted by Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission in 2000.
Our P&Z regulation makes it clear that Westport does not want any cell tower in a residential zone. Sadly, the law negates the effectiveness of our regulation, except as a public declaration by Westport in opposition to cell towers in residential zones. We believe Westport does not want a 120-foot tall cell tower looming above the trees at 92 Greens Farms Road.
First Selectman Jim Marpe is pursuing avenues that he believes appropriate. However, whatever the town undertakes, public interest and concern is crucial. We need to stop this before it gets to the Siting Council. So please join in this battle. Let us or others on the RTM know of your support. Even better, contact the citizens group by e mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Hope Hageman, email@example.com.
Please engage. Like Joni Mitchell’s “tearing down trees for a parking lot,” this cell tower will also be a blight.
“06880” readers, what do you think? Dangerous? Unsightly? Necessary? An issue of one property owner doing what he wants with his property, or one where the wishes of a majority of neighborhood residents should take precedence? Click “Comments” — and please use your full, real name. If relevant, include your neighborhood too.
As US attorney for the Southern District of New York, he helped send then-Westporter Martha Stewart to the Big House.
But — although both the Southern District and FBI were involved — he had nothing to do with the arrest and conviction of Rajat Gupta. That’s the former businessman/philanthropist convicted in June 2012 on insider trading charges. He lives in another big house on Beachside Avenue — around the corner from Comey.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are selling their house in Chappaqua.
And it’s 80 to 90% certain they’re moving to Westport.
A realtor — who for obvious reasons will remain nameless — said the former president told her they moved to New York state primarily so his wife could run for the Senate.
But several factors are behind the upcoming move.
For one, Fairfield County’s tax burden is significantly lower than Westchester’s. (“I’m amazed he told me that,” the realtor said.)
In addition, last summer Bill fell in love with sailing. He and Hillary lived in Milford while both attended Yale Law School, and he has called their rental cottage at the beach “one of the best places we ever lived.”
But why Westport and not, say, Rowayton or Greenwich?
“The Clintons have several friends in Westport, and always loved coming here,” the realtor said.
The Clintons' former home.
“And when we drove through town and I told him all about the development in Saugatuck, his eyes lit up. He said, ‘This might sound silly, but it’s kind of like when I put my office in Harlem. It was the right feeling at the right time.'”
The realtor said the Clintons have looked at property in Green’s Farms and Saugatuck Shores. Bill liked a house very close to Compo, but Hillary thought the area was too “public.”
The realtor said Bill is doing most of the research into Westport. (“I understand that,” she said. “Hillary’s got a full-time job.”)
The Clintons' current home in Chappaqua, N.Y.
The realtor was struck by the former president’s interest in local issues. “He’s got a very clever sense of humor,” she noted. “He said, ‘Maybe if I get back into politics, I’ll run for the planning board (P&Z). It looks like that’s where the action is.”
I had to ask: Did she tell Bill about “06880”?
Yes! she said. He loves it — including the comments.
In fact, he told her, “If we move here, I have to meet the Dude!”
(To see photos of 3 of the homes the Clintons are considering, click here.)
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