Tag Archives: Haskins Preserve

Roundup: Beach Rules, Gun Violence, Dog Poop …

The cost of a Westport beach sticker for out-of-towners — $775 — has been the subject of heated debate, everywhere from the pages of “06880” to the halls of the State Capitol.

This past wee, radio listeners around the state heard about it.

“Ethan & Lou” discussed it on their i95 show. in typical 2-radio-host-trying-to-engage-listeners style.

The station put a variation of the riff on their website too. In the context of complaints about Connecticut’s “rocky (not sandy)” beaches, they mentioned both the expense of Compo, and the many rules posted on the town website. (Hey, guys: The rules are posted at the beach, too.)

The website complains: “No Alcohol!? Can’t bring my dog? Can’t listen to music? No hooch, no pooch and no Scooch? Sounds un-American.”

Of course, alcohol is permitted on South Beach (unlike most state beaches). The “music” ban refers to “amplified music, including bands and DJs” (though they seem to be okay, upon request to Parks & Rec). As for “Scooch” — well, at least it rhymes.

Click here for the full story — including a link to the “Ethan & Lou” segment.

There are definitely lots of rules at Compo Beach.

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The Remarkable Theater continues to be a remarkable resource for Westport.

This Tuesday (June 7, 8 p.m.), they’ll screen a special show for the soon-to-graduate Staples High Class of 2022.

The 71-minute video includes never-before-seen footage of their 4 yeas at school.

Tickets are only $5. Click here to reserve a spot; then pile your friends into a car and head to the Imperial Avenue parking lot!

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Yesterday was National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

The timing — coming after a slew of mass shootings — was propitious. But in a cascade of bad news, the day itself might have been missed by many.

One Westporter, however, marked the occasion on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge:

(Photo/Dina Upton)

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“06880” has posted photos previously of 1 or 2 plastic poop bags left in otherwise pristine parks, or on people’s lawns and driveways.

But this image — sent by David Brant, executive director of Aspetuck Land Trust which oversees (among many other properties) Haskins Preserve — seems almost perverse. The sign about dog waste — and that there is no “Poop Fairy” — are literally inches away.

Is it a “Candid Camera” stunt? Part of an elaborate psychology experiment?

Or are Westporters just dumping on us?

Whatever the reason: It’s not funny.

Whoever you are: Shame on you.

And just remember: Whatever goes around, comes around.

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The Staples High School baseball team plays in the state “LL” (extra large schools) quarterfinals today (Trumbull High School, 2 p.m.).

But win or lose, they’re already champions.

On Thursday — the day after their 2nd-round upset of higher-ranked Amity-Woodbridge — the Wreckers collected thousands of dollars of cleats, bats and other equipment.

They donated it to Bluefish Travel Baseball, a program in Bridgeport.

The 2022 Staples High School varsity baseball team. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

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A recent pre-Memorial Day story about a Westport connection to an American soldier saved by a German guard during World War II was fascinating.

But Tom Feeley — who recounted the tale — had misremembered the name of the soldier, whom he met and befriended at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399.

Tom called him “Mike Brody.” His name was actually Samuel Meyer Brody.

And — because this is “06880,” where “Westport meets the world” — there is another local tie. Sam Brody was longtime resident and RTM member Dick Lowenstein’s 3rd cousin.

Here is a photo of Sam (left) and Dick at the Senior Center. Sam died the next year, at 96. Click here for a full obituary.

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Lifelong Westporter and former firefighter Stanley Prackup died on Wednesday. He was 87.

One of 8 children, he graduated from Staples High School in 1953. He played baseball there, and was a sharpshooter in its Rifle Club.

Stanley enlisted in the Navy after high school, and served on the USS Valcour and Intrepid.  He was awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal.

After the navy he attended the University of Connecticut.

He was a postal carrier for several years before joining the Westport Fire Department. He served as a firefighter for 20 years, until 1988. He also owned his own landscaping business.

Stanley and his wife Joan built a home here, and lived in it for over 40 years. Devoted to his religion, he was happiest in his garden, and spending time with family and friends.

He was predeceased by his brothers, Frank, Michael and George, and sisters Rose, Barbara and Alice.

Stanley is survived by his wife of 58 years, Joan Prackup; daughters Brenda Prackup, Linda Prackup-Desautels and Sandra Prackup; grandson Luke Desautels; sister Virginia Fiordelisi, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

A memorial mass will be held Monday (June 6, 10 a.m., St Luke Church), followed by interment at Assumption Cemetery on Greens Farms Road. Click here for a livestream of the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Cancer Research Institute.

Stanley Prackup

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Ordinarily this bad parking job at the Taylor Lot near the Westport Library would not be “06880”-worthy.

But the car has been there since at least early last week.

With the window open, people have left angry messages for the owner.

If it’s yours, please claim it. If there’s a problem, please contact the police!

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David Fiore sends today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, noting: “As seen from our kitchen window at breakfast. A chippy enjoying the view, having his own breakfast on our weeping cherry tree berries.”

(Photo/David Fiore)

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And finally … speaking of chipmunks:

Roundup: Ramadan, Ignazio’s, Westport Inn …

On Thursday Adil Kassam, and Mehnaz and Atif Bhanjee — representatives of the Ismaili Muslim community — presented 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, 2nd Selectwoman Andrea Moore, and the Westport Police and Fire Departments with gifts of appreciation.

During the holy month of Ramadan, it’s traditional to visit municipal offices, to express thanks and appreciation for the valuable contributions and services they provide.

Town officials, in turn, expressed gratitude for the Muslim community’s thanks.

Town officials and Ismaili Muslim community representatives, on Thursday.

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Two Westport pizza restaurants are looking for new owners.

Ignazio’s — which after many delays opened in November 2019, just 4 months before COVID struck — is one.

A description on BizBuySell reads: “Fantastic opportunity to take over a well executed and furnished Pizza restaurant. Casual and contemporary interior with a wood fired Pizza oven as the center piece makes for a great setting. Keep the existing, highly acclaimed concept….

“Capitalize on this highly trafficked corridor on the Post Road E. in Westport with great visibility, easy access and a parking lot that can accompany 30+ cars. Indoor seating capacity of 60 plus outdoor seating.

“Seller will stay on to train incoming buyer on all operations and recipes. Add a driver(s) to your staff to capitalize on delivery. Target marketing and added delivery will definitely bolster the bottom line.”

The asking price is $275,000. Rent is $8,000 a month. Ignazio’s lease runs through 2028.

The other restaurant is Golden Pizza, in the Westfair strip mall. Less information is available; the price for this business is $85,000. Click here for details. (Hat tip: Tony Litman)

Ignazio’s Pizza.

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The Westport Inn renovation continues.

On Tuesday, May 24 (7:30 p.m.; Zoom link), the Architectural Review Board will review the proposed transformation of the long-closed hotel, from 117 rooms to 41 hotel rooms, and 10 apartments.

According to the application, the front of the building would be demolished to create better parking, circulation, landscaping, and a new addition to the west side.

The Westport Inn,

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Opening night at the Levitt Pavilion opens with Fleetwood Mac.

Well, with Tusk, anyway — the ultimate Fleetwood Mac tribute band.

The Sunday, June 12 show kicks off a season of over 50 nights of free entertainment. The Tusk show is free too.

Free tickets will be available to Levitt Pavilion members today (Saturday) at noon. Public access begins tomorrow (Sunday) at noon. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Tusk

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For those who missed the Westport Library “#StopAsianHate: One Year Later” program last week, video links are available.

Click here or below for part 1 of the documentary “We Need to Talk About Anti-Asian Hate.

Click here for the panel discussion that followed.

Up next: a Remarkable Theater screening of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (May 19, 8 p.m.). A short film about AAPI Westport will be shown before the feature. Click here for tickets.

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Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “Lunch & Learn” is “Designing Biodiversity: Pollinator Habitat Creation, Connectivity, and Research at the Aspetuck Haskins Preserve.”

Evan Abramson leads the session this Friday (May 20, noon to 1:15 p.m.). He’ll discuss current research at ALT’s Haskins Preserve in Westport, to improve the landscape for at-risk pollinators.

Participants will receive a PDF of the Pollinator Toolkit to use on their own properties. Click here to register.

Haskins Preserve, a hidden Westport gem.

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Cheese fries and Froot Loops may not be on the menu at any Westport restaurant. But it’s the name of a one-man show at Fairfield Theater Company May 23 (8 p.m. — free!).

Westporter Mark Graham is directing Chris Fuller’s production, getting ready for Off-Broadway. The star is the son of noted Weston author Elizabeth Fuller, and grew up there.

It is described as “a true, moving and humorous story of a professional golfer’s struggle with bipolar disorder, and his unexpected journey to enlightenment.” Click the teaser below:

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Janette Kinnally sends this obituary for her mother, Janet Kinnally, who died last week at 80.

“She was a loving, kind soul that cared deeply about her family and friendships. I don’t think I ever met a person who did not remember her with great affection and fondness.

“She grew up in London, during the war, and her family of 5 girls was displaced. She lived in a convent for 5 years. When she returned back home, her father suddenly passed away when she was 15. She needed to make money and worked in many jobs, including as an usherette. She met the Beatles. She worked in England until she moved to the States to help her sister, who had moved to Connecticut.

“While on a work visa, she met my father at an insurance company at the age of 23. It was love at first sight for my father. They dated for several weeks until she told him she had to go back to England. My father wrote and said he would like to visit. He went to England, but bought 2 tickets back to the States. He asked her to move back and stay with his family.

“They got married in 1967. They had a true love story. The ones you read about in books, that you wish you had; that was their love and affection for each other. They held hands and walked every day at the beach or her favorite place, Sherwood Island, until my mom could no longer walk a few months ago. They were married for 55 years. She was my dad’s one true love.

“My mom and dad moved to Westport in 1967 and gave birth to me in 1969, her one and only child. We had a special bond. She said I taught her what true unconditional love was. I understand what she means, now that I have 2 boys (ages 16 and 11) of my own. She loved her two grandchildren, Mikhail and Andrew, more than anything.

“My mom was also a lifelong health and wellness pioneer. She sought out Eastern and holistic healing modalities throughout her life. She worked for a chiropractor, a naturopathic doctor and as a caregiver for end-of-life patients. She loved nature, gardens, the ocean and animals, and was a dog walker. She loved helping others. She was truly an amazing woman who inspired me daily.

“My mom and dad enjoyed traveling around the world. Every year they met up with her sister and brother-in-law to travel to a different destination around the globe. They had many stories to share of their adventures and the amazing people they met around the world.

“I moved back to Westport  in 2012 with my husband Andrey and my two boys, wanting to be close to my parents as my mom’s health declined from dementia/Alzheimer’s. We lived together until the end of her life.

“I feel grateful that we had the last 10 years together, so she could spend time with me and my children. We have many special memories together, but the ones I remember most are singing at the dinner table and afterwards dancing to the music from the ’50s and ’60s, or doing karaoke at our house during the holidays with our extended family.

“My mom will be greatly missed by our family every day, but her love and her life lessons and generosity of spirit will live on in us forever!

“Please make donations in her honor to the Westport Senior Center or alz.org, an organization providing support, care and research for Alzheimer’s.”

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A memorial service and reception to celebrate the life of Joel Hallas is set for Saturday, May 21 (2 p.m., the Memorial Garden of Saugatuck Congregational Church). A reception will follow also in the garden.

Joel Hallas died in November.

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Every May, hundreds of turtles from the Saugatuck River collect on the low tide island south of the Levitt Pavilion.

It started yesterday. Soon, there will be a lot more.

Tom Feeley sent today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, taken from the west bank. That’s Grace Salmon Park in the background.

(Photo/Tom Feeley)

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And finally … if you’re wondering where Tusk — the Fleetwood Mac band that opens the Levitt Pavilion season next month (story above) got its name — click below.

 

Pics Of The Day #1255

Haskins Preserve (Photo/Jared Frank)

(Photo/Krista Gelev)

Pic Of The Day #1040

Haskins Preserve, this morning (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Pics Of The Day #824

Haskins Preserve, off Green Acre Lane (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Meanwhile, after the hottest day of the summer, things cooled off enough for an enjoyable evening at Compo. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Bear Necessities

Last year, there were 2,251 bear sightings in Connecticut. As many as 700 adult and cub bears live in the state. Residents spotted 3,249 bobacats too.

That’s a big change from a century ago. According to Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse, by the late 1800s, almost all forest here had been logged for agriculture, fuel and construction.

Bears, bobcats and deer were rare.

But forests grow back. And — with strong laws also regulating hunting — large animals have habitats in which they thrive.

Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse, and a black bear.

Dr. Rittenhouse should know. She is a wildlife expert, and an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut. Her long-term research project examines how black bears have expanded their range to include suburban areas of the state.

Next Wednesday (November 14, 7:30 p.m., Westport Unitarian Church) she’ll speak about bears and other large mammals — specifically, why we see so many more of them these days, and what it means for folks like us.

The talk is part of Aspetuck Land Trust‘s Haskins Lecture Series. Scientists Caryl and Edna Haskins donated their Green Acre Lane estate to the trust in 2002. It’s now a 16-acre preserve, just off South Compo Road.

Caryl Haskins earned renown as an ant biologist.

Bears and bobcats are somewhat larger. But they’re all part of our Westport world.

For anyone hoping to understand our changing town, Wednesday’s talk should be fascinating.

(Dr. Rittenhouse’s talk is open to the public. Admission is free to Aspetuck Land Trust members. A $5 donation is suggested for non-members.)

Scott Smith Discovers Westport’s Hidden Gems

Scott Smith is an alert “06880” reader, a longtime Westporter and an ardent outdoorsman. He writes:

If you ask Westporters to comment on our community’s natural charms, chances are most would cite the dazzling string of beaches and coastal places: Compo Beach, Sherwood Mill Pond, Gray’s Creek and Burying Hill. If pressed, they might claims Sherwood Island too.

Others would tout the Saugatuck River, from the fly fishing shallows along Ford Road to the impoundment of Lees Pond, and the tidal stretch through town leading to the mouth at Longshore and Cedar Point. Cockenoe Island gets a shout-out, too, especially from those with the nautical means to visit it.

Fishing off Ford Road (Photo/Richard Wiese)

But plenty of other places across Westport beguile with bucolic beauty. Many of these underappreciated open spaces are in the midst of a welcome renaissance, sparked by renovation efforts from those who love and tend them.

I’m talking about the town parks, preserves, land trusts and wildlife sanctuaries that constitute our remaining inland open spaces. Over the past year or two, I’ve visited quite a few. I always come away thinking how fortunate we are to be able to trod upon them.

“06880” has covered these developments over time, noting singular efforts and improvements. But if you step back and tally them all up, it’s quite an impressive list, covering virtually every part of town.

Over in Old Hill there’s the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum. I toured it a couple of seasons ago with its caretakers, including Lou Mall and tree warden Bruce Lindsay. They’re spearheading its transformation from an untended patch of blow-downs and invasive vines to a fetching enhancement to the adjacent Earthplace facility.

Dead creepers line a Wadswworth Arboretum trail.

Coleytown has the Newman Poses Preserve, which affords a wonderful walk through meadows along the Saugatuck stream and through upland woods. Having the memory of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and their family as you traipse along is a nice bonus. Their neighbors — and the Aspetuck Land Trust — get credit for giving us that open space.

Right near downtown there’s the blossoming of long-neglected Baron’s South, another town-led reclamation project with even brighter prospects in store as a nature-driven arts campus.

A path in Baron’s South. (Photo/Judy James)

And just down Compo, off Greenacre Road, is the hidden gem of the Haskins Preserve, my longtime favorite place for a weekend stroll.

Haskins Preserve’s dogwoods and daffodils — a lovely combination.

I have “06680” to thank for cluing me in to my newest place to take a hike: the Smith Richardson Preserve in Greens Farms. I’ve long known about the 2 parcels north of I-95. The Christmas tree farm off Sasco Creek Road is where I chop down a tree every year. I consider it in part my annual donation to the Connecticut Audubon Society, which manages the farm and the open space across the road.

But I had no idea of the separate property just across 95, a 36-acre parcel stretching from Sasco Creek all the way to the playing fields behind Greens Farms Academy off Beachside Avenue.

I walked it the other day, taking advantage of frozen ground to course through fields that are in the midst of being cleared of smothering vines and other invasive species.

It’s an impressive project, even if the space is hard by the highway and Metro-North rails. Hemmed in by neighboring houses big and small, and what looks to be a refuse depot managed by the railroad or state, the area has the look of a pocket-size Central Park in the making, with Olmstedian trails that wind through woods, and alongside meadows and ponds. I can’t wait to see how the property develops, with its ambitious new plantings and clearings, and whether the caretaking crews can keep the tick-haven invasives at bay.

Smith Richardson Preserve (Photo/Scott Smith)

These public/private corners of our community are all discovered places, at least for me. When I visit them, either with my dog or solo, I’m often the only one around. I like the solitude, and question why I’d even want to spread the word about them. Parking is often a pinch, and I’m not even sure about the proper access to the new Smith Richardson preserve behind GFA’s sprawling athletic fields.

But these largely hidden local natural spaces deserve recognition, and our support for the groups that manage them — the town, Aspetuck Land Trust, and the Connecticut Audubon Society — whether by check or volunteer hand.

Separately and together, they all make Westport a wonderful place to live and to explore.

Photo Challenge #150

Compo Road South is home to 2 beautiful town-owned properties.

Everyone knows Baron’s South. A few “06880” readers thought last week’s photo showed rocks and woods on that land a few steps from downtown, once owned by perfume mogul Walter Langer von Langendorff.

Nope. As Leigh Gage, Alec Head and Jamie Walsh knew, it was Haskins Preserve — the much-lesser-known gem on Green Acre Lane, off South Compo. It’s just as lovely as Baron’s South, and easier to access. Click here for the back story; click here for Wendy Cusick’s photo.

Equally rustic is this sign, commemorating Westport’s founding as a town. In fact, it looks like it dates all the way back to 1835. If you know where in Westport you’d see it, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Pic Of The Day #194

Haskins Preserve (Photo/Wendy Cusick)

“Tails, Trails And Tales”: Etiquette For Dogs (And Their Owners)

Haskins Preserve is going to the dogs.

Literally.

The 16-acre park off Green Acre Lane — itself a quiet, lovely road off South Compo — is an astonishing place. Filled with woods, meadows, 2 ponds, dams, and a spectacular assortment of rare trees, it’s one of Westport’s most wonderful little gems.

It’s beloved by nature lovers. Walkers. And — in this dog-crazy town — dog owners.

Haskins Preserve's dogwoods and daffodils -- a lovely combination.

Haskins Preserve’s dogwoods and daffodils — a lovely combination.

The latter group does not always treat the preserve well. I’ve posted 2 stories in the past 3 years about dog issues. One described bags of poop left on a sign requesting owners to remove waste. The other was about mounting mounds of doo left all over the beautiful property.

That crappy problem is now worse than ever. There are also reports of out-of-control dogs threatening wildlife — it’s a nature preserve, not a park — as well as other dogs, even people.

Ground nesting birds can be chased from their nests by free-running dogs — on purpose, or inadvertently. If it happens often, birds won’t return to the nest.

And dogs looking to refresh themselves with a harmless jump into a forest pool can silt it up, destroying egg larvae from salamanders and frogs. That, of course, affects many other types of interconnected wildlife.

Aspetuck

A hard-to-believe scene at Haskins Preserve.

Aspetuck Land Trust — the non-profit organization that maintains Haskins, as well as many other open spaces in Westport, Weston, Fairfield and Easton — is not rolling over and playing dead.

This Saturday (May 7, 10 a.m.-noon), they’re sponsoring a free, open-to-the-public class in dog and dog owner etiquette.

“Tails, Trails and Tales” will be conducted as a hike. Connecticut Audubon Society senior director of science and conservation Milan Bull, his dog Edge, and noted dog trainer Jason Hofmann will walk, talk and provide answers to questions you’ve always wondered about: What does a dog sense in the woods? What does a biologist observe? How do we accommodate both, and protect the environment too?

(Interestingly, except for Edge, this is a dog-free event. The hike leaders request no dogs, to avoid chaos.)

Responsible dog owners respect property -- and all animals.

Responsible dog owners respect property — and all animals.

“Tails, Trails and Tales” is limited to 20 people. To RSVP, email administration@aspetucklandtrust.

Parking is available at the preserve, on Green Acre Lane off South Compo.

Which is not to be confused with Westport’s actual dog park, Winslow, on North Compo.

(To read more about Haskins Preserve, click here.)