Tag Archives: I-95

Pic Of The Day #1842

Train tracks, river and I-95 (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Roundup: Affordable Housing, Gilbertie’s, I-95 Noise …

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Last night’s meeting on a 5-year plan for affordable housing — co-sponsored by the Democratic, Republican, Save Westport Now and Coalition for Westport political parties — drew some interesting comments.

Among them: a proposal to install metered parking downtown. The proceeds — estimated to be $1 million or so annually — could be used to create a substantial affordable housing fund.

With Westport’s credit rating, the town could borrow $20 million.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin at last night’s Town Hall meeting on affordable housing. (Photo/Jimmy Izzo)

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A couple of months ago, “06880” gave a shout-out to Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center. This year, Westport’s 2nd-oldest family business celebrates its 100th anniversary.*

At the time, they were beginning to plan a huge celebration. Now they’re ready to announce details.

The free bash is set for June 4, from noon to 5 p.m. at the garden center on Sylvan Lane South.

The very popular Mystic Bowie’s Talking Dreads will headline the bash. Reggae artists Kale Wale will warm up the crowd.

There’s a petting zoo for kids, and artisans and craft vendors for older folks.

Also on tap: a town-wide scavenger hunt too, with prizes. It will focus on the town’s most historic business, ending (of course) at Gilbertie’s.

Plus 3 food trucks, an ice cream truck and beer vendors.

Antonio Gilbertie — who arrived in Saugatuck in 1919 from Italy, and started out selling flowers from a Sylvan greenhouse — probably listened to opera, not reggae. But he’ll probably be looking down from above, with a proud smile.

*Who’s #1? Gault — by a long shot. The energy company was founded in 1863 — nearly 60 years before Gilberties!

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“06880” reader Jim McKay* wants to raise a ruckus.

His subject: noise.

Jim writes: “In 1958, I-95 sliced through Saugatuck, and other areas of Westport.

“A lot has changed since then. There’s more people, more traffic, more trucks. And more noise.

“The Connecticut Department of Transportation has a number of redesign plans for sections of 95. They include Greenwich, and Westport/Norwalk.

“A few days ago, under pressure from Greenwich town leaders and citizens, Governor Lamont asked CT DOT to revisit the Greenwich project and include possible noise mitigation plans.

“Now is the time for our Westport town leaders and citizens to demand equal revisions to the existing plans, to make sure it include noise mitigation.

“Noise has gotten worse. It will continue to do so. We have a unique opportunity to include noise mitigation before the project goes forward. It must be an incremental cost now — not a massive capital project 20 years in the future.”

*Not the sportscaster. He died in 2008.

Traffic — and noise — have increased since I-95 (then called the Connecticut Turnpike) neared completion in 1957,

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Staples Players’ production of “The Descendants” drew raves. Audiences old and (particularly) young delighted in a never-bef0re-seen production of Disney’s tale.

It’s a tradition for the high school troupe to raise awareness of important causes — and funds — at their shows. This year was especially important.

Costumed actors were on hand as audiences left the theater. It turned into a great photo opportunity for children, and their new high school heroes.

Their parents gave generously. Over 2 weekends, Players collected $8,400 for Save the Children’s Ukraine relief efforts.

Quinn Mulvey (Mal), and a new friend. (Photo/Kerry Long)

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On Saturday, a Westporter was out for a run. A few yards over the Fairfield line, where Old Road becomes Wakeman Lane, he spotted a car balanced on a stone wall, halfway into the woods.

That was bad enough. But the kicker is the bumper sticker.

It reads: “Please Be Patient. Student Driver.”

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There are matching grants. And then there are amazing matching grants.

Two anonymous donors have told Westport Country Playhouse they’ll match every dollar raised — up to $150,000 (!) — between now and June 30.

That’s great news, as the historic theater enters its 91st season. They’ve got an ambitious set of plays planned, and will leverage the funds for greatest artistic and educational impact.

Tax deductible contributions can be made online, by mail (Development Department, 25 Powers Court, Westport CT 06880), or by texting DONATE to 475-453-3553. To learn more about the perks of donating at various levels, click here. For more on this matching drive, click here.

A historic theater has a historic opportunity to raise funds. (Photo/Robert Benson)

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There are runners. And then there are amazing runners.

Monday’s New York Times included a story on Oz Pearlman. He’d just run 19 loops of Central Park — 116 miles — in a single day.

Because “06880”‘s tagline is “Where Westport meets the world,” there is (of course) a local connection.

The main photo showed Oz with a group of runners. Just to his right — wearing a blue-and-yellow hat, to match Oz’s Ukrainian-color outfit — was Alex Freedman.

Alex Freedman (blue and yellow cap) next to Oz Pearlman. (Photo/Hilary Swift for the New York Times)

Freedman — the 1996 Staples High School salutatorian — is now back in town, and running with the local Joggers Club. He is also a founding member of the Central Park Running Club. Both are led by another Westporter, Dave Menoni.

Freedman runs with a third group, the Henwood Hounds. That’s where he met Oz. Freedman joined in for “a small part” of Oz’s Central Park (and record-breaking) journey. (It was also a fundraiser for Save the Children’s Ukrainian relief. Oz busted well past his goal of $100,000.)

When he’s not outside, Freedman is the director of Advantage Testing of Westport,

Notice I resisted the impulse to say he “runs” the highly regarded educational counseling and private tutoring organization.

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Savvy + Grace’s new sign has brought color to that stretch of Main Street, and smiles to passersby.

Most probably don’t know that it’s the work of a noted artist.

Jana Ireijo is famous for her “vanishing murals.” Created with charcoal from wildfires, they are meant to disappear — just as the coral reefs, manta rays and other living things she portrays are, unfortunately, dying out.

Ireijo — a member of the Artists Collective of Westport — has created vanishing murals here. She drew a koala bear opposite Design Within Reach, and a sperm whale on a Winslow Park fallen tree trunk.

She’s worked far from Westport too — in Santa Fe and Maui, among other places.

The peonies on Jana’s Savvy + Grace sign is not meant to disappear. It’s just a colorful addition to a bright downtown spot.

PS: Savvy + Grace offers great custom and pre-made Easter baskets. Click here to see.

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Among his many civic efforts — all of them volunteer, pro bono — attorney Ken Bernhard is a state Department of Agriculture animal (victim’s) advocate. He appears in court proceedings involving animal cruelty cases.

At yesterday’s Westport Rotary Club meeting, he talked about his work. He connected animal abuse with spousal abuse and other crimes.

Bernhard noted:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

“When humans act with cruelty, we characterize them as ‘animals.’ Yet the only animal that displays cruelty is humanity.

“Animals are the real victims on this earth. They didn’t declare war, they don’t have weapons, and they don’t want to destroy humans or impose religion. Their only crime is they exist.”

Ken Bernhard, at yesterday’s Westport Rotary Club meeting.

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The Fresh Market ospreys get most of Westport’s love.

But they’re not the only ones in town.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is a two-fer. Here’s one of the Longshore ospreys:

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

And a pair at Burying Hill:

(Photo/Alan Phillips)

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And finally … all his life, Julian Lennon refused to sing “Imagine.”

The only time he could consider singing his father’s signature song, he said, would be “the end of the world.”

The war in Ukraine is not that (yet). But it spurred John Lennon’s 59-year-old son to reconsider.

It is “an unimaginable tragedy,” he said. “As a human, and as an artist, I felt compelled to respond in the most significant way I could.”

He performed at a #StandUpForUkraine funddraiser in Prague on Saturday. The event raised $10 billion in pledges for Ukrainian refugees.

Imagine!

 

 

 

Pic Of The Day #1565

Boat launch under I-95, from Black Duck deck (Photo/Luke Garvey)

Roundup: (No) Traffic, (No) Jumping, (No) Runs …

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Southbound I-95 traffic yesterday evening was bumper to bumper. That’s not exactly stop-the-presses news.

But this is.

Janine Scotti reports that there was no residual backup on any side roads. Greens Farms and Bridge Street, on through Saugatuck: Clean as a whistle.

Nothing unusual on the Post Road either.

She wonders if Waze has updated its algorithm to help us. I wonder if maybe Waze was down.

Fingers crossed for something similar during the next tie-up. Which will probably be a few minutes from now.

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Just a year after SIR Development purchased Roger’s Septic Tanks — and less than a year after the 73-year-old facility was demolished — a new rental complex is open for leasing.

“1480 Post” — on US1, near Maple Avenue South — is the latest project from SIR president Robert Haroun. A trustee of both the Westport Library and Westport Weston YMCA, he’s been involved in building projects at both places.

The 32-unit complex includes 25 market rate units, and 7 designated as “affordable housing.” Haroun says the 1- and 2-bedroom condo-style apartments will attract residents who want to downsize but remain in Westport. Pets are welcome.

The first open house for the leasing office is next Sunday (August 1), from 1 to 3 p.m. Occupancy is available September 1. Click here for details.

1480 Post

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Congratulations (again!) to Westport’s 10U Little League All-Star team.

They won the sectional tournament yesterday in Trumbull, beating North Haven 10-0. The state tournament begins Thursday.

Sectional champs!

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First the Sherwood Mill Pond sign on the way to Compo Cove said “No jumping.”

Then some jokes altered it to read “Jump.”

Now it just says — well, um …

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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“Westport … Naturally” highlights 2 little guys who were not pleased with yesterday morning’s rain.

Still, they found a perfect spot to wait it out, in a Greens Farms garden.

(Photo/Kathleen O’Keefe)

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And finally … today is a musical birthday bonanza. Darlene Love turns 80. Mick Jagger is 78. Bobby Hebb, Dobie Gray and Brenton Wood were all born on July 26 too.

Rather than single any one entertainer out, I’ll honor another anniversary. On this date in 1775, the office that later became the US Post Office was established by the Second Continental Congress. Benjamin Franklin was named our first Postmaster General.

PS: Alex Chilton was just 16 years old when he sang lead on this #1 hit. He and the rest of the Box Tops did not even pretend they were faking it on this show.

Traffic Cop, Traffic Light: The Sequel

Police Chief Foti Koskinas feels Westport drivers’ pains. He hears their pleas for a traffic cop on Riverside Avenue, at the Cribari Bridge. The Westport Police Department is on the case.

But there is another side to Westport’s traffic woes too.

Driving habits have changed dramatically during COVID, Koskinas and public safety officer Al D’Amura say. Though Westporters have returned to work, all but 1oo or so of the Saugatuck and Greens Farms train station parking spots are empty every day. Those folks drive instead.

The situation is the same at every train station from Greenwich to New Haven. That’s why I-95 and the Merritt Parkway have become parking lots.

Looking for every bit of help, drivers turn to apps like Waze. Offered an alternate route, they take it.

Which is why we see more and more backups on Riverside Avenue. As well as Wilton Road, Cross Highway, Long Lots Road — anywhere Waze says is even slightly better. It’s a problem at I-95 exits 17 and 18, and Merritt exits 41 and 42.

When William Cribari and other officers were posted at what was then called the Bridge Street Bridge, Koskinas says, they facilitated 100 to 200 vehicles to and from trains.

Traffic is no longer timed to trains, Koskinas explains. Moving traffic off the bridge in the morning, and through Riverside Avenue in the evening, sounds like a great idea.

But Waze and traffic apps would immediately sense the smoother flow — making the alternate route off I-95 even more appealing to highway drivers.

A traffic officer will immiediately take over the Riverside Avenue post made famous by William William Cribari (Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

Still — starting immediately – there will be an officer on Riverside by the bridge, in the late afternoon.

“We’ll monitor the situation, to see if it helps or hurts,” Koskinas says.

“We may find that as much as people don’t like waiting through 4 or 5 light cycles, it’s better than having 300 more cars coming through Saugatuck. We don’t know what we’ll find for sure. We’ll study it.”

That’s not the only new traffic post in town. An agent will be posted from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Post Road/Wilton Road/Riverside Avenue intersection.

Actually, it’s not “new.” As a young officer, Koskinas once manned that corner.

Facilitating traffic there impacts other lights on the Post Road. For example, waving through more cars from Wilton Road might cause more of a temporary backup through the already congested downtown area.

“We understand the importance to merchants, and everyone,” Koskinas says. As with Saugatuck, he and D’Amura will monitor the situation closely.

As for another suggestion from an “06880” reader — installation of a light at the top of I-95 eastbound Exit 18 — Koskinas says, “we fully support it. It’s come up before.” His department — in collaboration with the Board of Selectmen — will make that recommendation to the state Department of Transportation.

Sherwood Island Connector is a state road. There will be engineering studies, and budget issues. It could take a while.

So for now, you might want to get off at Exit 17. A traffic cop there will move traffic along.

Or maybe he’ll inadvertently invite other I-95 drivers to join you.

Roundup: CPR & EMT Classes, Great Horned Owls, I-95 …

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Non-COVID health emergencies don’t take a break during a pandemic. Unfortunately, Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services had to.

Not responding quickly, professionally and compassionately, of course. Their service never wavered. But they did have to pause their public education.

Now, with threats lessening, WVEMS is cleared to resume reduced-capacity classes at their Police headquarters facility. CPR/First Aid and Stop the Bleed courses begin this month. EMT certification is set for the fall.

All classes have limited capacity. For more information, click here.

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“Who” did Tina Green see at Longshore yesterday?

Not one but three great horned owls. They look properly wise.

(Photo/Tina Green)

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Construction of the I-95 overpass at Beachside Avenue is cruising along. (As opposed to, say, the Kings Highway Bridge replacement near Canal Street — a far less complicated project).

Here’s yesterday’s view:

(Photo/Tom Lowrie)

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And finally … today is Donovan’s 75th birthday. The Scottish singer-songwriter was often compared — unfairly — to Bob Dylan.

He had his share of pretentious clunkers (just like Dylan!). But much of his music stands the test of time.

Pic Of The Day #1479

The I-95 underpass at Elaine Road, near the state boat launch and Westport Animal Control. The backs of Sea Kayak and Saugatuck Sweets are across the Saugatuck River (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Pic Of The Day #1476

Last weekend, the Sunrise Rotary Club participated in Westport’s annual Clean-up Day.

Mark Mathias picked up his share of trash at the assigned spot: I-95 Exit 17.

But along his way up the hill, he stopped to take this unique shot. It’s I-95, looking northeast — a view most Westporters have never seen.

(Drone photo/Mark Mathias)

Roundup: Express Train, I-95, Passover …

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Today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Let’s pause and remember all who served — including Westport’s own Jay Dirnberger.

Jay Dirnberger

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After New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson’s great game Saturday night, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle had an unusual way of comparing Williamson to an express train:

“It’s not just an Amtrak, it’s the Acela. it doesn’t stop in Westport, it just goes straight to New York City.” (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

This express train does not stop in Westport.

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Westport Book Shop is a smash.

That’s not just my opinion. The Jesup Road used book store — which also sells vinyl, CDs, DVDs and audio books — is so successful, it’s expanding its hours.

They’re now open Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. They’re closed Mondays.

They’re open 24/7 online, too: www.westportbooksales.org.

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How is the I-95/Beachside Avenue bridge replacement project going?

Brandon Malin’s drone offers this unique view:

(Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

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COVID knocked out every in-person Seder last year.

This Passover, some Westport families gathered in small groups. Others celebrated virtually.

Below, David Ader joins the Yormark Seder. Pippa Bell Ader notes: “In the interest of saving paper, this year we read from the Haggadah via the second computer, on the right.”

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Easter is Sunday. Which means there are only a few days left to get your Easter basket.

Savvy + Grace has great ones. You can head to the popular Main Street store and pick what you want.

Or email savvyandgracewestport@gmail.com. Include your name, phone number, and the age, likes and interests of the recipient. Annette Norton and her staff will put baskets together, and call for your review.

Not sure? Check out some pre-made baskets online (click here).

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International Mother Earth Day is coming soon. To celebrate, the United Nations Association’s Southwest Connecticut Chapter is running a Student Creativity Contest.

They’re looking for ways to promote the UN’s sustainable development goals, legal protections for nature, and efforts to preserve biodiversity.

Submissions in any form are welcome: posters, flyers, stickers, postcards, videos, tweets, web pages, poems, songs, social media posts, whatever.

Cash prizes are awarded: $300 for 1st place, $150 for 2nd, $75 for 3rd, $25 for 4th through 10th place.

The deadline is April 16. Email a JPG, PDF, PowerPoint, MP3, MP4 or hyperlink to unaswct@gmail.com. For more information, click here.

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Speaking of Earth Day: Last fall , Melissa Ceriale and her Prospect Road neighbors participated in Debra Kandrak’s daffodil planting project.

The results are gorgeous. And they’ll pop up every spring too!

Daffodils on Prospect Road. (Photo/Melissa Ceriale)

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And finally … on this day in 1871, Queen Victoria opened London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Roundup: Christopher Plummer, Staples Players, Avi Kaner, More

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In 1987 — its bicentennial — Weston produced a history of the town.

Lots of communities do something similar.

But not many get to have theirs produced and narrated by one the most famous actors in the world.

This video — courtesy of Cristina Negrin — says all you need to know about the deep feeling Christopher Plummer had for his adopted hometown.

And Weston loved him right back.

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Due to snow, Staples Players’ 1st radio play of 2nd semester — the thriller “Sorry, Wrong Number,” broadcast live from the Black Box Theater — has been postponed. The new date is Wednesday, February 10 (7 p.m.).

The production will be streamed live (and free) at wwwptfm.org.

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Westporters know Avi Kaner as our former 2nd selectman and Board of Finance chair.

But he also co-owns Morton Williams, the noted New York City supermarket chain. It’s a 75-year-old family company, but it’s never faced a challenge like today’s pandemic and its many side effects.

The other day, Kaner spoke to NTD Business about the state of his business, and New York — including the flight to the suburbs. Click below for the fascinating interview.

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“06880 readers” can’t get enough of the “new” view of I-95 and the Beachside Avenue overpass, now that it’s been removed for reconstruction. Here’s one more shot:

(Photo/John Richers)

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This guy hung out at the Lansdowne condos yesterday. No telling what he’ll look like today.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Westport Town Clerk Patty Strauss retired in December. Last month, she and her husband Ed moved to North Carolina.

Yesterday, their Juniper Road was torn down. Real estate moves fast around here.

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

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Numerous fire trucks raced to Bayberry Lane this morning, to put out a fire at Belta’s farm.

The blaze was confined to an outbuilding, rented to tenants.

Belta’s farm, with fire apparatus on hand.

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And finally … Jim Weatherly died Wednesday near Nashville, of natural causes. He was 77.

He wrote hit songs for Ray Price, Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers and many others. His biggest was originally called “Midnight Plane to Houston.” Gladys Knight and the Pips turned it into the much more memorable “Midnight Train to Georgia.”