Tag Archives: Jesup Green

It Was A Dark And Stormy Evening …

… and it will continue. A severe thunderstorm watch — with possible winds up to 70 mph, and maybe even a tornado — is in effect until 11 p.m.

Meanwhile, this was the scene as the first storm rolled in, just an hour ago.

The day-old palm tree at Compo Beach. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

The Compo Beach neighborhood… (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

… and another view. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Jesup Green (Photo/Catherine Calise)

Climate Vigil Tomorrow: New Time And Site

Sunday’s Candlelight Vigil for Climate Protection has drawn interest far beyond Westport’s beach-stickered citizens.

So organizers have moved the event — planned to protest President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord — to a spot accessible to everyone: Jesup Green.

The start time is changed too, to 8 p.m. (Sunday, June 4).

Click here for more information, on the group’s Facebook page.

Nicaragua did not join the Paris Accord because it did not go far enough. Syria did not sign because it is consumed by a civil war. The US is withdrawing after signing because … ?

Maker Faire Makes Its Mark

You can’t keep a good geek down.

Chilly temperatures and a light rain did not deter thousands of folks from descending on the Westport Library, Jesup Green and Bedford Square, for today’s 6th annual Maker Faire.

Every type of STEM creation was represented: robots, 3-D designs, flight simulators, submersibles and more.

The arts were there too: violinists, jewelry makers, sculptors…

And of course local organizations: the Y, Wakeman Town Farm and Rotary Club were among those showing their commitment to creativity and community.

In 6 short years, the Maker Faire has become one of the biggest events of the Westport year. Now all we need is some young guy or girl who can control the weather.

Which I’m sure we’ll see next spring.

Hand-made robots were a huge hit.

Christopher Crowe’s creations drew a crowd.

What better spot to hang out in than the Westport Library’s permanent Maker Space?

State Senators Toni Boucher (front) and Tony Hwang (right) joined 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (left) and Westport Library trustee Iain Bruce at the Maker Faire.

A father gives a hands-on wind tunnel demonstration to his daughter.

Westporter Charlie Wolgast — a professional pilot — checks out a flight simulator in Bedford Square.


Westport’s Charter Oak Connections

If you’re new to Connecticut, you may not know about our charter oak. They don’t teach state history in school — I don’t think so, anyway — and most of the state quarters that were minted nearly 20 years ago are out of circulation.

But longtime residents know the charter oak. And one of its descendants may still live in Westport.

The story involves a large white oak tree that dates back to the 12th or 13th century.  Apparently our royal charter — given by King Charles in 1662, to the Connecticut colony — was hidden in a hollow in 1687, to prevent the governor-general from revoking it.

Connecticut's charter oak.

Connecticut’s charter oak.

The tree was destroyed in 1856, during a strong storm. But its legend remains.

So, supposedly, do many of its seedlings.

In 1965, a “Committee for the location and care of the Charter Oak Tree” was formed. Its purpose was to “accept the seedling  descendant of the Charter Oak from Mr. John Davis Lodge, care for it during the winter, select a location in which it can be planted in the Spring, and organize a planting ceremony.”

Lodge — a former governor of Connecticut and ambassador to Spain, and future ambassador to Argentina and Switzerland — lived in Westport.

Minutes of a November 20, 1965 meeting show that a seedling was intended to be donated to Staples High School in the spring.

Legend has it that the seedling was planted in the school courtyard on North Avenue. No one today knows authoritatively if that was done, or exactly where. If it ever existed, it was bulldozed away during construction of the new building more than a decade ago.

Connecticut state quarterThe committee also discussed the best location for another seedling, downtown. Members — including representatives of the RTM, Westport Garden Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Daughters of the American Revolution — agreed that Jesup Green was the best area. It could be “the first step in setting a centrally located civic center.”

Discussion then turned to the erection of a plaque, commemorating the gift to the town by Lodge.

“It was agreed that watering and care after the planting should be delegated to a Town employee who would be responsible for its care,” meeting notes read.

Arbor Day in April was suggested as a good time for the planting, and that school children should be involved.

The committee then went outdoors to study possible locations. They agreed to store the 2 seedling oaks in the “cold barn cellar” of Parsell’s Nursery. Garden center owner and civic volunteer Alan U. Parsell was a committee member.

And that’s the last bit of information I dug up about Westport’s charter oak.

Maker Faire Makes Its Mark

Geeks are cool.

Up to 10,000 science, math, music, robotics, environment, agriculture, art, drone, woodworking, etc. geeks — of all ages, genders, and from more than 100 miles away — descended on Westport today.

The 5th annual Mini Maker Faire made our town the center of the creative universe — okay, the creative region.

Demonstrations, exhibits, games, food — it was all there, at the Westport Library and Jesup Green.

It continues all afternoon (Saturday, April 30), until 4 p.m. There may still be time to get your geek on!

Outside the main tent, a "human foosball" game was played. As in many real soccer games, the goalie is bored.

Outside the main tent, a “human foosball” game was played. As in many real soccer games, the goalie is bored.

A Maker Faire luthier introduces a young boy to the wonders of music.

A Maker Faire luthier introduces a young boy to the wonders of music.

A father and son bond over physics.

A father and son bond over physics.

A self-proclaimed Kook Nerd.

A self-proclaimed Kool Nerd.

Indoors and out, the Maker Faire took over the Westport Library and Jesup Green.

Indoors and out, the Maker Faire took over the Westport Library and Jesup Green.

Among the exhibitors. Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service offered free CPR training.

Among the exhibitors. Norwalk Hospital volunteers offered free CPR training.

Some youngsters found a way to "make" their own fun.

Some youngsters found a way to “make” their own fun.

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #26

Summertime, and the livin’ is — well, for this week’s photo challenge Lynn U. Miller has gone to her wintry files. If you think you know where she shot this scene, click “Comments” below. Of course, add any back stories you wish.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Meanwhile, last week’s photo challenge was the toughest yet. It took 3 days, but thanks to a cross-continental collaboration between Wendy Cusick of Norwalk and Nancy Hunter (Vancouver, British Columbia), Lynn U. Miller’s mystery was finally solved.

The image was part of a plaque from the Lions Club, commemorating America’s bicentennial in 1976. This was the clue:

Oh My 06880 - June 21, 2015

Here’s the full image:

Lions Club plaque - Jesup Green flag pole

It was located — still is, in fact — at the base of the flagpole on Jesup Green. As I said, hidden in plain sight. Lynn and I got all of you (except Wendy and Nancy!)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)


Maker Faire: Westport’s Greatest Collection Of Nerds, Geeks, And Way Cool People

Westport’s 4th annual Mini Maker Faire is in full swing today. Up to 6,000 creative, inventive folks of all ages are expected to flood Jesup Green and the library. They’ll spend the day building, designing, creating, hacking, learning, connecting, eating, drinking, listening and playing.

And that’s just at one of the hundreds of interactive, interdisciplinary, interesting exhibits.

The Maker Faire runs till 4 p.m. today (Saturday, April 25). The inspiration will last forever.

“The Great Fredini” is constructing an entire scale model of Coney Island, with a 3D printer. Faire-goers could have their own body scanned — and printed — to be included.

Anyone can play regular foosball. It takes a certain type of person to be part of a human foosball game.

Anyone can play regular foosball. It takes a certain type of person to be part of a human foosball game.

Getting set for the Nerdy Derby: a Pinewood Derby with no rules.

Getting set for the Nerdy Derby: a Pinewood Derby with no rules.

A scavenger hunt includes -- naturally -- QR codes. As noted, this event was developed by the Kids' Committee.

A scavenger hunt includes — naturally — QR codes. As noted, this event was developed by kids. Participants earned a free download of digital goodies; the randomly selected 1st prize was a gift certificate to robotics camp.

Where can you find a real live violin-maker? At the Maker Faire, of course.

Where can you find a real live cello-maker? At the Maker Faire, of course.

But sometimes it was fun just to play with a low-tech toy: the sculpture outside the library.

Sometimes it was fun just to play with a low-tech toy: the sculpture outside the library.

(New) Notable Trees: The Sequel

For years, Westporters wondered what’s up with the very unsightly sawed-off telephone polls planted in concrete on the Jesup Green median across from Matsu Sushi:

(Photo/Google Street View)

(Photo/Google Street View)

Turns out, about 30 years ago a public works director got angry about garbage trucks backing over the median strip to get to the restaurant and business dumpsters.

He planted poles. We’ve been stuck with the eyesore ever since.

Our long Jesup Road nightmare is over.

As part of Westport’s beautification process, Public Works is sprucing up the median. They’re adding soil, and planting trees. Tree warden Bruce Lindsay is supervising the tree work.

Jesup Green median

Sure, there are lots of plans for re-imagining Jesup Green.

But change comes slowly to Westport. By the time we’re ready to reconfigure the area, there may be an outcry to save the median trees.

Because, of course, they’ll have “always” been there.

A Developing Story

Ever since the Wright Street and Gorham Island buildings were erected in the 1970s — and those were quite some erections — Westport has been consumed by construction.

Even so, 2014 stands out as a landmark year.

Here are some of the developments — as in, real estate developments — that have occurred in the past few months. Or are occurring right now.

  • The Y moved into its new home. The Kemper-Gunn House is being moved across Elm Street to the parking lot, and Bedford Square will soon rise downtown.
  • The Levitt Pavilion finally completed its renovation. Nearby, plans for Jesup Green — with possibly reconfigured parking, a new Westport Arts Center and a renovated library — are in the works. And, of course, committees and commissions have been talking all year about new ideas for all of downtown.
  • Across the river, Save the Children has skedaddled. That fantastic waterfront property will be redeveloped, such as the adjacent Bartaco/National Hall buildings have been reimagined recently.
The west side of the Saugatuck River is also part of the new downtown plan. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer for DowntownWestportCT.com)

The west side of the Saugatuck River includes the old National Hall and the relatively new Wright Street building. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer for DowntownWestportCT.com)

  • Compo Acres Shopping Center is being renovated. The Fresh Market shopping center — and the one across the Post Road, with Dunkin’ Donuts — will get a facelift (and new tenants) soon.
  • Applications have been made for housing on the site of the Westport Inn. Across town, there are rumors of new housing on Hiawatha Lane, near I-95 Exit 17.
  • Senior housing has been shot down on Baron’s South. But it won’t remain undisturbed forever.
  • Phase II of Saugatuck Center has been completed. Phase III — on  Railroad Place — is coming down the tracks.

That’s a lot — as in, lots of building lots.

And nearly 2 months still remain in this year.

P.S. Oh, yeah. The beach too.


Westport Arts Center Eyes Jesup Green

You may have missed this, because the Westport News story came out during schools’ February vacation.

While you were off in Aspen or Anguilla, Paul Schott wrote that the Westport Arts Center wants to move from its 3,600-square-foot Riverside Avenue home, to a 10,000-square-foot building next to the Westport Library.

Where exactly?

To the only space available there: Jesup Green.

The gallery and classrooms would create “a cultural campus” downtown, on the river. The WAC has hired architect Henry Myerberg, who is also designed the library’s “transformation” renovation.

The arts center would like a 99-year lease of Jesup Green, Schott reported. The project would include “burrowing” Taylor parking lot into part of the green. That current riverside lot would be replaced with “greenery.”

The new WAC — which officials hope to begin constructing in 2015 — would cost between $5 million and $7 million. Three donors have already pledged several million dollars, Schott reported.

In the summer, the Westport Public Library lends croquet, bocce and badminton equipment, for use on adjacent Jesup Green.

In the summer, the Westport Public Library lends croquet, bocce and badminton equipment, for use on adjacent Jesup Green.

It’s an exciting concept — and it comes at a time when major redevelopment plans are afoot for the entire downtown area.

But a number of questions have been raised.

  • Aesthetically, how will the area change? Will a new “green” on the flat current parking lot look as nice as gently sloping Jesup Green — with mature trees — does now? What happens when a 10,000-square-foot building — and “burrowed” parking — gets added to the mix?
  • How about traffic flow? What happens to parking when the library and WAC have big events simultaneously?
  • Speaking of the library, where will its major fundraiser — the Summer Book Sale — go?
  • What other options has the WAC looked at? (I already know what certain commenters will say: “Winslow Park!”)

This is the 1st major change to Jesup Green in years — since the library moved next door, in fact. (And eliminated a road that sliced directly through the green — who remembers that?)

Once upon a time, Jesup Green was bordered by a Little League field — and the town dump. Controversial landfill — and construction of the library, Levitt Pavilion and Riverwalk — have enhanced that area immeasurably.

Will a new Westport Arts Center do the same?

Let the debate begin.