Tag Archives: Kings Highway North

No Surprise: Kings Highway North Construction Continues

From President Kennedy’s challenge to Neil Armstrong’s first small/giant step, it took the US just over 8 years to land a man on the moon.

The 2nd Avenue subway was first proposed in 1920. It opened a mere 97 years later.

Both those timelines seem like warp speed, compared to what’s going on at Kings Highway North.

For the few residents and many offices — particularly medical — on that short stretch between Main Street and Canal Street, life has seemed disrupted for eons.

Once upon a time, traffic flowed easily on Kings Highway North. (Photo courtesy of Google Street View)

The jackhammering, pipe clanging and truck beep-beeping is one thing.

The fact that it happens randomly — a few days of “work” here, long stretches of nothing except ripped-up road there, then another day of street closure — is infuriating too.

But just as maddening is that no one living and working on Kings Highway North —  and patients of the many doctors — can get a straight answer about what’s going on.

And when (if ever) it will end.

Dr. Susan Finkelstein — a psychiatrist with an office at 164 Kings Highway North — wrote:

Again this morning the road is closed on both sides. No signage, and no response from Aquarion.

I called the Westport police this a.m. They say there is access, but if you aren’t brave enough to override sawhorses, it looks closed.

NO signage or workers to direct patients. I contacted Aquarion manager Mark McCaffrey –no response.

I just wanted to update you and your readers on how the local “upgrades” are doing exactly the opposite!

Dr. Finekelstein wrote that last week. I apologize for not posting it sooner.

Then again, I can probably wait until 2098. It will still be timely.

Wilton Road/Kings Highway Apartment Proposal: It’s Back!

Just over a year ago, the state Appellate Court denied a plan to build a 7-story, 48-unit apartment complex at one of the busiest, most environmentally sensitive spots in town.

The ruling was based on grave concerns about safety, and damage to wetlands adjacent to the 1.16-acre parcel at 122 Wilton Road — right at the Kings Highway North intersection.

Undeterred, the owner has come up with a smaller plan. Garden Homes of Stamford wants to build a 19-unit, 3-story, 20,078-square foot rental complex. With 31 parking spots at grade, that would total 4 stories.

There would be 4 1-bedroom units, 8 2-bedroom units, and 7 with 3 bedrooms.

The site plan for 122 Wilton Road. Wilton Road is at the left; it intersects with Kings Highway North (Willows Medical Complex location) at the top.

The project is being submitted to the Planning & Zoning Commission with 2 affordability plans. The default sets aside 30% of the units as “affordable,” according to state 8-30g regulations. An alternative plan offers 60% as affordable — “if certain conditions are met by the P&Z and other Westport town bodies and staff.”

The goal of the project, Garden Homes says, is “to enable low and moderate income families with children the opportunity to live in Westport and have access to its excellent public schools and amenities.”

The developer submitted a traffic impact study. It included 2 proposed roadway improvements: lengthening the westbound left-turn lane for Kings Highway North by 50 feet, and adjusting the traffic signal at that intersection.

“With these improvements,” the report said, delays there “during the critical weekday peak hours will be shorter than those under the 2015 existing conditions.”

Traffic concerns were only part of the opposition to Garden Homes’ previous proposal.

Another reason was the location: abutting the Taylortown Salt Marsh.

Safety was another major issue. Westport Fire Department officials worried about access to the site.

Former fire chief Andrew Kingsbury reviewed the new proposals. Many concerns remain.

Access is still a major issue: The emergency fire lane is not wide enough, has a tight turning radius, and can only be approached from the south. The access driveway on the east side is also too tight to accommodate Westport’s aerial apparatus.

Kingsbury adds that congestion in the area during rush hour hampers firefighting efforts.

The developer no doubt hopes that a scaled-down version of the previous proposal — and inclusion of 8-30g housing — will carry the day.

“Garden Homes” is a bucolic-sounding name. But I’m betting the reception to this new proposal will not be all peaches and cream.

(Hat tip: Wendy Pieper)

Photo Challenge #187

George Washington was born in 1732. Two hundred years later, Westport celebrated the bicentennial of his birth.

Nearly 100 years after that, he’s created a mini-controversy.

A couple of months ago, Jeff Manchester and his son were out riding bikes. They stopped at the little grass triangle at the intersection of Kings Highway North and Old Hill — across from the Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church cemetery — and discovered a plaque. Dedicated in 1932, it marked the 200th anniversary of our first president’s birth.

The image Jeff sent was last week’s photo challenge. Tom Ryan, Bob Grant and Jill Turner-Odice quickly got the answer.

But Elaine Marino and Bob Weingarten disagreed. They said the plaque can be found at Christ & Holy Trinity Church itself, on Myrtle Avenue.

Elaine offered proof: a 1959 Westport Town Crier article:

According to tradition, George Washington, while en route from Philadelphia to Boston to take command of the Continental Army, stopped at the old Disbrow Inn, which then stood on the present site of the church; he stood underneath the elm which grew before the door of the Inn as he drank from the water of the well close by. This tradition (which is well substantiated by subsequent historical research) marked the old elm as Westport’s oldest and most historic landmark. When the parish was established in 1860, the old tavern was demolished to make way for the church, but the tree was carefully preserved.

During the Washington Bi-Centennial Celebration in 1932, the Compo Hill Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed their bronze plaque at the base of the tree.

The plaque Jeff and his son saw on Kings Highway doesn’t indicate who placed it there.

Nor does the one at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Elaine headed there on Tuesday, and sent a photo.

The plaque is more weather-beaten than its cemetery counterpart. It says: “George Washington stopped for refreshments at this tavern, June 28, 1775.” It also has the bicentennial dates: “1732-1932.”

Too bad we can’t ask George Washington about the 2 plaques. He’d never tell a lie.

(Click here to see the plaque photo; scroll down for comments.)

Here’s this week’s photo challenge. It has nothing to do with George Washington. And there is no controversy over where it is.

(Photo/Lauren Schiller)

If you know the answer, click “Comments” below.

Pic Of The Day #26

Kings Highway North (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

Nash’s Pond: The (Way) Back Story

Like most Westporters, you’ve probably admired the blue house set back from Kings Highway North, near the busy Post Road intersection.

You may know that behind it is Nash’s Pond.

You may or may not know that the pond — probably big enough to be a lake — was named for the Nash family. In 1835 Daniel Nash was one of the men who helped incorporate Westport, as a town separate from Norwalk, Fairfield and Weston.

You probably do not know that a Nash descendant — also named Daniel — still resides in Westport. In fact, he and his family live in that blue house.

The former Nash ice house -- now Daniel Nash's home. (Photo/Frank Rosen)

The former Nash ice house — now Daniel Nash’s home. (Photo/Frank Rosen)

You almost surely do not know that it was originally an ice house. Or that Daniel and his wife Nicole have spent the past decade restoring it, so that future generations of Nashes can remain there too.

The next generation — his 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son — will be the 14th in Westport. The Nashes arrived around 1650, from southern colonies — more than 2 centuries before the ice house was built.

“We’re trying to spruce it up,” Nash says modestly. (He’s doing the same for several other buildings nearby, called “the compound.”)

He’s cleaned the foundation, brought the inside up to code, redone the vents, reshingled the roof and added molding. It now looks like a home, not a business.

But what a history it had.

The Nash family erected a dam in 1879, and built 3 identical ice houses the following year. Workers harvested the ice from the pond, and stored it through the summer. After being sawed into blocks, the ice was sent to New York City for sale.

“It was a booming business, until electrical refrigeration came along,” Nash says.

Nash’s Pond is magical in every season. (Photo/Peter Tulupman)

The family has had a number of different occupations. Nashes have worked as farmers, hat makers, cider makers, and of course ice merchants.

Daniel’s great-grandfather was the last Nash businessman. Daniel’s grandfather and father managed the property. He’s spent much of his time doing the same.

Growing up, he loved the area — the big rock outcropping, stone foundation and waterfall. Every winter, he skated on the pond named for his family.

He and Nicole were married on the pond.They moved into the ice house, fulfilling his childhood dream. As the couple had children, they “carved out” rooms inside for them.

“It’s a work in progress,” Nash says. “We want to make it look fresh for the town. It’s on a major corner, and everyone sees it.”

Daniel Nash is taking his time. He wants to make sure the renovation of the ice house into a home for future generations is done right.

After more than 360 years here, the Nash family continues to care about their town.

And take care of it.

(Hat tip: Frank Rosen)

Be Careful Out There!

It’s not snowing hard. But the roads are slick.

Slick enough to contribute to this accident a few moments ago on Kings Highway North:

Kings Highway North

No one was hurt.

The car did not hit the historic house, near the Wilton Road intersection.

But getting it off that stone wall will be no easy task.

Stupid Party Tricks From DOT

Last month, “06880” reported on a traffic light at the foot of Kings Highway North. The green arrow suddenly — and erroneously — pointed left instead of right, leading drivers directly into ongoing Post Road West traffic.

Today, the light exiting from Playhouse Square shows red and green simultaneously, instead of green only.

Traffic light

The result, of course, is an even longer backup of traffic in Playhouse Square, as drivers try to figure out what the hell is going on.

We’re on Candid Camera, right?

Red Light, Green Light

Alert “06880” reader Bart Shuldman sent this photo along:

Kings Highway light

At first glance, it looks like a normal traffic light.

Look closely though, and you’ll the arrow on the right faces the wrong way.

The light is at the foot of Kings Highway North, where it merges into Post Road West.

The arrow usually points right. Drivers can go right on red, heading west toward Stew Leonard’s.

But for some reason, the arrow was recently changed. Now it directs drivers to the left, toward Kings Highway School — and into oncoming traffic that already has a green.

It’s an accident waiting to happen. Be careful out there!