Tag Archives: Longshore golf course

Roundup: Kayak Tacos, Roads, Library, Remarkable Movies, More


If you’re stressed — and between COVID-19, Isaias, the state of the nation and the world, who isn’t? — you can talk to a shrink. You can take it out on your spouse or kids.

Or you can spend an hour or two on the Saugatuck River, on a kayak or paddle board.

For relaxation (and cost), I’ll take the water. On these hot August days, there is nothing like a leisurely (or harder workout) paddle up toward downtown, or down toward Long Island Sound.

And one of the most popular places to do it is Westport Paddle Club.

The facility — at Bridgebrook Marina, on Riverside Avenue between the VFW and Saugatuck Rowing Club — has quickly become the go-to place for rentals, group activities, and a very popular summer camp for kids.

Now there’s more. Last night was the first “Taco Tuesday” in the parking lot by the dock (near the palm tree).

A taco truck will be there every Tuesday, from 5 to 7 p.m. A nice breeze, the calming river, fun food — you won’t care about the pandemic, a tropical storm, or anything else.

Westport Paddle Club owner Robbie Guimond (left), with employees and Staples High School seniors George Smith and Jack Douglas, at the taco truck.


As of early this morning, 98 Westport customers still lack electricity. That’s 0.78% of the town — meaning Eversource met their promise of 99% by Tuesday midnight.

The utility notes that a derecho storm that caused nearly a million outages in the Midwest caused some crews from those states to be called home to restore power there. Just think of those drives those workers had, getting here and back — and the work they do, here and there.

Eversource says, “at this time, we do not expect this to impact our restoration process” across Connecticut.

However, Jeff Jacobs takes issue with Eversource and the town’s announcement that all Westport roads are now passable.

Kings Highway South is closed just below Birchwood Country Club.

Finally yesterday, a barrier — mostly traffic cones — was erected at the junction of Kings Highway and Treadwell Avenue. There are still no signs or barriers at Post Road West, however, so drivers keep coming. And keep turning around.

Meanwhile, as Westport’s cleanup continues, residents — including David Meth — remain concerned about a utility pole in a very visible spot.

It rests on cables attached to another utility pole across from Willowbrook Cemetery, near the Main Street/Cross Highway split.

“If it crashes, it will pull down all the cables and then some,” David says. “I spoke to 2 Eversource workers nearby. One said he would take a look. The result: nothing.”

(Photo/David Meth)


Today marks the Westport Library’s return to normal — that is, COVID-normal — hours. Curbside pickup is available weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The building is open for browsing and staff support weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

Beginning this Monday (August 17), appointments are recommended for the Children’s Library.

A family (or cohort of up to 5 people) will have the Children’s Library to themselves for 30 minutes. If they leave before their 30 minutes are up, walk-ins can book the remaining time.

Click here to reserve an appointment for the Children’s Room.


The Longshore golf course reopened today. The tennis courts will be back tomorrow (Thursday, August 13), after reconditioning.

Some of the damage on the Longshore golf course. (Photo/Brian Sikorski)


Next up in the Remarkable Theater’s remarkable summer drive-in movie series at the Imperial Avenue parking lot: “The Jungle Game” (Thursday, August 13), “Thelma and Louise” (Friday, August 14) and “School of Rock” (Saturday, August 15).

The lot opens at 7:45 p.m. Movies begin around 8:45. Tickets are $50 per car. Click here to reserve a spot, and for more information.

Last night, Darren Spencer and his family made their first trip to the pop-up series. He reports:

“It was a balmy evening in the parking lot with 49 other cars, but you would not have known it.  Tuned in to 90.9 FM with clear audio and a brilliant screen, it made for a memorable evening.

“Thank you, Remarkable Theater, for breathing life into Westport in these uncertain and unusual times, and for turning what used to be unremarkable before the pandemic into the truly remarkable. And to Westport Town officials, I let’s ensure we turn this into a Westport institution every summer for many years to come!”

(Photo/Darren Spencer)


Still need a place to work? Serendipity Labs —  the co-working space which opened at 55 Post Road West just a month before COVID hit — is offering complimentary day passes for the first visit.  Click here to learn more.

Serendipity Labs, 55 Post Road West


Many voters in yesterday’s Democratic and Republican primaries sent ballots by mail. But those who ventured to the one polling place in town — Bedford Middle School — gave high marks to local officials.

Everyone working wore masks. They hand voters plastic gloves. They strictly enforced the 6-foot rule. And — though you couldn’t see them — they did it all with smiles.

It’s not easy voting in the midst of a pandemic, right after a treacherous storm. In Westport at least, we proved we can multi-task. On to November 3!


First, an outdoor volleyball court popped up at the old Save the Children property on Wilton Road.

Now there’s a floating water polo game in the waters off Compo Beach.

Click “Comments” if you know what’s next.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)


And finally … you may not recognize the name Wayne Fontana. The lead singer of the Mindbenders died last week in England, at 74. But if you’re a certain age, you probably remember his signature song:

At Longshore, Isaias Is Not Par For The Course

In his afternoon briefing on WWPT-FM (90.3) yesterday, fire inspector Nate Gibbons warned that golfers would find a very different course when Longshore reopens.

He’s not kidding.

Director Jen Fava’s crew has worked tirelessly to get the town jewel back in shape, after it took a particularly hard shot from Tropical Storm Isaias.

Here, for example, is — er, was — a white oak, along the end of the 18th hole fairway. Judging by its rings, it was 275 to 300 years old.

Brian Sikorski — who took the photo above — sent images of more damage, all over the course. Fortunately, no greens were damaged.

But Nate Gibbons was right. Golfers’ views are now very, very different.

(Photos/Brian Sikorski)

COVID Roundup: Tennis, Golf, Fields News; Traffic Returns; Mexica Moves In; More


There’s plenty of good recreation news!

The tennis courts at Town Farm (North Compo Road) and Doubleday (behind Saugatuck Elementary School) open next Friday (June 5). Play is limited to singles, on only those courts with nets. For all tennis court rules and regulations, click here.

Beginning Monday (June 1), single rider and pull golf carts will be available at Longshore, through the 2 p.m. tee time. That ensures enough time for proper sanitation. Carts are limited, and available while supplies last. 

As of Friday (June 5), Longshore tee times begin at 7 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. They remain at 8 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Play is extended daily; the last tee time is 7 p.m.

And — to the delight of young athletes throughout town, and runners of all ages — fields at Wakeman, Staples High School (including the outdoor track) and Kings Highway Elementary School open for individual use and exercise on Monday (June 1).

No organized, competitive, pick-up team play, practices or games are allowed.  Groups can include no more than 5 people, and social distancing must be followed. Non-compliance may result in field closures, Parks & Recreation officials say.

NOTE: Jinny Parker (field hockey) Field at Staples, and PJ Romano Field at Saugatuck Elementary will be closed for the summer, due to construction.

Wakeman athletic fields


Every day you seen, sense and feel it: More and more activity, all around town.

Including traffic.

This was the scene yesterday on Wilton Road. A long line at the Post Road light — it’s almost a welcome sight!

(Photo/David Waldman)


It takes a lot of cojones to open a new restaurant in the midst of a pandemic

But that’s what the owners of Mexica are doing. The new spot — with similar cuisine — replaces Señor Salsa in the small Post Road West shopping center by Sylvan Lane.

Who doesn’t need a shot of tequila right now?!

(Photo/Cindy Mindell)

You know all those bottles and can you’ve been collecting since the coronavirus hit, and Stop & Shop closed their return center?

Bring ’em back. The doors are open once again.

Except 7 to 7:30 a.m., and 2 to 2:30 p.m. The room is closed then, for cleaning.


JL Rocks started at Bungalow. Now the luxury jeweler and home emporium are separate stores. But owners Jamie Camche and Wende Cohen still collaborate.

They’ve survived the Great Recession — and now, a retail apocalypse — by offering great quality, exemplary customer service, and a unique aesthetic.

Safe 1-on-1 appointments, FaceTime consultations, curbside pick-ups and shipping have kept their many loyal customers delighted.

Jamie and Wende are working together on a new project: the “City of Lights” collection. They created a series of slim, stackable rings, each highlighted with a stunning diamond. Available in 14K yellow, white and rose gold, the 5 rings are inspired by Parisian landmarks: the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles and Notre Dame.

So what if the coronavirus has canceled your European trip? It’s a lot less expensive to buy a beautiful ring. You’ll have it forever. And you’re helping 2 wonderful women, whose 2 stores — and close partnership — has brought joy to so many Westporters.

(The rings are available online at JL Rocks, and at Bungalow in Sconset Square.)

Jamie Camche and Wende Cohen .(Photo/Jen Goldberg for Private Portraits)


And finally … when Paul Simon wrote “America” in 1966, our nation was in the midst of convulsive change. Half a century later — battered by a pandemic, polarized by beliefs, ripped apart by race and class and so many other divisions — we’re still empty and aching. And we don’t know why.

Petition Pleads: Don’t Reopen Compo And Longshore Yet

Town officials plan to open Compo Beach parking lots, and the Longshore golf course, on May 15.

Not so fast, warns Holly Maybruck

The Westport resident thinks that’s too early. She shared her concerns in a letter to the 1st selectman, Parks & Recreation staffers, RTM members and others.

She also created a Change.org position. As of 9 a.m. today, it had received 112 signatures. She hopes for 200.

The petition says:

We are asking for the Compo Beach (parking lots) and Longshore golf course not to be opened on May 15, 2020. Please see our signed petition.

We are very concerned about the opening up of the parking lots and beach area even at 50% capacity. It is apparent to myself and others that we can’t trust people to be compliant with social distancing on the boardwalks, paths and beaches.

Compo Beach cannons, before social distancing rules went into effect.  (Photos/Larry Untermeyer)

Just this past weekend there were clusters of teenagers and people, who were clearly not immediate family, together on the beach. People were not wearing masks and walking way too close together on sidewalks and boardwalks on the beach.

I know people are anxious to get to our beautiful beach but this virus thrives in social settings and people are less likely to wear masks in outdoor public spaces.

I feel that more needs to be done before opening these public areas to large groups of people. There is so much unknown about this virus. I know that the beach stickers, restaurants and golf course brings revenue to the town, but I strongly feel that lives and safety should be the focus.

Two people practice social distancing at Compo Beach. (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Anyone can be a carrier and takes this virus with them wherever they go. I have photos from last weekend of the beach area and it was disturbing to see the large numbers of people not social distancing. Aside from adults and teens not complying, young children cannot understand the concept and can infect others as well.

Please see this letter posted on Westport Now. On May 4 there were reports that Westport COVID cases and deaths are up.

It just took one party in Westport to get the fire started. I ask you to please consider delaying the opening up of these until we have the following:

Key elements for safely re-opening:

  1. Capacity/capability to execute and perform contact tracing.
  2. Provide adequate resources and means for those who need to self-isolate.
  3. Monitor and reinforce social distancing.

These are the 3 elements that the community at large can contribute towards a safe re-opening.

Compo and other public gathering places of similar nature pose the 3 biggest risks to community transmission (hence, a larger 2nd wave):

  1. Ability to distance at a minimum of 6 feet.
  2. Duration of social gathering (hours vs. seconds/minutes)
  3. Number of individuals that will exposed to others (infected or not).

Thank you in advance for the consideration of the health and safety of our community.

Can there be social distancing on a golf course? (Photo/Dave Dellinger)

Pics Of The Day #1113

Longshore Club Park … (Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

… and Winslow Park (Wendy Crowther)

Photo Challenge #279

Last week’s Photo Challenge seemed straightforward: Where would you see a plaque honoring Carl Francis DePalma? Intriguingly, it also included the name “Popeye.”

I expected a few people to know the answer: the golf practice area at Longshore, behind the pro shop.

I did not expect to hear the tragic, poignant back story behind it.

“Popeye” was DePalma’s nickname. He was a bulldozer operator for the town — always friendly and waving. He worked several places, including the town dump and landfill at the site of what’s now the library and Levitt Pavilion, as well as Longshore where the plaque is.

On May 5, 1965 — almost 55 years ago this day — “Popeye” died, when his machine tipped over.

DePalma’s son Billy and his wife Marie now live in Weston. Marie added this: Billy helped the Westport Rotary Club build the bus stop on Canal Street.

When club officials asked how they could thank him, he suggested a plaque at the site of the accident.

Diane Bosch, Michael Calise, Dave Eason, Ann Urciuoli Allard and Andrew Collabella all knew where that important plaque is, and filled in many of those details.

This week’s Photo Challenge is a wistful reminder of days gone by — before social distancing. If you know where in Westport you would have seen this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Leigh Gage)

Longshore, Beach Lots May Open May 15

As the weather turns — in fits and starts — toward spring, outdoor recreation may be just the thing to cure cabin fever.

Town officials hope to open both the Longshore golf course and Compo Beach parking lots on May 15.

Golfers will face tight restrictions. For example, carts will not be permitted. The driving range, pro shop and halfway house will remain closed. Porta-potties will be on site.

This may be more than a pretty sight soon. It will once again be an open golf course — with restrictions. (Photo/Tom Cook)

Parking at Compo and Burying Hill beaches will be limited to 50% capacity. Emblems will be available for Westport and Weston residents only. No daily parking will be available.

The Soundview and Compo Beach lots will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Boat slip and dry stall holders must have a special parking pass, along with their emblem, but will not count toward the 50% capacity. Restrooms will remain closed, but porta-potties will be available.

Grills and tables will not be available.

A familiar scene may return — in limited form — soon. (Photos/Larry Untermeyer)

Parking at Burying Hill is anticipated to open Memorial Day weekend, and will also require a valid 2020 Westport or Weston beach emblem.

Beach emblem parking restrictions and regulations at Longshore Club Park will take effect May 15. The Old Mill lot remains open for residents of Old Mill and Compo Mill Cove only.

The Parks and Recreation office remains closed to the public. All beach emblems must be purchased online (click here). For more information, call 203-341-5152.

Parks & Recreation Department director Jennifer Fava noted that all opening dates and details may be modified, if circumstances to change.

If guidelines are not followed, officials “may make changes as appropriate, such as in capacity or whether to keep facilities open altogether.”

First Selectman Jim Marpe adds, “Compo Beach and Longshore are clearly Westport’s most popular outdoor destinations. We are doing everything we can to safely open them for at least limited use.

“We will continue to work toward opening other sports and recreation facilities, but will do so cautiously so as not to undo our efforts to combat the virus.

“We understand the desire for our residents to get back to some normalcy, especially as the weather gets warmer. In order to relax our restrictions, we need the cooperation of everyone to adhere to the guidelines so that we can keep facilities open.”

Burying Hill Beach opens Memorial Day weekend. (Photo/Yvonne O’Kane)

Steve Axthelm’s Good Walk, Unspoiled

The Longshore golf course is closed. But on Sunday, Parks & Recreation Commission member Steve Axthelm played it anyway.

Well, sort of. Here’s his story:

I walked 18 at Longshore today.

Got out of my car by the pro shop (3 spaces away from anyone) in late afternoon, and headed to the first tee. It was becoming overcast and breezy but not cold, still beautiful with the smell of spring.

Steve Axthelm

I felt really good. Bag was light as a feather. Took a few practice swings, set my feet, thought about what the golf gurus say: Envision the shot, see the shot you want to make.

Pivoted the torso on the back swing, left arm straight, weight balanced as I turned. Swung through with rhythm and grace.

Finished high. 240 down the middle in the fairway, and I’m a 220 guy off the tee all over the place!

So I walked deliberately up the fairway. (I love the short grass. Why is it so hard to find?)

Next swing was good but just short of the green. Chipped in from 20 feet! And that’s how the round went. Fairway after fairway. Every approach or chip in the hole for birdie, except #4 which I eagled. I never imagined a round like this until I imagined it today!

Shot a 51, which is usually my 9 hole score. When I turned the corner at 18, there was a huge crowd of socially distanced fans cheering and waving. I holed the chip, grateful that I never violated the “stay off the greens” current Longshore policy.

The Longshore golf course was very unspoiled on Sunday. (Photo/Steve Axthelm)

I skipped the COVID-19th hole and went home to pour a dram of Glenfiddich. I can only imagine having a day like this at Longshore again. But if I do, I will yell “fore!” if you get within 25 yards of me.

So to my friends I say: Walk 18. See the shot. The course is closed to the game — but not to your imagination.

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay the hell away from each other.

Stephen Axthelm
Parks, Recreation & Imagination Commission

COVID-19 Roundup: Longshore Golf Course; Paul Newman; Jon Gailmor; Food, Art, And More

1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Parks & Recreation director Jen Fava confirm that the Longshore golf course fairways, rough and cart paths are open to walkers. The greens are not open, and of course the course is closed to play.

Oh, yeah: It’s closed to dogs too.

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)


Can’t get to the Westport Country Playhouse? Missing Paul Newman?

In 2002, our town’s hero appeared on stage — as the stage manager — in Thornton Wilder’s classic “Our Town.”

It was one of the most memorable performances on that venerable stage. And now you can watch it all, through the magic of YouTube. Click below — and thank your lucky “stars.”


Speaking of stars, Jon Gailmor shined brightly — and sang beautifully — even before graduating from Staples High School in 1966.

Decades later, “Peaceable Kingdom” — his Polydor album with classmate Rob Carlson — remains one of my favorites ever. (You’ve got time on your hands. Click here and here for 2 of the greatest tracks.)

Gailmor then moved to Vermont. He runs music-writing workshops in schools, writes and performs all over, and has been named an official “state treasure.”

Ever the social commentator, he’s taken his guitar and pen to the coronavirus. “What We Have Found” (“This is 2020 from a distance”) is all too true, and very poignant.

There’s not a lot to enjoy about COVID-19. This, though, is one of them:


They’re located just a few yards over the border, in Southport. So Garelick & Herbs did not make the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s great list of markets open for takeout and delivery.

However, their many local customers will be glad to know that G&H offers curbside pick up and home delivery, via phone (203-254-3727) or online (click here).


Trader Joe’s is limiting the number of customers in the store at a time. Mornings are the most crowded, but the line moves quickly. This was the scene this morning, as shoppers lined up (properly socially distanced) beyond Jersey Mike’s.

(Photo/Tom Cook)

At 12:30 there was no line. When I left 15 minutes later, 2 people waited outside.


Reader Adam Murphy writes about this generous act: “When the owner of The Simple Greek in Norwalk (its really close to Westport!) found out that a recent catering order was for the Gillespie Center, he voluntarily doubled the amount of food. ‘I want to make sure everyone has enough,’ he said. In times that must have him worrying about his business surviving, he still has generosity for others. Great food and great people!”


Westporter Steve Parton reminds readers that — with galleries closed, and self-isolating the new normal — our neighbors who make their living from art and art lessons are having a tough time.

“We would all like to make a sale if possible,” he says. “Everything must go! No reasonable offer refused!”

Check out his website — and those of any other local artists you like. As you look at your walls (what else is there to look at?!), now is the perfect time to buy new works!

“Compo Beach,” by Steven Parton

Friday Flashback #178

It’s still a couple of months until the opening of the Longshore golf course.

But the other day, alert “06880” reader Phil Bancroft spotted an interesting item on an online auction site: A score card for that very course, signed by Babe Ruth.

Nearly 7 years ago, I wrote about that week in 1946 the Bambino spent at the River Lane home of Dr. Vito Caselnova, a longtime friend. The doctor was chairman of the golf committee at Longshore, at the time a private club.

Ruth played on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon with Caselnova; Ruth’s physician Dr. George Irwin; Norwalk police commissioner Thomas Murphy, and club pro George Buck. The Sultan of Swat shot a 79, highlighted by a 35-foot eagle putt on the 12th hole.

Babe Ruth at Longshore. (Photo courtesy of Norwalk Hour)

Babe Ruth at Longshore. (Photo courtesy of Norwalk Hour)

The next day, Hour sports editor Williard Williams wrote that Ruth “did not dub a shot. His drive was good, his approach shots excellent, and his putting almost perfect.

“In between his golf, he shook hands with scores of persons introduced to him on the course and took care of autographs for the youngsters who swarmed all over him. The Babe was as gracious as ever and seemed to enjoy it all.”

Ruth played several more times at Longshore that week. His partners included US Senator Brien McMahon.

Babe Ruth autographs a baseball for George "Nookie" Powers. A nurse looks on.

Babe Ruth autographs a baseball for George “Nookie” Powers. Powers’ fiancee looks on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth also visited Norwalk Hospital, where he met Westport firefighters injured in a horrific Post Road truck blaze. He signed baseballs for — among others — brothers Nookie and Chick Powers. Both had been legendary athletes at Staples.

Just 2 years later, Ruth was dead from cancer. It started in his throat, and moved to his brain.

Caselnova’s son, Vito Jr., told Albano:

When he stayed with us he used to complain about headaches. He would come downstairs in the morning, go right to the refrigerator, and pull out a can of beer. Not to drink it, but to rub the cold can over his head. He said it made him feel better.

He said he was going to come back next year, but he never made it. He said he was going to bring another player with him, a guy named Joe DiMaggio.

Bancroft remembered all that. But he was fascinated by something more: the score card itself.

The hole numbers, distances and pars were different from today’s course. He was confused too by some of the rules.

So Bancroft went sleuthing. Comparing a 1934 aerial view (below) with one from 1965, he determined that although none of the yardages are the same, identifying the par 3s and par 5s seems to fit — if today’s 17th hole is made into the original hole number 1, and today’s 16th is the original 18th.

A1934 aerial photo. Longshore is at the center; Compo Beach at the bottom of the image.

He adds, “Rules regarding balls on the then 2nd and 3rd holes have similar rules to today’s 18th and 1st. And the roads mentioned related to then holes 13 and 17 would be today’s 11th and 15th holes.”  

Bancroft concludes that when Babe Ruth played Longshore, the road ran to the left of today’s 11th hole. Today it runs down the right hand side. Today’s 11th and 12th holes would have been “oceanfront,” with 12 having an “over-ocean tee shot at high tide, and mud at low tide.”

Fore!

The holes that Babe Ruth played.