The Board of Education takes another step toward deciding reopening plans at tomorrow’s meeting (Monday, August, 3, 7 p.m.).
The virtual session will be livestreamed on westportps.org, and shown on Optimum channel 78 and Frontier channel 6021. Emails to board members can be sent to BOE@westportps.org.
The “Wall of Fame” at Longshore Sailing School displays staff photos going back several decades. Most of them look quite similar. This year’s does not.
(Photo courtesy of John Kantor)
And finally … the legacy of John Lewis, the protests after the death of George Floyd, the linked arms of the Wall of Moms in Portland, the passion of young people after Parkland, the knee-taking by Major League Baseball players — those and so many other acts of standing up for one’s beliefs reinforce the inspiring message of the great Phil Ochs:
“The facility has been serviced by ServPro as a response to our positive COVID case. Vessels have been postponed until today, as the weather prevented proper sanitizing.
“Though we are technically able to stay open, we are choosing to remain closed through the end of the day on Friday. We will reopen on Saturday. We will provide a refund for the missed class days of our students. Rentals and sdult programs will resume on Saturday, July 11 at 9:30 a.m. Junior programs will resume on Monday, July 13.”
Everyone’s talking about racism. But how can we talk about it appropriately and effectively, with kids?
That’s the focus of an important virtual panel discussion. “Towards Becoming an Anti-Racist Society: Talking with Young Children About Race and Racism” — sponsored by TEAM Westport, Greens Farms Academy, The Westport Library and United Way of Coastal Fairfield County — is set for Wednesday, July 22 (7 to 8:30 p.m.).
Panelists include Bank Street educator Takiema Bunche Smith, early childhood director Linda Santoro and TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey Jr. Moderator Shanelle Henry is director of equity and inclusion at GFA.
It should be an engaging (and free!) discussion. Click here to register.
MoCA Westport reopened this week with — executive director Ruth Mannes says — “a renewed sense of perspective, purpose, and hope.” Guests are welcomed to the Helmut Lang exhibition “in a very safe setting. Physically distanced visits will feel like private tours.”
Summer hours are Wednesdays through Fridays, 12 to 4 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, click here.
The Westport Country Playhouse, Shubert Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre have teamed up to present a free, virtual program for high school students in Fairfield County and New Haven County.
THRIVE (Teens Having Resilience in a Virtual Environment) includes interactive workshops and discussions on themes like spoken word, creative writing, arts, performance, wellness, job training, cooking and more, led by specialists in each field.
The program runs from Monday, July 20 through Saturday, August 8. It ends with a virtual showcase hosted by Tony-winning Broadway star (and Westport’s own) Kelli O’Hara.
The deadline to apply is (uh oh) tomorrow (Friday, July 10). Click here for more information.
Who knew that Michael Wolfe’s blog post “My Definitive And Absolutely Correct Ranking of 40 Jewish Foods” would go viral (over 220,000 views so far)? Oy!
Tonight (Thursday, July 9, 7 p.m.), the Westporter will speak online about it all. Everyone is welcome. Click here to join. Don’t forget your bagel!
Singing is supposed to be cathartic. These days, it’s also a very effective way to spread the coronavirus.
But not if the vocals are virtual.
Westport music educator Danielle Merlis has enlisted Backtrack Vocals — the New York a cappella ensemble with Broadway appearances in “Kinky Boots,” and here at Toquet Hall — to be artists in (online) residence at her Camp A Cappella.
Beginning tomorrow (Friday, July 10) Backtrack Vocals members will lead virtual for young singers entering grades 4-12. Students will learn an arrangement of a pop song, which they’ll perform in a final video alongside the professional ensemble.
The workshop includes lessons in beatboxing, choreography and ensemble skills; each student receives individual instruction.
No prior vocal training or ensemble singing is required. Students can sign up any time before July 23rd, and watch the classes on demand! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Norwalk author Jerry Craft made history when “New Kid” became the first graphic novel to win the prestigious Newbery Medal. He is also only the 5th Black writer to earn the prize.
He’s the second speaker in the Westport Library’s new Camp Explore summer program, for youngsters entering grades 4 to 8. Each week there’s a new guest — a global expert in his or her field.
Craft will appear (virtually) Monday (July 13) at 4 p.m. To register, click here.
Tomorrow at noon, 4 Westport girls will be honored for their social impact ventures.
The quartet — Staples High School’s Hannah Cohen and Lina Singh, and Bedford Middle School’s Samantha Henske and Yanira Rios — participated in Girls With Impact‘s online entrepreneurship academy. The program’s goal is to increase the number of diverse women leaders and innovators in the workforce.
Tomorrow’s online event includes nearly 1,000 teenagers, from 40 states.
And finally … 65 years ago today — July 9, 1955 — “Rock Around the Clock” hit #1 on the Billboard chart. It’s called “the first rock ‘n’ roll” record. I have no idea how you define such a thing. But I do know: Neither Bill Haley nor his Comets look anything like what we call a “rock star.”
Longshore Sailing School adds this information about their temporary closure, after an employee tested positive for COVID-19:
This employee is not an instructor nor do they work inside our office. We notified all current families as soon, as we were informed. We are also reaching out to all students that have been at our facility over the last three weeks.
ServPro will be at our facility today doing a full sanitization of our facility and equipment. After speaking with the Westport-Weston Health District, it was concluded that we are going above the requirements of the State of Connecticut OEC Coronavirus Memo #18 regarding Youth Camp Guidance. We will do our very best to continue to provide updates as they come.
I woke up this morning to an email from Longshore Sailing School. They said they will be closed today, because one of their employees tested positive for the coronavirus. All staff will get tested today.
I am freaking out, because my son was there Monday and Tuesday. I’m not sure if he was exposed or not.
More importantly, this is how the spread happens again. This was the first week we sent my son out to an organized activity since March (we quarantined until last weekend). I will be so upset if he turns out to be positive from this.
I am very worried because my elderly parents live with us.
Many people were partying and not being safe over the July 4th weekend. Now the virus may spike again in our town.
Of course our family will get tested this morning to be safe.
The reader followed up an hour later with this:
I talked to my son’s doctor this morning. She said the problem is if someone got exposed, it may not show up as positive for a week. So if he tests today he could get a false negative.
She said this will be a problem with kids going back to school in the fall. Norwalk summer school opened this week. Then a teacher tested positive, and they have now shut down for the remainder of the week.
If this happens when school opens, what will they do? Will they shut down every time?
This should be a really good discussion. I don’t think anyone has a clear decision at this point about what to do.
Phase 1 is kayak and paddleboard rentals online. Tomorrow (Monday, June 1), those rentals are available online, and for walk-ins.
Wednesday (June 3) is the first day for sailboat and catamaran rentals. Online reservations are suggested; walk-ins are first-come, first-served.
Click here to reserve. NOTE: Renters must present a license or photo ID at the office.
It’s been quite a first year for Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas.
No one could have predicted what happened in March — or since then. But in addition to shepherding the school through distance learning, keeping the lines of communication open with a series of warm, informative videos, and doing thousands of other things that no one ever taught in his education classes, the popular principal hand-wrote congratulatory notes to graduating seniors.
All 433 of them.
It doesn’t make up for what the Class of 2020 missed during their final 3 months. But if anyone still keeps scrapbooks, a note like that should go right in front.
As restaurants throughout Westport reopen, Roly Poly is closing.
Yesterday, employees were wrapping up the final wraps. The longtime franchise on Saugatuck Avenue could not make it through the COVID crisis.
The Fine Arts Festival was supposed to be this weekend. It’s been postponed. The new dates are October 17-18.
But you can still see and buy beautiful paintings, sculptures and photos from the artists who would have lined Main Street today.
Click here to browse. Then mark your calendars for the live event this fall.
One more piece of proof that Westport is on its way to reopening fully:
Our self-important, really obnoxious entitled bad parkers are back!
Alert “06880” reader Scott Smith loves many things about Westport. Kayaking is near the top of his list.
However, all is not ducky on the water. Read on…
Why is there a 3-year wait for a permit to store a kayak for the summer near a launch ramp in Westport?
That question came to mind when I stopped by the Parks & Rec office at Longshore to renew my annual handpass and beach sticker. They’re the tickets to many summer pleasures, and a big reason why Westport is such a great place to live.
I love getting out onto, and into, the water along our beaches, tidal creeks and river banks. For years I kept a small motor boat at Longshore.
Then I downshifted to a kayak, schlepping the big yellow sit-on atop my SUV to various ramps around town: Compo Beach, Longshore, the state launch on the Saugatuck under the I-95 bridge, and the Mill Pond, where I took the scenic route past the oyster shack, through the tunnel under the Sherwood Island Connector, and along the tidal creek to Burying Hill Beach.
The tidal creek at Burying Hill Beach. Scott Smith launched kayaks from here.
The past few seasons, following a car change and increasing age and laziness, I’ve been fortunate to keep my kayak for the summer at Longshore’s E.B. Strait Marina, courtesy of a neighbor’s slot, who liked taking his young daughter out on my old 2-seater.
It’s an easy put-in for a saunter up Gray’s Creek, a jaunt out to Cockenoe, or a venture around Longshore Sailing School to the Saugatuck River. For years I’ve harvested golf balls shanked from the practice range, free for the picking at slack tide.
Fun fact: There are nearly as many enthusiasts of paddle sports – kayaks, canoes, paddleboards – as golfers (around 25 million in the US, depending on which trade group does the counting). Tennis trails both pursuits by quite a bit.
There’s no lack of supply for Westport’s golfers or tennis players. That’s great, and I’m among them. But 3 years to wait for a spot to stash your kayak for the summer?
A kayaker at sunset, between Compo Beach and Owenoke. (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)
I’d like to know why the town has not figured out how to accommodate such an expressed demand for an increasingly popular, and very low impact, recreational pastime. Believe me, I’m still kicking myself for telling my neighbor I’d try to get the permit in my name this year.
I can see how adding parking spots for the train station lots, or boat slips at the marina piers, could come up against hard logistical limits. But how difficult would it be to add a few more wooden trestles to the existing lots at Compo Beach or Longshore?
Better yet, I suggest the town consider adding storage spaces and launch sites around town, for residents to use and help fund. I can think of several spots, including Compo Beach marina near the boat ramp and facilities, and Burying Hill Beach, which also has facilities and ample parking along New Creek (and which is chronically overlooked as a town asset).
Compo Beach has kayak racks near South Beach. Scott Smith would like more. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)
A great new place to launch from would be the lower parking lot at Longshore, which occupies precious frontage on the Saugatuck River and is now mostly used to accommodate wedding-goers at the Inn. Pilings from an old pier remain along the shore; it wouldn’t take much to repurpose a part of the lot as a put-in for paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks, with some seasonal storage.
It may require coordination with the state, but as the striving crews of the Saugatuck Rowing Club and the enterprising folks at Downunder can attest, the river is prime territory for today’s waterborne pursuits (at least when the tide’s right).
The town should bolster access to the Saugatuck for recreational fun. I’m pleased to see that the small park on Riverside Avenue near the VFW has been spruced up, though parking remains an issue. That pocket park could, with the Town’s support, be another fun new spot from which to explore a pretty stretch of the river.
Scott Smith suggests the small park on Riverside Avenue as another kayak launch site.
Excuse the rant. But once you’ve enjoyed the views and sport of Westport from the water’s edge, you want more.
And I don’t see why taxpaying town residents should have to wait 3 years to have reasonable access to it.
I asked Westport’s Parks and Recreation Department for a comment. They replied:
As the kayak facility is a popular and relatively inexpensive activity, demand exceeds supply. Therefore, there’s a wait list. It ranges between 1 and 3 years, depending on activity and turnover rate. Last year, 57 kayak positions turned over.
Short of building more racks (which we did about 8 years ago), the trend will continue with a 1 to 3-year wait. We currently have 58 on the wait list for the 192 kayak positions at Compo and 30 at Longshore.
Parks and Recreation Commission chair Charlie Haberstroh added:
We are putting together a site plan for Longshore, and will look to add kayak spaces there. We can also see if there is a more efficient way to design and stack kayaks at Compo.
I believe that we understand the problem. Unfortunately there is not a solution for this summer. In a way it is a good problem: more demand than supply. We will get on it.
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