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Tag Archives: North Avenue
Last night’s heavy snow downed trees and power lines throughout Westport.
As of 9 a.m., over 1,100 customers were without electricity. That’s down from more than 1,500 after midnight.
One of the most treacherous situations is on North Avenue, at the Merritt Parkway overpass. A large tree dangles over the parkway.
Nearby resident Tommy Greenwald spoke to an Eversource crew. They told him that power would “definitely” be back today.
However, the Merritt was about to be shut down, to clear the tree.
If you’ve got snow photos or stories to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Johnson is a former member of Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission, RTM representative and Westport Transit District director. As the mother of a Staples High School sophomore, she is very familiar with North Avenue. Jennifer writes:
This could be the last autumn for over 150 trees at the entrance to our flagship school, Staples High School.
That’s because Aquarion hopes to begin construction of 2 massive water towers on North Avenue this coming spring.
It would be the largest public works project in town history, likely to last several years. The constant flow of construction trucks will exacerbate already crippling traffic caused by the closure of Coleytown Middle School.
Does this site make sense for 2 towers? Why is the town continuing to make this a neighborhood issue rather than a community-wide issue? How will we survive years of construction ahead?
There are alternatives. They may cost more. But maybe the cost of moving forward at this site is too great to bear.
If the the RTM, and all of our leaders and town staff join in, hopefully we can find a solution before it’s too late.
Many Westporters enjoyed Macy’s 91st annual Thanksgiving Day parade yesterday. Some ventured into New York. Most watched from the comfort of their homes. The main attractions — as always — were huge balloons.
Others headed to North Avenue, for the annual Staples-Greenwich football game.
Along the way, they were treated to balloons that looked nothing like Superman, Snoopy and Scrat.
This balloon shows the location and 38-foot height of 2 proposed water towers Aquarion hopes to build opposite the high school. A smaller tank now sits on the property.
Accompanying the balloons were signs opposing the project. Among them: “If you think traffic is bad now, 5 years of industrial park construction across from Staples HS.”
For nearly 2 years, on-again, off-again construction of a new water pump directly across from Staples High School slowed traffic and disrupted neighbors.
Now a group of North Avenue residents is alarmed at the next project. Aquarion wants to build 2 storage tanks — each holding 2.5 million gallons of water. They would replace the one current 1.5 million gallon tank, built in 1956.
Aquarion says the tanks are necessary to address future town growth. Fire chief Robert Yost supports the proposal.
Opponents disagree. Their petition to the Planning & Zoning Commission says:
We, concerned neighbors surrounding and adjacent to the area of the proposed water tank construction project on North Avenue, hereby urge you reject Aquarion Water Company’s Special Permit Application #17-043 to allow the installation of two 2.5 million above ground concrete water storage tanks at 63-67 North Avenue, Westport.
We believe that Aquarion’s construction of the tanks, along with their permanent siting on this property, will have a deleterious effect upon our quality of life, neighborhood safety, North Avenue traffic, visual landscape, and home values.
Our objections are as follows:
1) The proposed 39 foot above-ground height of the two tanks far exceed the 24 foot height of the one existing tank, as well as the heights of all homes in the surrounding area. This will have a significantly negative impact on the character and quality of the residential neighborhood surrounding it, effectively changing its appearance from residential to commercial.
2) As proposed, construction of these tanks will take 2 years but is very likely to take longer, based on Aquarion’s previous record of construction of its pump station, which was projected to take 6 months but actually took 18 months. During that time the ensuing noise of construction activity, all-night presence of high intensity construction lights, debris and operation of construction equipment had a severely negative impact on the peaceful enjoyment and quality of life of our neighborhood. Additionally, landscaping besides 6-foot trees, has never been restored since then. With the proposed project we expect this impact to be magnified due to its much larger scale, and Aquarion’s lack of concern for the neighborhood be repeated.
3) Construction activity will severely exacerbate traffic conditions on North Avenue which already suffers from chronic traffic backups and congestion due to the daily volume of cars and school buses traveling to and from Bedford Middle School and Staples High School. This will make travel to and from the schools virtually impossible for both staff and students, and guaranteed to result in school delays.
4) We are very concerned about the impact on the safety of this residential neighborhood, where so many children live and commute to school, due to the siting of two huge water tanks at this location. When at the June 28 informational meeting Aquarian was asked precautions have been taken regarding the storage of five million gallons of water in a residential neighborhood, Aquarion’s response was “nothing will ever happen.” We find this response irresponsible and unacceptable.
5) It is highly objectionable that Aquarion did not adhere to the Site Plan and Special Permit requirements, as follows:
a) Aquarion informed and invited only 13 neighbors to the June 26 informational neighborhood meeting, instead of all 27 neighbors in the 250 feet radius from their property.
b) The neighbor list was not distributed to the neighbors in that invitation, as required.
6) Siting of these highly visible, unsightly structures in our neighborhood will be unpleasant and will adversely affect our property values to a significant extent.\
7) Given that Aquarion filed the Special Permit Application only on June 21, the last week of school when many families are involved in graduations or traveling, insufficient time has been given to neighbors to review and weigh in on the proposed project. Aquarion has thus far failed to provide answers to our questions including:
What is the basis for the project?
Capacity: Why is there a need to increase the current tank capacity by almost 400%, from 1.5 million gallons to 5.75 million? Population in Westport has been relatively stable since 1970, during which time we have not been made aware of any serious water shortages in our area.
Why situate two huge tanks next to each other in a residential area?
a) Alternative sites: What other options have been considered?
b) Can the second tank (if need has been proven) be situated on a different piece of land?
c) Why is such a large (62.5%) increase in tank height necessary?
Finally, we are dismayed and concerned that the Planning & Zoning Commission has agreed to review and presumably rule on this Special Permit Application along such a rushed time frame, with so little consideration given by Aquarion to neighbors who wish to review and weigh in on the application. Thus far, few of our questions have been answered to our satisfaction, and few of our concerns addressed. We would expect that in your roles as advocates for us, the Town’s residents, Planning and Zoning Commissioners will not allow this process to be rushed. We are counting on you to insure that our concerns are addressed and alternatives proposed.
In conclusion, we once again respectfully urge the Planning & Zoning Commission to reject Aquarion’s Special Permit application pending further review, consideration of alternatives, and input by Westport citizenry and other public officials.
Thank you for consideration of this very important matter. Yours truly,
North Avenue Neighbors including: Dr. Stefanie and Marc Lemcke; Michael and Kusumarn Fleming; Jennifer and Andrew Kobettisch; Claudia Steinman, Alfred and Mirian Popkin; David and Dawn Chaskin; Jodi and Russel Hardin; Jennifer and Jeffrey Watzman; Jennifer Stein, 12 Terhune Drive, and many concerned neighbors of Westport.
Alert “06880” reader Susan Iseman snapped this photo moments ago, on the first day of the North Compo Road closure, from Cross Highway to Main Street:
The road will be shut for 30 days, due to culvert work.
Meanwhile, not far away, Jeff Gray reports that — contrary to previous indications — North Avenue is still closed, at the Merritt Parkway bridge.
It looks like a painting.
It’s not. This is the scene Lynn U. Miller photographed — stopped completely, a safe distance away, with no cars behind — at the Cross Highway/North Avenue intersection tonight.
There were no filters either. Her windshield was wet, and the intriguing “look” comes from the glare of the lights.
Alert “06880” reader Ed Paul had already put 75 bags of leaves on North Avenue. He was worried he’d have to start blocking the sidewalk if the town did not come by soon to pick them up.
As he hauled the next group of 20 bags over the other day, he noticed a pleasant-looking older man, with a very long silver ponytail, placing Ed’s filled bags into his own pickup truck.
Ed asked if he’d been contracted by the town to remove the bags.
No, the guys said. After a pause, he said sheepishly, “You caught me in the act.”
Turns out, he takes the leaves to bury his fig trees.
Apparently they need to get bent toward the ground, then staked in place. This fellow surrounds them with leaves and compost, keeping them above the frost line in winter.
Ed learned something. And that gave him idea.
If anyone else needs extra leaves to bury their trees, he says, feel free to stop by and help yourself. The bags are on North Avenue, just south of Cross Highway — across from the ABC house.
Take only the leaf bags, though. Nothing else is up for grabs!
Word on the street — er, parkway — is that contractors are not the only ones to blame for long delays on the Merritt North Avenue bridge reconstruction project.
Temporary scaffolding enables workers to access the under-bridge areas. Because this reduces the clearance, a warning sensor detects when a vehicle has ignored signs on the roadway. Workers have 15 seconds to scramble off the scaffolding.
Since the scaffolding was erected in mid-June, it has been hit and damaged 9 times. Each time, it must be removed and repaired. This of course slows down the work.
Work is also slowed when the alarm goes off, but a vehicle does not strike the scaffolding. Crews still bail out. I’m sure that when they get back on, they’re not in the best frame of mind to work.
Interestingly, all of the hits to the scaffold have been southbound.
This seems to be one time that Westport drivers are not the ones screwing up.
Unless, of course, they’re driving too-high vehicles headed to Exit 42.