Last week’s Friday Flashback featured a fantastic foto from Steve Turner. One fall day in the mid-1980s, the 1971 Staples High School graduate took a helicopter flight over Westport, and snapped a stunning shot of would soon become known as Winslow Park (and beyond).
Steve returns this week for an encore performance. This summertime image of Gorham Island, Parker Harding Plaza (and beyond) was also from the 1980s — though definitely after 1986.
If you know how it’s dated with such certainty, click Comments below.
Feel free too to add any thoughts on how much Westport has changed in the nearly 40 years since.
Temperatures will quickly drop below freezing, and are expected to remain below freezing until Tuesday.
In the event of flash freezing, Fire Chief Michael Kronick says: “If you must travel, keep a flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. Allow extra time as some roads may be icy and dangerous if untreated. Please do not drive around barricades or through waters of unknown depth.”
If you lose power to your home during freezing temperatures, follow these steps:
Now is the time to check your generators and charge your devices in the event of a power outage. Have a battery powered radio on hand.
Stay Safe!Never go near downed power lines including cable TV feeds. They may be live with deadly voltage.
Stay Warm!On top of dressing in layers and huddling under extra blankets, hang your darker ones on the windows to draw in heat. Keep doors and windows closed and use towels to block drafts around them. If necessary, move to your basement, which may be more insulated by the ground.
Never use charcoal grills or camp stoves indoors.Deaths have occurred when consumers burned charcoal or used camp stoves in enclosed spaces, which produced lethal levels of carbon monoxide.
Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors, and vents. Read and follow instructions on the generator label and in the owner’s manual. Any electrical cables you use with the generator should be free of damage and suitable for outdoor use.
Use caution with candles. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave the room.
Listen for updates. If you’re using a cellphone, choose texting over calling to keep phone lines free, or use your landline. Save 911 for emergencies.
Sign up for local EMERGENCY ALERTS: Text 06880 to 888777. Or sign up now at www.nixle.com
A reader writes: “The other day I dropped an envelope into a mailbox between the diner and dance studio. I felt something sticky, and realized the envelope was not falling into the box.”
“I called the check’s recipient a few days later. They had not gotten the check. I went to the box to see if I could retrieve it. I couldn’t, so I went to the post office. They gave me a number to call.
“I called, and found out I was scammed. The sticky page catches my envelope. Thieves erase and change all the information they need: signature, amount, routing and account numbers.
“I had to go to the bank, get new account numbers, order new checks, remember all my direct deposits and notify them.
“Why isn’t something posted about this scam? The post office and bank know about it. Why hasn’t he public been alerted?
Tomorrow’s Green’s Farms Congregational organ rededication — with a concert by renowned improvisationist Justin Bischof, in honor of organist Rick Tripodi, who oversaw the reinstallation but died just before completion — is set for 4 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday, November 20).
But you’re never too old to have a Westport Library exhibit.
His botanical paintings will be featured in the Sheffer Gallery, from December 5 through February 28. An artist talk and reception, with Rauh and Miggs Burroughs, is set for January 20.
“I am extremely fortunate to be granted the ability to continue to function as well as I do as the years pass,” says Rauh, who took up botanical painting in retirement, after a long career in motion pictures special effects.
“Spread along these walls are the results of what I have observed looking closely at flowers over the years. Whether in my quest for the accurate I have managed to bring a personal statement is for you to judge. It is enough for me that you will look at flowers in a way you never have before.”
Rauh won the gold medal and Best in Show awards at the 2006 Royal Horticultural Society Show in London, and his work is in several permanent collections. He has taught in the botanical illustration certificate program at the New York Botanical Gardens since 1994 and was named its Teacher of the Year in 2010. He also teaches widely in senior centers.
Two other exhibits will be featured at the Library too: “Speak to Me” (woven art by Westporter Tina Puckett), and 8 works from the Westport Public Art Collections.
Westport’s Thiel Architecture + Design is known for its office, restaurant, retail and residential projects.
Now they’re known by the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architect too.
Thiel’s design of a Brooklyn office will receive an Excellence in Interior Architecture award. It and 5 other designs are in contention for Connecticut Project of the Year.
The design is for a company that downsized after the pandemic. The new Williamsburg space “functions less as a ‘workhouse’ and more as a ‘clubhouse,’a gathering place where employees come together to re-energize, zoom with remote clients and collaborators, and do intermittent touchdown work.”
Thiel is currently designing the future Weston Town Green, and last year worked with the Westport Farmers’ Market on a concept for a permanent home at the Imperial Avenue lot.
But Westporters are pleased with the redesign of the Baldwin parking lot. The Elm Street area has been redesigned, regraded and repaved. It works much better now.
Baldwin parking lot looking northwest, after renovation. (Photo/Dan Woog)
That’s just a taste of what’s to come though, parking-wise. Two bigger projects are in the works. They could significantly alter the way we perceive and use downtown lots — and, perhaps the way we perceive and use downtown itself.
Improvements to Parker Harding Plaza (behind Main Street), the Taylor lot (by Jesup Green and the Library) and the Imperial Avenue lot (Farmers’ Market, Remarkable Theater) have been discussed for decades — probably since Parker Harding was built on landfill in the 1950s.
Aerial view of downtown in 1949, before Parker Harding Plaza was built. The river came up to the backs of stores on the west side of Main Street.
Prior to that, the Saugatuck River lapped up against the backs of stores on the west side of Main Street (and pipes discharged sewage directly into it). The new lot may have added much-needed parking, but it created a sea of asphalt that turned the important and attractive river into a downtown afterthought.
A master plan of downtown improvements in 2015, designed by outside consultants, was complicated. Some ideas were feasible; others were not. The Downtown Plan Improvement Committee got mired in small details; then it got mired in COVID.
Randy Herbertson — the former director of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — took over last year.
The parking lots are one of 5 pillars to the downtown plan, he says. The others ae pedestrian access, maintenance, sustainability and technology upgrades.
Parking now dominates the east bank of the Saugatuck River. Only a sliver of grass and a few benches provides access to anyone wishing to enjoy the view.
But parking may be the most visible. And if it’s improved, it drives the others.
The Parker Harding and Taylor lots are “aged, decrepit and in disrepair,” Herbertson says. “They’re not even optimized for parking and traffic. They don’t take advantage of the river. And they flood.”
The goal is to reclaim river access at both lots. Moving and reconfiguring parking — without losing spaces — could make room for a playground and expanded Riverwalk near Jesup Green, and allow for a more permanent Farmers’ Market and Remarkable Theater off Imperial Avenue. Electric vehicle charging stations would be included too.
The hope is for bids to be solicited early next year. Work on Parker Harder would be first, beginning in summer.
The biggest obstacle, Herbertson says, may be funding. The town is considering several capital projects, including Long Lots and Coleytown Elementary Schools, and Longshore.
But, he notes, “the central business district affects everyone in town.” He sees opportunities for private investment in parts of the improvement plan — for example, an improved Riverwalk with native plantings and art installations, or a possible pedestrian bridge from Parker Harding to the west bank of the river.
This screenshot from the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee shows the Parker Harding lot, and its proximity to the Saugatuck River.
As Langan (an engineering and environmental consulting firm) and Connect the Dots (a community engagement firm) work with the DPIC to design the “Reconnecting the Riverfront” master plan, they plan a public charette September 29 (7 p.m., Westport Library). It’s a chance for residents to offer ideas and input.
A survey will be live soon too. Watch “06880” for the link.
(For more information, including early “inspirational ideas,” click here for the Downtown Plan Improvement Committee website.)
(“06880” covers all of Westport, from downtown to the beach and woods. To support this hyper-local blog, please click here.)
Sure, the traffic pattern in Parker Harding Plaza is odd. But it’s almost entirely one-way. There are signs, and the angles and directions of parked cars offer a pretty clue as to what direction to drive.
Not to everyone, though. Diane Lowman reports a recent epidemic of wrong-way drivers.
Several times this week, she has seen cars enter from Main Street by GG & Joe’s, and drive all the way — the wrong way — toward Starbucks.
Someone else drove the wrong way on the narrow road that hugs the river.
Just when you think you’ve seen or heard everything …
It’s kind of hard to drive the wrong way here. But people try. (The police in this file photo are responding to a different issue than that.)
Country/folk music comes to MoCA Westport this Saturday. A Tale of Two perform their songs of revenge, murder, stealing and drinking at 7 p.m. on the outdoor stage. Former Barrage8 violinist Kyle Pudenz joins the fun.
Guests should bring their own lawn chairs. Chicken, steak, shrimp and corn skewers will be available for purchase.
The next day (Sunday, June 26, 1 p.m.). A Tale of Two leads a free workshop, on how new artists can break into the music business. Click here to register.
The Westport Library hosts noted artist Eric Chiang next Wednesday (June 29).
A 6:30 p.m. reception for “Musical Planet” — a selection of his paintings, will be followed at 7 p.m. by an interview on the Forum stage. Artists Collective of Westport co-founder Miggs Burroughs will lead the chat, as Eric’s artwork is projected on the large screen. Click here for more information.
A memorial gathering for Dr. David Beck — the highly respected, longtime Westport Police Department physician — is set for this Sunday (June 26, 11 a.m., Beth Israel Chabad, 40 King Street, Norwalk). A full buffet brunch follows.
And finally … James Rado died Tuesday in New York. He was 90.
The New York Times described his legacy well: He “jolted Broadway into the Age of Aquarius as a co-creator of ‘Hair,’ the show, billed as an ‘American tribal love-rock musical’ that transfigured musical theater tradition with radical ’60s iconoclasm and rock ’n’ roll.” Click here for “Hair”‘s fascinating back story.
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Registration for many Westport Parks & Recreation’s spring and summer programs begins online at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 2. Registration for Camp Compo, RECing and pickleball begins later: 9 a.m. on Monday, March 28.
Spots go quickly. Click here to see all the choices.
In 2018, I ran a story on Zenabi. Profiling a company located in the old Town Hall (Don Memo) building on Main Street, it began:
I’m not quite sure what Zenabi does. A spokesperson says it’s a “new pioneering tech and artificial intelligence company that helps Fortune 500 companies find signals in their data that drive growth and value.”
Their website says that Fortune 500 companies trust them to “help understand and grow individual relationships.” They also “enable companies to scale their ability to personalize interactions and offers.”
The hook was an upcoming “Brains & Bands” night hosted by Zenabi. I wrote that its press release
describes this as “some of the most brilliant minds in technology, business and music come together for an epic evening of inspiration and innovation…this self-proclaimed team of ‘Pirates’ and ‘Black Ops’ of the artificial intelligence world” — I guess that’s something else Zenabi is or does — “have the set the stage for titans of industry to share their paths to success with the local community.”
My skepticism was well placed. Zenabi — which later moved to Riverside Avenue and/or Church Lane — imploded.
But not before receiving $1.5 million in PPP funds.
Billy Penn — part of the WHYY news team at the Philadelphia PBS station — has taken a deep dive into the many deceits of the company’s founder, Billy Ibanez. They include false claims about associations with the Philadelphia Eagles and CIA, and many more.
Click here for Billy Penn’s long, and very fascinating, story.
The United Methodist Church of Westport is collecting clothing, toiletries and non-perishable food drive for their neighbors in Bridgeport.
The drive is set for Saturday, March 5 ( 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church, 49 Weston Road). Volunteers will gather donations from car trunks.
Gently used or new items include children’s clothing in all sizes; women’s clothing, sizes 4 to 16, purses, accessories and shoes; men’s clothing medium and large, pants size 32 to 36 waist shoes sizes 7 to 10, and outerwear all sizes.
Also needed: toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo and body lotions; peanut butter and jelly (plastic jars only), canned ham, tuna and chicken, boxed macaroni and cheese, cold and hot cereals, hearty soups, canned vegetables and fruit.
Questons? Email email@example.com.
Food, clothing and toiletries will be collected at the United Methodist Church. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Dick Steele was honored this month at the Stratford VFW. The World War II Marine Corps veteran — and father and father-in-law of former Staples High School teachers Kathy and Jeff Lea, respectively — just turned 100.
Steele was 20 years old when he enlisted just after Pearl Harbor. He earned his golden wings, was promoted to 2nd lieutenant, and deployed to the South Pacific. His bombing squadron attacked Japanese positions on the island of Yap.
After the war he returned to civilian life only. He was recalled to active duty as a captain in 1952, to train a new generation of dive bomber pilots during the Korean conflict.
His fighter attack squadron flew 310 combat sorties, totaling more than 550 hours. His was the last Marine aircraft engaged in combat during the war. He retired with the rank of major.
In 2008 Steele became involved with the Connecticut Air & Space Center’s restoration of a Corsair fighter plane, the same aircraft he flew in the Pacific Theater.
Happy 100th, Major Dick Steele! (Hat tips: Adam Vengrow, Don Pavia)
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force is doing its part, sponsoring a pizza and movie night — followed by a discussion on healthy relationships — tomorrow (Wednesday, February 16, 6 p.m., Toquet Hall).
The event features the movie “Sierra Burgess is a Loser.” For more information, click here. To fill out the required COVID waiver, click here.
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