Tag Archives: Parks and Recreation Department

Jennifer Fava: New Parks & Rec Director Will Dive Right In

Jennifer Fava’s father was director of parks facilities for Westchester County. Growing up, she wanted nothing to do with that.

But — go figure — she ended up graduating not only from the same school (University of Massachusetts), but also the same exact program (leisure studies and resources) as both parents.

Recreation is in Fava’s blood. From her youth in Armonk as a volleyball player, gymnast, runner, swimmer and diver (“my body is paying for it now, but it’s worth it”), through jobs as parks and rec director for Yorktown and North Hempstead, she’s spent her life being active, and helping others enjoy leisure pursuits.

Her get-it-done resume and let-me-help attitude should serve her well in her new job. On September 1, Fava becomes Westport’s new director of parks and recreation.

Jennifer Fava

Jennifer Fava

It seems like a great fit — for her, and the town. During her 9 years in Yorktown, Fava managed 29 parks and other facilities. She was responsible for 750 acres of open space, and developed 12 miles in nature preserves.

During 3 years at North Hempstead, she managed 385 employees and an operating budget 3 times larger than Westport’s. She oversaw the maintenance, operations and improvements of 53 park facilities, including golf courses, a marina, botanical garden, aquatic and athletic facilities, and a 60,000-square foot community center.

She increased revenues and program offerings, reorganized the department for greater efficiency and cost effectiveness, and implemented a more user-friendly website.

Fava did not do it all by sitting in her office.

“I’m not afraid to get on the roof and check the HVAC system,” she says. In Yorktown one night after a community movie, she grabbed a bag and picked up garbage. “People should know we’re all part of a team,” she explains.

“We don’t get rich in public service,” she adds. “We do this because we love it.”

Fava calls her new town “a great place to be. The natural resources and unbelievable facilities — who doesn’t like to sit at the beach?”

Her background managing golf courses, marinas and beaches (“across Long Island Sound,” she notes) are a plus. The demographics where she’s worked are similar to Westport too.

Longshore -- part of Jennifer Fava's new portfolio -- includes a golf course, tennis courts, marina, pools, and much, much more.

Longshore — part of Jennifer Fava’s new portfolio — includes a golf course, tennis courts, marina, pools, and much more.

Fava says that as she researched Westport — and saw the capital plan — she grew even more excited. She sees an opportunity to “build on this gem, and take it to the next level.”

She found — to her surprise — that she was not a stranger to the town. When she was younger, her beach of choice was Sherwood Island. She had no idea, though, that it was in Westport. (Which makes her no different from many Westporters.)

After she beat out more than 50 applicants for the job — but before her appointment was announced — Fava visited Westport’s recreational facilities. She wanted to experience them from residents and visitors’ points of view.

She got “a very good, positive vibe” at places like Compo. “People were clearly enjoying themselves,” she says.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

Fava declines to talk about priorities. “It’s too early for that,” she says. “I’ve already received stacks of documents from the Recreation Commission. I have my nighttime reading.”

The new director takes a broad view of her job. “I look forward to making a positive impact, in whatever way I can. I’ll be looking at the whole park system, not one specific site. And I’ll look at the whole well-being of people. There are a lot of aspects to this.”

Fava is already excited about one thing: her commute.

For 3 years, she drove 90 minutes (on a good day) from her home in Brookfield to North Hempstead — then back at night.

“I don’t recommend it,” Fava says.

“This will be great. And it’s all back roads.”

The Morning After

We’ve seen the rockets’ red glare. The bombs bursting in air.

We’ve left our beach chairs, tents, flip flops and food in the Compo Beach sand.

But Westport’s Parks and Rec crew is up to the task. They see our garbage, and in a fantastic show of coordination, energy and grit they remove it.

Betsy P. Kahn was up at 6 this morning. She lives on the shore, and took her regular dawn walk. Today, she brought her camera. Here’s what she saw:

Cleanup flag - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup 1 - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup - more seagulls - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup seagulls pavilion - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup sparklers - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup - Parks and Rec - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup seagulls - Betsy P Kahn

Meanwhile, here are 2 more looks back at the night before the morning after:

Cleanup - 19 Soundview

(All photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

(All photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

 

New Life For Old Trees

Last January, tree warden Bruce Lindsay determined that some of the mature trees in the beloved entrance drive to Longshore had reached the end of their useful lives. For safety reasons, they had to go.

This being Westport, the decision created a firestorm (figuratively). Many folks lamented the loss of the iconic and beautiful trees. Many others pointed out that nothing lasts forever — and that, though beautiful, they’d become dangerous.

The Longshore entrance road, several years ago.

The Longshore entrance road, several years ago.

The discussion on “06880” was robust. Amid the fury, several commenters suggested that the trees be repurposed for furniture, benches or in other useful ways.

The trees were removed. The entryway still looks great, thanks to the foresight of Parks and Recreation officials 20 years ago who planted replacement trees near the older ones they knew would eventually go.

Now the old trees are back — just as some smart Westporters suggested.

Tomorrow (Monday, November 10, 2 p.m.), a hand-crafted bench repurposed from those trees will be dedicated at the Westport Library, near the copy center. A pictorial exhibit depicts the entire process.

A repurposed table on display in the library.

The repurposed bench on display in the library…

Lindsay, First Selectman Jim Marpe, library director Maxine Bleiweis and “furniture artist” Zeb Essylstyn will answer questions.

Unlike most old trees — which end up in landfill or as mulch — the Longshore specimens live on handsomely. Essylstyn’s Higganum, Connecticut-based company City Bench created 2 tables, plus the library bench. The tables are on display at Town Hall.

...and the Town Hall table.

…and the Town Hall table.

All are on sale to the public. So are additional pieces that City Bench will create. A portion of the proceeds goes to the town’s Tree Fund, to support further plantings.

If you want to buy a table or bench, email info@city-bench.com, or call 860-716-8111.

To simply admire them, head to the library or Town Hall.

Fireworks Rescheduled For Monday

The 4th 3rd of July fireworks — originally scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) night — have been postponed to Monday, July 7.

The Westport PAL, with the Parks and Recreation Department, made the call after reviewing the weather forecast. The chance of rain tomorrow night is 80%.

An early decision will help people make plans, officials noted.

The Parks and Rec Commission Compo Beach Site Improvement meeting originally scheduled for Monday will be postponed to a later date.

Everyone has a favorite spot to watch the fireworks. This was the scene last year at the Schlaet's Point jetty, where Soundview intersects with Hillspoint Road.

Everyone has a favorite spot to watch the fireworks. This was the scene last year at the Schlaet’s Point jetty, where Soundview intersects with Hillspoint Road.

Tree Warden’s Report: Old And Dangerous Longshore Trees Must Go

Last month, First Selectman Jim Marpe directed tree warden Bruce Lindsay to report on the condition of the 15 trees slated for removal along the entryway to Longshore.

Today, the tree warden delivered his report.

Among the key findings:

The 11 Tulip Poplars and 4 Norway Maples are 50 to 80 years old. The trees have been cared for extensively over the years. The warden’s initial decision to post the trees for removal was based on observation and tree knowledge.

“The Tulip is not recommended for street use, and is extremely susceptible to drought and a variety of diseases,” Lindsay wrote. “It is best found in forests in a thicket of protected stands of diverse species….It does not respond well to salt and is known to deteriorate from drought and sunscald.”

The Tulips have reached the end of their life spans. They have reached their maximum heights and widths. They also show “the characteristics of drought, salt abuse, wind and storm damage, road side or urban abuses such as: soil and root compaction, salt and snow pileups, bark damage from being repeated nailed and stapled…these trees have become highly defective.”

Tulips at Longshore. The captions in the report describe (clockwise from upper left): compromised branch structure; extensive pruning due to breaks/decay; massive bark rot sloughing off in sections; weak canopy and leaf cover.

Tulips at Longshore. The captions in the report describe (clockwise from upper left): compromised branch structure; extensive pruning due to breaks/decay; massive bark rot sloughing off in sections; weak canopy and leaf cover.

Lindsay said that the Maples have several rotting sections. There are extensive hollow sections, indicating interior rot and water damage. They also exhibit a condition called “co-dominance,” creating a likelihood of breaking from wind shear.

The Maples have also reached their maturity. They too are at the end of their natural lifespan. They have a tendency to choke out all plant life and grass below them, and “create numerous problems along streets when dropping weak wood and debris.”

While the allee landscape design of the entrance to Longshore is “pleasant and gives a tremendous visual as the trees are generally uniform in specie and represent a serene view,” the fault of the allee principle is that the same species or similar trees were all planted at the same time.

“Had the species been diversified and newer trees been planted in the same line over a course of time, perhaps the hardship of this final removal” would not be so difficult, Lindsay wrote.

The warden praised the Parks and Recreation Department’s planning for the removal of the trees, begun 25 years ago. The new trees are growing in balance, and because they are further from the roadway, they enjoy enhanced root growth and reduced salt exposure from snow removal. They also are safer for walkers and joggers.

The more than 75 newer trees in the entrance represent “careful planning, culture and the next generation of roadway-framing trees to enhance the entry for several decades to come.” The mix of oaks, maples, zelkova, beech and sycamore will enhance the allee.

Photos of the Norway Maples in the report show (clockwise from upper left): rot and decay; open hollows; weak crotches, and one entire side of the tree dead.

Photos of the Norway Maples in the report show (clockwise from upper left): rot and decay; open hollows; weak crotches, and one entire side of the tree dead.

Lindsay said he posted the removal of the 15 trees at the end of December to allow for removal during the period of lowest use of Longshore. The tree removal service will use a crane, several trucks and numerous employees — work that is best performed when the ground is frozen or covered in snow.

In summary, Lindsay wrote, Parks and Rec has “made great efforts in recreating the allee along the roadway. The removal is not going to eliminate the tree lined effect…The grand trees at Longshore Club Park represent a period of iconic splendor and significance but they are failing and the new trees are in place to recoup the same effect for generations to come. The decision to remove these fifteen trees was not one made in haste.”

As tree warden — with “primary duty to see that all town owned roads and grounds allow safe passage” — Lindsay affirms that the trees in question are in “extremely poor health and decline, are of poor species” and are in danger of falling or losing limbs.

Because of their hazards, he said they must be removed.

To read the full report, click here.

Lindsay and Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy will hold a public information session at 9 a.m. this Saturday (January 11) at Longshore to explain the decision to remove the 15 trees. The public is invited to attend. The session will include walking a portion of the park. Dress accordingly. 

Ghosts And Goblins And Concorde Pilots, Oh My!

Nearly 20 years ago, Gwen Campbell and Brie Garrison were Westport moms and friends.  Each had a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old.

Their kids were too little to trick-or-treat.  But Halloween was coming, so the women approached First Selectman Joe Arcudi with an idea:  have a costume parade up Main Street.

Gwen and Brie printed flyers.  Stew’s donated cider and cookies.  The Bedford Middle School band played.

The Westport News was there.

Writer Harold Hornstein described “the panorama of precious little people.”

He described 3-year-old Michael Friedman, dressed up as Mets star Bobby Bonilla.

Ryan Fazio — also 3 — was an airline pilot.  He said he wanted to take Concorde to California.

Johnny Fable, 2, was a kitty cat.

A scene from last year's Halloween parade. (Photo courtesy Matthew Vinci/The Hour)

“I can’t believe this many kids showed up,” said Gwen (dressed as a witch).

Police Department inspector Steve Smith — “I came as a cop” — estimated 150 children paraded from the YMCA to The Limited (now Vineyard Vines).

“This is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” added spectator Nina Morse.

Writer Harold Hornstein predicted, “From the amount of tots, it might well become an annual fixture.”

It has.

The organizers’ kids grew older.  They moved on to actual trick-or-treating (and, perhaps, Mischief Nighting, then high school — and now college — partying).

The Garrisons moved to London.  The Downtown Merchants Association, PAL and Parks and Recreation Department took over the event.

This year’s event got rained out.  (It was not the 1st time.)  Still, tons of kids — and camera-wielding parents — gathered at Town Hall, for the traditional cider and cookies.

No one was dressed as a Concorde pilot.

Then again, in 1993 no one came in a Kim Kardashian costume.

There’s no telling what the cool outfit will be 18 years from now, in 2029.

Hopefully though, kids will still parade up Main Street a few days before Halloween.

And today’s participants will look back at photos of their then-3-year-old selves, and look forward to the day their own children will dress up for their own Halloween parade.