“06880”‘s tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.”
This story takes both the zip code and blog motto literally.
Nicolette Weinbaum is a former Inklings school newspaper editor, and 2012 Staples graduate. Now a Villanova University sophomore and activist, her Nicolette Post website offers insights into culture, politics, trends and entertainment.
In a few days, she’ll post an explosive video she hopes will gain national attention. Today, she offered “06880” a world premiere. (The link to view it is at the end of this story.)
Nicolette Weinbaum stands near the post office, for her video.
The video starts with an overview of the US Postal Service‘s financial woes. But she quickly zeroes in on her local post office — well, the building that served that purpose for over 70 years.
Nicolette’s “eye-opening” finding that “should concern all Americans” includes a look back at the limestone and brick building at 154 Post Road East. Designed as a New Deal project by a former World War I flying ace, the post office cost $35,000 for the land, $108,000 to build.
Nicolette offers 2 very intriguing facts.
One is that although the building was appraised for $3.6 million, it was sold a couple of years ago for just $2.4 million. The purchaser — an Atlanta developer — turned it into the Post 154 restaurant.
The Westport Post Office, near the end of its 70-year run.
Westport is not the only place where a historic post office was sold. (Full disclosure: I’m a talking head in Nicolette’s video. I say the new Playhouse Square location “looks like a military recruiting center, not an 06880 post office.”)
Just a few miles away, Stamford’s 1916 post office on Atlantic Street will soon turn into a twin-building, 21-story residential-retail complex. Greenwich, Hartford, Fairfield, Bridgeport and Norwich have also lost post offices to private investors.
Nicolette says that across the country, historic, taxpayer-funded post offices are being sold to private interests at prices below their appraised values.
The other stunning fact: According to the video, in 2006 Congress mandated that the Postal Service pre-pay retiree health care benefits, at a cost of $55 billion over 10 years. That created a $5.5 billion annual deficit, for an organization that had been in the black.
Nicolette calls the USPS a victim of “toxic Congressional politics.” It is not, she says, truly broken.
Nicolette ends the video with a word about “shocking conflicts of interest that go all the way to the top of the US Senate.” Part of the information comes from investigative reporter Peter Byrne, author of the book Going Postal.
What are those conflicts of interest? You’ll have to wait for part 2 of the video to find out.
Now that may really PO you.
(Click above to see the world premiere of Nicolette’s video.)
Patricia Brooks begins her review of Post 154, in tomorrow’s New York Times Metropolitan section:
If you have not been to Westport recently, you might be surprised to find that its old limestone-and-brick post office, which opened in 1935 on the town’s main thoroughfare, is now a snappy new restaurant, called Post 154, that fairly rocks in prime time.
Brooks gives it a “Very Good” review, which in Times-ese basically means, “Holy s—-, this is one of the 10 best restaurants I’ve been to in my life!”
Post 154 restaurant.
She loves the lobster quesadillas, duck confit taquitos, grilled Portuguese octopus, grilled salmon (“which came medium-rare as requested” — go figure), and rosemary short ribs (though her “only cavil was that the mesquite garlic creamed potatoes under the meat were seriously over-salted”).
Brooks ends her review:
With its interesting, creative menu, Post 154 makes an ideal stop before or after a movie, whether for a full meal or a series of delicious small plates, snacks and nibbles.
“Before or after a movie”?! Sounds like Brooks herself has “not been to Westport recently.”
Or, say, since last century, when the Fine Arts Theater closed.
In June, “06880” reported that the owners of the old post office intended to paint the exterior of their new restaurant — Post 154 — an indeterminate color. It was described as “brown,” “a dark shade” and “a bit purply.”
Some “06880” commenters noted that property owners can pretty much do whatever they please. Many more, however, were appalled at changes to the handsome brick building.
It was a dark moment in town.
Yesterday — in a meeting with town officials including Planning and Zoning director Laurence Bradley, P&Z Commission chair Catherine Walsh and Historic District Commission administrator Carol Leahy — owners Joe and Melissa Kelly, and architect Bruce Beinfield said they will not paint the brick.
The interior is reported to look great.
Now the exterior will, too.
(Click here if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube.)
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