Wakeman Farm Town announces a slew of interesting events.
A “Rockin’ Lawn Party” (Wednesday, August 5, 6 p.m.) includes live music and a customized picnic box by Terrain Cafe. Tickets ($80 for 2; ages 21+ only) include a donation to WTF. BYOB (blankets — or chairs — and beverages). Click here to order.
An outdoor movie — “The Pollinators” — is set for Friday, August 7 (gates open at 7:30 p.m., film at 8:30). The filmmakers will be on hand, and WTF hopes to sell honey from their hives. The ticket price of $15 includes fresh popcorn from Sport Hill Farm; wood-fired pizza is available to order. Click here to order.
Noted chef and caterer Alison Milwe Grace celebrates summer’s bounty with a 4-course farm feast on Tuesday, August 25. The $90 ticket includes a WTF donation. Click here to order.
To learn more about WTF — including an online workshop on CBD (Monday, August 3), click here.
Tomorrow’s ReOpen Westport Advisory Team meeting welcomes a special guest.
David Lehman — commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development — joins the discussion, and answers questions from the community.
The Thursday, July 30 virtual event begins at 11 a.m. The meeting will be live streamed on www.westportct.gov, and broadcast on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Residents may email questions prior to the meeting (email@example.com).
Lehman will provide an update on modified rules for business sectors, and the decision to delay Phase 3 of reopening.
Your house may be old. It can also be famous.
The Westport Historic District Commission is seeking nominations for its annual Westport Preservation Awards. Properties should show:
Rehabilitation and Adaptive Re-use: making a property compatible for new use by preserving features that convey historic, cultural, or architectural values.
Restoration: returning a property to its form at a particular period of time.
Reconstruction: new construction depicting the original form, features and details of the non-surviving historic structure.
Special recognition of individuals or organizations that advance the cause of historic preservation.
A structure must be at least 50 years old, and fit at least one of these criteria:
designed by a significant architect
the property is associated with a significant event or person;
the structure is indicative of a significant architectural style or period.
Nominations can be made by private residents, not-for-profits, commercial firms, and government institutions and officials. Please include photos and a brief narrative describing why the property or person deserves an award. Nominations should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, by August 14.
A 2018 Preservation Award winner, at 75 Kings Highway North.
Next up in the Westport Library’s Camp Explore program: science TV host Emily Calandrelli.
The “Bill Nye Saves the World” and “Xploration Outer Space” star will be online this Monday (August 3, 4 p.m.).
Calandrelli makes science-related topics easily understandable, for audiences ranging from from Google, Pixar, MIT and CERN to colleges and schools around the country. Her topics include science communication, space exploration and women in STEM.
Click here to register for the Camp Explore event.
And finally … one of the best in our parade of classic summer songs.
On the eve of the first day of reopened restaurants, Westport’s Planning & Zoning Department has released extensive guidelines — and an application form (click here) for restaurants and businesses hoping to be up and running soon.
Town officials promise to expedite applications from restaurants and retail outlets. No business — including restaurants that offered outdoor dining prior to COVID-19 — can reopen until the form is completed and approved.
Outdoor dining guidelines — in the form of Frequently Asked Questions — were prepared by P&Z Commission chair Danielle Dobin, with feedback from the town attorney’s office, Westport Weston Health District, Police and Fire Departments, and the ReOpen Westport Advisory Team.
They are clear, comprehensive, and cognizant of the needs of owners, employees, patrons and residents. They say:
What’s the process for seeking approval for outdoor dining?
Complete the Outdoor Dining Application (llink above), then
submit to PandZ@westportct.gov, attn.: Mary Young, Planning & Zoning
director, who will circulate to other Town Departments, as applicable. There are
no fees for this application.
Do I need to hire an architect or engineer?
There is no need to hire any outside consultants. The application is very simple. You can use a drawing made by hand, old plans or even a printout from Google
Maps to indicate where you would like to locate your outdoor dining area. Please
indicate dimensions of the outdoor area proposed, size of any tents proposed, etc.
Sherwood Diner prepares for outdoor dining. (Photo/Dan Woog)
What’s the timeline?
Once your application is determined to be complete by the Zoning Office, you will receive a response informing you that your application has been approved,
amended or denied within 10 business days. If you do not receive a response
within 10 days then your application is deemed approved.
Can I appeal if denied?
Yes. You may appeal to the Planning & Zoning Commission which will discuss
your appeal at its next scheduled meeting.
Do I have to apply even if I already have an approved outdoor dining area from the town?
Yes. Even if you already have an approved outdoor patio, you must complete the
application to ensure the patio meets current state and local requirements.
Where can I put the outdoor dining area?
The outdoor dining can be located anywhere that meets fire, police and health
requirements. This means it can potentially go in your parking lot or even in the
parking lot of a nearby or adjacent building, as long as the owner of that property
agrees. It can even potentially be located within the setbacks as long as you are
sensitive to neighboring uses, especially any residential uses adjacent or nearby.
Your proposed plan will be carefully and quickly reviewed by the Zoning Office.
If I put the outdoor dining in my parking lot, where will people park?
If you intend to use part or all of your parking lot for outdoor dining, you must
ensure there is parking nearby for both patrons and your employees. Please
include this information in your application.
Can I create a combined outdoor eating area with some other restaurants in my same building or area?
Yes. Please feel free to collaborate on a plan with your neighboring restaurants.
What if there is a town-owned lot, park or street nearby that would be helpful for me to utilize for outdoor dining? Can I request that a street be closed?
Yes. You can request permission to utilize town owned property on the
application, including sidewalks, streets, parks and parking lots. These requests
will be evaluated by the local Traffic Authority, and police and fire
departments. As this process may take longer than 10 days, consider making this
an alternative request. You are not limited to making one request.
The owners of Harvest, Tarantino’s and Romanacci Xpress met last week, to discuss the best use of Railroad Place.
Am I required to build a platform for the outdoor dining tables to sit on?
No. There is no requirement to build a platform as long as your seating meets
Am I required to provide a tent, awning or umbrellas or can the outdoor dining be uncovered?
There is no requirement to provide covered outdoor dining. The outdoor dining
can be open to the air.
Do I need any state approvals to open?
Yes. You must self-certify with the state before opening and before the Zoning
Office may approve your application. Here is the link for the application.
How big of a dining area am I permitted to create? Is it the physical size of the area or occupancy that matters or both?
You can potentially serve up to 50% of the number of patrons typically
accommodated at your restaurant pre-COVID. However, all state and local social
distancing rules must be observed, and the police, fire and health departments must approve of the outdoor dining area’s size, configuration and location.
How far apart must tables be located?
Seating and tables must be arranged to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between customers. You must ensure tables are at least 6+ feet apart. If customers are sitting in booths or seating is fixed, groups of customers must still be 6+ feet apart. This may require keeping some booths or seats empty. Distance shall be measured from the closest chair at one table to the closest chair at another table.
The state of Connecticut has provided these instructions for restaurants that hope to reopen.
Where should hand washing or sanitizing stations be set up? What should be provided?
Hand sanitizer shall be made available at entrance points and common areas.
Can patrons utilize the bathrooms inside my restaurant?
Yes. However, they must put their mask on before leaving the table. Management should keep in mind there is a requirement to install visual social distancing markers to encourage customers to remain 6 feet apart (e.g., the entrance to the restaurant, lines to be seated, lines to make payments, lines to use the restroom).
Are patrons required to wear masks when they are not eating/drinking?
Customers are required to bring and wear masks or cloth face coverings that
completely cover the nose and mouth, unless doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety due to a medical condition or when eating in the restaurant. The masks should also be worn while entering and/or leaving the facility, or leaving the table to use the restroom.
Are staff required to wear masks at all times?
Yes. All employees are required to wear a facemask or other cloth face covering
that completely covers the nose and mouth, unless doing so would be contrary to
his or her health or safety due to medical conditions. Employees may utilize their
own cloth face covering instead of that provided by their employer if they choose.
Additionally, gloves are required for table servers, and they must be replaced
frequently. Gloves and eye protection are required when using cleaning chemicals. Kitchen workers shall follow FDA guidelines on use of gloves where appropriate.
If a patron isn’t complying with health standards, such as not wearing a mask or standing too close to a different table, how should we handle this?
We are all in this together! The complainant should ask to speak to the manager or establishment owner on-site who should immediately ask the patron to comply with the safety protocols or leave. If compliance is not obtained, restaurant patrons, employees, and/or owners can contact the Westport Police non-emergency line to report any issue (203-341-6000).
Are restaurants required to seat only parties with reservations? Are restaurants required to keep a log of everyone for potential contact tracing?
It is strongly recommended that you require patrons to reserve tables in advance to assist with any necessary contact tracing and to minimize having people waiting for tables. In the event a patron or employee becomes ill, contact tracing will be facilitated by strong record keeping. It is recommended that you keep a log of all walk-in customers for this reason as well.
Can restaurants create a designated waiting area?
No. Restaurant should take the contact information of people waiting to eat and
should call or text the patrons when their table is ready. You may not designate a
waiting area, and your staff should actively discourage patrons from waiting at the restaurant to be seated.
How frequently must the bathrooms be sanitized and is there a recommended sanitizing solution or product?
Bathrooms should be cleaned frequently, implementing use of a cleaning log for
tracking. Sanitizing solutions and/or products need to follow federal guidelines (CDC, EPA) on what specific products to use and how:
• Use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 and that
are appropriate for the surface. Prior to wiping the surface, allow the
disinfectant to sit for the necessary contact time recommended by the
manufacturer. Train staff on proper cleaning procedures to ensure safe and
correct application of disinfectants.
• Disinfectants are irritants and sensitizers, and they should be used
• Avoid all food contact surfaces when using disinfectants; these surfaces
should be sanitized instead.
• Clean and disinfect common areas, high transit areas, and frequently touched
surfaces on an ongoing basis (at least daily) and more frequently if used
more often. Clean and disinfect shared objects after each use including but
not limited to: entrances and exits, payment devices (e.g., PIN pad)
For more details regarding the Governor’s Re-Open Connecticut
standards, click here.
(For direct links on the town’s official P&Z page, click here.)
This weekend’s reopening plan for the Compo Beach and Soundview parking lots, as well as reopening of play at Longshore golf course with restrictions, was successful.
In general everyone was respectful, aware, accommodating of social distancing, and had masks available when not able to maintain 6-foot distances. I appreciate the efforts everyone made, including residents and town staff, that helped insure a positive outcome.
There remain, however, some who choose not to adhere to the CDC recommendations. To be successful in our reopening efforts, we must self-monitor, and request that everyone comply with the recommendations outlined for the general health and well-being of all.
We are in uncharted territory, and gentle reminders to those around us are encouraged. Remember: Whenever you leave your home, you wear a mask to protect your neighbors, and they wear one to protect you. Please have a mask readily available (around your neck, not in your pocket) and be prepared to carefully pull it up and over your mouth and nose at any time.
Parents, please remind your children that the rules apply to them as well. Together, we can meet the challenges that face us all during these unprecedented times.
The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team will hold a public meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, May 19, 11:00 a.m.). It will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and broadcast on Cablevision channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Emails to the Advisory Team may be sent to email@example.com.
The town of Westport will streamline and expedite the process for applicants seeking approval of outdoor dining. The application form and a detailed description of the rules will be available on the town’s P&Z website this week (www.westportct.gov/pnz).
Applications will be approved with an expected response time within 10 days of the receipt date. The Planning & Zoning Commission has waived requirements for hearings on these applications, to allow for an expedited reopening of outdoor dining in Westport.
The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team is working with Westport retailers and the Selectman’s Office for administrative approvals on the use of town property for the outdoor display of retail goods.
As Westport begins to reopen, town officials are working on rules for the outdoor display of retail goods. (Photo/Molly Alger)
Tax Relief Program Reminder
The tax relief program application for April’s tax payment is due this Friday (May 22). The deadline for the July payment is July 1. Click here for more information.
Westport Weston Health District Update
Westport-Weston Health District executive director Mark Cooper reports:
Phase 1 of reopening Connecticut businesses begins next week. The WWHD has been hard at work contributing to both state and town planning efforts, as well as training for the anticipated surge in testing and contact tracing.
Widespread testing and contact tracing are key components of a successful and steady reopening process. Our community health staff will perform contact tracing for our community. While some municipalities across Connecticutrely on the State Department of Public Health to do the tracing, the WWHD expects to have the ability to manage the volume of calls in-house.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Westport and Weston, WWHD staff has been contact tracing infected individuals. We anticipate that the number of positive tests will increase with widespread testing, so capacity has been augmented accordingly.
Staff will be joined in the efforts by the Westport Public School nurses, who have generously volunteered to help our community with this important work. Additionally, Medical Reserve Corps volunteers have answered the call for assistance. We are grateful for all of these knowledgeable volunteers.
This team effort will enable the Health District to reach out to impacted individuals to educate them on safe practices, self-isolation measures, and to answer any questions.
This Wednesday — May 20 — marks the day Connecticut restaurants can reopen for more than curbside takeout and delivery .
There are restrictions: For example, outdoor dining only is permitted; there is no bar service. Tables must be 6 feet apart.
That should be good news for owners, employees and diners. The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus.
Le Penguin’s mascots are making it through the pandemic. Like restaurant owners all over town, their owners are figuring out how to adapt to new state reopening regulations. (Photo/Marcy Sansolo)
But don’t expect a rush of al fresco options 2 days from now. Several steps — beyond simply configuring space (and ordering single-use menus) — must be taken first.
Westport Planning & Zoning chair Danielle Dobin notes that Governor Lamont has temporarily suspended municipal laws regulating outdoor dining. So instead of the traditional permitting process, restaurateurs here must submit a simple application to P&Z director Mary Young.
Westport Police and Fire Department officials, along with the Westport Weston Health District, must sign off on each application. Restaurants that already have outdoor dining must apply too, ensuring they comply with revised health regulations.
Romanacci already has an outdoor dining permit. Under new regulations, tables — shown here last year — now must be 6 feet apart. (Photo/Dan Woog)
Lamont’s executive order “provides tremendous flexibility to restaurants looking to create an outdoor dining space,” Dobin says.
“Normal requirements for parking and setbacks have been waived. Restaurants can even explore using neighboring properties or parking lots, so long as the owners of those properties approve of the plan.
“Residents should expect restaurants all over the state to create larger outdoor dining areas than in the past. Our outdoor restaurant spaces will often look and feel a bit different.”
Sherwood Diner prepares for outdoor dining. (Photo/Dan Woog)
You won’t hear a lot of live music, however. Previous noise regulations remain in effect.
Dobin says that the board of selectmen are also looking at “the creative use of certain town roads to facilitate outdoor dining and outdoor shopping.”
Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, is the restaurant liaison for the ReOpen Westport Advisory Team. On Friday he led a Zoom call, with over 3 dozen restaurant owners.
Restaurant owners and town officials joined a conference call on Friday.
“Our restaurant owners are committed to providing a safe environment for their guests,” Dobin says.
“There is no rush to reopen. Many owners will take their time. I hope that all of our residents are supportive and patient with our fabulous Westport restaurants, as they find their way in this new world.”
“This is not a race,” Mandell agrees. “Slow and steady will win this one. The goal of ensuring health and safety for customers, staff and owners will ultimately lead to everyone’s success.”
The Reopen Westport Advisory Team kicked off its first meeting this morning with a presentation by someone who knows as much about COVID-19 as anyone in the country: former FDA commissioner (and neighbor) Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
A frequent guest on news shows throughout the pandemic, the Westport resident spoke for more than half an hour — first presenting his own thoughts, then answering questions.
Dr. Gottlieb said:
Reopening the country is taking place against a backdrop of “much more spread than we initially expected.” However, the tri-state areas as seen “sustained reductions.”
Live, from his Westport home office, it’s Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Cablevision Channel 79.
When local communities open, they’ll face both opportunities and challenges. It helps that the weather is getting better. Outdoor activities are better than indoor ones. That includes not just restaurant seating, but even businesses that can move activities into parking lots and “onto Main Street” (he used the term generically, rather than specifically our own).
Businesses will want to show customers and clients that they are doing robust testing.
There may be less of a spread of COVID-19 this summer, but there is risk of a new outbreak — maybe even another epidemic — in the fall. The good news is, there will be better screening, robust testing, and some forms of treatment — perhaps even an experimental vaccine — then.
In terms of children, “we don’t know if millions of kids have had this yet, or hundreds.” There are two schools of thought: youngsters are not getting sick, or they are but show no symptoms. More and better testing will lead to a better understanding of risks of, say, opening summer camps and summer school so that parents can return to work.
Regarding the May 20 date of Phase One for the state’s reopening, Dr. Gottlieb said that although nationally we’re not where we wanted to be in terms of numbers of infections, “regionally we are. Connecticut has seen sustained declines. We may be at a low level of sustained infections.
“There will always be risks and transmissions. There may be a bump in new cases as we reopen. But people will move outside. People will be cautious. They won’t move around as much.”
On Friday, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe announced the formation of a ReOpen Westport Advisory Team.
This afternoon he provided more details on the group. Their charge is to advise him “on issues relating to the reopening of our local economy and community as we navigate the risks of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.”
The team includes:
Jennifer Tooker, 2nd Selectwoman (chair)
John Bayers, director of human resources and general administration, Westport Public Schools
Mark Cooper, director, Westport Weston Health District
Jen Fava, director, Westport Parks & Recreation Department
Sara Harris, operations director, Town of Westport
Foti Koskinas, chief of the Westport Police Department
Mary Young, director, Planning & Zoning Department
Randy Herbertson, president, Westport Downtown Merchants Association
Matthew Mandell, executive director, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce
Brian Stern, Chair, Board of Finance.
2nd selectman Jennifer Tooker, ReOpen Westport Advisory Team chair
The Advisory Team will focus on working with the local business community. It will not make regulatory decisions.
Westport will “generally follow the guidelines issued by the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group and Governor Lamont,” Marpe says.
“However, there will likely be operational issues that will arise with our local business owners through this gradual reopening phase. The Advisory Team will seek feedback from them and assist in their understanding of the guidelines as the businesses transition through this uncertain period.”
The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team will seek input from local business and community leaders in these areas, though more may be added later:
Restaurants, bars and delis
Salons and spas
Houses of worship
Day care and preschool
Dealerships and auto repair shops.
The Westport Weston Family YMCA is sure to be one of the groups providing input to the ReOpen Westport Advisory Team.
Marpe adds, “This team of operational experts will be in communication with our local business owners in an effort to guide them through issues that will undoubtedly arise in the coming months.”
The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team’s first public meeting/work session is this Wednesday (May 6, 11 a.m.). It will be live streamed on www.westportct.gov, and aired on Cablevision Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020. The public is invited to view the meeting.
The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday, 1st Selectman Marpe announced the formation of a ReOpen Westport Advisory Team. Members will “seek input from local business and community leaders” so that the community can move forward “in both an overall and segmented way.”
2nd Selectman Jen Tooker chairs the group. More details about the ReOpen team — including, presumably, members — will be announced Monday.
Marpe says, “Westport will continue taking the lead from the state of Connecticut and health experts, but will simultaneously ensure that the status of COVID-19 and the local needs within Westport take precedence to any re-opening decisions.”
Most Post Road businesses remain closed. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)
A wee — but welcome — bit of Westport returns today.
There’s curbside ordering only (via joeysbytheshore.com). You’ll need to keep your social distance too, of course.
But there’s no better place to do it than there, and no better folks to do it for than Joey Romeo and Betsy Kravitz.
Betsy Kravitz, Joey Romeo and …
… a very happy customer. (Photos/Dan Woog)
Readers: on your marks!
The Westport Library has announced a Summer Reading Challenge. There are 25 “challenge lists.” The goal is to read at least one book from as many challenges as you can.
There’s a form to submit after each one — and a leader board, because hey, there are no baseball standings to follow.
The challenges are challenging. They include a book that spans generations; that makes you laugh (and another that makes you cry); about an election; from the teen collection, and about a battle. Click here for all 25.
The “competition” runs through September 7.
Sure, the weather is beautiful this weekend. But if you’re looking for another reason (besides COVID-19) to stay inside, here’s one: Complete the census.
This weekend, as I’m sure you know, is Census Digital Action Weekend. I’m not sure what that means, but click here for the link.
Stan Witkow provides another update on his weekly Thursday Virtual Bingo game. (That’s the one where anyone can join — and the winner chooses a charity to get the buy-in pot.)
This week they surged past $1,200 overall. The recipient was Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. The “house” made a special $25 donation to the Connecticut Food Bank too.
For more information, email Stan@witkow.com.
A scene from the Virtual Bingo game.
The Staples High School girls soccer team is collecting food for the Gillespie Center.
Needs include canned chicken, low-sugar cereal, canned vegetables (low sodium), canned fruit (low sugar), peanut butter and jelly, dry mil envelopes, pasta sauce, rice, hearty soup, mac and cheese, crackers, salad dressing, and ketchup, mustard and mayo.
Toiletries and cleaning supplies like shampoo, soap, deodorant, tooth care and feminine products, dish soap, laundry detergent, sponges, cleaners and bleach are great too.
The drop-off location is 12 Indian Hill Road. For more information, email email@example.com.
And finally … it’s Saturday! So of course tonight that means:
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Or Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)