Tag Archives: Riverside Park

Photo Challenge #418

My Christmas gift to Photo Challenge enthusiasts last Sunday was posting an easy image.

Eric Bosch’s shot showed 4 empty chairs, in a row on the ground. (Click here to see.) 

As readers quickly interrupted their holiday meals to note, they’re by the Saugatuck River at Riverside Park (near the Riverside Avenue/Saugatuck Avenue split).

They were there before the spot was renovated. They’re there still, providing new and old visitors alike with a calming view up and down the waterway.

Congratulations, and a time of Santa’s hat to Mark Soboslai, Mark Mathias, Cathy Walsh, Andrew Colabella, Ralph Balducci, Susan Katz, Johanna Keyser Rossi, Peggy O’Halloran, Bill Christiaanse, Linda Vita Velez and Joelle Malec, for nailing last week’s challenge.

This week’s photo shows (obviously) an AED. There are dozens of the life-saving devices, in schools and public places around town.

The question is: Where — based on the skimpy cropping on the sides — would you find this particular one?

A second question is: Why on earth would there be a lock on it, with a sign saying “Call 911 for Code”? In a situation where every second counts, fumbling for your phone, making that call, waiting for a dispatcher and then waiting longer for a code before unlocking the combination — could be the difference between life and death.

If there was a concern about theft: I can’t imagine someone stealing an AED.

And if they would: Well, karma’s a bitch.

Thank goodness someone had the smarts to open this lock before it’s needed.

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

 

Down By The Riverside …

Westport parks get lots of love.

Big ones like Longshore and Winslow bustle with activity. Smaller ones like Grace Salmon on Imperial Avenue are visited often too, by ardent fans.

For decades though, Riverside Park was an afterthought.

Tucked away near the busy Riverside Avenue/Saugatuck Avenue fork, it was easy to overlook. Trees and brush covered the entrance. Parking was limited. Hardly anyone knew that — past the overgrowth and weeds — lay a magnificent view of the Saugatuck River.

Riverside Park, before improvements.

Now they do.

A Parks & Recreation Department project removed invasive species and a few trees. A new design created truly open space, plus a wooded area with rocks.

It’s inviting. It’s handicap accessible.

And — even driving by — it’s easy to see the beautiful river.

For a small spot, Riverside Park has a long history. In the 1950s, it was where contractors dumped rocks as I-95 was built nearby.

In the 1970s, the town bought the land. At some point, officials thought, the Saugatuck fire station would be relocated there.

That never happened. It became a little used, barely maintained, often overlooked ugly stepchild.

No longer.

One view of the “new” Riverside Park …

Parks & Rec director Jen Fava is proud of the transformation. In addition to the removal of invasives and improved vistas, it includes new plantings, a pollinator garden and rain garden.

The I-95-era rocks have been been moved, to create a more natural look and feel. Some have been repurposed for seating.

The project also adds picnic tables; a permeable surface stable enough for people with wheelchairs and walkers; a new parking lot, and an extended sidewalk on Riverside Avenue.

The cost of the new park was $436,000. The parking lot and sidewalk were another $74,000, funded through the Department of Public Works.

… and another …

As with any municipal project, it did not happen overnight. The department worked with its Parks Advisory Committee and SLR Consulting on the design. It was approved by the Parks & Recreation Commission and Board of Finance.

“It’s important get people right down to the water,” Fava says. “And if we’re doing the work, we should make it as accessible for as many people as possible.”

Work began this summer. It’s almost complete.

Fava says that many Westporters are already enjoying the “new” Riverside Park.

And, she promises, “it will look especially great this spring.”

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… and a third. This one looks north.

Pic Of The Day #2027

Riverside Park (Photo/Ellen Horowitz)

Pic Of The Day #1617

Riverside Park (Photo/David Ader)

Saugatuck Fire Station On The Move?

Word on the street is that the Saugatuck fire station may move down the street.

The Riverside Avenue firehouse — located between Bridge Square and The Whelk, which looks like it’s been there since horses pulled fire wagons — is being considered for relocation a few yards north, near the VFW.

But — contrary to the fears of some local residents — the new site is not the small Riverside Park.

It’s 427 Riverside Avenue, next door. The town owns that vacant lot.

In fact, says Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury, the parcel was purchased in the 1970s with the intention of building a new fire station there. Instead, an addition was built at the current site.

Kingsbury would love the Saugatuck firehouse to remain where it is, on the river across from Phase II of the Gault redevelopment. “It’s a real cool place,” he says.

But it’s not deep enough for modern vehicles. Plus, it’s in a flood zone. During Hurricane Sandy, firefighters built a berm to protect generators and equipment. Still, the station suffered $15,000 damage.

The vacant lot at 427 Riverside Avenue.

The vacant lot at 427 Riverside Avenue.

Kingsbury says the town engineer has looked at the vacant lot at 427 Riverside. However, he notes, “we haven’t really started the process yet.”

That has not stopped area residents from creating a website: “Save Riverside Park.” The site warns of the destruction of “an oasis for Westport residents.”

Presumably that won’t happen if the firehouse is built not at the park, but next door. However, concerns about increased noise and “traffic pollution” would no doubt remain.

The website offers an alternative: Luciano Park.

I’m not so sure. That’s been an important (and green) part of Saugatuck since the turn of the century — the 20th century.

Luciano Park is home to a playground and softball field. It was also the site of the long-running Italian Festival, and a short-lived antiques market.

Luciano Park is home to a playground and softball field. It was also the site of the long-running Italian Festival, and a short-lived antiques market.

The website points to Luciano Park’s proximity to I-95 — a frequent destination for fire calls — as one more reason to put the station there. I’d argue that the added distance from Riverside Avenue — especially to the southbound entrance ramp — is negligible.

If all this sounds as if I’m pro-firehouse-at-427 Riverside: I’m not. But I would not want to see it at Luciano Park, either.

What I would like to see is a robust discussion of the future of the Saugatuck fire station. Click “Comments” to add your thoughts. Remember: please use your real, full name. And it would help to add where you live, so we can better understand where you are coming from.