Tag Archives: Sasco Creek Village

Westport Inn Proposal: Traffic And Safety Trump All

There are over 125 miles of roads in Westport. But through November 28 of this year, 6.4% of all reported traffic incidents happened on one small stretch of the Post Road: between Maple and Bulkley Avenues.

That’s the area with no traffic lights, and a couple of dangerous crosswalks. Four pedestrians have been killed there since 2008.

It’s also the spot where a developer hopes to tear down the Westport Inn, and replace it with a 200-unit apartment complex.

The heavily trafficked stretch of Post Road East near the Westport Inn. Sasco Creek Village is on the right; Lansdowne Condos (not shown) are on the left. (Photo/Google Street View)

The heavily trafficked stretch of Post Road East near the Westport Inn. Sasco Creek Village is on the right; Lansdowne Condos (not shown) are on the left. (Photo/Google Street View)

“This is not a NIMBY issue,” says a neighbor opposing the proposal. Jan Winston is president of the Lansdowne Condominium complex, across the street and a few yards east of the site.

Winston — a 28-year resident of the condos — points out that directly across from Lansdowne is the former “trailer park.” Now called Sasco Creek Village, it is being modernized — and enlarged. When completed next year, there will be 93 units of affordable housing, up from the current 72.

“There hasn’t been a peep from us” about the increased housing across the street, Winston says. “Many residents of Lansdowne fully support” affordable housing.

However, he notes, part of the what is driving the Westport Inn proposal is Connecticut’s Affordable Housing Statute. Known as “8-30G,” it allows developers to add “affordable units” that override local zoning regulations, in towns where less than 10 percent of the housing stock is considered affordable.

“You can’t put another 200 units there,” says longtime Lansdowne resident Mike Turin. “The number of cars accessing and exiting the Post Road in that area will be overwhelming.”

A drawing of the proposed apartment complex, as seen on Change.org.

A drawing of the proposed apartment complex, as seen on Change.org.

Winston and Turin know there is plenty of opposition to the new plan, for many reasons. Westporters are concerned about the impact on schools, wetlands, sewers and the height of the proposed complex. Winston also acknowledges that Westport is far from the state’s 10% affordable housing mandate.

However, he says, “this particular development — with 373 parking spaces for 200 units — is not the way to get there. It terrifies us.”

He foresees tremendous traffic issues. It’s simply too dense for the 2.4-acre property. Lansdowne, he  notes, has 90 units on 34 acres.

So where could the next affordable housing complex in Westport be built?

“I have no clue,” Winston admits. “I don’t pretend to be a surrogate for the P&Z.

“I just want to know 2 things. What are the rules — not only for affordable housing, but safety on this really dangerous stretch of road? And how does the town get to the right goal?”

 

 

The Trailer Park

As a young boy growing up on High Point Road, my Westport horizon was limited to Burr Farms Elementary School. It was a comfortable, secure place. Everyone there looked and acted just like me.

Things changed the 1st day of Long Lots Junior High.

I was a tiny 7th grader, surrounded by enormous 9th graders. The boys had facial hair; the girls had breasts. I sort of expected that.

But there was something new: students who’d gone to Green’s Farms Elementary. Most were like my Burr Farms friends.

A few came from “the trailer park.”

A recent view of the mobile homes at 1655 Post Road East. (Photo/Paul Schott, Westport News)

Their clothes were slightly different. Not a lot — but just enough, in the ultra-status conscious world of junior high, to be noticeable.

They hung out together.

They smoked cigarettes.

Gradually, I got to know the kids from “the trailer park.” Some were nice and funny and smart; others were not. Just like everyone else at Long Lots.

One thing never changed, though. I never went to any of their homes. I never set foot in “the trailer park.”

I thought of that the other day, when I read that the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to demolish the final 33 trailers — now called “mobile homes” — that still sit, very immobile, at 1655 Post Road East.

They’ll be replaced by 54 rental units, in 3-story buildings. It’s an important step forward, upgrading facilities while increasing Westport’s affordable housing stock.

The news also made me take an important look back.

Decades have passed since my junior high days. But I still think of 1655 Post Road East as “the trailer park.”

And I realize how little I cared about the lives of my fellow Long Lots students, about a mile away from my comfortable High Point Road home.

Grilling The Barbecuers

Like a long cookout, this summer’s controversy over barbecues at Westport Housing Authority properties has simmered for a while — but may once again burst into flames.

A few weeks ago tenants at Hidden Brook, Sasco Creek Village and Hales Court learned of a ban on grills. The reason:  a Sasco Creek fire in July  destroyed 2 trailers.

Residents countered that 1 case of negligence should not result in wide-scale penalties.

A Housing Authority resident recently contacted “06880.”  The email said:

I live in Hales Court.  Well I did, until I was relocated while they demolished the houses and built new ones.  I got a letter from WHA a couple of weeks ago, as did the rest of the people that rent from them, regarding barbecues on the property.  They will no longer be allowed on any property owned by WHA.

There was a meeting with just the residents of Hales Court, and we discussed it.  They have built decks/patios on all the new houses. The Westport Housing says it is a public safety issue.  I said I didn’t agree with them.

They cited an incident that happened in the trailer park on the 4th of July.  A person with a gas grill, but using charcoal in it, had the grill up against the trailer.  Apparently the trailer caught fire and destroyed another trailer.  Luckily no one was hurt.

I grill all the time and have never had a fire.  I don’t know anyone who has.  I understand the standard is a grill must be 10 feet from a building.  Although I’m sure there are some fires, just as there are a million other home accidents.  It doesn’t mean it is a public safety issue.

They went on to point out an explosion with a gas truck, and how horrible that was.  I would say that is a terrible accident, but nothing to do with us.  We are getting new gas lines underground for our new houses — what about the recent gas line explosion in California?  Are we to consider the gas lines unsafe?

You can see where I’m going with this.  There are so many things — candles, stoves, etc.

They invited us to go to board meeting on Monday (Sept. 20, 7 p.m. at Canal Park).  They said they are still deciding.  Of course I plan to speak up, but I don’t want to be considered a troublemaker.

For that reason, the writer asked that I not use his or her name.

First the residents fear their grilling rights will be taken away.

Then they worry that if they speak up, they might lose their homes.

This is a journey down streets of our town that most Westporters seldom see.