Tag Archives: Saugatuck Island

Scenes From A Storm: Part 3

Just before noon, Eversource reported 784 Westport customers without power. That’s 6.18% of the town.

In Weston, 366 customers lacked electricity — 9.39% of the town.

Statewide, the total was 85,360 — 6.61% of all Connecticut customers.

Canal Road and Beach (Photo/Gene Borio)

Saugatuck Island (Photo/Bobbi Essagof)

New Creek Road, near Beachside Avenue (Photo/Jacque O’Brien)

Parker Harding Plaza, from inside Lululemon … (Photo/Jennifer Johnson)

… while inside, shoppers flocked to make last-minute purchases. They used the Main Street entrance. (Photo/Jennifer Johnson)

Saugatuck River at Taylor Place parking lot. (Photo/Jennifer Johnson)

One tree took down 2 others on its way down, near Cross Highway. (Photo/David Pogue)

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Among the many trees down in today’s storm: an oak on Compo Road North. It was heavier than it looked, with all kinds of vines.

Roger Wolfe called his friend Terry Brannigan. He and his son Terry Jr. came right over, and took care of it.

The Brannigans, to the rescue. (Photos/Roger Wolfe)

“That’s the kind of people they are,” Roger says.

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Partrick Lane (Photo courtesy of Chip Stephens)

Grove Point flooding crested around 11:15 a.m. (Photo/John Kantor)

Homes at Old Mill Beach, (Photo/Matt Murray)

Gloria in Gray’s Creek (Photo/Gene Fignar)

The storm was not yet over this morning. But utility crews were already out on Rex Lane off Greens Farms Road, putting up a new pole. (Photo/Jacque O’Brien)

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The Westport Office of Emergency management says:

Temperatures will quickly drop below freezing, and are expected to remain below freezing until Tuesday.

In the event of flash freezing, Fire Chief Michael Kronick says: “If you must travel, keep a flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. Allow extra time as some roads may be icy and dangerous if untreated. Please do not drive around barricades or through waters of unknown depth.”

If you lose power to your home during freezing temperatures, follow these steps:

Notify Eversource of an outage: https://www.eversource.com/cg/customer/reportoutage

Now is the time to check your generators and charge your devices in the event of a power outage. Have a battery powered radio on hand.

Stay Safe! Never go near downed power lines including cable TV feeds. They may be live with deadly voltage.

 Stay Warm! On top of dressing in layers and huddling under extra blankets, hang your darker ones on the windows to draw in heat. Keep doors and windows closed and use towels to block drafts around them. If necessary, move to your basement, which may be more insulated by the ground.

Never use charcoal grills or camp stoves indoors. Deaths have occurred when consumers burned charcoal or used camp stoves in enclosed spaces, which produced lethal levels of carbon monoxide.

Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors, and vents. Read and follow instructions on the generator label and in the owner’s manual. Any electrical cables you use with the generator should be free of damage and suitable for outdoor use.

Use caution with candles. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave the room.

Listen for updates. If you’re using a cellphone, choose texting over calling to keep phone lines free, or use your landline. Save 911 for emergencies.

Sign up for local EMERGENCY ALERTS: Text 06880 to 888777. Or sign up now at www.nixle.com

 

 

Roundup: Ukraine, Roe v. Wade, Art …

How does Ukraine’s geography impact its history? What about its natural resources? Why is it fighting so fiercely for its independence, and why does Russia covet it so?

In other words: What do we need to know about Ukraine’s past, to understand what’s happening there today and tomorrow?

This Monday (May 9, 7 p.m., in-person and Zoom), we can all learn together.

The Westport Library hosts “Understanding Ukraine: Past, Present and Future.” Professor Walter Zaryckyj — director of the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations — will provide insights into this fascinating and important country that most of us know only through recent news reports and images.

It’s a great way to learn about the geography and history — long-ago and just-before-February — that most of us never learned or knew.

“06880” is a co-sponsor of the event. I’ll moderate the discussion, and lead a question-and-answer period at the end with Professor Zaryckyj.

Click here to register for a spot in the Library Forum. Click here for a Zoom link. Click here to learn more about Professor Zaryckyj.

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Spring is the perfect time for ice cream.

Actually, any time is the perfect time for ice cream.

But the coming of spring also heralds the arrival of Gofer Ice Cream. Westport’s newest shop opens soon at 1240 Post Road East. It takes over the former Silver Ribbon location, near (among others) Fortuna’s, Greens Farms Spirit Shop, a vape store and COVID testing center.

Inklings — the Staples High School newspaper, which first reported the story — says that when Gofer opens this spring, it will feature premium hard and soft serve ice cream, plant-based and fat-free options, smoothies, cakes and more.

Gofer’s other locations include Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Riverside, Stamford and Wilton.

What took Westport so long? What are we, chopped liver?

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Yesterday’s “06880” story on Westport neighborhoods included this line about the “Private/Residents Only” sign on Saugatuck Island: “Fun fact: No other Westport neighborhood has an actual ‘entrance.'”

Ken Stamm sent along a photo showing another sign, a couple of miles away:

(Photo/Ken Stamm)

It’s not actually an “entrance” to Saugatuck — there’s no such thing — but it is certainly more welcoming than “Private/Residents Only.”

There’s only one problem: As Ken notes, the sign faces the I-95 on-ramp.

It should say, he writes, “Thanks for visiting Saugatuck!” Drivers who see it are those coming from Saugatuck, on their way out of the neighborhood.

On the other hand, it is a very handsome sign.

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Just a few hours after news leaked of a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision in a case challenging Roe v. Wade, several protestors headed to Westport’s political town square: the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. A number of passing drivers honked horns in support.

‘Deb Noonan and Nancy Aldrich were among the protestors yesterday on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.(Photo/Bobbi Essagof)

Last week, Connecticut’s General Assembly passed a first-in-the-nation bill. It will protect medical providers and patients seeking abortion care here, who may travel from states that have outlawed abortion. It also expands the type of practitioners eligible to perform certain abortion-related care in Connecticut. Governor Lamont has said he will sign the bill.

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Our town has plenty of art shows. One of the best is at the Westport Woman’s Club

This year’s event is May 21 and 22 (2 to 6 p.m.), at their 44 Imperial Avenue clubhouse.

Among the local artists there with their works: Ola Bossio, Trace Burroughs, Ann Chernow, Susan Fehlinger, Larry Gordon, Tom Kretsch, Arpad Krizsan, Paul Larson, Erzsebet Laurinyecz, Jena Maric, Jon Puzzuoli, Peter Savarine, Gay Schempp, Oksana Tanasiv and Larry Untermeyer.

There’s music by a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee (guess who!), and refreshments too. Proceeds support the Woman’s Club’s charitable work — now in its 115th year.

The Westport Woman’s Club opens its doors on May 21-22 for their annual art show.

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Boys lacrosse gets plenty of press (and the Staples High School team is one of the best in the state). But what about girls lax?

Last Saturday was PAL Appreciation Night. Families of young players tailgated, then supported the high school varsity  and JV girls teams against Trumbull, under the Paul Lane Stadium lights.

The PAL program’s mission is to create a fun, safe and respectful environment for girls to learn skills. The goal is to instill in players of all abilities a for the game, respect for teammates, personal responsibility, a healthy competitive spirit, an understanding of good sportsmanship and fun for everyone.

Teams are open to girls who live in or attend school in Westport. New players are welcome. No one is cut.

For information on summer clinics and the fall program, email  westportpalgirlslax@gmail.com or click here.

Westport PAL lacrosse players, at Paul Lane Stadium.

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MyTeamTriumph — the great organization that pairs children, teens and adults with disabilities (“captains”) with volunteers (“angels”) who help them participate in triathlons and road races — invites everyone to a jewelry party fundraiser.

Allison Daniel/UpNorth CT hosts the social event-and-more on June 8 (4 to 7 p.m., Sconset Square). There are great designs, in a tremendous variety, at many price points, plus snacks, wine and fun.

Attendees receive a 10% discount on jewelry. A percentage of sales goes to myTreamTriumph-CT. Click here for ideas.

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Mark Mathias spotted today’s “Westport … Naturally” scene near downtown.

There will be baby cygnets soon. If you see the mom now — or her and her babies later — please keep your distance!

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

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And finally … on this day in 1953, Ernest Hemingway won a Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea.

Who of course was a completely different guy from …

 

There Goes The Neighborhood

Sure, you live in Westport.

But you also live in Greens Farms. Maybe Coleytown. Or Saugatuck.

Those are a few of the neighborhoods that make up our town. Some are long established, predating our founding in 1835. Some are newer, the result of growth or realtors’ whims.

All are part of ‘06880.”

Karen Scott knows Westport neighborhoods as well as anyone. A co-founder of KMS Partners @ Compass, the other day she took me on a (phone) tour of town.

The Mid-Fairfield County Board of Realtors defines 13 distinct Westport neighborhoods. Besides the 3 mentioned above, there are a few everyone recognizes: Old Hill and Compo Beach, for example. Some are less well known, like Red Coat in the far northwest, Long Lots, Roseville/North Avenue and Compo South (see map below).

(Map courtesy of Mid-Fairfield County Board of Realtors)

A couple are new. Hunt Club (from the Fairfield border and Cross Highway west to Bayberry and south to the Post Road) and Compo Commons (the smallest of all, more commonly known as Gault).

But 2 caught my eye. One is In-Town. The area between the Merritt Parkway, Saugatuck River, Post Road and Roseville Road — with, among others, North Compo and all its side streets — has, with the influx of families from Manhattan and Brooklyn, suddenly become very desirable.

They like the proximity to downtown — they can walk there in theory, if not practice. Until recently though, no one lived “In-Town.” They just lived “close to town.”

Washington Avenue, an “In-Town” neighborhood. (Photo/Google Street View)

The other relatively new name is “Saugatuck Island.” When I was a kid, there was just “Saugatuck Shores.” (And houses there were among the cheapest in Westport. Some were not winterized. Who wanted to live way out there, anyway?!)

But a while ago — no one is sure when — some residents living beyond the wooden bridge decided to become even more exclusive than what had then become the already prestigious Saugatuck Shores.

Hence “Saugatuck Island.” One long-time and embarrassed resident cringes every time she hears it. But there it is, complete with a large sign at the entrance. (Fun fact: No other Westport neighborhood has an actual “entrance.”)

(Photo/Gene Borio)

Karen Scott says that neighborhoods are a good way to describe Westport. “Everyone has preferences,” she notes. “Some people want land, not neighbors. Others don’t want a lot of land. Some prefer near the beach, or close to town. Some want to be close to amenities. Some want to be close to the train station, I-95 or the Merritt” — though with COVID, commuting convenience is less of a concern these days.

The hot real estate market has cooled the “neighborhood” concept a bit, she says. “When there aren’t a lot of homes for sale, some people say, ‘I don’t care. I just want to be in Westport.'”

The neighborhood concept itself has evolved (and become more formalized). At one time, Karen says, areas of town were designated by school districts. (That was probably easier when there were 3 junior highs — Bedford [now Saugatuck Elementary School], Coleytown and Long Lots — rather than just 2 middle schools, located a mile from each other.)

The Long Lots neighborhood has been “sub-divided.” It now includes the Hunt Club area.

As a realtor, Karen Scott is used to describing Westport’s 13 “official” neighborhoods, then squiring clients around to those that sound interesting.

Some buy in neighborhoods they took a quick liking to. Others end up in ones they did not originally consider.

But for all its different neighborhoods, Westport is really one big small town. And most people, Karen says, find “joy and happiness” all over, once they’re here.

Wherever that is.

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Sunrise on Saugatuck Island (Photo//Diane Yormark)

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Enjoying Saugatuck Island ,,, (Photo/Bobbi Essagof)

… and Cooper at Compo (Photo/Dan Kahn)

Roundup: Real Estate, Eggs, Floods, More

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Just how hot was last year’s real estate market?

  • 2020 sales were up 76%, compared to 2019.
  • Average sales price versus list price is up 10%.
  • Average days on market is down 30%.
  • And the January 2021 inventory is down 45%, compared to January 2020.

That’s as crazy as GameStop. (Hat tip: Judy Michaelis)

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Ally Lipton McArthur grew up here. For the past 15 years she has owned and operated Herb-n-Peach, a catering/event planning company in New York.

She and her husband moved back to the area in June. She’s expanding her business locally.

Ally’s mother (Marilynn Blotner) and sister (Stacey Lipton Schumer) own Soleil Toile, the popular lingerie/swimwear stores in Westport and New Canaan.

All 3 have pivoted their businesses during COVID. While brainstorming ways to incorporate something delicious (“the best chocolate chip cookies ever”) and wearable (lingerie), they hit upon a Valentine’s Day idea.

“Treat yourself — and share with a loved one!” they say.

Their “Valentines Share the Love Box” of sweets, love and undies includes 2 Hanky Panky (regular rise) one-sized thongs in curated Valentine colors, plus 6 scrumptious herb-n-peach chocolate chip cookies (milk chocolate, white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chip).

Click here to order online ($55) by Wednesday, February 10. Boxes will be available for pickup at Soleil Toile’s 2 locations. They can also be shipped ($12). For free local delivery, email ally@herbnpeach.com.

You can also buy at Soleil Toile on the weekend of February 13-14 (until the treats run out).

As for “sharing the love”: 10% of all sales go to Pink Aid.

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For decades, the Belta family has taken care of Westporters. Their Bayberry Lane farm is a treasured, wonderful (and under-rated) source for fresh produce.

The Beltas take care of more than just humans. Yesterday — when the temperature barely nudged 20 — John Karrel saw this sign:

(Photo/John Karrel)

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Saugatuck Island is a glorious place to live.

But nowhere is perfect. Residents put up with regular flooding.

The canal overflows when it rains. Occasionally it takes only a sprinkle.

Sometimes — as islanders saw yesterday, when the weather was perfectly fine all over town — all it takes is a full moon and high tide.

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

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And finally … on this day in 1865, Congress passed the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery. It was ratified less than a year later, on December 6.

Friday Flashback #193

Jeff Manchester knows his onions.

The former Staples High School wrestling star — now a resident of Saugatuck Shores — writes:

When I was at the original Saugatuck Elementary School in the mid-1970s on Bridge Street, one of the field trips took us on a tour of the town.

The teachers pointed out an onion barge buried in the mud by the Cribari Bridge not far from the school. Today it is still visible. I point it out to my kids at low tide. Do your readers know anything more about this barge?

The barely visible sunken vessel.

But Jeff is not through with onions. He adds:

Interestingly enough, my back yard is on a canal that was dredged at the turn of the last century, for the purposes of a safer route for Westport’s onion farmers.

The page Jeff provides proof — and a history of how “Saugatuck Island” was formed:

t! There’s more! Jeff sends along this story by Gregg Mangan, from ConnecticutHistory.org:

Westport is a quiet beachfront town along Connecticut’s southern coast known for its pristine views of Long Island Sound, its upscale shopping, and its close proximity to New York City.

Many attributes that make Westport a desirable residential community, however, once made it home to a thriving onion farming industry. Boats and railroad cars full of onions from Westport and the surrounding area once flooded the markets of New York.

Around the time of the Civil War, the town of Westport began to commercially farm onions. In April of every year farmers drilled rows of holes 12 inches apart for sowing onions. They separated the abundant rocks from the soil by using machines and rakes or, sometimes, by hand.

Westport farmers originally fertilized the crops using local sources of manure, but the rapid expansion of the industry required the importation of commercial fertilizers along with railroad cars full of manure from horse stables in New York. Local farmers then stored harvested onions in barns where they covered them in hay and cornstalks until eventually adopting the use of heated onion houses.

Onion carriage

For the first weeding of onions, an onion carriage, patent number 247,856 by J.C. Taylor, Westport

Horse and oxen teams then carried the onions to the shipping docks. There, men like Captain John Bulkley and his brother Peter piloted their schooners full of onions, oats, butter, eggs, hats, and combs to New York from which they returned with flour, molasses, sugar, mackerel, rum and gin. During the busiest parts of the season, two boats from nearby Southport and one from Westport made weekly trips to New York, complemented by 1 or 2 boatloads of goods shipped by rail.

Southport white, yellow and red globe onions all developed around the Westport area and became staples of the local diet. In New York, yellow and red onions sold for $1.50 per barrel and higher, while white onions commanded as much as $10 per barrel. Westport onion farmers like Talcott B. and Henry B. Wakeman (who lived on opposite sides of the road from one another) helped make Westport onions some of the most popular agricultural products in the Northeast.

The most prosperous years for onion farming in Westport lasted from around 1860 until 1885. By the end of the century, however, the rising costs of fertilizers and competition from larger farming enterprises largely brought an end to the commercial industry in Westport. Farmers then grew onions primarily for the local population, which now included numerous German and Irish immigrants who came to the area to work on the onion farms.

After the decline of the industry, wealthy urbanites slowly developed the farmland for summer homes and permanent housing away from the noise and pollution of the city. This transition from farm land to residential suburb helped mold much of the town’s character into what it is today.

(Courtesy of Edible Nutmeg)

PS: If you remember Onion Alley, now you know the name did not just fall out of the sky.

Pic Of The Day #1112

Honoring front line personnel on Saugatuck Island (Photo/Gene Borio)

Pic Of The Day #866

Sunrise over Saugatuck Island (Photo/Howard Edelstein)

Pic Of The Day #750

Saugatuck Island bus shelter (Photo/Gene Borio)