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Tag Archives: Saugatuck Island
The new bridge to Saugatuck Island has gotten lots of press (and praise).
But area residents are less pleased about another project on Saugatuck Shores.
Gene Borio reports on a culvert replacement project that has closed off Canal Road since earlier this month.
“Somehow,” he says, “the construction company missed out on the idea that if they completely close off ingress and egress of seawater to the pond for 2 months of estimated work, the pond might stagnate and start dying.”
When 3 eels floated to the surface, neighbors called the town. An emergency culvert was quickly installed.
But, Gene says, “the eels were so bad, even a gull wouldn’t eat them.”
He adds, “It’s definitely affecting life around here. Even on weekends, people think they can’t cross to get to the beach.”
They can, he says — if they don’t mind mud and obstructions.
Still, drivers constantly see a sign saying the bridge is closed, and turn around.
Saugatuck Shores resident Jeff Manchester is also concerned. Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of cars, oil trucks, boats and trailers and school buses have backed down Canal Road, he says.
They’re following confusing signs that should instead divert Canal Road traffic over the bridge on Harbor Road.
He recommends a simple solution: replace the “Bridge Closed” sign with the one used when the bridge was being renovated.
Otherwise, he warns, “we’ll see a vehicle in the canal.”
Alert “06880” reader, native Westporter — and active Saugatuck Island resident — William Adler writes:
In recent days, the Saugatuck Island bridge project has been given the final touches. Traffic is once again busy to and from this neighborhood on Westport’s westerly shores.
The Saugatuck Island Special Taxing District arranged for whitewashing of the bridge railings, and has restored landscaping that had been disrupted by heavy construction equipment.
The new bridge replaces a quaint timber structure of wooden pilings and rustic railings originally built in the 1920s.
The old bridge was well past its intended lifespan in 2012, when it suffered structural damage in Superstorm Sandy.
The total cost of $2.1 million includes a $1.3 million FEMA grant. The town and SISTD split the remainder 50-50. Construction began last year.
The new bridge retains the feel of its predecessor, while providing greater safety, practicality and rock-solid durability. The single span of concrete deck sits on steel girders, with an asphalt surface. It is secured on 50-foot deep sheet pile abutments clad in concrete.
96 feet long and 20 feet wide, the bridge can hold 20 tons – more than sufficient to accommodate heavy emergency equipment, unlike its wooden predecessor. The bridge’s anticipated life span is 75 years.
The bridge completion comes as Saugatuck Island has been experiencing a housing boom. During the past 5 years, about 1/3 of the approximately 100 properties on the island have changed hands. Prices range from $700,000 to $9.8 million.
Others have been expanded, elevated or otherwise enhanced. New construction has increased the number of larger, higher-end luxury residences.
In addition to 400 Westport residents, the island is home to Cedar Point Yacht Club, established in 1887, and the Saugatuck Shores Club (1946).
SISTD was established in 1984 to tax island property owners for local community costs — mainly road maintenance.
As for Saugatuck Island itself: Near the end of the 19th century, the Army Corps of Engineers cut a canal between what is now Canal Road and Spriteview Avenue, to provide a faster, safer route for onion farmers to transport their goods to Norwalk.
The newly formed island was called “Greater Marsh Shores at Saugatuck.”
Saugatuck Island resident Gene Borio sends along these photos of the approach to the newly renovated bridge on Harbor Road.
Inside the wooden bus stop, plaques honor Dean Powers and David Goldstick for their “skill and hard work beautifying our island.” An example of that beauty is found opposite the wooden structure.
Westport’s rock history includes some notable homes.
REO Speedwagon lived at 157 Riverside Avenue — and wrote a song about that now-demolished house.
Producer/musician Dan Hartman had a studio in an old sea captain’s home on Edgehill Road. He recorded Johnny and Edgar Winter there, and many others.
Now add another: Jeff Franzel’s house on Saugatuck Island.
It may soon be even more famous than the others. A couple of weekends ago, the beach house was filled with that music — plus pop, folk, country, reggae, even gospel.
None of the songs had ever been heard before. Hey — they’d only been written an hour or 2 earlier.
But some — or all — of them may one day top the charts.
Franzel’s Saugatuck Shores home (once owned by former 1st selectman Marty Hauhuth) was the site of America’s 1st-ever Songwriting Academy.
The brainchild of Martin Sutton — a British songwriter/producer who has worked with Backstreet Boys, LeAnn Rimes, Celine Dion, Olivia Newton-John, Lulu, Mike & The Mechanics and Idol winners worldwide — it’s a “boot camp” for musicians and lyricists looking to take their work to the next level.
In addition to songwriting, they learn about producing, publishing, marketing and contracts. It’s a collaborative but intense process — hence the nickname “songwriting boot camp.”
Sutton opened his academy in England a few years ago. Franzel — a Westport native who played piano for the Hues Corporation (“Rock the Boat”), Les Brown, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Mel Torme and Bob Hope, then wrote hits like “Don’t Rush Me” for Taylor Dayne, and others for the Temptations, NSYNC, Shawn Colvin, Josh Groban, Placido Domingo and Clay Aiken — partnered with Sutton to bring the academy to the US.
“We give them everything I wish I’d had when I started out as a busker,” Sutton says.
Which is how 15 already accomplished men and women, ages 20 through 68, came from across the country to Westport earlier this month. They spent Friday through Sunday learning about structure, form, hooks and arcs.
In the process, the group — some professional musicians, one an accountant, another a dentist; black, white and Hispanic — formed a tight, cohesive community.
From the moment they arrived, Franzel and Sutton coached them on how to create great songs. They teased out personal stories — the better to inspire their work. They critiqued them, pushed them, prodded them.
On Friday night, they shared music they’d already composed. On Saturday — just 24 hours later — they performed songs they’d written that day.
It was remarkable. The music was catchy. The lyrics were clever (one song was titled “Twice Upon a Time” — you won’t forget that). The performers were on fire.
Some had already achieved musical success. Michael Read has played with the Turtles, Mitch Ryder and Three Dog Night. Still, he says, “I want to get better. I start songs, but I don’t always finish them.”
Ykesha Milbourne belted out a spectacular gospel tune, “Can You See the Light in Me?” Sutton told her, ” I can see 50 women in robes holding candles swaying behind you.”
Before the song was finished, the other 14 academy students joined in the chorus. They’d never heard it before — but clearly, it was a song that could endure.
“We give you tools, not rules,” Sutton told the group. “This is like giving a sculptor the best hammer, chisel and marble. Then it’s up to him to put his imagination to work.”
The Songwriting Academy is expanding. There will be other locations in the US, and Europe.
But in the months and years ahead, when you hear a hit song, it might have been born by the beach on Saugatuck Island.
Which may or may not be a catchy enough line for a hook of its own.
No, not that one. The Cribari Bridge (aka Bridge Street Bridge) project is still a long way from resolution, let alone beginning.
But over on Saugatuck Shores, the Saugatuck Island bridge is getting a much-needed replacement.
Neighborhood resident Gene Borio sends along a couple of photos.
The new bridge will look like the old one, he says. It will retain its arch — vital for boat owners.
Power lines must come down while new pilings are put in. Meanwhile, Saugatuck Island residents will run off a giant generator.
The bridge is out until May (at least). Fortunately, there’s an alternate route onto the island: Canal Road.
Unless it’s flooded.
Alert — and very talented — “06880” photographer Betsy P. Kahn had a busy day today. She shot 3 fantastic waterside scenes: Saugatuck Island, Gray’s Creek and the Longshore marina.
The air was cold. The sun was setting. But Betsy nailed it! (Click on or hover over any photo to enlarge.)