Tag Archives: Saugatuck Island

Pics Of The Day #1405

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)

Raising Alarms On Saugatuck Shores

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.”

(Photo/Gene Borio)

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.”

This gull tried — and rejected — this eel, photographer Gene Borio says.

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.

One of the many trucks that now backs down Canal Road. (Photo/Jeff Manchester)

They’re following confusing signs that should instead divert Canal Road traffic over the bridge on Harbor Road.

(Photo/Jeff Manchester)

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.”

Pic Of The Day #514

Saugatuck Island sunset (Photo/William Adler)

Saugatuck Island: A Bridge To Somewhere

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 …

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.

… and the new.

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.

The Saugatuck Island bridge, as seen from Canal Road.

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.”

Pics Of The Day #472

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.

(Photos/Gene Borio)