Tag Archives: Save the Sound

Roundup: Beach Ratings, STG Jellybeans, Downtown Art …

Save the Sound has just released grades for more than 200 Connecticut, Long Island and New York state beaches.

Local and regional health departments collect fecal indicator bacteria samples during the swimming months. High counts of fecal indicator bacteria and related pathogens can make people sick, and can be associated with untreated sewage or polluted storm water entering the waters at or near a beach.

Rain often brings polluted storm water to Long Island Sound beaches. Precipitation in the area from May to August 2021 — the period covered by the ratings — were the highest recorded since 2003, when the project began.

And the results:

  • Burying Hill Beach: A+
  • Sherwood Island State Park: A
  • Compo Beach: B+
  • Old Mill: “Not found.”

Click here for the full report.

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Next week, Staples Tuition Grants will hand out $400,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors and current college students.

That’s a lot of money. It’s the result of a lot of donations and fundraising.

One of those efforts is this weekend, during the Westport Fine Arts Festival. STG has a booth on Main Street, by J. Crew. For $10, you can guess the number of blue and white (naturally) jellybeans in the jar.

The jar will then appear at the Memorial Day parade, and will be at Summer Shopping Day in front of Manna Toast on June 18.

Winners get part of the prize, and gift certificates to local restaurants. The bulk of the money helps fund STG grants. The contest ends June 22.

How many jellybeans? Start counting!

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As noted above, this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), downtown will hum with the 49th annual Westport Fine Arts Festival.

The weekend after that (Saturday, June 4, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.), the Sorelle Gallery on Church Lane hosts artists Julia Contacessi and Michele Poirier-Mozzone for their new “Light Affects” show, with an opening reception.

Click here to learn more.

Julia Contacessi and Michele Poirier-Mozzone. 

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Irises are in season. And this beauty in a roadside Owenoke garden is perfect for a “Westport … Naturally” close-up.

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

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Despite the heaviest summer rain since Save the Sound started its beach rating system, Westport’s waters got pretty good grades (see story above).

Whew!

Roundup: Home Buyers, Save The Sound, Merritt Parkway …

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Is it true that every new Westport home buyer comes from Manhattan or Brooklyn?

No. It only seems that way.

According to Coldwell Banker realtor Judy Michaelis, 38% of Westport buyers in the 6 months between January 1 and June 30, 2021 came from … Westport.

Whether trading up, downsizing or moving closer to the beach or woods, nearly 4 in 10 new homeowners are actually still our neighbors.

The next biggest chunk — 17% — came from (yes) New York City.

That was followed by “other states” (15%), Stamford (10%), Norwalk and other Connecticut towns (8% each), New York state (3%) and Wilton (1%).

Wherever you’re from: Welcome to our town, 06880. And also to our “06880” blog.

Many New York City apartment dwellers come to Westport seeking more space.

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Save the Sound’s annual Connecticut Cleanup begins at the end of August, and runs through October.

It’s the largest volunteer effort of its kind in Connecticut. Last year, 1,495 volunteers took 7,498 pounds of trash out of 133 miles of coasts and streams.

This year, Save the Sound is adding a crowdsourcing effort to discover new cleanup sites. Westport is one of 15 communities already on the list for an event.

Click here to register, and for more information.

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Brian Keane is headed to the New England Music Hall of Fame.

The Emmy Award-winning film documentary composer — also a professional guitarist, film producer and Staples High School Class of 1971 graduate — joins a glittering case of 2021 inductees. They include the late Muddy Waters and his son, Mud Morganfield; blues greats James Cotton, James Montgomery and Duke Robillard, and John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band.

Connecticut Magazine features Keane this month. Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

Brian Keane

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For the past couple of years, the state Department of Transportation has been removing trees, bushes and buffering hills from the northbound side of Merritt Parkway Exit 41, near the Westport Weston Family Y.

Now they’re putting stuff back. It won’t look the same as it did before.

But it won’t look the way it did recently, either.

(Photo/Bob Mitchell)

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Speaking of nature: The Westport Garden Club’s #FridayFlowers arrangements are always gorgeous. This week they had competition, though — they had to look good in a place that’s already beautiful.

They do.

Check out the photo below, from one of Westport’s hidden jewels: the Wadsworth Arboretum. The arrangement comes courtesy of Dottie Fincher and Susan Nettesheim.

(Photo/Susan Nettesheim)

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Local to Market — the new artisan food-and-crafts store in the old Remarkable Book Shop — hosts a farm stand on their patio from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today (Saturday, July 31).

They feature Silverman’s Farm and Shaggy Coos farm. There’s fresh veggies including corn and peaches, fresh milk, and 2 local artists: pottery by Anna Aron and woodturnings by Dick Stein. A portion of all sales goes to charity.

In addition, Local to Market is looking for a store manager and sales associate. It’s a great chance to be part of the resurgence of Main Street — and help all kinds of local folks get to market (duh).

Email info@localtomarket.com for details.

The Local to Market patio opened recently, across from Cold Fusion.

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Also downtown this afternoon: Jack Eigen will be selling his ice cream (featured recently on “06880”) in front of New England Hemp Farm, in Brooks Corner.

There’s a connection: Colin Bannon, the hemp store owner, is Jack’s Staples High School lacrosse coach.

Just one more way in which Westport coaches go the extra mile for their players.

Jack Eigen, making ice cream.

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After Thursday’s rain, a couple of deer appeared at Lori Lustig’s house. This one didn’t know whether to be scared of — or play with — their dog “Ollie.”

And vice versa.

Just one more example of “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Lori Lustig)

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And finally … sure, Brian Keane earned fame (and Emmys) scoring music for documentary films.

But he’s also an accomplished jazz guitarist. He’s played with greats like Larry Coryell. Click below, to a enjoy a classic tune.

Burying Hill Is Sound

The 2021 Long Island Sound Beach Report was released this morning.  According to Save the Sound, 79% of the more than 200 Long Island Sound beaches earned “A” or “B” grades for water quality last year.

And there — listed in the Top 10 public beaches in Connecticut, based on water quality — is Westport’s own Burying Hill.

It and Stamford’s Quigley Beach were the only Fairfield County spots on the list.

Water quality at Burying Hill Beach is excellent. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Key findings of Save the Sound’s 2021 Long Island Sound Beach Report include:

  • That still leaves 16% of Sound beaches with moderate to poor grades. meaning more work must be done to improve water quality and avoid beach closures.
  • Rain is the primary driver for water pollution at area beaches. Water quality failure rates doubled when it rained, even 48 hours later.
  • Rain causes water quality failure for several reasons, including stormwater runoff or sewer line overflow when communities depend on combined stormwater/sewer lines, or have aging sewer lines with undetected leaks.
  • Climate change will mean more rain for the region. It is crucial to invest in stormwater and sewage infrastructure to avoid more beach closures.

Click here for Save the Sound’s interactive maps, listing beach water quality. The full Beach Report can be downloaded from there too.

Remembering Elise Maclay

Elise Maclay — a poet, writer, foodie, elegant dresser and accomplished traveler — died peacefully January 5, in her Westport home by Long Island Sound. She was 95.

She spent her final days looking over the water, surrounded by family and with a photo of her beloved husband David at her side.

Elise attended the College of William & Mary on a full scholarship. She majored in English, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and served as class poet until her death.

Elise had a successful early career in the heady Mad men days of advertising. She commuted to New York from Connecticut with 2 small children at home, gracefully navigating the mandatory 3-martini lunches in an otherwise male world.

She wrote copy for the prestigious BMW account — and once posed as the model for an ad she created, when the talent did not show up.

Elise Maclay

Elise’s poetry appeared in publications like Nature magazine. Her “Walk Softly” is often quoted by nature lovers.

She wrote 2 books of prose poems, and collaborated on 5 other books with artist Bev Doolittle.

Elise’s poetry, and interest in Native American, wildlife and nature themes, complements Doolittle’s “camouflage” art.

Elise sourced fine food locally, long before chefs used cilantro and kale. A carnivore, she enjoyed great food robustly. Her culinary taste and writing gifts led to another career. For over 25 years she was Connecticut Magazine’s food critic. She captured tastes, ambiance and the personalities and dreams of chefs.

The number of exquisite meals delivered to her home in recent months is a testament to the loyalty and gratitude of many chefs, young and old, whom she discovered and celebrated.

But her true passion was travel — preferably adventures to far and exotic locales — with her husband. She hiked Machu Picchu, explored the Himalayas and climbed Mt. Kenya in a blizzard.

She, her niece LeeLee and dear friend Fi explored the Caribbean islands, Italy and Portugal as recently as last February.

Closer to home, she was a beloved presence at her family’s summer home on Cape Cod. She walked the beaches, swam, read by the fire, and regaled generations of family and friends with adventures and cherished memories.

Her spirit is carried on by her son Gary Gibbs, his wife Kaija and their 4 children; stepson Bill Maclay, his wife Alex, and their 2 sons; stepson David Maclay Jr., his wife Juliet and their 2 sons; cousn Joyce Haun, and an extended network of neighbors, chefs and friends from all walks of life.

She was predeceased by her husband David, son Brian Gibbs and stepdaughter Sherry Maclay.

Elise would want all to know David’s final words, quoting Tennessee Williams: “Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else.”

Memorials will be held post-COVID in Westport and Chatham, Massachusetts.

Donations in Elise’s name may be made to the CT Hospitality Employee Relief Fund or Save the Sound.

(Hat tip: Judith Hart)

Roundup: Sweet Photos, Trash, Pumpkins, More


Westporters love Tom Kretsch’s photos. They love Saugatuck Sweets. And they love Al’s Angels.

So plan to stop by the ice cream shop patio on the river tomorrow (Saturday, October 10, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Kretsch will display his evocative images — many of his home town.

A percentage of all sales benefits Al’s Angels, the nonprofit started by Saugatuck Sweets owner Al DiGuido to help families with children battling cancer, and families with food needs.

(Photo/Tom Kretsch)


Last weekend, 35 mothers and daughters from Westport’s National Charity League spent a cleaning Compo Beach. The effort supported NCL’s philanthropy partner, Save the Sound.

Volunteers removed over 45 pounds of garbage from the beach. They found PPE, plastic bags, straws and food wrappers, along with 235 cigarette butts, 160 bottle caps and 33 balloons. Data collected will help Save the Sound stop debris at its source. 

A small bit of all the trash.


What’s new at the Senior Center?

Its first-ever pumpkin decorating contest. It’s October 30 (11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.).

Submissions will be judged on originality and scariness. Members can vote for their favorite pumpkins while picking up a drive-through lunch (chicken pot pie, salad, roll, cookie and Halloween treats) from staff members (in costumes).

Seniors can enjoy their meal while socially distancing in the parking lot. Prizes include a Halloween goodie bucket, and a gift card for a Senior Center luncheon.

Lunch is $8. The cost to enter the contest: free (and priceless).


ADL Connecticut’s 10th annual Walk Against Hate will look from the first 9. Though participants can’t join together physically, they’ll still send a powerful message.

Individuals, families, friends, colleagues and teammates are invited to get creative. They can walk wherever they want, from October 12-18. Registration is free, though fundraising is encouraged to help ADL fight anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of hate.

Fundraisers who give or get more than $50 get an ADL bandanna. The first 1,000 people to raise over $150 receive t-shirts.

ADL Connecticut has a strong Westport presence. Director Steve Ginsburg lives here; so does Walk Against Hate chair Claudia Cohen.

Jill Nadel chairs the outreach committee). Terry Bernard, Shelly Herst, Margie Jacobson, Ken Backman, Sara Weiner (co-chair of the education committee), Bret Weiner, Chuck Harris, Liz Kaner, Lynne Goldstein and John Kaufman are all on ADL’s state board. Many other Westporters serve in other capacities.

To register for or donate to the Walk Against Hate, click here.


Instead of a traditional luncheon, the American Cancer Society’s annual “Women Leading the Way to Wellness” event (Wednesday, November 18), is on Facebook Live.

There’s an option to buy a $125 “Wellness Box” to enhance the viewing experience. The boxes are valued at over $175, and include products from The Granola Bar, Performance Physical Therapy and West.

Click here for more information.


And finally … this is the birthday of John Lennon. He would have been — are you ready? — 80 years old today.

 

Roundup: Showers, Library, Cash, Kayaks, More


Staples High School is open today (Monday, August 10) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., for Westport residents to use hot showers. Everyone must bring their own towels and toiletries. The Community Emergency Response Team will assist with scheduling and social distancing.

Yesterday, CERT volunteers delivered food to seniors in need.

The Westport Library is open from noon to 6 p.m. today too, so residents can charge their devices. Everyone must wear a mask, maintain social distance, and limit their stay to an hour.


Need a place to work?

Office Evolution — the work space in the office building opposite fire headquarters — offers a low rate for this week: a $50 day pass for a private office; $25 for socially distanced co-working, with no additional or hidden fees, and free Starbucks coffee! (Strict safety protocols are of course in place.)

Interested? Email Westport.CT@officeevolution.com or call 203-635-8770 and leave a message. They respond quickly. For more information on Office Evolution, click here.


A reader writes:

“Hocon is a big problem. This is the second storm where they  let us run out of propane when we have a partial generator. My husband started calling them Thursday to say that we had 55% in the tank and would run out by Sunday. He called Sunday 5 times explaining that we’re not getting power till Tuesday midnight or Wednesday. They promised to come today, without an estimated time, but never came.

“I have a heart condition, atrial fibrillation that gets very exasperated by heat.  We have a couple of fans going. When the generator dies, which will happen within the hour, we will have nothing to deal with this heat, and tomorrow’s heat.

“It’s so frustrating to have invested in a generator and not be able to get propane when we need it. This is so upsetting.”


Like many Westporters, John Karrel has been struck by the sudden necessity for actual dollars, quarters and dimes. He writes:

“A week ago, all bets were that cash was on its way out in our world. Yesterday I picked up dinner at March Burger Lobster. I’m now sitting outside Donut Crazy with my iced coffee. Both establishments: cash only!

“The volatility of a pandemic. The shorter-term volatility of a severe power outage. For sure, not our last power outage. Maybe cash does remain a viable Plan B.”

It sure does. Provided your ATM has power.

(Photo/John Karrel)


A reader writes: “Could you provide an update on Optimum, the local cable/internet monopoly? How widespread is their outage? When will they get back online? They are not answering calls or calling back.

“By the way, when I called to cancel part of my service due to an exorbitant monthly fee (before the storm hit), they told me they closed their cancellation department.”

I don’t have any info from Optimum (or Altice, the parent company). I don’t have any sources there either. If any readers knows the answers — or has a special number to call — please click “Comments” below.


You may not have had power. But Mystic Bowie and Talking Dreads had plenty of it yesterday.

The popular band rocked Westport, in the 2nd of back-to-back sold-out “Supper & Soul” shows at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Everyone — the powered-up and the power-less — had a fantastic time. Kudos to Mystic and the Dreads. And of course to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. Which should probably change its name to “Chamber of Concerts.”

A small part of the large crowd last night.


For the past few days, Westport was up the proverbial creek, without the proverbial paddle.

But grab those paddles. August 14-31 are the dates for the 5th annual Paddle for the Sound. This year it’s virtual, so even the most land-locked lubbers can join.

For 17 days, Save the Sound will help participants raise awareness and funds to find and fix pollution sources, while leading habitat restoration projects throughout the Long Island Sound region.

Prizes will be awarded to 1st place finishers in the Paddle/Kayak, Sail, and Run/Walk divisions for total distance traveled or time spent doing their sport over the span of the event. Prizes also go to the top fundraisers.

Participants will start their virtual races from self-selected launch points, tracking their miles and time with each excursion. Those interested in supporting without racing can “raise their paddle” in an online virtual auction featuring private boat excursions, local artisan products, and a signed New York Giants jersey. For more information and to register, click here.


Local photographer Michael Chait, whose photographs are part of the permanent collection in the Brooklyn Museum, has an outdoor photo show and sale closer to home.

It’s next Sunday (August 9, 12 to 5 p.m., in the outdoor courtyard at 11 Riverside Avenue). It’s an eclectic, “kooky” exhibit of photos through several decade, including classic cars and cityscapes. All are framed and ready to hang.

A classic car photo, by Michael Chait


Back in action, and with power: (among many other businesses): Granola Bar, Ignazio’s, and Joey’s by the Shore Featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffee Bar. We are getting back to normal!

PS: For the past few days, Kawa Ni has operated a food truck.

 

And finally … utility crews have arrived in Westport from all over. I haven’t seen a Wichita lineman — but I had a great chat Saturday with 2 from Neosho, Missouri, just a few miles from the Kansas border. They drove non-stop to get here, and are driving back and forth from their hotel — which is in Chicopee, Massachusetts (north of Springfield). Westport owes a huge thanks to all the linemen (and linewomen), working hard for us from all around North America.

How Sound Is Our Sound?

Remember the days of persistent algal blooms in Long Island Sound? When hypodermic needles washed up on shore? When only truly brave souls went in for a swim — and then headed straight for the shower?

Those days are thankfully gone. It’s taken a concerted effort — by government and private agencies, working together and on their own — to clean up the Sound.

But how healthy is it today?

Save the Sound knows. The New Haven-based organization’s new online tool provides 10 years of water quality data, easily understandable by the public.

Compo Beach beckons on a hot day. But is the water as healthy as it looks?

Compo Beach beckons on a hot day. But is the water as healthy as it looks?

One section focuses on the health of coastal beaches, including bacterial pollution that leads to beach closures and water quality degradation.

Rainfall data shows which locations suffer from bacterial contamination as a result of wet weather overflows and runoff, and which suffer in dry weather too.

The Findings & Solutions section offers strategies for reducing water pollution.

Every beach in Connecticut and New York is rated, from A to F. SPOILER ALERT: Compo gets a B-.

It’s not the sexiest site on the interwebs.

Nor is this one of the most irresistible stories I’ve ever posted on “06880.”

But if you care at all about Long Island Sound — and who in Westport doesn’t? — then clicking this link might be the most important things you do all day.

(Hat tip: Wally Meyer)