Generations of Westporters (including yours truly) have jumped off the Sherwood Mill Pond wooden bridge, leading from Old Mill to Compo Cove.
It was done long before I was a kid. And it continues long after.
A “Danger/No Diving or Jumping” sign — installed a couple of summers ago — has done little to deter the age-old fun. In fact, parents sometimes bring their kids, so they too can enjoy the rite of passage.
The sign was last week’s Photo Challenge (click here to see). A ton of readers knew where it was — and, presumably, know that a simple sign will not stop such a long-standing (and fun) tradition.
Congratulations to Richard Stein, Matt Murray, Vanessa Bradford, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Ed Sanford, Ed Creevy, Bobbie Herman, Dave Eason, Andrew Colabella, Betty Walker, Jeff Jacobs, Tom Green, Nancie Rinaldi, Adam Starr, Rick Benson and Jim Elkind.
Long may you jump!
This week’s Photo Challenge is much more difficult. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.
(Here’s another challenge: Please support “06880.” Click here to contribute. And thank you!)
Clarendon’s very first American gallery opens at 22 Main Street. That’s the new construction on the right side, just north of Post Road East.
The world’s largest gallery group wants to make art “accessible to all.” They boast an eclectic portfolio of artists, across a broad range of genres.
The new 3,200-square foot building will showcase an international portfolio of originals, collector’s editions, and sculpture from famous names, alongside emerging talents.
Works from artists like Picasso, Miro, Warhol and Hockney; cutting edge pop, street, and contemporary art; more traditional work including landscape, wildlife, still life, figurative and abstract art, is all on sale at Clarendon.
CEO Helen Swaby calls Westport “a thriving cultural and creative center (which), like Clarendon, has a strong commitment to the preservation of community, traditions and quality of life.”
Mark Naftalin’s 3rd “Blue Sunday” rocks the Westport Library on November 20.
The keyboardist/producer/radio host/Rock & Roll Hall of Famer has curated a great set of blues musicians, for the latest in the monthly series.
The November Blue Sunday features “Beehive Queen” and “Saturday Night Live” chanteuse Christine Ohlman, blues and soul man Willie J. Laws, plus Naftalin’s already legendary Blue Sunday Band, with Crispin Cioe, Paul Gabriel and JD Seem.
The first 2 Blue Sundays drew packed houses to the Library’s Trefz Forum. The November 20 concert begins at 2:30 p.m.
You won’t be wailing over the admission price. Unbelievably, it’s free.
On Friday, the Westport Police Department’s 3rd annual Officer Awards ceremony recognized outstanding from 2021.
Among the honorees were 2 civilians: “06880” Unsung Hero Tucker Peters, for saving a friend from drowning after their boat tipped over last summer, and Jose Rodriguez, who helped a woman climb to safety after falling onto the train tracks.
Also recognized: Assistant Fire Chief Matthew Cohen and firefighter Michael Durette who assisted officers in locating a dangerous felon.
Westport Police Department officers were of course recognized for their success in a variety of incidents involving armed suspects, barricaded subjects, the mentally ill, and time consuming, in-depth investigations.
Detectives Ashley Delvecchio and Marc Heinmiller were co-recipients of the 2021 Officer of the Year Award, for their consistent and innate ability to solve investigative cases.
In all, 40 officers received awards. Many were multiple recipients.
Police Chief Foti Koskinas, with Marc Heinmiller and Ashley Delvecchio, co-Officers of the Year.
The Westport Library’s Book Sale is (almost) here.
The upcoming event (Friday through Monday) features thousands of gently used books in more than 50 categories, including children’s, classics, fiction, mysteries, sci-fi/fantasy, art, photography, math, science, psychology, religion, biography, business, cooking, gardening, performing arts, travel, foreign language — to name just a few.
Items of special interest: leather-bound vintage book sets; extensive collections of history books and cookbooks; a new “Fiction for $1” room; from the personal library of Joseph Califano, former US Secretary of HEW, books signed to him by their authors, including one by Dr. Seuss. and a card from the Broadway show “In the Heights” signed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and other cast members.
Also on sale: a broad array of DVDs and CDs, and a limited selection of collectibles and artwork.
The book sale benefits both the Library and Westport Book Shop, the used bookstore on Jesup Green that provides employment for people with disabilities.
The Staples High School musicians participated in the National Association for Music Education conference, as part of the All-National Honor Ensembles. They were selected by video audition, from the top music students in the country.
Delaney played trumpet in the All-National Orchestra, while Witt Lindau was a drummer with the All National Modern Band) (aka known as a “rock band”).
Congratulations too (of course!) to Staples band director Phil Giampietro.
If you’re a Westport homeowner, there’s a 40% chance you live on wetlands, or in a floodplain.
If you’re part of that 40% and have moved here since 2001, you’ve received a letter — and fat informational packet — from Alicia Mozian, telling you what that means, and how to care for your property.
And advising you to call her, before beginning any work on the land.
That’s just one of the proactive approached Mozian has brought to her job as Conservation Department director.
Low-key but intensely passionate, her blandly named office oversees nearly every aspect of Westport’s environment. Shellfishing, Cockenoe Island camping, the Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve, single-use plastics, the plastic bag ban — all are in Mozian’s domain.
But most important may be protecting the town’s wetlands and watercourses.
We have 13 named waterways. We sit at the bottom of several watersheds, which feed into Long Island Sound. Our groundwater table is very high.
“Westport is very wet,” Mozian says simply.
On Saturday, her 2-decade career as Conservation director — and 36 years of service to Westport — come to an end. She’s retiring — kayaking off into the sunset, you might say.
The Westport she leaves is much different than the one the Pennsylvania native found, soon after graduating from Nasson College with a degree in environmental studies.
Westporters are much more aware now of the effects of water on our properties, and our lives. At the same time, larger houses — and the construction they entail — impact things like runoff and silting.
Large homes and tree-cutting affect water tables and runoff.
Mozian has been the right person to manage the interactions between residential and business property owners, builders, neighbors, politicians, environmentalists, and everyone else with a stake in Westport.
Her first job here was in 1986, as an aide to Planning & Zoning director Mel Barr. She moved on to conservation analyst; earned a master’s in resource administration management, and was named assistant zoning planner.
In 2001 she succeeded Fran Pierwola, as only the second Conservation director in our history.
Mozian had already made an important mark. In the 1990s she helped Westporters get a 10% discount on flood insurance — a reward for town-wide flood hazard mitigation that continues today.
Flood insurance is important to homeowners in flood-prone areas like Compo Cove. Westporters are eligible for discounts.
As Conservation director, she spends much of her time talking to people. Mozian answers questions, and educates property owners about upcoming work.
A lot of that entails “managing expectations. People don’t always know what they bought, or design their project to meet the land. They want their land to meet the project, not the other way around. That can lead to problems.”
During Westport’s booming construction decades of the 1950s and ’60s, many wetlands were filled in. The federal Clean Water Act of 1972 slowed that, but the damage was done.
Now those homes are being torn down. Their replacements are larger — and their high basements sink into groundwater. Nothing in the state building code prevents that, Mozian says.
“Where does the water go? In other directions — on other people’s properties,” she says.
“You’re supposed to capture runoff from driveways and roofs. But you can’t do a lot about groundwater.”
Above ground, large-scale tree-cutting also affects where water goes.
Fortunately, Mozian says, Westporters are environmentally conscious. Her small office is augmented by a host of volunteers, from the Conservation and Shellfish Commissions to Sustainable Westport and the Sherwood Mill Pond Committee.
Fortunately too, she is not stuck in Town Hall. Mozian says her favorite days are “picking up garbage on Cockenoe Island, or the Mill Pond. That’s when I get instant gratification. I can see I made a difference.”
Alicia Mozian picks up garbage at Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve.
It’s harder to see the effects of educating a variety of constituencies about the environment. Still, Mozian says, “I think I’ve done pretty well, balancing what people want versus what they need. I want their plan to be better when they walk out the office than when they walked in.
“I don’t love all the teardowns. But I’ve learned to work with them, and make them as environmentally sound as possible.”
The low point of her career was the protracted fight with the Westport Weston Family Y over its proposed, and largely untested, Fixed Activated Sludge Treatment (FAST) sewage system at the Mahackeno site.
There are many more highlights. Mozian is proud of her Wetlands Community Leader Award from Washington’s Environmental Law Institute. It was presented for her work improving water quality, through the Sasco Brook Pollution Abatement Committee.
Alicia Mozian, with her Environmental Law Institute award.
She’s also proud that none of the Conservation Commission’s decisions have ever been overturned by a court challenge. She’s been sued by developers, homeowners and neighbors — sometimes more than one group, for the same project.
She has done it all with a staff of just 5.25 people. That quarter employee — the sediment and erosion control inspector — is shared with Planning & Zoning.
“We used to have complaints about sediment from construction sites getting into waterways,” Mozian says. “But not now.”
She does not know of any other community that funds such a position.
Overall, Mozian says, Westport is in “pretty good” environmental shape. It can be measured by metrics — which the Board of Finance demands every year at budget time.
She prefers a different measure: “If you can swim in the water, drink the water and eat shellfish, we’re doing our job.”
Low tide clamming at Compo Beach is part of Alicia Mozian’s portfolio too. (Photo/Ferdinand Jahnel)
Next week, Colin Kelly takes over that job. He’s spent 18 years with the Conservation Department, first as compliance officer and now analyst.
“It’s time for the next generation. He knows things I don’t know,” Mozian praises. “He has good rapport with builders and others. He’ll deal with violations quicker. The department is in very good hands.”
It’s been in great hands for the past 21 years, for sure. Now Alicia Mozian looks forward to seeing her 92-year-old mother more, and her niece’s upcoming baby.
She will visit friends across the country, hike, and go to concerts. (She was a DJ in college.) Perhaps she’ll teach; she’s interested in subjects like citizenship, and helping realtors understand wetlands, aquifers and floodplains.
She will not miss the daily commute from Orange. But Westport will miss Conservation Director Alicia Mozian very, very much.
(“06880” covers all things Westport. Please click here, to support your hyper-local blog.)
Hidden around town are 18 pieces of art, all inspired by town monuments, buildings and more that are part of the bicentennial quilt.
It’s part of a display in the Westport Museum of History & Culture. The show — in conjunction with MoCA Westport and CAMP Gallery — features textiles and other quilt-inspired artifacts. The hunt runs through August 20. Click here for details. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)
1st Selectwoman and Police Chief Foti Koskinas hunt for clues. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
When Cary Pierce was a student at Staples High School, he got his first big break.
Hall & Oates failed to appear for a 1985 concert at Longshore — to be fair, they never signed a contract — so Cary’s band, Pseudo Blue, entertained instead. (Click here to read all about that strange day in Westport history.)
Cary went on to graduate from Staples in 1987. He kept playing guitar, and singing.
For nearly 35 years, Cary and his Southern Methodist University classmate Jack O’Neill have fronted Jackopierce. The band has shared stages with Dave Matthews, Counting Crows, Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett, Matchbox Twenty and Widespread Panic. They’ve performed in clubs and at colleges across America — and before 500,000 people at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Next Monday (August 15, 6 p.m.), Jackopierce comes to Milestone restaurant in Georgetown. The venue is small, so tickets will go quickly. Click here to purchase, and for more information.
No word on whether Hall & Oates will sit in too.
Jackopierce: Cary Pierce (right) and Jack O’Neill.
The Staples High School Class of 2011 graduate — and star on the Wreckers state championship team — finished Juneau’s Ironman Alaska yesterday in an astonishing 10 hours, 18 minutes and 48 seconds.
He ignored stunning views to swim 2.4 miles in Auke Lake in 36:33. He biked 112 miles along the Glacier Highway in 5:49.09. Then he ran 26.2 miles through the lush Mendenhall Valley rainforest in 3:29:42.
That was good (great!) for 23rd place, out of 733 competitors — and 3rd out of 36, in his men’s age 25-29 age group.
Congratulations, Mikey. Now take a well=deserved rest!
Lifelong Westporter Anthony Gilbertie died last week, from complications of Parkinson’s. He was 84.
He was the 5th member of the Gilbertie family to serve on the RTM.
Anthony was devoted to Assumption Church, where he was a cantor for 13 years. Most recently, he was a US Postal Service carrier in Weston. Anthony enjoyed history, current events and the New York Yankees.
He was predeceased by all his siblings: John Jr, Mario, Linda Gilbertie-Bullard and Michael, and baby siblings Thomas and Gloria.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Diane Taylor-Gilbertie; children, Tom (Anne). Peter (Dee) and Nancy Gilbertie-Loshuk, and grandchildren Griffin Gilbertie, William Gilbertie, Thomas Gilbertie, Christopher Gilbertie and Jack Loshuk.
Anthony’s wake will be held Friday (August 12, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Harding Funeral Home). A Mass of Christian Burial will follow there at 11 a.m., followed by burial at Assumption Cemetery on Greens Farms Road. The family asks that all attendees wear masks, as some family members are immunocompromised.
Longtime Westporter Jeanne Wylie Crist died last week. She was 99 years old.
Jeanne married her Albany high school sweetheart, Robert “Mike” Crist in 1947 after working with the Naval Department in New York City. Two sons were born there before they moved to Westport, where Karen was born in 1956.
They lived in Westport for nearly 50 years before moving to Lenox, Massachusetts to be close to their daughter in 2011, when Mike’s health faltered.
They were members of Saugatuck Congregational Church, loved walking Compo Beach and cherished many friends. In retirement they purchased a cottage on Lake Bomoseen in Vermont, where Mike had enjoyed his childhood. Jeanne and Mike also traveled extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
Jeanne was preceded by Mike in 2011, and their son, Robert “Lee” Crist in 1983 and Jeffrey Crist in 2017. She is survived by her daughter Karen (Matthew Miller), grandchildren Chas (Ashley), Geoffrey (Michelle) and Kaylee Wylie, and great-grandchildren Charley, Nuala, Declan, Wylie and Penelope.
A graveside service will be held at Evergreen Cemetery in Westport, where she will be interred with her beloved Mike and 2 sons. To share memories and stories click here,
Jeanne Wylie Crist
Tracy Porosoff thinks this dramatic photo shows a wasp beetle eating a cicada at the Compo Beach baseball fence.
Whatever it is, it’s a perfect way to start off our “Westport … Naturally” week.
As Westporters wait for the final announcement that Elvira’s Deli has been saved — it’s coming soon! — and at the same time gnash our teeth over the stuck-in-zoning-infraction-limbo large residential construction that replaced Positano’s/ Cafe de la Plage across the street — we keep hearing references to “Allen’s.”
From 1890 through the 1990s, Captain Walter Allen’s clam house on Sherwood Mill Pond — a few yards from the long-lived market — was one of our town’s go-to restaurants. It was the perfect place for shellfish, seafood, and killer water views, while celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and anything else.
Allen’s Clam House, in the 1940s.
A list of Westporters who had their first dates there would be a window on town history.
Westport artist Hardie Gramatky painted this view of the Mill Pond, from the back of Allen’s Clam House
Today, Allen’s is the site of the town-owned Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve. With natural grasses and plants, a wide variety of wildlife, a kayak launch — and the same killer views — it’s a wonderful use of the property.
Aerial view of Allen’s Clam House. (Photo courtesy of Dave Stalling)
But it sure was nice to have it — and Positano’s — as a pair of waterfront restaurants for all those years.
Rear view of Allen’s, on the Mill Pond. (Photo/Matt Murray)
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