Tag Archives: sidewalks

Roundup: Sidewalk Clearing, Ellen Naftalin, Carl Addison Swanson …

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Molly Alger writes:

“About 5 hours after the snow had stopped falling yesterday, it was very treacherous being a pedestrian on Post Road.

“I stopped in a couple of businesses and asked why their sidewalks had not been cleared. No excuses were forthcoming other than, ‘Someone is supposed to do it.’ This is extremely disappointing — not to mention hazardous.”

Molly sent along a series of photos of un-shoveled sidewalks. Here is one:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

A reminder: According to WestportCT.gov, “Per town ordinance, businesses are responsible for keeping all sidewalks along their property clear of snow and ice.”

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It’s been many months in the making. But Ellen Naftalin’s “Art of the Album” exhibit is open, at the Westport Library’s Jesup Gallery. Put a mask on, and go!

On display is album cover art from remarkable women artists from the 1920s through ’60s. From the Depression and World War II to the civil rights and women’s movements, they broke the glass ceiling and the color barrier.

Naftalin and her husband Mark — a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band — dug through their personal, vast collection of LPs. Now they share them with the rest of us.

Every album cover — plus and the sign with Sister Rosetta Tharpe (“The Godmother of Rock and Roll”) has a QR code. Visitors can admire the art — and listen to each artist.

Naftalin’s exhibit is the second in a series. Another is planned for spring.

Part of Ellen Naftalin’s “Art of the Album” exhibit.

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Speaking of the Library: “Cart-side service” is now available weekdays (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Saturdays (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at the Westport Library. Books, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, and children’s toys and kits are available for pickup.

Anyone with a Westport or CT Library card registered with the Westport Library can use the service. However, requests can take up to 4 days to be fulfilled

Click here or call 203-291-4807 to request items (up to 10 per library card). You will receive an email or phone call when the items are ready. Call the number above when you plan to come; items will be placed on the cart in the library (just inside the main upper entrance) for pickup.

This replaces the previous “curbside” service. Click here for more information.

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There’s never a dull moment with Carl Addison Swanson. The Staples High School graduate has written 51 (!) novels, including the highly acclaimed Hush McCormick series, Tug Christian thrillers, Scooter mysteries, Ian Fletcher legal series, Justin Carmichael nostalgic memoirs, and more. Five works have been optioned to the film industry.

Carl’s latest is “Never a Dull Moment: Spring of 1966.”

Amazon’s teaser says: “One’s last two 2 semesters of high school can be rough, but even worse when there is never a dull moment.”

Click here to order.

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Westport’s feathered creatures know how to fend for themselves in foul weather. Of course, a bit of help from humans never hurts. Wendy Crowther snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo right after yesterday’s snow.

(Photo/Wendy Crowther)

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And finally … Inez Foxx’s “Mockingbird” is one of the album covers in Ellen Naftalin’s Westport Library exhibit (above). Here’s the song behind the artwork:

Question Box: Answers #1

Last week, I introduced the “06880” Question Box.

It’s a chance to ask anything you’ve wondered about (with a Westport angle, of course). Questions can be current or historical, concrete or abstract, deep or shallow.

I’ll attempt to answer them. If I don’t have the answer, I’m sure other “06880” readers will.

You responded quickly. Here’s the first set of questions. And — where appropriate — the answers.

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Who is Grace Salmon, and why is there a park named for her? (Arlene Yolles)

According to Woody Klein’s history of Westport, Grace King Salmon was a founding member of the Westport Woman’s Club.

The wife of Frederick Salmon — Connecticut state comptroller, and president of Westport Bank & Trust — she died in 1939. She left a trust in her own name to benefit the town.

Virginia Sherwood, Westport Garden Club chairman, applied for grants from the trust and other agenciees to design a park on 3 acres of Saugatuck River landfill across the river from where the Salmons lived (now the Assumption Church rectory).

It took several years to solve the site’s environmental problems. But the Garden Club developed Connecticut’s first park built on a former landfill, and won an award for its efforts.

Today, Grace K. Salmon Park is one of Westport’s hidden-in-plain-site treasures. It’s on Imperial Avenue near Baker Avenue — a few yards from the Westport Woman’s Club, which its namesake helped found.

The scene from Grace Salmon Park across the Saugatuck River, near where the Salmon family once lived. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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When did the junior high system start in Westport? (Joyce Barnhart)

From its opening in 1884, and for the next 42 years, Staples High School included 7th through 9th graders.

In 1926, construction of a new “Bedford Junior High School” — aided, in large part, by a $145,000 gift from E.T. Bedford — was nearly complete. Situated across a field from the original Staples High School on Riverside (where the auditorium of what is now Saugatuck Elementary School now sits), the building (now Kings Highway Elementary) included an “unusually good” gymnasium, auditorium and stage — all of which would be shared by the high school.

The 18-acre plot between the schools was planned as a well-equipped “playground” (athletic fields) for students and adults.

So 1926 was when the first junior high — for 7th, 8th and 9th graders — opened in Westport. Long Lots followed in the early 1950s, Coleytown in 1965.

Kings HIghway Elementary School was originally Bedford Junior High. Fields separated it from the first Staples High. Look closely, and you can still see “Bedford” above the front door.

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Who is “Bob”? This sign (below) has hung for years on the south side of New Creek Road, opposite Maple Lane, near the Greens Farms train station. (Bill Ryan)

(Photo/Bill Ryan)

Damned if I know. This question has been posed at least once on “06880,” to no avail. If any readers know who “Bob” is — and/or who put his sign high in that tree — click “Comments” below.

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What’s the story with the Mercedes station wagon that’s been parked in the same spot for months on Myrtle Avenue, in front of Town Hall? (See photo below.)

The tracks around it from the street sweeper are clear evidence it has not moved. It’s covered in dust, still containing someone’s belongings. No tickets on the windshield, or other signs of official notice, just yards from Town Hall. (Michael Moore)

(Photo/Michael Moore)

Believe it or not, I’ve never noticed it — and I drive past Town Hall every day.

But hey, “06880” readers: If you’ve lost your Mercedes-Benz, we know where it is.

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If Westport is located on the eastern side of Long Island Sound, why is it not named Eastport? (Ray Broady)

Well, first of all, Westport is north, south, east and west of a lot of things.

How we got our name in 1835 — when our town was officially incorporated, carved out of the towns of Norwalk, Wilton, Weston and Fairfield — has been a matter of dispute for nearly 200 years.

One theory is that it is a port west of Fairfield (our original European settlers came to what is now Greens Farms, from Fairfield).

Another theory is that because the new town was not named Saugatuck — a state representative claimed it sounded too much like “succotash” — the name “Westport” paid homage to that neighborhood, which was a port on the west side of the Saugatuck River.

Robert Lambdin’s Saugatuck mural. The “port” was on the West bank of the Saugatuck River.

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Why are Westport sidewalks not maintained, not ADA compliant, and not cleared of snow on a timely basis? Why are there no continuous sidewalks on Post Road? Why can’t I walk from Sylvan to Whole Foods? (Monica Buesser)

I asked Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich. He says:

“ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps with detectable warning pads are only required at roadways, not at driveways. The reason you see some sidewalks without ADA ramps at roadways, or with ramps that appear to be non-compliant with the current ADA regs, is that they may have not been replaced recently, and may have been constructed incorrectly, constructed to an earlier ADA standard, or constructed before the ADA regulations were made stricter. As we reconstruct sidewalks around town, we are correcting that situation by installing appropriate ramps where the ADA regs dictate.

“Currently residential properties are cleared of ice and snow by the town. There is no requirement for residential zoned properties to clear their sidewalks.  Commercial use properties are required to clear ice and snow from the front of their establishments within 24 hours.

“Having said that, with approximately 23 miles of residential sidewalks, it often takes us multiple days to clear all the sidewalks after a big storm, and if we have back to back storms we prioritize the roads first, then the parking lots, then the sidewalks. We appreciate residents helping us out any way they can during the winter, by clearing the walk in front of their property.”

A new sidewalk was on North Avenue last year. It’s now ADA-compliant. (Photo/Michael Fleming)

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When will the 1-lane bridge on Bayberry Lane/White Birch Road go back to 2 lanes?

Another one for Public Works director Ratkiewich. He says:

“The Bayberry Lane bridge over the Aspetuck River is tied up in federal permitting right now with the Army Corps of Engineers. We hoped to go to construction this year, but due to the Army Corps’ backlog it appears we will bid this winter. and start construction in the spring of 2022.”

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When did the Westport Fire Department move its headquarters from Church Lane, next to the old YMCA (now Bedford Square) to the current Post Road site? (Dorrie Thomas)

1982, says Chief Robert Yost.

I did not ask — but probably should have — if that was the same time they discontinued their Saturday noontime horn test. It could be heard all over town. Nor do I know when the Department stopped alerting volunteer firefighters to the location of a blaze by horns. The short/long codes could be found on the inside of telephone directories. Remember them?

Former Fire Department headquarters, on Church Lane. The YMCA is on the left.

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Is water safe to drink from the tap? (Michelle Harmon)

I guess so. If it isn’t, I’m sure we would have heard about it by now.

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The “Question Box” is open for more questions. Just email dwoog@optonline.net!

RTM March Meeting: Sidewalks And Schools

This is Peter Gold’s report on the March Representative Town Meeting. He is an RTM member writing for himself, not in an official capacity.

Schools and sidewalks — including sidewalks to schools — were the subject of the March RTM meeting.

The RTM unanimously approved $467,927 for design costs for new roofs at Staples High School and Saugatuck Elementary Schools (actual construction costs will) follow, and $280,364 to install a replacement cooling tower at Greens Farms School. These projects will be completed this summer.

During the debate, school administrators noted they have identified approximately $60 million in capital projects over the next 5 years. Around $12 million will be spent on these projects in the next 2 years, in part to address deferred maintenance.

The RTM also approved $515,000 for 2 sidewalk projects. $350,000 will be used to replace 1.3 miles of the existing sidewalk on North Avenue from Cross Highway up to Coleytown Middle School, completing a walking path all the way from Long Lots School to Coleytown.

Construction last summer of the North Avenue sidewalk. (Photo/Michael Fleming)

The remaining $165,000 is for replacement of the existing sidewalk on Maple Avenue South, between Clapboard Hill Road and the Post Road.  The state will reimburse the town $128,295 of this amount. Both projects are expected to be completed over the next 2 summers.

The Town has 23.4 miles of sidewalk, and repairs about 6.3 miles every year.  Decisions on which sidewalks to repair are based on many factors, including proximity to schools, conditions of the sidewalks and pedestrian use. The town also prioritizes repairing existing sidewalks over building new ones.

Several RTM members suggested it would be prudent to fund a more proactive approach to planning, building and maintaining the sidewalk network.

Nice Parking Job

It’s bad enough that people who should use sidewalks — people with strollers, joggers with iPods oblivious to the world — take to the roads.

Now drivers are using the sidewalks as parking lots.

This scene — from the new barn being built on North Avenue, near Long Lots — is typical.

With an entire building site to park in, contractors choose this spot.

And we wonder where teenage drivers get their crazy ideas.