Tag Archives: Sundance

Roundup: Bus Accident, Sundance, Itzhak Perlman …

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There’s a “For Lease” sign outside the old Post Road West building, near Wright Street.

But, Frank Rosen notes, the building is in disrepair. Paint is peeling; shingles are askew. It will take a lot more than a new tenant to bring back some of the beauty to this once-handsome mansion-turned-office.

Demolition by neglect?

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

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There was a school bus accident yesterday, on Easton Road near Bayberry Lane. In the photo below, a small car was wedged under the far side of the bus.

Sandy Rothenberg says: “I have traveled this intersection for the past 35 years. It has become increasingly dangerous. The sight lines are very limited, and cars fly around the curve on Easton Road towards Westport. A very small sign indicates ‘slow curve.’ I hope this brings needed attention and improvements to this road.”

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

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Sundance has opened on Main Street — by appointment only, anyway.

A sign on the former Anny Taylor store instructs shoppers to scan a QR code, for a link to an email.

No word yet on when the physical doors will open.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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Don’t miss Itzhak Perlman in Westport!

Tickets are still available for the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” event this Thursday (May 13, 7 p.m.).

This year’s livestreamed “Booked” fundraiser will include videos, live musical tributes, and a conversation with Perlman that is just for this audience. No recording will be made of the program.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Itzhak Perlman

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Speaking of the Library: One of the “star attractions” of the transformed space is Verso Studios. The state-of-the-art audio and broadcast studios can help anyone become a music, podcast, video or audiobook star.

Yesterday, the library launched a new Verso Studios website. Click here to watch and listen to a wide variety of recordings, podcasts and videos — and to find out how to use the studios yourself.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

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In March, “06880” reported on a proposal by Abilis to turn 136 Riverside Avenue into a home for special needs affordable housing.

The Planning & Zoning Commission has granted a permit for a second floor addition, interior and exterior renovations, and site work for apartments for 4 special needs people, and another unit for an income-eligible staff member.

More approvals are needed. But this is good news for special needs individuals and their families. And it’s 5 more important affordable housing units for our town.

136 Riverside Avenue.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci and former 2nd Selectman/Board of Finance chair Avi Kaner shared a stage last night.

The New York Board of Rabbis honored both men with Humanitarian Awards , for their work during the pandemic.

Dr. Fauci’s contributions are well known. Kaner’s may be less famous. But the co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets was cited for the work his family-owned business did during the pandemic.

Morton Williams stores never closed. Employees kept working; senior executives ensured that the supply chain continued.

The company became a lifeline to New York. They worked with the CDC to adjust trucking regulations so that truckers would be comfortable making deliveries. They were among the first in the nation to set aside special hours for seniors and immunocompromised customers; they lobbied aggressively for mask use, and ensured that supermarket workers were included in phase 1B of the state’s vaccinations.

Click below for a clip of the introduction:

Click below for Kaner’s speech:

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Thomas Quealy spotted this on North Compo Road.

“Time to update our signs,” he says.

(Photo/Thomas Quealy)

He’s right. The Westport Arts Center moved over a year ago from Riverside Avenue to Newtown Turnpike.

In fact, it no longer exists. It’s now called MoCA Westport.

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Staples High School Class of 2019 graduate Anthony Salgado met Pierce Slutzky years ago, at Camp Laurel. Anthony says:

“Pierce was an amazing kid who was taken from us at age 17. He was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 14, and tirelessly fought medulloblastoma for 3 years.

“Pierce did not complain. He continued in high school, achieving an A average and making National Honor Society and Foreign Language Society.

“It is my honor to ask people to join in a CT Challenge bike ride to keep Pierce’s fight alive forever. I want to help those who are currently diagnosed, and those who may be diagnosed in the future.” Click here for the link.

Pierce Slutzky

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” shot comes from Roseann Spengler. She spotted this cute couple by the Saugatuck River:

(Photo/Roseann Spengler)

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And finally … Lloyd Price died last week in New Rochelle, from complications of diabetes. He was 88.

He had “Personality.” He had many other hits, including “Stagger Lee” and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” He’s a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. He led quite a life inside and outside of music. Click here for a full obituary.

 

Roundup: Shore Birds, Sundance, Swimsuits …

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An American oystercatcher is nesting at Compo Beach.

Parks & Rec is on the case.

Department staff has strung rope around the site, keeping people away from the fragile bird and her eggs. A sign offers information about her habits.

Another sign describes other threatened shorebirds. It’s fascinating to read.

And heed.

The oystercatcher sign …

… and another, describing piping plovers and least terns. (Photos/Dinkin Fotografik)

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An excited “06880” reader writes:

I’ll admit I got a little breathless when I received a Sundance email headlined, “Visit Our New Store in Westport.”

Westport?! This catalog has served as my retail therapy vision board for years; the source of countless subtle, dog-eared “tips” I’ve left for my spouse re birthday and holiday gifts.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Robert Redford-stamped brand, think Millie Rae’s meets Anthropologie — high-end, carefully curated, bohemian-Southwest-y silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothes, shoes and housewares.

I can’t wait to see how they deck out their brick-and-mortar store on Main Street (the former Ann Taylor — it’s only their 18th retail location). Am I excited enough about it to get the free gift for booking an “early access appointment”?

Why yes, actually, I might be. If they do this right, I think it’s about as perfect a fit for Westport as any catalogue-come-to-life could be.

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Last year, during the darkest days of the pandemic, the Westport Garden Club’s “Friday Flowers” project brightened up our town. Once a week, members placed beautiful bouquets at very visible spots.

The Garden Club has picked up again this year. The first Friday Flowers of 2021 was delivered to Saugatuck Congregational Church.

Keep your eyes open every week. And if you see a Westport Garden Club member: thank her!

Friday Flowers at the church entrance. (Photo/Pat Nave)

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Speaking of Saugatuck Church: Boy Scout Troop 36 — which they sponsor, and provide meeting space for — helped make yesterday’s mattress recycling drive a huge success.

The Scouts picked up 34 mattresses and box springs throughout town. Then they headed to Earthplace, and helped load the items into a truck.

The Scouts’ efforts doubled the number of items received during Sustainable Westport’s project

Troop 36 Scouts also volunteered at Earthplace, filling containers with free compost for residents.

Boy Scout Troop 36 members, with mattresses and the recycling truck.

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Tracy Rosen offers a shout-out for a local business.

The other afternoon, she and a friend went to Shearwater for coffee. But they close at 4 p.m.

They decided instead to have a glass of wine next door, at Ignazio’s Pizza.

“They couldn’t have been nicer!” Tracy says.

“They set up a table for us outside, and lit a wood-burning fire pit. They were so hospitable,  just letting us sit there with our wine, never pushing us to order anything else. But their pizza smells amazing!”

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Westport PAL’s motto is “It’s all about the kids.”

And kids of all ages love car shows.

The PAL is sponsoring one on June 20 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., railroad station parking lot near Railroad Place and Franklin Street). In addition to cool cars, there’s food and raffle prizes.

Tickets are $15 each. But kids — that is, anyone under 12 — are free. Of course.

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The other day, “06880” highlighted the Connecticut Preservation Award for 70 Turkey Hill South.

An award ceremony was held last week, via Zoom. Here’s a video of all 10 awards. The Westport one begins at 16;13. (Hat tip: Bob Weingarten)

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There’s always something new at George Billis Gallery.

An opening reception this Friday (May 14, 4 to 7 p.m.) showcases “A Glimpse Ahead.” The figurative exhibit focuses on summer, with artwork that includes swimmers, surfers, pool scenes and waterscapes. The aim is to create a sense of peace, relaxation and joy.

Among the artists: Westporter Dale Najarian. She contributes abstracted waterscapes on canvas and wood panel.

The exhibit runs through June 13.

“Jewel Landscape,” oil on canvas (Dale Najarian)

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And finally … Happy Mother’s Day, to every “06880” mother out there.

None of us would be here without you. We love you, moms!

Downtown, The Plywood Comes Off

The timing may not be the greatest. But today there’s good news downtown.

After months of work, Lululemon has moved into the Main Street property previously occupied by Nike. With 5,500 square feet, the popular athletic wear store has almost doubled their previous space.

The opening comes after months of work that brought a desolate look — plywood-covered windows in front, and construction blocking Parker Harding Plaza in back — to the area.

The work was necessary to flood-proof the vulnerable property. Basements have been redesigned, and walls bathtubbed to prevent water from spreading.

Lululemon Athletica is open for business.

The landlord — Empire State Realty Trust — owns other Main Street property too, all the way down to the former Westport Pizzeria.

Skip Lane — Empire State’s broker — says that other stores will open soon, once their own flood-proofing and renovations are complete.

7 for All Mankind — a men’s and women’s jeans store — will share space in the old Chico’s with Splendid, which offers casual clothes for women and children.

On the north side of Lululemon, Johnny Was — the boho-chic clothier — opens soon.

A deal is close for the old Lululemon space. And Theory — another women’s clothing store — is being renovated too.

Sundance — founded by Robert Redford in 1969 as a general store, and now a retailer of men’s and women’s apparel, jewelry, footwear, accessories and home furnishings — will take over the former Ann Taylor space.

On the other side of Main Street, Lane says, a “cool high-end furniture line” will move into Banana Republic.

With most Americans worried about COVID-19 — and heeding advice to avoid crowds, if not self-isolate — this might not seem the best time to announce new store openings in Westport.

But the plywood has been up too long on Main Street. It’s coming down now. Soon enough, Empire State Realty Trust — and everyone else invested in downtown —  hopes, the shoppers will return.

Ready for customers at Lululemon.

Westport Bridges Film Gap

Sometimes a big event changes someone’s life.  For 2 Bridgeport teenagers it was attending Sundance last year, meeting directors and actors, and returning home with confidence that they too can make films.

Sometimes a little event is life-changing.  Another group of Bridgeport students needed a police officer and his car for their PSA on graffiti.  One morning spent with a real cop opened their eyes to a whole different world.

None of those experiences — and many more — would be possible without the help of Sandy Lefkowitz, and a committed group of Westporters.

Sandy Lefkowitz

Sandy is a longtime educator.  When she was coordinator of the Westport Youth Film Festival, she created filmmaking curricula.  The Westport Sunrise Rotary asked her to help with their project involving youth from disadvantaged areas.

Sandy worked with Sarah Litty — an art teacher at Bridgeport charter school  Bridge Academy — to develop a 35-week, seniors-only Art of Filmmaking course.  An after-school club for all students soon followed.

Help came from many sources.  Sunrise Rotary, the Fairfield County Community Foundation, MSG Varsity and others donated money.  Award-winning screenwriter Patrick McCullough — a Staples grad  — was hired.

Now armed with Macs, cameras and other equipment, the Bridgeport students leaped in.  They studied scriptwriting, storyboard creation, film shooting and editing.

They learned well.  The more they accomplished, the more opportunities they earned.  After Sundance, Sandy took students to the Berkshire International Film Festival.  Two were chosen for a prestigious Wesleyan program.

They walked through every door that opened.  Perhaps not confidently at first — but by the time walked back out they felt independent, and aware of all they can do.

Their filmmaking has impacted all of Bridge Academy.  Their peers see them as successful, while teachers in other subjects incorporate their talents into lesson plans.

An English class, for example, used film in a project on the civil rights movement.  Before beginning, students learned how to conduct an interview.

Junior girls in another class made a film on nutrition.  Sandy took them to an organic meat farm, and a hospital to meet a nutritionist.  “They’re using resources outside their community, to bring something back to their community,” she notes.

Another resource is Westporter Anita Schorr.  The Holocaust survivor met Bridge students at a Westport Country Playhouse production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”  They invited her to their school, and filmed her presentation.  Now they’re creating a documentary on her experiences, with hopes of distributing it to classrooms nationwide.

The Academy’s film program has been a true bridge — between students and the rest of the school and city, and between Bridgeport and Westport.  Two Bridge students now sit on the WYFF board.  Others are collaborating with WYFF (and Westport writer/director Doug Tirola) on a promotional film about the arts.

“They see themselves as colleagues,” Sandy says proudly.

And — one day — they may be back at Sundance, debuting a film to an international audience.

(The Art of Filmmaking and Westport Youth Film Festival are programs of the Westport Arts Center, and receive funding from WAC’s fundraising efforts.)