It’s an anomaly: a Post Road house that has withstood decades of growth all around it.
On one side, there’s Westport’s central fire station. On the other, Terrain replaced a car dealership. The lifestyle brand tried to get rid of the wooden structure — for parking, so they wouldn’t have to maintain it, and probably other reasons — but it still stands there, at the corner of Crescent Road.
It’s dilapidated. It’s forlorn. It was also last week’s Photo Challenge. (Click here to see.)
Elaine Marino, Andrew Colabella and Clark Thiemann all knew where and what it was.
It’s easy to overlook. But it’s still — after all these years — an important part of the Westport streetscape.
It’s “time” now for this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.
In 2011 — as part of its application process to open in town — Terrain agreed to preserve the small house at the corner of Crescent Road.
The Historic District Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission liked what they heard. The small, gray 1900-era building — one of the last examples of a single-family house on the Post Road — stood proudly across from the fire station.
In 2013, this was the condition of the house on Terrain’s Post Road property, at the corner of Crescent Road.
But parking is tight. So in 2013, Terrain tried to gain 8 spaces by knocking down the house. They put in requests to the Planning & Zoning Commission and Historic District Commission (which was involved because the structure was more than 50 years old).
Matthew Mandell was not pleased. The RTM District 1 representative made a video. In it he explained the back story of Terrain’s dealings with the town.
Also in the video, the HDC’s Randy Henkels noted their early support of Terrain, based on promises the store made. Town planning director Larry Bradley described his department’s role.
And RTM member Cathy Talmadge suggested a boycott of Terrain, if they pressed ahead with demolition plans.
They did not. The next day, the company withdrew its request. “0688o” reported, “Terrain is believed to be working with the Planning and Zoning Commission on a parking plan that would preserve the century-old structure.”
It still stands. But — as many Westporters have noticed — it’s looking a bit grotty.
One view of the Terrain house yesterday …
The P&Z is among those paying attention.
Part of the previous deal was that Terrain would not use the house for storage — that way, it would not count toward the number of parking spots needed.
Another part of the deal was that Terrain would maintain it in good condition.
… and another.
Well, it is being used for storage. In fact, the interior has been torn out to allow more space.
And it is most definitely not being maintained.
Storage inside the building.
On Wednesday, the P&Z promised enforcement action.
Will it come in time to save the rapidly deteriorating, yet still somewhat handsome, building?
Scores of Westporters turned out yesterday to honor a wonderful Westporter.
And they did it in a very fitting Westport way.
Angela Trucks — who died last month at 69 — was co-chair of the town’s Beautification Committee. She dedicated her local life to making Westport look good. She was particularly involved in the Re-Greening of the Post Road.
So what better place to light a fir tree — symbolizing beauty, warmth and freshness — than on the Post Road?
The tree sits in front of Jesup Hall — Westport’s original Town Hall. It was donated and decorated by Terrain.
The patio was filled with people of all ages. There was music, mulled wine from Rothbard’s, and s’mores courtesy of Amis.
When Angela Trucks died last month at 69, she left a legacy of beauty.
As co-chair of the town’s Beautification Committee for well over a decade, she championed the Re-Greening of the Post Road. The project encouraged business owners to take pride in their property, with the most outstanding “streetscapes” recognized at an annual awards ceremony.
Today, great streetscapes include Terrain and Jesup Hall. So it’s fitting that both are collaborating on a memorial tree lighting that celebrates Angela’s life.
The event is this Saturday (December 7, 5:30 p.m.), on the Jesup Hall patio. Attendees are asked to bring coats and/or clothing, to benefit Homes with Hope.
Terrain donated and decorated the tree. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association is contributing ornaments and tree tags, so people can write warm thoughts of Angela or a loved one they’d like to remember.
The tree lighting is part of a “Holiday Jam” (4 to 6 p.m.). It includes live music, and free warm drinks for kids and adults. Rothbard’s will provide complimentary mulled wine, while Amis will have a s’mores table.
But the tree lighting in Angela’s memory is the centerpiece. “Hang messages from its branches, to sparkle in the light,” her friends and colleagues urge.
And then enjoy the beauty — literal and figurative — of downtown Westport.
Angela’s friend from Terrain, Page Englehart, adds this tribute:
Angela lived in Westport for a quarter century. Seven years ago, having gardened every allowable nook in town (legally or otherwise), she signed up to help transform our Cadillac dealership into Terrain.
Angela was an original Mother Earth. She bemoaned homes that did not have a hose, shovel or garden tool of any kind. She loved sharing her knowledge of plants and design with her clients — those who wanted “just pink flowers,” those who had budgets, and those who did not. She was a master at inspiring people who had seen it all before, and those who confessed to knowing “absolutely nothing.”
Angela Trucks, hanging a basket on Main Street.
Angela was a team player. The physical work she led us to do was at times hard, but she was always the hardest worker among us. And although she’d send newbies to string outdoor lights on the waterfront side of properties in December, she was always there to help, encourage and indulge a good natter on whatever ailed you, anytime of day (particularly over a sandwich).
Her husband Bill made her iconic sandwiches (peanut butter and apple, turkey and homemade horseradish). She’d tear off a section of the sandwich to share with you before loading her red Toyota Tercel with bags, brooms, branches, moss, plants, lights, wires and tools.
Angela never struggled with the small stuff. She understood the ebbs of nature and its beauty in any season, how the woods blended, how each plant worked with the other. She understood the same of people.
When Angela fell ill, and when she was no longer popping over to clients’ homes despite her cancer, our Terrain folk thought of ways we could lift her spirits — when she came home, when she got better …. a Christmas tree in her honor, perhaps.
When she died, many clients came together to celebrate her imprint on our community: Terrain, the DMA, Jesup Hall and Amis. All felt the best way to memorialize her was with a seasonal tree decorated with natural ingredients — vines, cones, branches and metal tree tags, to sparkle in the light and ring in the darkness.
The tree tags also gave us the opportunity to make Angela’s tree the town’s tree, by encouraging everyone to inscribe a thought or wish before hanging them on the branches. Whether they knew her or not, these tags allow us all to connect with Angela’a good spirit, with her love of the natural world, with a wink.
When the tree comes down at the end of the season, we hope to collect the tags and give them to the Trucks family.
Last weekend, Terrain was ground zero in the Great Osprey Outcry.
Employees were the first line of defense, when workers hired by Regency Centers came to remove the osprey nest perched on a pole on the border between the Fresh Market shopping plaza, and Terrain next door.
The nest is back. But Terrain is moving forward. The garden-and-much-more store hosts an evening of education about the remarkable birds. It’s this Tuesday (April 9, 6 to 8 p.m.).
Speakers include Charlie Stebbins and Milan Bull from the Connecticut Audubon Society and Osprey Nation, and Christine Peyreigne of Christine’s Critters birds of prey rehabilitation center.
The goal is to provide a forum for education and volunteerism. The event is free and open to the public. There are complimentary snacks, and a cash bar.
No word on whether the ospreys will swing over to say hi.
It appears now that Regency Centers — the owner of both the Fresh Terrain shopping plaza and Terrain — is the bad actor in yesterday’s removal of an osprey nest on a pole between the two properties.
Regency’s management company — or a sub-contractor — took down the nest. When confronted by Terrain employees, they claimed to be Audubon Society workers. They also did not have a permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. A permit is mandated by the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918.
But here’s where the story gets really interesting.
This Thursday, April 4 (7 p.m., Town Hall), Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission has a regularly scheduled meeting.
Agenda item #3 is a request by Regency Centers for “Westport Village Center” — aka the Fresh Market plaza — for “a Site Plan approval for proposed exterior alteration to the building façade and modifications to the parking lot for property located in RBD and Residence A zones, PID# E09068000.”
In other words: The illegal osprey nest removal in preparation for parking lot work was done prior to P&Z approval.
Regency Centers — owner of the Fresh Market plaza — will ask the P&Z on Thursday for permission to make changes to the facade and parking lot.
And here’s where the story gets even more interesting.
Thursday’s meeting is a public hearing. Westporters are welcome to attend — and speak.
(You can also make your feelings known by email before the meeting: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Regency is well known to Westport — and the P&Z. When Regency bought the Fresh Market plaza, they promised to plant trees in front, and install a sidewalk. That has not yet been done.
Regency also owns Compo Acres Shopping Center (anchored by Trader Joe’s). Westporters — particularly those living behind the back parking lot — have not forgotten the work-first-ask-questions-later job done on the retaining wall there.
A similar incident occurred in the back of yet another property owned by Regency: the shopping center across the street from Fresh Market.
Thursday’s P&Z meeting should be very interesting indeed.
Meanwhile, back to the ospreys. Someone involved in the utility industry — who asked for anonymity based on the nature of his work — examined this morning’s photo of the removal of the nest. He writes:
The photo taken by the high school freshman of the bucket truck yesterday tells this old utility veteran several things.
This is a “streetlight” pole, set exclusively for mounting the 2 streetlights clearly shown in the photo, whose lights provide security lighting for Fresh Market’s parking lot.
12-year-old James Doan took this photo today, of an osprey at its old nest pole. His mother Carolyn says, “The male is flying around the female with sticks and possibly food. The cry is tough to hear.”
All streetlights are supplied by secondary wires, energized 100% of the time. So this pole has active power supplied to it — a safety hazard for anyone choosing to work on this pole top.
The utility always works with safety most paramount. If this contractor wanted to take this action they should have contacted the utility well in advance to get approval.
Since the utility erected the platform originally. I assume they would never have granted approval for this action. They also would never allow this contractor to work on their pole without authorization, and proof that the contractor is “qualified” to work on energized equipment.
Looks pretty clear that regardless of what DEEP or Audubon said to this contractor, they were also violating various rules and regulations of the utility and perhaps should be treated accordingly. License revocation? Fines? Local Westport electrical inspector might also be someone to get involved with this in that regard.
This afternoon’s “0688o” story on the removal of the osprey nest between Fresh Market and Terrain struck a nerve. We’ve already received over 50 comments. They range from distressed and sad to furious and vindictive.
While there are no clear answers yet as to who removed the nest, it is clear that:
The Audubon Society yesterday received a call asking about removing the nest. They emphatically said no, for many reasons.
This morning, someone claiming to be from the Audubon Society told Terrain they were removing the nest because of upcoming construction — and then did so. Terrain apparently was duped.
Fresh Market had nothing to do with the removal either. Store personnel are very upset about what happened.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is involved. So are the Westport police.
The comments on the previous story are compelling reading. Click here to see them all. Listed below are some highlights, including emails sent directly to me:
Tina Green: I just heard from Patrick Comins, executive director of the Connecticut Audubon Society, And they had nothing to do with the removal of the nest. The landlords should not have removed the nest and platform!
Christine Cummings: I am an assistant manager at The Fresh Market and I want to assure you, we had nothing to do with the removal of the Osprey nest. We are as distressed. We have called the landlord and are trying to get an answer.
One osprey flying over the removed nest this morning. (Photo from video by Sam Levenson)
Debbie Zager: This was done illegally – I went to walk around to see if Nest had been moved and found Betsy, a Wildlife Rehab person who had called in the DEP. The DEP is investigating – we looked everywhere and cannot find the platform. The Ospre’s are stressed and she is very concerned that this will be completely deleterious to the pair. Nobody had permission to move the nest and she said it was the worst time of year to even consider doing so. Calls to landlord went unanswered. Is there any video footage of the people who moved it on someone’s security camera? This is illegal – birds are protected by Federal Government. Contact Christine Peyreigne : email@example.com a Wildlife Rehabilitator with info or to Report if you see an Osprey so distressed and tired that they are in the ground.
Carolyn Doan: I was so upset reading about the Osprey that I called the Audubon Society and this is their exact response:
“Thank you for reaching out to ct Audubon. We did not remove the nest. And would not have recommended to do so. Please call Brian Hess at DEEP (860) 424-3208 Brian.firstname.lastname@example.org to report the removal. Thx.”
Pete Reid: Hi, Dan. Managers at Terrain claim that the nest was removed by the Audubon Society with the approval of CT DEP. This surprised us, and I have reached out to Audubon and DEP to try to confirm this. It would be a violation of Federal law to destroy a working osprey nest, and this sounds like a working nest. I would say this is a story worth looking into. WASA has been very helpful in getting the word out on this. Regards, Pete Reid, Wildlife in Crisis, Weston.
The nest, 4 days ago. (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)
Betsy Peyreigne: After numerous phone calls from people concerned for the osprey, I went down to check out what was going on. I spoke to Audubon in Fairfield who made calls and confirmed that it was NOT Audubon who removed the nest this morning. They received a phone call yesterday asking their opinion on removing it and they firmly stated that it should NOT be touched or removed. The DEEP is investigating.
I met with the officer at the site and relayed all information that I could to him. Searching the entire area for the platform and the nest was not successful. This is in the right hands with the DEEP and I hope that we can get a good resolution soon for this situation. We rehab birds of prey, so if anyone sees either of the osprey grounded for any reason please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you all for your concern about these magnificent birds
Leslie Riback: I just called Terrain again and spoke to manager Maureen. She told me that the police dept and DEP are now involved. She admits that they were misinforming the public by telling them it was removed by the Audobon Society. She says the men who came and took it down told them they were “biologists”. Our phone call was cut short as she said the DEP was calling on the other line.
I guess this is now in the hands of the DEP. Can this get rectified quickly enough? I wish there was more I could do….
Alissa Harrison: I can confirm the CT Audubon Society’s Director of conservation was contacted just yesterday by the construction company involved and the official recommendation was to leave the platform as the osprey pair that nests there are habituated to all of the human activity and would not be negatively effected by the construction. The Audubon immediately contacted the DEEP biologist in charge of monitoring osprey. An Audubon employee was not in any way involved in the removal this morning, it was done solely by the construction company going against the official recommendation of the CT Audubon. I’m happy to hear DEEP is investigating the matter further and hopefully the platform can be put back in place ASAP. It is my understanding that a nest can be removed as long as there are no eggs but that certainly doesn’t mean it should be especially in this situation. Thank you Betsy for your continued work to get to the bottom of this!
Former Eversource employee: Pole is Eversource property…they only allow their own crews or contractors they hire, to install or remove anything on their poles…this is clearly a violation of their rules which all municipalities support and take action against any violators – suggest getting Town of Westport involved. This violates NatIonal Electric Safety Code – thus coming under municipal jurisdiction for enforcement!
Debra Zager: Does Terrain know the name of the landlord because the cherry picker construction device in the back parking lot of Fresh Market (and where Terrain is busting through building) has the keys still in it and it is the machine used to remove the nest. Someone told a worker at Fresh Market that they were relocating the nest for safety due to the upcoming construction … Ridiculous! Does Terrain have Security Cameras or Fresh Market ? If so- perhaps they can identify who did this early this morning?
Fiona Boughton: I am one of two Terrain employees who ran to the scene to demand an explanation from the team of 3 men involved. Two of the men work for Regency Centers https://www.regencycenters.com/office/WPT/New-YorkConnecticut-Office & the other stated that he was employed by All Points Technology http://allpointstech.com and was there to investigate whether the nest was active or not. He told me that because there were no eggs in the nest, he deemed it as inactive BUT we, at Terrain, have been seeing nesting activity over the past week where osprey are in the process of adding sticks to the nest & also sleeping in the nest. I was told by the Regency Centers that I was in the way & to leave the scene. I immediately reported this to the management team of Terrain who acted on reporting it immediately to the EPA https://www.epa.gov
An officer from DEEP came to Terrain & I shared my entire story with him. He assured us that he would get to the root of this. Terrain management kept this as a priority throughout the day & into this evening. & is active in doing everything possible to see that the Osprey are protected & that the nest is replaced as soon as possible. It has been a most heartbreaking day for all of us at Terrain.
Lauren Aber: I’m the store manager at Terrain. We are as upset as everyone about the removal of the Osprey nest. Although the nest does not sit on our property, the birds are very important to us and we look forward to their return every year. We have contacted the EPA, who sent on officer out to the store. They are conducting an investigation and I will update this post with their findings.
Richard Hyman: Can we erect a new platform tomorrow, Sunday? Birds in distress.
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