Tag Archives: The Saugatuck Cooperative

Roundup: The Saugatuck, Hook’d, Burying Hill …

Some of the most affordable housing in Westport is hidden in plain sight.

Two 2-bedroom units at The Saugatuck — formerly Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street — will go on the market soon.

The Saugatuck is a senior complex (residents must be at least 62) that caps resale prices to ensure affordability for people with moderate incomes or below. The restriction last year was roughly $105,000 for a single person, and $115,000 for a couple.  There are no asset restrictions.

The property manager maintains a list of interested buyers, for sellers or their agents. For information on how to get on the list, email djallouk@thepropertygroup.net.

The Saugatuck (Photo courtesy of SmartMLS Inc.)

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For the past few weeks, a range of readers have complained to “06880” about the Compo Beach concession stand.

Some emailers are angry. Some acknowledge that this is a First World problem. But there are enough of them that they can’t be ignored.

Hook’d took over as the concessionaire from Joey’s by the Shore in 2020. They did not open that COVID-plagued year. Last year’s opening was delayed too. Many Westporters gave the new operators the benefit of the doubt; replacing a 30-year beloved institution would not be easy.

But patience is wearing thin. Here’s a typical email:

“I was there on Tuesday with grandkids at 4 pm. NO ICE CREAM. The place looked empty of everything.

“One of the workers said there have been lots of complaints about running out of things. It has no atmosphere, and is the exact opposite of Joey’s. And the food is very mediocre. I had a terrible hot dog. Burgers are so so.

“Compo beach needs a great beach stand. Have you heard this from anyone else?”

Yes. Other issues include early and random closures, and no posted operating hours.

There’s this too:

“A little birdie told me when the manager sends his supply list, corporate cuts it to their liking. It’s so not Joey’s. Typical ‘corporate.’ They don’t care about us Westporters. Just their bottom line.”

One reader wonders why, even when no one else is in the place, Hook’d employees insist on taking a customer’s cell phone number, to text when it’s ready.

Readers: What’s your experience with Hook’d? What are they doing well, or poorly? Are there any easy fixes? Click “Comments” below.

Hook’d is open. But customers don’t always know when. (Photo/Karen Como)

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Speaking of beaches: The Burying Hill pier/groin reconstruction job is done. The final construction crew left on Friday.

Before departure they poured a new, low cement wall in the parking lot, to keep vehicles from driving on the sand.

The new construction looks great, and the crew was efficient and engaged. Congratulations to all involved, for bringing this important environmental project to fruition. (Hat tip: Eric Bosch)

Burying Hill Beach pier. (Photo/Eric Bosch)

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The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism hosts “Havdalah on the Beach” next Saturday (July 9, 6 p.m., Compo  Beach).

Everyone is invited for a short service, with folk and klezmer music. Guests can swap Jewish-themed books too.

The CHJ will provide homemade desserts and soft drinks. Bring dinner, adult drinks and a beach chair. There’s no need for a beach pass; tell the gate guard that you are attending the CHJ event, and follow the signs.

Havdalah at Compo Beach.

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The next Westport Country Playhouse “Sunday Symposium” guest is Ins Choi. The writer of “Kim’s Convenience” — the play that inspired the popular Netflix series, and which is the next WCP production — will talk about the show, following the July 10 matinee.

The Sunday Symposium is free and open to the public. No performance ticket is necessary; just arrive 80 minutes after the 3 p.m. curtain.

Perviews for “Kim’s Convenience begin July 5, with opening night on July 9. For information on tickets and special offers, including discounts for students, senior citizens, educators, military, first responders, Indigenous peoples, professional playwrights and groups, click here.

Ins Choi

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“06880” subscription news: Issues continue to plague readers with Optonline.net addresses,

WordPress and Optonline don’t play well together. The great folks at the new Optimum store near Fresh Market are working on the issue, but have not yet solved it.

If you know someone with an Optonline.net address is not receiving “06880,” ask them to email 06880blog@gmail.com. I’ll send a list of troubleshooting steps.

The easiest solution, of course, is to subscribe to “06880” using a different email address.

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The renovation of Longshore may be years away.

But there’s a new addition, near ER Strait Marina.

The Kahuna waterslide popped up the other day. It serves summer campers.

Though plenty of older folks no doubt want to give it a try.

(Photo/Bruce McFadden)

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MaryLou Bell died peacefully Thursday at her Westport home, surrounded by family. She was 83.

Born to Patsy and Antonette Doddo, she was a life-long Westport resident. She graduated from Staples High School in 1956.

MaryLou was a well-respected local banker. She began with the Westport Bank & Trust Company while in high school. She sun-bathed on her lunch breaks with fellow employees on the roof of the downtown building (now Patagonia).

Loyal customers followed her to newest bank branches in her capacity as branch manager. Through the years she worked with Connecticut Bank & Trust, the Bank of Darien, the Bank of Westport and others. She ended her career in 2012 at Fairfield County Bank.

MaryLou enjoyed New York outings with colleagues, taking in Broadway shows and dinner. Her vacations in North Truro on Cape Cod were special to her. She volunteered at the Sons of Italy Festival Italiano and Westport PAL’s annual golf tournament, and was a member of Westport Sunrise Rotary.

She was active in local politics during the 1970s and ’80s, with the Republican Town Committee and Save Westport Now. Her family says, “She enjoyed spending time at the Westport Senior Center, and sharing laughs with her friends and family. She was fiercely independent, a straight-shooter, and was never afraid to express her thoughts to others. MaryLou lived life her way.”

MaryLou’s family thanks her exceptional caregivers Millie and Thomasine for providing friendship along with compassionate care.

MaryLou is survived by her daughter Kathy )Scott) Santarella of Westport; son Bob (Marybeth) Stephens of Suffolk, Virginia; grandchildren Jordan  and Jamie Santarella, and Wesston, Tyler, Ashley and Will Stephens; sister and brother-in-law Annette & AJ Izzo of Westport; her brother-in-law Ray (Linda) Barry of Fairfield, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

MaryLou was predeceased by her husband of 35 years, William Bell, in 2000, and her youngest sister Angela M. Doddo in 2001.

Friends may greet the family on Wednesday (July 6, 4 to 7 p.m., Harding Funeral Home). A mass of Christian Burial will celebrated at Assumption Church on  Thursday (July 7, 10 a.m.). Entombment will follow at Willowbrook Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to ­­­­the American Heart Association, or the charity of your choice.

MaryLou Bell

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You’ve got to be carefully taught.

In the case of humans, that covers just about everything.

For tree swallows, it’s how to catch insects

The other day, a few babies awaited their mother’s lessons. She took each out, one at a time, while the others waited.

Nancy Diamond captured the scene, for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Nancy Diamond)

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And finally … today marks the halfway point of 2022. (Well, any year actually. But this is the one we care about now.)

183 days are gone; 182 remain. It’s all downhill from here.

(We’re halfway through the year. If you haven’t donated yet to support “06880,” please consider helping. Just click here!)

The Saugatuck: A Cooperative Thrives On Bridge Street

Westport does not have a nickname. But if we did, we might be called “The Land of Lawsuits.”

Westporters like to sue. The town won a lawsuit to prohibit construction of a nuclear power plant on Cockenoe Island (yay!). Neighbors lost a suit to prohibit construction of the Compo Beach playground (yay!).

Neighbors also threatened to prohibit Positano restaurant from putting a few tables on an outdoor patio near Old Mill Beach. As a result, the restaurant moved. A private home now rises in its place (boo!).

Lost in the mists of time is another lawsuit. In 1985, 64 residents of Bridge Street and nearby roads sued to prevent the conversion of what was then Saugatuck Elementary School into multi-unit housing.

Three years later, a settlement was reached. The agreement limited the project to 36 owner-occupied, age-restricted units.

(Photo courtesy of SmartMLS Inc.)

Today, The Saugatuck is a true success story. One of Westport’s most affordable residences lies a short walk from thriving Saugatuck Center and train station, and not much further from Compo Beach.

The attractively renovated red brick building graces Bridge Street between South Compo and Imperial Avenue.

Residents have formed a tight-knit, active community. It’s hard to imagine the neighborhood without it, in fact.

None of that could have been predicted in 1984. Westport’s school population was declining. Burr Farms Elementary was torn down. Hillspoint Elementary turned into daycare. Bedford El became Town Hall. Greens Farms Elementary School housed the Westport Arts Center.

When the lawsuit was settled, plans were drawn up to convert the school that generations of Saugatuck residents attended. It dated back to the early 20th century, when the original wooden building was called the Bridge Street School.

It took several years, but 17 1-bedroom and 19 2-bedroom apartments were built in what were once classrooms, the library and auditorium. Because Saugatuck had been a classic elementary school, each unit features large windows and high ceilings.

Units at The Saugatuck feature large windows.

Those surroundings are familiar to at least one current resident — and several others in the past. They attended Saugatuck El as kids. Living there now is very different — but also quite familiar.

Joe Veno has lived in The Saugatuck for more than 20 years. As a youngster, he walked to the school from his Franklin Street home. He played basketball in the playground — now a parking lot — and baseball in what is now a quiet back yard.

The Saugatuck is a cooperative. The Town of Westport owns the land, and holds a 99-year lease on the property. But the Cooperative owns the building.

Members must be at last 62 years old (at least one, in the case of married couples), able to live independently, and their income must be below the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority’s guidelines for homeowners at 80% of area median income. Importantly, there are no limits or restrictions on assets.

To ensure affordability, the resale price is linked to the average increase in income for individuals living in the area.

Three units are currently for sale. A 2-bedroom, 1 bath apartment is listed at $222,282; 2 1-bedroom units have listing prices of $179,800 and $168,300. (Inquiries can be directed to the property manager: 203-226-1570.)

Those are far below other Westport prices, because of the original affordable housing prices implemented in the 1990s, and the strict resale cap/formula that limits how high prices can climb.

A view of The Saugatuck’s back yard.

A cooperative’s rules are are more stringent than in a condo, particularly in areas like rentals. Saugatuck units must be their owner’s primary residence.

One of the great perks of The Saugatuck is Shaun Cullen, a part-time super.

Residents include longtime Westporters who have downsized, and no longer want the responsibilities of a home and yard.

Other residents have moved to The Saugatuck from elsewhere, to be close to their children and grandchildren in Westport.

Most Saugatuck residents are retired, from careers including Wall Street, Madison Avenue, refuse collection and tile installation. At least 2 — an accountant and a contractor — are currently working.

The vibe is friendly. Neighbors chat easily, in the community room, mail room and hallways.

The cooperative is governed by an executive board. They and other residents organize a variety of activities: movie nights, supper at the beach, a jazz keyboardist and Labor Day picnic.

A recent party in the community room.

It’s hard to imagine Westport today without the Compo Beach playground — or to visualize the town, had a nuclear power plant been built on Cockenoe.

It’s just as hard to imagine what Bridge Street would be like without The Saugatuck. How great that the neighbors who sued more than 30 years ago cooperated in a settlement that led to a co-op.

FUN FACTS: 1) During the Depression, the WPA commissioned Westport artist Robert Lambdin to paint a 7-foot high, 20-foot long mural: “Pageant of Juvenile Literature.” For years, it hung just inside the main entrance to Saugatuck Elementary School.

In 1992, when the town finally began to convert the old Saugatuck El to senior housing, the mural was slated for demolition.

A group of art-lovers — including Mollie Donovan, Eve Potts and Judy Gault Sterling — set out to save the work. Within a month they raised $40,000. That was enough to remove the mural, conserve it, and reinstall it at its new home: The Westport Library. 

It stayed there for more than 2 decades. When the transformation project was announced, and a suitable spot could not be found for the work, Westport arts curator Kathy Motes Bennewitz and members of the Westport Public Art Collection searched for a large wall, with plenty of foot traffic.

They — with architect Scott  Springer — found it, at Staples High School. Now, the enormous, eye-catching mural hangs proudly near the auditorium lobby, just a few feet from the Staples library.

2) When Saugatuck was an elementary school, Pete Seeger — at the time, blacklisted as a folk singer — performed on its auditorium stage.