Tag Archives: Town Hall

Pic Of The Day #1724

Everyone is welcome at Town Hall. (Photo/Doug Tirola)

CORRECTION: Dueling Tree Lightings Are December 3

This morning’s Roundup noted that 2 tree lighting ceremonies are December 2. In fact, both the Wakeman Town Farm and Town Hall events are Friday, December 3.

The Town Hall lighting begins at 5 p.m. The Staples High School Orphenians will sing.

The WTF lighting starts at 4:30, and features music, cocoa, cookies and a bonfire.

See you at one — or both!

Wakeman Town Farm tree lighting, in 2019. Last year’s event was canceled, due to COVID.

Roundup: Dodge-a-Cop, Tree Lighting, Uber Discount …

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Police officers and Staples High School students battled last night. For 2 hours in the fieldhouse, they hurled objects at each other.

It’s all good.

The event was Dodge-a-Cop. The annual dodgeball tournament is a fundraiser for Toys for Tots — and a great way to get police and teenagers working together. Each student team included at least one officer.

Dodge-a-Cop was organized by the Westport Youth Commission and Staples’ Teen Awareness Group.

There were no arrests.

Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas (2nd from right) and RTM member Andrew Colabella (far right) joined in the fun. (Photo courtesy of Westport Police Department)

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Dueling tree lighting ceremonies!

Both the town of Westport, and Wakeman Town Farm, will do the honors on Friday, December 3.

The Town Hall event begins at 5 p.m. The Staples High School Orphenians will sing.

The WTF lighting starts at 4:30, and features music, cocoa, cookies and a bonfire.

If there are any other tree lightings that day, please let us know.

The Town Hall tree, in 2018. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Speaking of the holiday season: What a time for parties, celebrations and fun!

Not time for drinking and driving afterward, though.

Smart imbibers know that one way to avoid arrest — or worse — is to call Uber. Now — thanks to the Connecticut Department of Transportation Office of Highway Safety — you can get a $10 discount off that potentially life-saving ride.

And it’s available every day from now through January 14, between 5 p.m. and 4 a.m. The discount code is: SaveTheNightCT.

Put that code in your phone now. It may be harder to find when you need it the most.

This program comes thanks to a grant from the Governors Highway Safety Association, in partnership with Uber. Connecticut is one of only 5 states to receive the funds.

For more information, click here.

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Anaiza Morales moved to Westport only 2 months ago, from New Jersey. But it didn’t take her long to get involved in her Westfair neighborhood.

Impressed by how much fun everyone had on Halloween, last Sunday she organized a chili crawl/cook-off.

Anaiza met new neighbors, and their college-age kids and mothers in for the holiday weekend. They shared food and stories, while walking around the neighborhood (in perfect weather).

It was a blast. And people who did not have a chili recipe brought dessert.

The competition was close. Only .6 of a point separated the top cooks (as calculated by a young engineer). The winner: Wendy, with Brazilian feijoada.

Enjoying the chili (and warm weather) in the Westfair neighborhood.

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MoCA Westport’s current exhibition – “When Caged Birds Sing” — features 8 life-size sculptures by the late Westport artist Ann Weiner. They represent women’s rights activists who survived abuse because of their gender, yet still advocate for the rights of others at risk.

In conjunction with this important exhibit, MoCA hosts 3 human rights experts for a panel discussion at 6 p.m. on December 2:

  • Claudia King, from Connecticut’s Human Anti-trafficking Response Team
  • Cadence Pentheny, coordinator, community and corporate learning, LGBTQ+ Training Institute, Triangle Community Center
  • Jamie Rubin, Southwest regional manager, Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities.

The event is free, but pre-registration is required (click here). Attendees who arrive early can grab a beverage at Bar MoCA. Guests can stay after the event to watch a documentary associated with the exhibition.

Part of MoCA’s “Caged Bird” exhibition.

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A memorial service for Julie Belaga — the former state representative, regional EPA administrator and Export-Import Bank director who died Friday — is set for December 19 (10 a.m., Westport Library). All of Julie’s friends and admirers are welcome.

Julie Belaga

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Two days ago, our Roundup featured 2 intriguing photos. Both showed a fancy women’s shoe, abandoned at Compo Beach. In one shot, it lay on the ground; in the other, it was perched on a railing.

That shoe sure gets around. Here’s a third image:

(Photo/Indrani Basu)

It sure gets around. If you see it on the cannons — or anywhere else — let us know.

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“Westport … Naturally” celebrates Turkey Day with, of course …

Dogwood Lane buck. (Photo/Eric Roth)

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And finally … 5o years ago today, hijacker DB Cooper parachuted from a Northwest Orient Airlines plane over the Pacific Northwest, with $200,000 in ransom money. He has never been found.

Click here for full details. Click below for DB Cooper’s song.

Friday Flashback #271

Every resident knows the handsome building on Myrtle Avenue as Town Hall.

Residents with long memories remember it as Bedford Elementary  School.

But no one — at least, I don’t think anyone — recalls when the entrance looked like this:

That’s the view Gloria Gouveia found at an online auction.

She was outbid at the last moment for the painting.

Let’s hope the winner has as fond memories of the school as its many graduates do.

Pic Of The Day #1621

Last night’s moon over Town Hall (Photo/Tomoko Meth)

Roundup: 3rd Moderna, Modern Thermometer, Polestar EVs …

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The Westport Weston Health District will host a “3rd dose” Moderna vaccine clinic — for moderately and severely immunocompromised people — on September 10 (1 to 4 p.m., Senior Center).

Appointments can be scheduled here. Bring your vaccination card to the appointment.

The CDC’s additional dose recommendation includes people who have:

Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood

Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system

Received a stem cell transplant within the past 2 years, or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system

Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency

Advanced or untreated HIV infection

Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress an immune response.

To learn more, speak with your healthcare provider. Click here for the CDC website.

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Polestar2 — an all-electronic vehicle — is giving test free test drives to the public. From now through Sunday (11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.), they’re doing it at Bedford Square.

If you’ve never driven a fully electric vehicle, this is a great. chance. Everyone is welcome — so long as you have a driver’s license!

Polestars, at Bedford Square.

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On Wednesday, Bob Weingarten went to Town Hall, for house research.

Usually he signs in at the front desk, and heads to the Town Clerk’s office. This time, he was asked for a temperature check — and to do it himself.

There’s a device, just inside the main door. Stand in front, and get a readout.

I haven’t been in Town Hall in months. I don’t know if this is new and noteworthy, or not news. It could be cool — or a story like George H.W. Bush’s surprise at how a supermarket scanner works.

You be the judge. I’m just passing along Bob’s photo.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

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2003 Staples High School graduate Jesse Levin owns the Readiness Collective — an emergency training club and outfitter in Norwalk. Earlier, he opened a pop-up shop in Bedford Square.

After the chilling news from Afghanistan, Jesse turned the Collective into am ad hoc volunteer emergency operations center, to facilitate emergency evacuation efforts.

We have turned our training club, The Readiness Collective into an ad hoc volunteer emergency coordination operations center to facilitate efforts under way for emergency evacuations in Afghanistan.

Professional logistics and disaster response experts on site help guide volunteers on how to contribute. They’re tied in with working groups on the ground, and assisting from abroad.

Recent efforts include the expatriation of 20 targeted Afghan nationals and their families to Uganda, critical medical advice provided to parents of a young girl injured by a tear gas canister and unable to reach medical help, and the development of overland evacuation plans for wide distribution.

Jesse’s Collective needs help and support. “Just bring a computer and a willingness to dig in,” he says.

Offices are in the SoNo Collection (just off I-95 Exit 15 in Norwalk, Level II0. Questions? Email ready@readinesscollective.com, or call 203-275-7297.

Jesse Levin, providing aid in Puerto Rico.

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Sure, Westport Book Shop is the go-to for “pre-owned” (okay, used) books and more — including music.

But they also run an online store. It’s got a selection of new, sealed CDs, in categories from pop and oldies to classical and jazz.

Click here to browse the online selections.

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Three attorneys at Westport-based FLB Law have been named to the Best Lawyers in America list.

The FLB honorees are managing partner Stephen P. Fogerty, and attorneys Alan S. Rubenstein and Leslie E. Grodd.

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Seen the giant sunflower at Viva Zapata?

The restaurant’s Sam O’Mahony explains today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, growing out of the 2nd-floor window boxes:

“We didn’t plant sunflowers this year! We’re assuming a bird dropped it up there last summer from our garden in the side yard.”

(Photo/Sam O’Mahony)

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And finally … in honor of Town Hall’s new temperature scanner:

 

New COVID Protocols For Town Hall, Library

We’re not yet through with COVID.

In fact, we’re entering a new, worrisome phase.

Based on advice from the CDC and state Department of Health as the Delta variant spreads, town officials have announced new safety protocols. They are effective immediately.

Staff, visitors and patrons of all town buildings — including the Westport Library — will be required to wear a mask regardless of individual vaccination status.

Walk-ins will continue to be allowed in Town Hall.  Visitors must follow contact tracing, mask requirements, temperature checks and other safety protocols upon entering. As an alternative, it is recommended that the public consider the town’s online services or other options for in-person meetings.

New — actually, old — COVID protocols have been implemented at Town Hall.

Town Hall meetings can also be held outside at the picnic table in the rear of the building, or in the lobby.

Staff are required to check their temperature upon entering work for the day.

Town and Library employees will return to weekly testing for COVID, for their safety and for the safety of any visitors.

First Responders will return to COVID protocols by wearing masks when interacting with the public indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

The public should expect that many businesses and restaurants will return to requiring masks, regardless of vaccination status. That decision is currently at the discretion of the establishments.

Westporters are urged to remain vigilant and informed as the Delta variant continues to spread and impact even those who are fully vaccinated.

Those who are eligible and who have not done so already are encouraged to get vaccinated. Please discuss any concerns about the vaccine with your health care provider.

[OPINION] Old Historical Plaque Belongs Near New

Thursday’s “06880” story on the installation of a new historical plaque behind Town Hall — one acknowledging that Westport’s founding fathers built a prosperous agriculture community using “forced labor of enslaved Africans and Natives” — drew comments from several readers noting the simultaneous removal of a similar nearby plaque.

This plaque behind Town Hall has been removed. (Photo/John Suggs)

That one — dedicated in 1980 — began:

“For nearly 200 years after the first white settlement here in 1648, the area east of the Saugatuck River belonged to the west parish of Fairfield; that west of the river to the Town of Norwalk.”

The text then describes the village of Saugatuck’s growth as a “thriving port for regional produce and goods”; the incorporation of the town of Westport in 1835, and our history as a farming community, artists’ colony and post-war suburb.

Text on the now-removed 1980 plaque (Photo/John Suggs)

Longtime Westporter John Suggs provided “06880” with photos of that now-removed plaque. He says:

I want readers to see what the old plaque actually said. Hopefully many other Westporters are as shocked as I am that this historic plaque was somehow deemed “offensive” and was unilaterally — and without any public discussion — removed from its setting 41 years after the town, the Westport Historical Society and the Connecticut Historic Commission first installed it in a place of honor.

This was not created during the dark days of Jim Crow. This plaque was installed in 1980. Many Westporters who were there when it was installed and were part of that day are still alive, and still live here.

I think it should be returned. And it, along with the newer plaque, can jointly offer a comprehensive and informative commemoration of Westport’s history.

The new plaque behind Town Hall. The old one (right of the double doors) has been removed.

This original plaque represented the best thinking of this community just 41 years ago — including 2 of the same entities who have brought forth this new plaque. It does not deserve to be consigned to the dustbin.

Not to restore it and return it to its proper place at Town Hall is unconscionable.  Hopefully, when people read what it actually says, they will understand and agree.

This isn’t a case of “either/or” between the old and new plaque. Rather, it is “both/and.” The way forward is to display both.

The new Town Hall plaque.

 

New Plaques: Honest Insights Into Local History

Across America, towns and cities grapple with difficult elements of history by removing statues, and changing names.

In Westport, we’re putting up plaques.

Without fanfare, a pair of historic markers have been installed downtown. One adds important information about the founding of our community. The other honors a long-forgotten group of Black residents.

The first plaque stands behind Town Hall, on a door near the parking lot.

The plaque behind Town Hall.

 

It notes that indigenous people lived in this area for thousands of years, before Europeans arrived. It says that the Paugussets were driven away in the Great Swamp Fight of 1637, and acknowledges that Westport’s founding fathers built a prosperous agriculture community using “forced labor of enslaved Africans and Natives.”

The plaque describes events like the Revolutionary War; the importance of the river and railroad, and our growth as an arts colony and New York suburb.

The Town Hall plaque.

But it mentions too that Westport became more diverse “with an influx of international residents and a thriving Jewish community. These residents worked to remove restrictive deed covenants in the housing and commercial real estate markets.”

The plaque includes the image of an enslaved woman. A QR code brings up more information about Westport’s history.

A marker commemorating 22 1/2 Main Street (now 28 Main Street) has been placed on Elm Street, opposite Serena & Lily. That’s near the rear of what was once a thriving Black community.

The Elm Street plaque.

A similar brass plaque will be placed soon on the Main Street entrance to the Bedford Square courtyard.

Both explain that residents of the neighborhood made up the majority of Westport’s African-American population. Many were descended from people enslaved by European settlers.

Residents of 22 1/2 Main Street were “maids, cooks, gardeners, drivers and groomsmen to affluent Westporters.” The area included a grocery store, barber shop and Baptist church.

The plaque commemorating 22 Main Street.

In December 1949, the plaque says, residents petitioned the Representative Town Meeting to be considered for planned affordable housing. They were rebuffed.

The next month, a local paper predicted “great loss of life” if a fire broke out in the “slum.”

Eight days later, a blaze did occur.

There were no fatalities. But most buildings were destroyed, and nearly every resident moved from Westport.

Though arson was suspected, there was never an investigation.

The 22 1/2 Main Street plaque includes photographs, an illustration and a QR code.

Both plaques are highlighted on the official town website. The “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” page says:

Westport is a town with a future that is bright and full of promise. We respect the richness of our past, and commit to addressing future challenges with particular focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion for all who live, visit, and work in our town. As an engaged community, we are bound by a passion for the arts, education, the preservation of natural resources, and our beautiful shoreline. We are uniquely positioned to thrive in the years to come.

The Town of Westport, in consultation with TEAM Westport is committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in our community. The plaque project works to correct prior versions of Westport’s written history.

The plaque project was undertaken by TEAM Westport, with help from 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, town operations director Sara Harris, Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich, and Westport Museum of History & Culture director Ramin Ganeshram.

A 2018 exhibit at the Westport Museum of History & Culture included photos and text about 22 1/2 Main Street.

 

RTM Condemns Racism

This is the first of Peter Gold’s regular reports on the Representative Town Meeting’s monthly sessions. He is an RTM member writing for himself, not in an official capacity.

October’s RTM meeting was one of the longest on record. It began at 7:30 p.m. yesterday, and ended at 2 a.m. this morning.

Six of the 7 agenda items were disposed of quickly. The last item — a 2-page sense of the meeting resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, and asking the town to help combat it — led to 5 hours of debate.

The final version was adopted unanimously (28-0). It says:

The Westport RTM condemns racism in all its forms and hereby commits to actively working toward combating racism and valuing all people as deserving of equitable treatment. We see the world around us and recognize racism as a crisis, having negative effects on the public health, welfare and lives of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC). Racism diminishes us all. Therefore, we ask the Town of Westport to commit to continue work already begun, and we ask the Town of Westport to develop means to evaluate our community’s progress in the areas of racial equity and justice.

All RTM members spoke out against racism, while acknowledging it exists in Westport.

A primary area of discussion focused on whether or not the resolution should be limited to condemning racism, or if it should be expanded to condemn sexism and all other forms of discrimination as well.

While many RTM members felt that expanding the resolution diluted its impact by taking the focus off racism, many others felt that all forms of discrimination, including sexism, anti-Semitism and discrimination against LGBT people are equally reprehensible, and should be condemned too.

Other areas of concern involved the appropriateness and accuracy of several of the “whereas” clauses in the original resolution; whether or not the original resolution was too “partisan,” “political,” or otherwise beyond the scope of the RTM’s powers; and the feeling that the original wording was a one-size-fits-all resolution adopted by many other towns, instead of being tailored to Westport and expressing Westport’s values and concerns.

Many RTM members spoke eloquently and passionately on both sides of these and other issues. The full debate will be posted on the town website.

The other votes were also unanimous, and straightforward:

  • Ratification of the Conservation Commission’s approval of bridge replacements for the Cavalry Road and Bayberry Lane Extension bridges over the Saugatuck River (work begins in the spring, and will last 6-8 months).
  • Approval of $310,000 for new lights at the Greens Farms Elementary School softball field; replacement of the 30-year-old lights with new LED lights will save the town approximately $185,000 over the next 25 years in electricity and maintenance costs.
  • Approval of $150,000 for an uninterruptable power supply for Town Hall and the Parks and Recreation Department. Town Hall had 3 major power failures leading to IT problems in the last 5 years — most recently during Isaias. The new power supply will provide “clean” power.
  • Approval of $349,000 for several Public Works Department requests, including designing a replacement for underground fuel and storage tanks with above-ground tanks to address environmental concerns and meet state requirements; replacing garage doors at the Public Works Center and old, non-functional doors at the transfer station to improve safety and security, meet state requirements, reduce maintenance expenses and improve efficiency in storms; upgrading the waste oil storage shed to meet state spill standards, and replacing an aging truck and excavators.

Coming soon: An uninterrupted power supply at Town Hall.