Tag Archives: Westfair Village

Westfair Village: Westport’s Hidden Neighborhood Gem

In 2010, Anna and Shawn Rycenga went house hunting. She was the land use director in Oxford, Connecticut; he worked in New York City.

Westport was in between. It had all the amenities: excellent schools, great children’s activities, beaches. But something else attracted the couple too.

As they drove through Westfair Village, they saw kids riding bikes, and adults walking dogs. It had a true neighborhood feel.

The Rycengas bought a home on Westfair Drive. Twelve years later, they’re still there.

And still very happy.

Westfair Village — nestled between Post Road East and North Bulkley Avenue — is little known outside of the area. Its profile is as low-key as the Westfair Center strip mall it sits behind, across the Post Road from Stop & Shop.

A home on Fairport Drive.

But with over 100 homes, a couple hundred children, and a year-long calendar of fun events, it’s one of Westport’s last true “neighborhoods,” in all the community-minded, hometown senses of the word.

It’s had a long time to create traditions. Westfair Village was built right after World War II by developer B.V. Brooks Sr., for beneficiaries of the GI bill.

Located on an old onion farm, the circular streets featured modest Capes on 1/3-acre lots. He named the roads “Westfair” and “Fairport” (combinations of Westport and nearby Fairfield) as well as “Dexter” (the nickname of his son, B.V. Jr.) and “Brook” (presumably short for his own last name). It’s not clear what the 5th street — Hunting Lane — is named for.

In the nearly 80 years since then, Westfair Village has seen many changes. Homeowners added 2nd floors to the original Capes, rebuilt their interiors, and enlarged their small houses. Some became teardowns, replaced by bigger homes. Large trees provide shade, on once-open lots.

Anna Rycenga estimates 14 or 15 original homes remain.

This home in Westfair Village started out as a Cape. The 2nd floor was added later, and the floor plan — the same in every home — was reworked.

As younger families like hers moved in, Anna wanted to make sure they felt welcome. She created a neighborhood directory.

That made organizing a block party easy. The first, in 2013, included a live band. Anna — who loves to cook — provided the food. It’s now become one of the highlights of the year.

Tables laden with food sit on lawns. People dance in the streets.

The block party has become an annual end-of-September tradition.

Westfair girls …  (Photo/Anna Rycenga)

But the block party is just one part of a full year of fun. There are holiday parties, chili cook-offs, Easter egg hunts.

On the first day of school, mothers enjoy a “MOMosa” bar. On the last day, dozens of boys and girls ride their bikes to Long Lots Elementary.

… and guys. (Photo/Anna Rycenga)

Friday ice cream trucks are a much-loved new tradition. Westport’s Police and Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services are all invited (and eat free). Children clamber in and out of police cars and fire trucks.

If Stevan Dohanos was alive, he’d paint the scene for the Saturday Evening Post (if it was alive too).

Friday ice cream: a neighborhood tradition. (Photo/Anna Rycenga)

The pandemic accelerated the influx of families with young children.

It also made social connections harder. But parents organized a socially distant Halloween parade. And people set out lawn chairs by their driveways, and chatted with their neighbors and passersby.

“I feel blessed to live in Westport as a town, and in this neighborhood especially,” Anna Rycenga says.

Police and kids hang together. (Photo/Anna Rycenga)

Peggy Lehn agrees. She’s lived there for 30 years. She’s thrilled at the energy and sense of community the young families have brought.

“”I was sad to see some of the older residents move on,” Peggy says. “But the new residents have embraced this wonderful neighborhood. There is a real sense of community here: kids riding bikes, people walking dogs.

“And always, a wave and a smile.”

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Backyard Dumping In Front Of Westfair Village

An alert “06880” reader living in Westfair Village — behind Westfair Center, between Post Road East and North Bulkley Avenue — writes:

This is a fantastic neighborhood. In the last few years, many homes have turned over to new families with young children. There is almost a full school bus just for our little area. There are also families that have lived here for decades.

All of the houses are on lots of about 1/3 acre, so there is a tremendous feeling of community. It’s common to see kids and parents walking the streets each day.  Of course, there’s an annual block party. It’s a Halloween destination for many families who live elsewhere, because it’s so easy to walk to so many homes.

Westfair Drive. (Photo/Google Maps)

We (and many of our neighbors) truly love the area — and its proximity to the Post Road.

However, Westfair meets the Post Road near the shopping complex that houses Shanghai Gourmet, Gaetano’s and Yamafuji Sushi. Over the years, the back parking lot has become progressively more of a dumping ground.

An oil dumpster has leaked for years.  The lot is littered with boxes, bottles and cans — no one looks after it. A bin of soiled aprons is a permanent fixture — along with a discarded refrigeration unit.

The building needs a good paint job. And the roof fence needs fixing.

It’s unclear whether anyone has complained to the owner: 1701 Post Road East LLC (registered to a parent company with an address of 30 Shorehaven Road, Norwalk).

If so, and they’ve done nothing: Shame.

If no one has contacted them: They should know what’s going on with their tenants, anyway.

And be good neighbors, regardless.

Westfair Village: Westport’s Throwback Neighborhood

Right after World War II, local real estate developer B.V. Brooks Sr. built Westfair Village for beneficiaries of the GI bill.

Located on an old onion farm directly behind Westfair Shopping Center — Brooks’ strip mall opposite what is now Stop & Shop — Westfair Village’s circular streets featured modest Capes on 1/3-acre lots. He named the roads “Westfair” and “Fairport” — combinations of Westport and nearby Fairfield — as well as “Dexter” (the nickname of his son, B.V. Jr.) and “Brook” (presumably short for his own last name).

In the nearly 70 years since then, Westfair Village has seen many changes. Homeowners added 2nd floors, rebuilt their interiors, and enlarged their small houses. Some became teardowns, replaced by bigger homes (though none qualify as “McMansions”). Large trees provide shade, on once-open lots.

Westfair Drive today. (Photo/Google Maps)

Westfair Drive today. (Photo/Google Maps)

But 7 decades have not changed one element of Westfair Village. It is still a true neighborhood. Mothers push babies in strollers. Kids ride bikes. Folks take after-dinner walks. Everyone looks out for each other.

There are block parties, holiday parties, and welcome-to-Westfair parties.

In a 21-century touch, there’s also an active website through which residents share news, advice, and recommendations for doctors, lawn services and babysitters.

John DeLibero bought his house in 1983, for $102,000. The other day, he and his partner Ron Johnson invited me over to see the neighborhood they love.

John DeLibero (left) and Ron Johnson in the back yard of their Westfair Village home.

John DeLibero (left) and Ron Johnson in the back yard of their Westfair Village home.

Ron grew up in one of the 1st suburban subdivisions, in Huntington, Long Island. Everyone knew everyone else. There was the same small-town feeling when he lived in Washington, Connecticut.

In Westport, he says, “people lead more independent lives.” John adds, “It’s hard to know your neighbors when you live on a street that everyone races down at 40 miles an hour.”

That’s why they love Westfair Village. No one drives quickly; the streets are too narrow and curved for that.

With houses close together, they really do know everyone else. And it’s a diverse mix: doctors, retirees, actors, financial folks, house painters. Plenty of people work from home.

The neighborhood has gone through cycles. Returning soldiers and their young wives raised families. Kids grew up; some moved away, others bought nearby. The parents stayed — some until they died.

Today the homes are once again filled with young families, just starting out.

One of Westfair Village’s attractions is affordability. Prices rose from $350,000 a decade ago to $1.125 million (new construction) just before the meltdown. Prices for original (rebuilt) homes are still shy of $600,000.

This home in Westfair Village started out as a Cape. The 2nd floor was added later, and the floor plan -- the same in every home -- was reworked.

This home in Westfair Village started out as a Cape. The 2nd floor was added later, and the floor plan — the same in every home — was reworked.

Building lots are another story. Two homes on Brook Lane recently sold for about $2.3 million.

But Brook Lane is on the far edge of Westfair Village. Mostly, it looks not substantially different than it has for the past 70 years.

The homes are a bit bigger. The foliage is lusher.

Yet up and down the circular roads, kids still play, parents still chat, and couples still stroll.

It’s not a place that time forgot.

Just a place where time moves — wonderfully — a bit more slowly.