Tag Archives: Westport Board of Finance

Roundup: Capital Projects, Rosh Hashana, Elon Musk …

As Westport plans major capital projects — a renovation or new Long Lots Elementary School, reimagining of Longshore and others — the Board of Finance does not want to reinvent the wheel.

A special meeting on October 3 (7:30 p.m., Town Hall Room 201/201A) has only one agenda item: “Preparation workshop for the upcoming School and Town Building Program.'”

The board will listen to and question former Finance Board members, and officials who served Westport during the most recent major Westport building program (1998-2008, including Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools).

The public is invited. If there is time, they can ask questions.

Other workshops will be scheduled at later dates.

Westport has begun planning next steps for Long Lots Elementary School. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

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Storm clouds did not detract from yesterday evening’s Tashlich ceremony, at Compo Beach.

Members of The Conservative Synagogue gathered for the traditional rite. On the first day of Rosh Hashana, Jews symbolically casting away sins by tossing pieces of bread in the water.

Gathering together … (Photo/Fred Cantor)

… and casting sins away. (Photo/Diane Yormark)

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Also last night: Another rainbow appeared over Westport.

This one was seen on Weston Road.

(Photo/Stephanie Webster)

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We’re lucky indeed. We’re getting much-needed rain. And gorgeous rainbows that follow.

Saturday was special in Stamford — and in Staples Players’ history.

The award-winning high school troupe added another professional page to their overflowing scrapbook. They performed at a benefit concert for Orchestra Lumos (formerly the Stamford Symphony) at the Palace Theater.

Well, not just “performed.” Players shared the stage with actor/director Mari Friedman, who paid tribute to 3 great composers: Marvin Hamlisch, Stephen Sondheim and Michel Legrand.

Staples Players perform “I Hope I Get It” from “A Chorus Line” …

Friedman spent several hours rehearsing with the high schoolers. “She was fantastic with them, and they loved her,” says Players co-director David Roth.

… and dance to “I Hope I Get It” at the Orchestra Lumos benefit.

The invitation came from Halmisch’s widow Terre Blair. She saw a Players production of “A Chorus Line” — her husband’s work — and was “blown away.”

Maria Friedman thanks the audience, with Staples Players behind her.

Also starring on Saturday: vocalists Ross Lekites (“The Tina Turner Musical”), Lewis Cleale (“The Book of Mormon”) — and Players alumni Camille Foisie and Nick Rossi,

From left: Lewis Cleale, Ros Lekites, Maria Friedman, Camille Foisie, Nick Rossi. (All photos/Kerry Long)

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DJ Sixsmith cut his teeth — and honed his voice — at WWPT-FM. You can still hear the 2011 Staples High graduate giving the school station’s call letters at the top of every hour.

He’s now first senior manager for digital and social media at CNBC. Last week, he headed to California to interview Jay Leno — in the TV host’s iconic garage.

That makes sense. They were on YouTube Live, promoting Leno’s exclusive tour of SpaceX with Elon Musk — on the web series “Jay Leno’s Garage.”

Sixsmith gave fans the chance to ask Leno questions directly, and peek behind the curtain about the episode.

It went viral, when Musk himself commented on the video, on Twitter.

Sixsmith said on LinkedIn: “I love working for a company that is willing to let me run with new social and digital ideas like this one.”

Click below, for the full YouTube Live. (Hat tip: Mark Lassoff)

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This week’s Jazz at the Post features Serbian guitar master Rale Micic; bassist Steve LaSpina and drummer Steve Johns; of course the Jazz Rabbi, Greg Wall — and new start times for the 2 sets (7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; Thursday, September 29, VFW Joseph J Clinton Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue). Dinner service begins at 7 p.m.

There is a $10 cover. Reservations are strongly suggested: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Rale Micic

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This is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. On Friday (September 30, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Westport Library), the Westport Prevention Coalition offers a free “Suicide Prevention Lunch and Learn.” It’s open to all residents, plus town employees, elected officials, commissioners and volunteers.

An RSVP is required. Click here to register.

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The Traveling School offers girls and non-binary students ages 15-18 a chance to see the world, build leadership skills, and grow personally. The semester-long program travels to Africa, South America and around the western US. 

It’s nearly 20 years old, and boasts 450 alums. Students receive academic credit from their home schools, and stay on track to graduate. Nearly 60 percent receive financial support.

They host an open house on October 12 (6:30 p.m., Rowayton). For more information, click here or email admissions@travelingschool.com.

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Longtime Wesetporter Salvatore Mastromatteo passed away peacefully earlier this month. He was 90 years old.

He worked many years for Arnold Bakery. Sal enjoyed time off by going to New York City, the movies, walking at the mall, and spending time with his family.  

Sal is survived by nieces Claudia Bradley fiancé William Thomas) of Tamarac, Florida and Tammy (Vinny) Guarente of Beacon Falls; great-niece Angela Guarente (Joe Darrah); great-nephew Joe (Megan) Guarente, and great-great nieces Michaela Darrah and Izabella Guarente.

He was predeceased by his sister Annamay Bradley, with whom he shared a home with after the death of their mother.

His family thanks June Richardson (conservator), and the staff at the Westport Rehabilitation Complex and Long Ridge Acute Care, for taking great care of Sal.

Private services were held at Assumption-Greens Farms Cemetery.

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Very appropriately, Jilda Manikas sent this “Westport … Naturally” photo of this insect on a screen door yesterday — Rosh Hashana, one of the Jewish High Holy Days.

It’s a praying mantis.

(Photo/Jilda Manikas)

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And finally … Jim Post died earlier this month in Iowa, of congestive heart failure. He was 82.

He and his then-wife Cathy Conn were Friend & Lover — one-hit wonders in 1968 with the song “Reach Out of the Darkness.”

Although — as this New York Times obituary explains —  his lyrics “reach out in the darkness” suggest a very different message.

(I think it’s so groovy that people want to contribute to “06880.” Please click here to support this hyper-local blog.)

Remembering Ed Capasse

Edward Capasse — a lifelong Westporter, former Board of Finance chair, and an active volunteer with the Westport Weston Family Y and Assumption Church — died last week, surrounded by his family. He was 91.

Ed was born October 1, 1930 in Westport, son of Police Captain Edward T. Capasse and Theresa PrunoLo Capasse.

Ed graduated from Staples High School. That’s where he met his wife of 48 years, Esther Ann Mondella, a Westport teacher.

After graduating from Fairfield University in 1952 and Boston College Law School in 1955, he became a prominent lawyer. He worked for over 60 years in Westport, first with Tate, Capasse & Johnson, then Nevas, Nevas & Capasse.

Ed Capasse

In addition to his work with the Board of Finance, Y and Assumption, Ed was an avid boater, golfer, swimmer and tennis player. He was a member of Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club and the Patterson Club.

Beyond his career as “consigliere” to Westport businessmen, he is
remembered by his family as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, who lived up to his Staples yearbook quote: “Upright as the cedar.”

“Deeply religious, he espoused strong family values, integrity, work ethic and charity, spiced with a wily sense of humor. He loved spending time with his grandchildren and gardening, while pursuing a late ‘singing career.'”

Ed spent his final years in Westport and Vero Beach, Florida with his late second wife, Linda Coburn Capasse, with whom he shared a decade of memories.

Ed is survived by his children Thomas (Jeanne) of Westport, Mary Beth (Jim) Carroll of Falls Church, Virginia, David of Bridgeport, and Meg (Dan) MacLeod
of South Portland, Maine; grandchildren, Jay (Becca), Erin and Addison Carroll and Natalie (Subhash) and Michael Capasse; great-grandchild Jarmin James
Carroll, and numerous nieces and nephews.

In addition to Esther and Linda, Ed was pre-deceased by his sister, Marie Whelan.

Calling hours will take place at Harding Funeral Home, Westport
on August 15 (4 to 7 p.m.). A Mass of Christian Burial is set for Assumption Church on August 16 (11 a.m.), followed by burial at Assumption Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Foundation for Fighting
Blindness. Afflicted with a hereditary eye disease, Ed overcame occupational and
professional disability with support from the Foundation. He was an
active participant in their mission. Click here, or send to PO Box 45740, Baltimore, MD 21297.

Budget Time!

If you like numbers, facts and statistics — plus a healthy dose of pie charts and bar graphs — this post is for you.

The 1st Selectwoman’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget is online. It includes revenue and expenses from the past year. In 320 pages, it tells the tale of Westport better than any “06880” story ever could.

The budget begins with a few pages of fascinating facts. Our population of 28,016 makes us the 12th fastest growing of all 170 Connecticut municipalities.

Our daytime population swells to 34,851 — meaning many more folks commute in than commute out.

Our 9,916 households include 68% families, 14% seniors living alone, and just 3% singles.

Our median income is $206,466. A full 51% of Westport households earn $200,000 or more. Just 7% earn less than $25,000. An eye-popping 85% of Westporters own their own homes.

A graphic display of Westport income.

But most of the budget is — well, the budget.

It includes $23 million for Public Safety, $19 million in Pensions, OPEB and Insurance, $12 million for Public Works, $7.2 million for Parks & Recreation (much of that offset by income), $1.4 million for Human Services — and just $528,000 for Health, and $343,000 for the Westport Transit District.

The biggest item, of course, is Education ($130 million). The rest of the town budget is $78 million.

Are those figures too high? Too low? Just right?

Find out for yourself. Click here for the full link.

And if you’ve got an opinion: Click “Comments” below, of course.

But you can also attend the Board of Finance meetings March 8 (7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) and March 9 (if needed for the Selectwoman’s budget, and March 10 (same time and place) for the Board of Education budget.

The meetings will also be livestreamed at http://www.westportct.gov (select the “How Do I” heading, then “Watch Town Meetings”), as well as Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Comments may be emailed to BOFcomments@westportct.gov.

The Westport Transit District gets about $343,000 from the town.

 

Finance Board To Hear ARPA $$$ Requests

Next year, Westport will receive $8.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act  funding. The money is part of a $2.2 trillion CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) economic stimulus package.

Earlier this month, “06880” reported one possible use. The Greens Farms Association hopes the town can repair the crumbling jetty at Burying Hill Beach.

On January 5 (7:30 p.m., Zoom), the Board of Finance will review a $1.3 million request from the Department of Public Works for that project.

They’ll also discuss an application for $200,643 in funds from the Westport Arts Advisory Council. It includes 12 organizations that could use some of that money:

Artists Collective of Westport: $20,000 to beautify new bus shelters with changing local artist work; full-color, large-scaled prints of adjudicated works to rotate every 2 months.

Beechwood Arts: $20,000 for 4 all-arts collaborative events, including community scavenger hunts, art opening, story share and facilitated dinner discussion.

JIB Productions: $20,000 for 2 projects: 1) Play Time (professionally moderated structred play reading/discussion group, 6 sessions at the Senior Center); 2) Partnership with Westport Library, Bridgeport schools and Westport schools to screen (with director talk-back) “Change the Name,” a documentary abouyt a group of middle school students who successfully changed the name of a Chicago park from slaveholder to abolitionist.

Levitt Pavilion: $20,000 to underwrite 4 free presentations for 2022 summer season, including folk, jazz, rock and big band concerts.

MoCA: $20,000 for weekly art enrichment workshops for underserved community groups such as STAR, Silver Hill Hospital, Veterans groups/Homes for the Brave, Bridgeport Boys & Girls Club, etc.

Suzuki School of Music: $20,000 for a community concert series in-person and streamed from the Westport Library; Connecticut Guitar Festival, Concerto and Aria Concert, Piano Concerto Concert and Family Pillow Concerts.

Westport Country Playhouse: $20,000 for a pilot program mobile tour of elementary school plays, touring Westport and Fairfield County; partnering with TEAM Westport, ConnectUs, the Boys & Girls Club of Connecticut/Southport, Westport Library and Norwalk Housing Authority.

Westport Museum of History & Culture: $20,000 for a graphic novel to explore the American Revolution from 6 perspectives: women, Indigenous people, enslaved and free Americans, loyalists, patriots, and local authors/illustrators.

WestPAC: $20,000 for art storage: professional fees ($125 an hour/160 hours) to perform a feasibility study to to adapt town-owned facilities for the Collection’s storage needs.

Community Band: $12,500 to commission a piece to commemorate the COVIDI experience, to be played at the Levitt Pavilion.

Music for Youth $6,518 for the Arkai gender-bending string duo 2-day residency and pormances a Westport middle schools and Staples High; master classes for orchestra students, performances for full schools.

Westport School of Music: $3,625 for a faculty chamber concert for The Residence at Westport assisted-living facility.

The Board of Finance meeting on January 5 will be streamed on www.WestportCT.gov, and shown on Optimum Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020. Emails can be sent to BOF@westportct.gov. Comments to be read during public comment period may be emailed to BOFcomments@westportct.gov.

Westport Women Lead The Way

In a different world, this would not be news.

But this is our world, so it is.

Last night, Danielle Dobin was re-elected chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission. That means that the 3 major boards in town — P&Z, Education and Finance — are led by women (Dobin, Lee Goldstein and Sheri Gordon, respectively).

Of course, the Board of Selectmen is composed of 3 females too: Jen Tooker, Andrea Moore and Candice Savin. So it’s now — officially, and wonderfully — the Board of Selectwomen.

Westport’s female leaders are both Democrats and Republicans.

This is a first in Westport’s 186-year-old history. Is it also a first in the 233-year history of our state?

Danielle Dobin, Westport Planning & Zoning Commission chair.

PS: Let’s not forget Anna Rycenga, chair of the Conservation Commission!

New Beach Concessionaire Ready For Approval

No one knows when Compo Beach and Longshore will reopen.

But when they do, the Parks & Recreation Department will be ready.

After announcing in November that Joey’s by the Shore is no longer the concessionaire at the beach, pool and halfway house, Parks & Rec sent out an RFP.

There were 5 responses. Three applicants were interviewed. And the winner is …

Upsilon Entertainment Group.

The Larchmont, New York-based firm begins the approval process at a Board of Finance meeting tomorrow (Wednesday. April 1). The 8 p.m. Zoom meeting will be livestreamed on WestportCT.gov, and shown on on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.

Then, at a public meeting on April 7 (8:30 a.m.), the Planning & Zoning Commission considers the 1st selectman’s 8-24 Request for a Report about the new concessionaire. The meeting will be streamed live on the town website, and on Cablevision Channel 79.

The P&Z’s purview is to consider the overall planning impact of the proposed lease for the use of these municipal spaces. Public comment can be made in writing only. Email pandz@westportct.gov, to ensure that comments are circulated to the entire P&Z Commission.

Interested residents can review the application materials, including the proposed lease, here: https://www.westportct.gov/government/departments-a-z/planning-and-zoning-department/p-z-pending-applications

Final approval would be granted by the Board of Selectmen. A date for that meeting has not yet been set.

Upsilon Entertainment Group hopes to be the new beach concessionaire. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Westport Voters Split Tickets: GOP’s Marpe/Tooker On Top, Dems Down-Ballot

Running against 3 opponents, Jim Marpe was chosen by almost exactly half of all Westport voters last night.

The Republican incumbent 1st selectman — and new running mate Jen Tooker — earned 4,187 of the total 8,380 cast (49.96%).

That was 452 more than the 44.57% received by Democrats Melissa Kane and Rob Simmelkjaer.

Trailing far behind were petitioning candidates John Suggs (430 votes, 5.13%) and T.J. Elgin (28 votes, 0.33%).

The results were far different for other races.

Democrats Brian Stern and Lee Caney were re-elected to the Board of Finance. Republican Andrea Moore fills the 3rd seat. Her running mate Vik Muktavaram fell short, and is expected to remain on the Board of Education.

The 4 Board of Ed candidates up for re-election — Democrats Elaine Whitney and Candi Savin, and Republicans Karen Kleine and Jeannie Smith — were all re-elected without opposition. They finished in the order above.

While the Board of Finance and Board of Ed remain in Democratic hands, the Planning & Zoning Commission switches control, from the GOP to the Dems. Democrats Greg Rutstein, Michael Cammeyer and Danielle Dobin won, beating Republican Jon Olefson and Coalition for Westport candidate Jennifer Johnson.

For all Westport election results — including RTM — click here. At the top of the page select “November 2017 Municipal Election,” then choose Westport from the map or drop-down menu below.

Unsung Heroes #20

Many Westporters know them only if there’s a problem.

Compo overcrowded? Call the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Issue with your new deck? Call the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Aquarion building a huge water tower nearby? Call your RTM member.

“They” are the men and women who volunteer for our town boards and commissions. In addition to the above, there’s the Board of Finance, Board of Education, Planning and Zoning Commission and more.

(Photo by Cathy Zuraw/Connecticut Post)

They spend countless hours reading reports, fielding emails and phone calls, and attending meetings (and meetings and meetings).

They get criticized for taking stands, taking votes, and not taking votes.

They even put up (and take down) their own road signs.

And they do it for no pay.

Zero. Nada.

That’s why they’re called volunteers.

They seldom get thanked. Even during election season, we seldom think of the enormous sacrifices our volunteer town officials make to make Westport the wonderful place it is.

That’s why everyone who runs for public office — Democrats, Republicans and independents; men and women; lawyers, business executives, stay-at-home parents and retirees; winners and losers — are this week’s Unsung Heroes.

You’ve got our “vote” of thanks!

(Want to nominate your own Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

 

Jennifer Tooker Runs For #2

When Avi Kaner decided to forgo a 2nd run for 2nd selectman, it did not take Jim Marpe long to name Jennifer Tooker as his running mate.

The Dallas native and University of Notre Dame graduate lived in Chicago and London while she and her husband Mo worked for GenRe. (They met in a training class.)

When they were transferred to corporate headquarters in Stamford, they did the usual: searched for the right town (and commute) in Fairfield County.

Tooker says they fell in love with all of Westport, including historic home on North Sylvan.

“The commitment to public education, the beach — we felt a great vibe right from the start,” she notes.

Jennifer Tooker

Realizing this was her family’s final move, she decided to act on her long desire for public service. Tooker was appointed to the Conservation Commission — an excellent introduction to the ins and outs of local and state government.

In 2011 she ran for the Board of Education. Talk of “Westport 2025” intrigued her. She believed that her experience overseeing a global department was a good fit for the 21st-century skills the board was examining. Her financial background could help too.

Voters agreed, and elected her.

“In local politics, it doesn’t matter if there’s an ‘R’ or ‘D’ after your name,” she says. “The goal is to figure out how to get things done for all the people you serve. I’m proud that on the Board of Ed we took a pretty non-partisan view.”

Two years later, Tooker ran for the Board of Finance. She cited her knowledge of the education budget process, and ability to bridge communication gaps between the 2 important town bodies.

Juggling her job, public service and a household with 3 kids was not easy. In 2013 she resigned from GenRe.

“I really enjoyed my government work,” Tooker says. “I wanted to devote all my time and energy to it.”

But she found time to join local non-profits too. She is particularly proud of her work with the Adam J. Lewis Preschool in Bridgeport. “I’m passionate about doing what I can to bridge the achievement gap in education,” she says.

Jennifer Tooker, with her family: husband Mo, daughter Riley, son Jack and daughter Nicole. 

So why is Tooker leaving the finance board — with its important power — to run for 2nd selectman?

“With all that’s going on with the state budget, we’re in for tough times,” she warns. “I think this is the right time for someone with my breadth and depth of experience, and my business principles, to step in and help the town stay vibrant and wonderful.”

And, she adds, “I can’t pass up the opportunity to serve with Jim. I admire his character, his accomplishments and his vision.” The pair worked together on the Board of Education.

She hopes to “help this administration achieve its goals, while navigating turbulent economic times and still maintaining the quality of life in Westport.”

Pointing to the model Marpe used with Kaner and 3rd selectman Helen Garten, Tooker says the 1st selectman can “figure out the best way to use all of our skill sets to keep Westport unique and vibrant.”

There’s plenty of campaigning ahead. But, Tooker says, she loves to kayak, paddleboard and go to the beach with her kids. Those too are parts of her summer plans.

Mike Rea Suspends 1st Selectman Campaign

Jim Marpe’s route to re-election as first selectman just got easier.

Last night, Mike Rea announced he was suspending his potential run for the town’s top post.

The vice chair of the Board of Finance formed an exploratory committee in March.

Now, he says, business commitments prevent him from dedicating the time to the effort. Rea serves as vice president of corporate services and global real estate for Gen Re.

Mike Rea (left) after his first Board of Finance victory. On the right is current 2nd selectman Avi Kaner.

Rea notes that he was “overwhelmed with the support and encouragement from Westporters across the political spectrum.” He looks forward to serving out his finance board term.

The lifelong Westport resident, 1970 Staples High School graduate and 35-year volunteer in town government believes that the challenges Westport faces today “require new thinking. The state of Connecticut has thrust financial issues upon Westport. Residents should and are expecting more, requiring new creative thinking from our town leaders.”

He adds, “This is a good time for new and younger people to step forward and volunteer to serve our community. Contact the political party of your choice and sign up to run for office. Westport is counting on you.”