Tag Archives: Westport Department of Public Works

Leaf It Out Of Waterways

With leaf and brush removal season in full swing, it’s tempting to dump them anywhere close, and out of sight.

Tempting — but if the closest place is a wetland or watercourse, also illegal.

Conservation Department director Colin Kelly says, “Laws that protect our wetlands and waterways are there to protect the town’s natural resources, as well as private property.

“Wetlands act as natural drainage basins for the collection of excess groundwater in the spring and runoff during storm events. Wetlands keep floodwaters within streams and their floodplains.”

Leaves should not be dumped in waterways. They should not block drains, either.. (Photo/Tammy Barry)

Westport residents have several options for leaf disposal.

One is to compost leaves in the back yard within a fenced area or a composting receptacle, at least 20 feet away from any wetland or watercourse.

Backyard composting is a convenient alternative. It also produces valuable soil for container or garden planting the following year. Click here , or click here or  hclick here  to learn more about composting.

Another option — for Westport residents with a valid sticker — is to deliver leaves to the yard waste site (180 Bayberry Lane, behind the Aspetuck Health District).

The yard waste site is open Monday through Saturday (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Extended Saturday hours are in effect through December 10. NOTE: Plastic bags ae prohibited.

Alternatively, the Department of Public Works began curbside leaf collection this month. All leaves must be placed in biodegradable paper bags safely near the curb of a town street by December 5 to guarantee pick-up.

Residents living on private streets must place their leaves behind the curb of an intersecting town road. Again: no plastic bags!

For more information about leaf removal or the yard waste site, call the Department of Public Works: 203-341-1120.

Roundup: Leaf Pickup, Riverside Avenue Closure, Charlie Karp …

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From now through December 6, Westport’s Public Works Department is collecting leaves placed in biodegradable paper bags on the curbside.

All leaves must be placed safely near the curb of a town street (not private roads to guarantee pickup. Leaves placed in plastic bags will not be picked up (the composting process cannot handle plastic).

For further information, call Public Works office at 203-341-1120.

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Saugatuck drivers beware!

From today through Tuesday (November 23), a road improvement project will close Riverside Avenue between Bridge Street and Saugatuck Avenue to all but local businesses and residents. All other traffic must use Saugatuck Avenue and Charles Street.

Closed for renovation.

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Charlie Karp was a Westport musical legend.

The Staples High Class of 1971 member dropped out of school to play guitar and tour with Buddy Miles. He later played with Jimi Hendrix, then returned to the area and front numerous bands. He inspired countless young musicians. His death from liver cancer in 2019 was followed by an all-star memorial concert at the Levitt Pavilion.

Yesterday, friends and classmates unveiled a memorial plaque at Staples. It’s part of the music department’s showcase, and highlights his career and influence.

Among the attendees: Mark Soboslai, Rafe Klein, Walter Panek, Bruce Carter, Brian Keane, Bonnie Erickson and Lynn Untermeyer Miller.

Westport Public Schools’ music and visual arts coordinator Steve Zimmerman (left) and Walter Panek, plaque and logo designer. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Karp’s death also spawned 2 documentary films. The second — just released to the public — was created by his friends and fans. It tells the story of his life, and the tribute concert. To view this gift to the community, click here.

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Westport Country Playhouse’s popular script-in-hand reading series is back — live!

“A Merry Little Christmas Carol” — written and directed by Script in Hand curator Mark Shanahan — combines magic, holiday cheer and the magic of the holiday.

It’s in person on December 13 (7 p.m.).

For theater-goers not ready, or unable, to return to the theater, an on-demand livestream is also available (December 16-19).

Click here for tickets and more information.

The Script in Hand series returns to the Westport Country Playhouse. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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Assumption Church has embarked on a culturally diverse music program.

This Sunday (November 21), the Filipino Community Choir sings at 5 p.m. mass.  The Hispanic Community Choir follows December 12 (9 a.m.), with the Vietnamese Community Choir on January 3.

Still to be scheduled: the Haitian Community Choir and Regina Pacis School Children’s Choir.

Filipino Community Choir

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Congratulations to the Westport Soccer Association’s U-12 white travel team, coached by Alyson Panaro: league champions!

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One more “Westport … Naturally” gorgeous view, before the leaves fade:

Saugatuck River view. (Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

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And finally … if you’ve never heard Charlie Karp play guitar (see story above), check out his work with Buddy Miles …

… and solo:

Snow Plows: A Westport Primer

As Westport prepares for heavy snow, high winds and coastal flooding — because hey, 2020 — the Department of Public Works reminds us:

PLOW ROUTES. Streets are plowed and sanded in order of priority. Main (collector) roads are addressed first, with special attention to steep hills and difficult intersections.

Side streets are done next, then dead-end streets. A single pass will be made on side streets to keep them open, but primary emphasis will be placed on main roads until the storm has stopped. This may not seem fair to the residents of side streets or dead-end streets, but main roads must remain open.

BLOCKED DRIVEWAYS. All snowplows angle the same way: to the driver’s right. They cannot avoid pushing snow in front of a driveway. Homeowners are responsible for access to their driveway. The only way to avoid extra shoveling is to wait until DPW crews have completed their final clean up on the street.

FOLLOWING PLOWS. Never follow a plow too closely, or attempt to pass one. Plow trucks weigh several tons and have many blind spots; snowplows cannot maneuver easily or stop quickly, and drive slowly when clearing and treating roads; reduced speed allows salt to stay in travel lanes, limiting the amount that scatters off the road. This saves taxpayer money and minimizes environmental impacts.

Plowing can also create a cloud of snow around the truck that causes limited visibility and whiteout conditions for passing motorists. It also creates a ridge of snow between lanes that makes passing inadvisable. Stay several car lengths behind plow trucks!

Westport’s Public Works guys, in action a few years ago. (Photo/Luke Hammerman for Inklings)

SIDEWALKS. Businesses are responsible for keeping all sidewalks along their property clear of snow and ice.

MAILBOX DAMAGE. The town repairs or replaces only mailboxes and/or posts that are struck by a plow blade. Usually a paint mark or tire tracks supply evidence of a mailbox strike. The town does not repair or replace mailboxes and/or posts that fall from the force of plowed snow. Mailboxes and supporting posts must be installed to withstand the rigors of snow removal, including the force of snow pushed from the street onto the roadside.

PRIVATE PLOWING. The town prohibits plow contractors from pushing snow from driveways or parking lots onto town streets. It is dangerous, and impedes the town’s snow removal efforts. If there is no other alternative to pushing snow into the street, the plow driver must plow off the windrow left across the street by re-plowing until the road is safe. This may not necessarily mean bare pavement, but it should be no worse than when the driver began work.

Questions? Call Public Works: 203-341-1120.

Leaf It To The Town

For the past few months, the world has been turned upside down.

But one thing never changes: Leaves fall in the fall. And we have to do something about them.

The Department of Public Works suggests that homeowners consider backyard leaf composting. Click here or here to learn more. You can also call the  Conservation Department (203-341-1170) or Earthplace (203-557-4400) for info.

The DPW says, “The ease and cost savings of backyard composting provides a viable alternative to either carting leaves to the town yard waste site or filling paper bags for the Town’s curbside pickup.”

2nd Selectman Jen Tooker, with her 3-section compost bin.

But if you choose curbside leaf collection: It lasts throughout November. The final townwide pass takes place in early December.

All leaves must be placed safely near the curb of a town street by November 30 to guarantee pick-up.

The DPW will collect leaves placed in biodegradable paper bags on the curb.  Leaves placed in plastic bags will not be picked up, as the composting process cannot manage plastic. Residents living on private roadways must place their bagged leaves at an intersecting town roadway.

Only Westport residents with valid proof of residency may bring their leaves directly to the yard waste site (180 Bayberry Lane).

If leaves are transported in plastic bags, residents must empty the leaves from the bags. The yard waste site is open Monday through Saturday (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

Westport residents with valid proof of residency may dump up to 6 30-gallon bags or containers full of leaves without a fee.

Any van, pickup or tag-along trailer exceeding the 6-bag limit will be charged $40 per load. Any vehicle or trailer larger than a conventional pickup with a 4-foot by 8-foot bed will be charged $90 per ton.

Any vehicles with a 9-foot body or vehicles changed to significantly enlarge their factory design size will be charged $90 per ton estimated at 2 ton without weigh slip ($180).

Dump tickets may be purchased by appointment only at Town Hall, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., or by mail (Department of Public Works, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880). Requests may also be placed in the drop box at the rear of Town Hall.

Isiais: By The Numbers

Ten days after Tropical Storm Isaias ravaged our town, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, the Department of Public Works and Westport Emergency Response Team report:

The Westport Fire Department responded to 581 incidents, almost 500% of their normal call volume. WFD also responded to at least 30 carbon monoxide incidents, the first time the department received so many calls of this type. In response, the WFD and the Fire Marshal have been increasing their education and outreach regarding the proper usage of generators.

From 1 p.m. Tuesday, August 4 through 1 a.m. Wednesday, the Westport Police Department logged 230 calls for service. 155 of them came at the height of the storm, 2 p.m.. Over the following 24 hours, the WPD answered 779 phone calls, 284 of them on the 911 line. The department also deployed temporary traffic control signage at around 15 major intersections throughout the course of the storm.

The Department of Public Works cleared 304 tree issues. They continue their cleaning debris from 125 miles of town-owned roadways, in addition to all town-owned Parks and Recreation facilities. The DPW expects to spend 2 weeks cleaning up town property, most of which could not commence until Eversource cleared and de-energized their wires.

DPW’s role is to remove trees and debris from the town’s right of way. DPW is not doing curbside pick-up of yard waste. Residents should not put personal yard waste and debris curbside. The town’s Yard Waste Site at 180 Bayberry Lane is open for personal yard debris. Normal hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to noon. Tomorrow (August 15), the yard waste site stays open until 3 p.m.

The Department of Human Services worked around the clock, in collaboration with emergency personnel, to address storm-related concerns from upwards of 400 households. DHS received over 150 calls and emails, and made over 40 home visits for welfare checks and/or provide food service.

Westport’s Department of Human Services brought food, water (and toilet paper) to elderly residents trapped behind this tree on Rocky Ridge Road.

If you have a vulnerable resident in the home, or know seniors who live alone or whose main caregiver is also elderly, register that individual with the DHS. Call 203-341-1073, so the department can proactively follow up with him or her during future emergencies.

The number of town-wide emails and phone calls received is over triple the normal volume. Town personnel collaborated and triaged those responses as quickly as possible. In addition, emergency and general information was dispersed via Nixle alerts, daily press releases, social media posts and through the town radio station, WWPT 90.3FM.

Residents can stay connected with the town by signing up for emergency alerts and press notifications, and following the town on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Residents are urged to preset their radio to 90.3 FM in case of emergency.

As part of emergency incident standard procedures, the Town Emergency Operations Command Team will debrief and discuss the process, protocols and communications that occurred during Isaias. Each member will make recommendations for improved procedures during future emergency incidents.

Marpe adds: “There were many examples of neighbors helping neighbors and people stepping up to help in the midst of the emergency. Most Westporters came together and demonstrated resilience and an inherent capacity to help those around them. I want to express my deepest gratitude to those residents and town employees who exhibited patience, cooperation and understanding under very trying circumstances.”

The night after 98% of Westport lost power, an impromptu concert popped up on Jesup Green. (Photos/Miggs Burroughs)

Unsung Heroes #155

This one’s a no-brainer.

It’s been 8 days since tropical storm Isaias hammered our homes.

Power is still out in some spots. WiFi, cable and phone service may take longer.

But as we look back on the past week, our town is filled with heroes. If you are …

  • A first responder (police, fire, EMT…) who fielded hundreds of calls
  • A second responder, like the Community Emergency Response Team
  • An Eversource worker — or one that the utility outsourced, who drove for hours to get here — and worked tirelessly, in dangerous conditions, sometimes bearing the brunt of residents’ frustrations with Eversource’s highly paid higher-ups
  • A Department of Public Works worker, who made seemingly impassable roads passable
  • A landscaper or tree guy, who had more work than you ever dreamed of from regular customers, but still found time to help homeowners in dire straits who desperately flagged you down

To the rescue! (Photo/C. Swan)

  • A Human Services Department employee, who did way-beyond-the-job-description things like delivering food and water (and toilet paper!) to stranded seniors
  • Nate Gibbons, the fire inspector who provided sane, soothing and life-saving advice on a continuous WWPT-FM loop
  • The staff of the Westport Library, who made sure the generator stayed on so that (literally) thousands of residents could access WiFi, (literally) 24/7

A small part of the large WiFi crowd. (Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

  • A Westporter who helped a neighbor (or stranger) in any way: offering charging or a hot shower; clearing brush; providing food or shelter or a shoulder to cry or vent on — or anything else
  • A restaurant, deli or market owner, who somehow saved or scavenged food, kept it cold or heated it up, and somehow found a way to serve or sell it
  • A Parks & Recreation Department staffer, who got our parks and recreation facilities cleaned up quickly — a take-your-mind-off-your-woes lifesaver for many, especially over the weekend
  • A town official who fielded countless urgent calls, pleas and requests, along with tons of demands and questions; dealt with impossible-to-deal with utility representatives; got the ear of the governor, senators, our congressman and state legislators; kept everyone as safe as possible — and did it all during a pandemic, while also planning for (hey, why not?!) a primary election

… then you are our Heroes of the Day.

I know I’ve missed plenty of categories. Apologies in advance. Feel free to add your own Heroes; click “Comments” below.

Leaf It By The Curb

Westport’s curbside leaf collection program begins this Monday (November 4). It runs through December 2.

During this period, Public Works will collect leaves placed in biodegradable paper bags on the curbside. Leaves placed in plastic bags will not be picked up. Residents living on private roadways must place their bagged leaves at an intersecting town roadway.

DPW crews will pick up bagged leaves several times during the collection period. A final pass begins December 2, 2019, and takes about a week.

Only Westport residents with valid proof of residency may bring their leaves directly to the yard waste site at 180 Bayberry Lane. Leaves transported in plastic bags must be emptied from them.

The yard waste site is open weekdays and Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Westport residents with valid proof of residency may dump up to 6 30-gallon bags or containers full of leaves without a fee. Any van, pickup or tag-along trailer exceeding the 6-bag limit will be charged $40 per load. Any vehicle or trailer larger than a conventional pickup with a 4-foot by 8-foot bed will be charged $90 per ton.

Any vehicles with a 9-foot body or vehicles changed to significantly enlarge their factory design size will be charged $90 per ton, estimated at 2 tons without weigh slip ($180). Dump tickets must be purchased at Town Hall, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., or by writing Department of Public Works, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880.

NOTE: For ease and cost savings, Public Works urges homeowners to consider backyard leaf composting. For details, call the Conservation Department (203-341-1170) or Earthplace (203-557-4400).

Pics Of The Day #684

Westport’s Department of Public Works was out early this morning, making sure town roads were safe for everyone. (Photo/Jimmy Izzo)

When the snow stopped, this was the scene, looking westbound at the Saugatuck train station (Photo/Max Stanger)

Remembering Dale Wehmhoff

The Town of Westport lost a hard worker, and the sports world lost an avid competitor, when Dale Wehmhoff died last week.

The 1979 Staples High School graduate was 57.

Dale’s family moved to Westport when he was 6 years old. He played basketball, baseball and ice hockey.

Dale Wehmhoff

The ice was his particular passion. He became an assistant coach at Staples at age 18. A few years later as head coach, he took Norwalk High to the state final. He later coached again at Staples, as well as with youth and junior teams.

Dale was an avid softball player too. He played on local teams, and traveled around the country to tournaments.

Dale spent 31 years with Westport’s Department of Public Works. He also managed his own landscaping business, employing many friends and high school students.

Dale’s father Ralph was well known in Westport. After his death, Dale took over his popular role as “Santa” in the holiday season. He spread warmth and happiness to less fortunate area residents.

Dale was especially proud of his children’s success. His daughter Kelcie is head cheerleading coach at Brien McMahon High School, and in youth sports. His son Kyle is assistant hockey coach for the Connecticut Junior Whalers.

In addition to his children, Dale is survived by his wife Cheryl Anderson; his mother Marlene of Westport; his sister Marilyn Gula of Delray Beach, Florida; his brother Wayne of Westport, and several nieces and nephews.

Calling hours are this Sunday (November 18, 2 to 6 p.m., Harding Funeral Home, Westport). Services take place on Monday (November 19, 11 a.m., Saugatuck Congregational Church).

In lieu of flowers, scholarship donations can be made to Kelcie or Kyle Wehmhoff, c/o Wells Fargo Advisors, 450 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880.

 

Plowing Ahead

There’s no major snow in the forecast (though it will be c-c-c-cold!). And director of public works Steve Edwards is retiring.

But — in one of his last acts — he offered this information for the next big snowfall.*

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123 miles of streets in Westport are maintained by the Department of Public Works. Snow removal can cost up to $2,500 per hour. It is important that the town use its resources wisely. Cooperation from residents can help minimize cost.

PLOW ROUTES. Streets are plowed and sanded in order of priority. Main (collector) roads are addressed first, with special attention to steep hills and difficult intersections.

Side streets are done next; then dead-end streets. A single pass is made on side streets to keep them open, but primary emphasis is placed on main roads until the storm has stopped. This may not seem fair to the residents of side or dead-end streets, but main roads must remain open.

Westport’s Public Works guys, in action a few years ago. (Photo/Luke Hammerman for Inklings)

BLOCKED DRIVEWAYS. All snow plows angle the same way: to the driver’s right. They can’t avoid pushing snow in front of driveways. Each homeowner is responsible for access to his driveway. The only way to avoid extra shoveling is to wait until DPW crews have completed their final cleanup on your street.

SIDEWALKS. Per town ordinance, property owners located within the business district are responsible for keeping all sidewalks along their property clear of snow and ice.

MAILBOX DAMAGE. The town repairs or replaces only mailboxes and/or posts that are actually struck by a plow blade. Usually a paint mark or tire tracks supply evidence of a mailbox strike. Westport does not repair or replace mailboxes and/or posts that fall from the force of plowed snow. Mailboxes and supporting posts must be installed to withstand the rigors of snow removal, including the force of snow pushed from the street onto the roadside.

TOWN RIGHT OF WAY. Belgium block, landscaping, dog fences, sprinklers, lights, etc. within the town right-of-way are subject to damage during winter operations. The town does not repair or replace any such items installed within the town right-of-way.

PRIVATE PLOWING. The Town of Westport prohibits plow contractors from pushing snow from driveways or parking lots onto town streets. This practice is dangerous, and impedes the town’s snow removal efforts. If there is no other alternative to pushing snow into the street, the plow driver must plow off the windrow left across the street by re-plowing until the road is safe. This may not necessarily mean bare pavement, but it should be no worse than when the driver began work.

Residents with questions or complaints should call Public Works: 203-341-1120.

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*Which, we all know, is a matter of when. Not if.

In this scene, no one had yet cleared Main Street — or the sidewalks. So you know what? Enjoy the snow! (Photo/Katherine Hooper)