Tag Archives: Westport Parks & Recreation Department

A Need-To-Know Basis: The Basics

A reader writes:

My wife and I just bought a home in Westport. We will move there in September.

As a soon-to-be resident, reading “06880” has helped me get to know the town. For example, I already know that everyone on the railroad parking wait list will soon get a pass.

But what else should I know?

I’m looking for a quick crash course about the town. It could be anything from “avoid this road during these hours” to “this parking lot always has spaces” to “what do I need to know about Compo Beach.”

I realize you could write hundreds of tips. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Great idea!

You’re right. I could give hundreds (if not squintillions). Here are a few quick ones, in random order:

You need a ticket for the 4th of July fireworks at Compo Beach. (Which in Westport are never actually on the 4th. This year, they’re June 30th.) Westport PAL puts them on, with help from Melissa & Doug (the innovative toy company). Tickets are available at Parks & Rec headquarters (in Longshore, near the 1st tee) and police headquarters (Jesup Road). The $40/vehicle ticket supports a huge variety of PAL programs — so even if you watch the fireworks elsewhere, or don’t park at the beach, consider donating to PAL.

If everyone cooperates, getting into the beach for the fireworks goes smoothly.

Speaking of which: Unfortunately, Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department website is the least user-friendly I’ve seen since dial-up modem days. From the non-intuitive way to sign up for hand passes (for tennis, golf, Longshore pool, etc.), beach emblems (we actually call them “stickers”) and boat launch permits — hint: click on “Memberships” — to the random, dizzying list of options in every category, on through all the clicks needed to jump from page to page and back again, it’s a cluster****.

The good news is: If you’re free when the office is open, head there yourself. (As noted above, it’s in Longshore, near the golf course 1st tee.) The employees are fantastic: knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and fun.

The bad news is: I can’t tell you when the office is open. It’s nowhere on the website — at least, nowhere I could find.

The Parks & Rec Department office, at Longshore. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Speaking of the beach: The best sunsets for miles around are at Compo’s South Beach. That’s the area from the cannons to the kayak launch. There’s often a convivial crowd — perhaps because that’s the only area on a Westport beach where alcohol is permitted. (No glass, please!)

South Beach is also where, on a beautiful evening, every grill might be taken. Tables are first-come, first-served. Despite that notice on every table, some people “reserve” them by leaving blankets, chairs, even coolers all around, then leaving the beach for the next few hours.

You are perfectly within your rights to take that table. However, I am not responsible for whatever happens next. I’m just sayin’….

This does not reserve you a South Beach table.

A few other tips: The town dump is called the “transfer station.” On the Sherwood Island Connector, it’s  where you toss household garbage, furniture, carpeting, lamps, televisions, electronics, batteries and similar items. Much of it is recycled. Workers there are very helpful and friendly. On Saturday mornings especially, it’s a great place to meet other Westporters.

The best shortcut in town that does not involve annoying other residents is the Merritt Parkway between Exits 41 and 42. You get from the YMCA/Wilton area to Coleytown/Weston without circling through Wilton Road, North Kings Highway and Main Street. Even when the Merritt traffic creeps along, it’s usually quicker.

The Imperial Avenue parking lot is underrated – not only for events at the Levitt Pavilion, but even for downtown. The pedestrian bridge connecting it to the Levitt and Library is easy and gorgeous — and the lot is nearly always empty.

Deadman Brook bridge, between the Levitt Pavilion and Imperial Avenue (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

You will see the Remarkable Bookcycle parked somewhere around town: the beach perhaps, or Bedford Square or the Westport Book Shop on Jesup Road. The concept is cool — take a book, give a book — but there’s a back story. It’s decorated with the “dancing man” logo of the Remarkable Book Shop, a beloved (and long-gone) Main Street institution. Fun fact: The Bookcycle is the brainchild of Jane Green. Yes, that Jane Green. The internationally known author is a fellow Westporter.

(Photo/Judith Shaw)

Those are just a few top-of-the-head ideas. I am sure every “06880” reader — at least, those who have been here more than 10 minutes — can add his or her own.

So, let’s do it. Click “Comments” below to pass along info that every newcomer needs to know. Along with this last one:

You don’t need to buy milk and eggs every time snow is predicted. But do pay attention to rain and wind advisories.

There’s not a lot that’s certain in Westport, but this much is: You will lose power.

Often.

Welcome to Westport!

Unsung Heroes #237

Parking stickers are already required. Lifeguards arrive soon. Another great beach season is almost here.

But a great beach season does not magically appear. It takes a ton of work. (Literally — moving tons of sand, for example.)

Tammy Barry was at Compo the other day. She saw several crews hard at work, making sure everything was ship-shape for summer.

Tammy thought they were doing unsung work. She’s right. Our Public Works and Parks & Recreation employees do so much, for all of us in Westport.

Unlike Tammy, most of us don’t see the work you do. But we absolutely appreciate it.

(Photos/Tammy Barry)

Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email 06880blog@gmail.com.

 

Photo Challenge #381

Once upon a time, lines formed every spring at the Parks & Recreation Department office. We headed there for beach stickers, “beach school” registration, and golf and tennis hand passes.

At one point, they added a mail option. Now we can do it online. (Meanwhile, beach stickers have become “emblems,” and “beach school” is “Camp Compo.” The world changes …)

Far fewer of us now need to visit Parks & Rec in person. That’s a shame. The folks are friendly, and the building — a throwback to its private club days, though renovated nicely a number of years ago — is different from most in Westport.

Outside sits a large planter. It was the subject of last week’s Photo Challenge. Kathie Bennewitz, Andrew Colabella and Valerie Szeto all knew exactly where it was: opposite the golf pro shop, near the 1st tee. (Click here to see.)

If we still had to line up for our recreational registrations, many more readers would have known where the planter is.

But think of all the time we save now.

This week’s Photo Challenge is below. Warning: It’s probably our toughest one yet.

If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Lisa Tantillo)

Pickleballers’ Plea: More Courts!

To the next person who tells me I should play pickleball: Join the list.

There are already 10,577 ahead of you.

My sister, a doctor friend, half the people in the YMCA locker room — all are pickleball enthusiasts.

Actually, they’re evangelists.

They tout the enjoyment of the game. The ease of learning. The health benefits. The camaraderie.

I wouldn’t call it a cult. Then again, I wouldn’t not call it one.

Pickleballers at Compo Beach.

I’ll play pickleball at some point, I’m sure. In the meantime, here’s a report on the state of pickleball in Westport.

In a few words: It’s good. But it could be better.

Everyone (except me) plays. Which means there are not enough places to play.

In fact, besides the 2 pickleball-only courts at Compo Beach, and 4 others that share tennis lines at Doubleday (behind Saugatuck Elementary School), there are no other public spots in town.

The Westport Pickleball Association aims to change that.

The 6-week-old group is well organized. They have a board. They have members. And they have a mission: raise awareness of the sport; facilitate its growth, and get more courts.

Compo Beach pickleball.

The pickleball push comes as the Parks & Recreation Department is undergoing a study of Longshore’s facilities and future. There are spaces available — like a parking area near the E.R. Strait Marina — and the WPBA wants to make sure every option is considered. They’re working with Parks & Rec’s Racquets Advisory Committee on that effort.

WPBA member Robbi Feinberg knows there are many considerations for new courts, whether at Longshore or elsewhere; topography and terrain, proximity to neighbors, accessibility.

But, she says, those courts are crucial.

Then she invited me to play.

(To learn more about the Westport Pickleball Association, email wpba2022@gmail.com.)

Tom Lowrie is 93 years old, and the face of Westport pickleball. In 2018 he posed for the Westport Library’s “I geek…” campaign  (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

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.

 

Roundup: Twilight Zone, Parks & Rec Registration, Cell Tower …

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Submitted for your approval: “Westport in the Twilight Zone.”

Rod Serling used that “submitted” phrase only 3 times, as writer and host of one of television’s most acclaimed series ever. But it’s come to be associated with him.

Did you know that? And did you know that — beyond the famed ““Willoughby” episode, featuring a train ride to Saugatuck, Westport influenced other “Twilight Zone”s?

And why not? He lived here in the 1950s.

Find out more about Rod Serling and Westport tonight (Wednesday, March 2, 6 p.m., Zoom) at a free webinar: “Westport in the Twilight Zone.” The host and guide is Westport author/artist Arlen Schumer.

You can journey into that other world by clicking here. The meeting ID is: 884 7739 9778. The passcode is 653762. No advance sign-up is necessary.

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Registration for many Westport Parks & Recreation’s spring and summer programs began online at 9 a.m. this morning. Registration for Camp Compo, RECing and pickleball begins later: 9 a.m. on Monday, March 28.

Spots go quickly. Click here to see all the choices.

Problems? Email recreation@westportct.gov or call 203-341-5152.

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Kitt Shapiro hosted an overflow crowd last night at WEST, the great downtown women’s store she owns.

But the focus was not on shopping. She was there as an author. Her book “Eartha & Me: A Daughter’s Love Story in Black and White” — published in November — is already in its second printing.

It’s a memoir of growing up with her mother, Eartha Kitt. Nearly everyone there had already read it. They asked pointed, poignant and provocative questions. Kitt described her mother’s influence and legacy — on her, and on the world.

The event was sponsored by AWARE (Assisting Women with Actions, Resources and Education), the non-profit that — like Eartha Kitt and Kitt Shapiro — empowers women every day.

Kitt Shapiro, and the WEST crowd. (Photo/John Videler Photography)

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A “balloon test” scheduled for Presidents Day — to show exactly how high a proposed 124-foot cell tower would rise, on private property at 92 Greens Farms Road — was canceled the night before. It was hastily rescheduled for 7 a.m. today.

Westporter Don Bergmann wrote several local officials, expressing anger at the late notice provided to the town and its residents.

At 8 a.m., Jaime Bairaktaris — publisher of Westport Local Press — drove by. He reports not seeing any balloon.

Neither did RTM member Andrew Colabella.

Westporter Steve Goldstein headed to the site an hour later, and saw nothing — except, that is, 2 police officers who had been there since 7.

A cell tower been proposed for the property on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

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Jesse and Sefra Levin grew up in the comfort of Westport. Life here is almost always safe.

But for nearly 20 years, the Staples High School Class of 2003 twins have been on a mission: helping prepare people around the globe to survive any kind of disaster, natural or manmade. They’ve taught “readiness skills” to veterans, disaster response teams and entrepreneurs. The Levins call themselves “bespoke readiness outfitters.”

A couple of years ago, they had a pop-up shop in Bedford Square. They outfitted customers with gear, and offered advice and training, for every conceivable emergency.

Now they’re in Poland, at the Ukrainian border. In less than 2 days they gathered medical supplies, and made their first delivery.

Their goal is to ramp up a medical supply chain, and help coordinate between international military veteran first response efforts and in-country operational elements.

A growing network of Polish and Ukrainian contacts helps identify and relay real-time needs from conflict areas, and ensure effective distribution of supplies and equipment to where they are needed most.

(Hat tip: Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Jesse and Sefra Levin

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There’s less than a month to go before dogs are banned from Compo Beach. Which means we won’t be able to run “Westport … Naturally” photos like this, from April 1 through the end of September.

Tessie on the Compo jetty (Photo/Gwen Tutun)

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And finally … on this day in 1498, Vasco da Gama’s fleet visited the island of Mozambique.

Roundup: Parks & Rec Registration, Downtown Improvements, Zenabi …

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Registration for many Westport Parks & Recreation’s spring and summer programs begins online at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 2. Registration for Camp Compo, RECing and pickleball begins later: 9 a.m. on Monday, March 28.

Spots go quickly. Click here to see all the choices.

The website is not exactly user friendly. Now is a good time to log onto your online account to verify information. Problems? Email recreation@westportct.gov or call 203-341-5152.

For address changes, email recreation@westportct.gov. Additional proof of Westport residency may be required.

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Want to improve downtown?

Put your money where your mouth is!

The town of Westport seeks proposals for Downtown Improvement Projects at Parker Harding Plaza, Jesup Green and the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Bids will be received until 11 a.m. Thursday, March 3 at the Town Hall Finance Office (Room 313, 110 Myrtle Avenue). Copies of the bid documents can be downloaded from the Town’s website. 

Responses will be opened the next business day via Zoom. For meeting access, email rkotchko@westportct.gov.

Send your bid in to improve Parker Harding Plaza.

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In 2018, I ran a story on Zenabi. Profiling a company located in the old Town Hall (Don Memo) building on Main Street, it began:

I’m not quite sure what Zenabi does. A spokesperson says it’s a “new pioneering tech and artificial intelligence company that helps Fortune 500 companies find signals in their data that drive growth and value.”

Their website says that Fortune 500 companies trust them to “help understand and grow individual relationships.” They also “enable companies to scale their ability to personalize interactions and offers.”

The hook was an upcoming “Brains & Bands” night hosted by Zenabi. I wrote that its press release

describes this as “some of the most brilliant minds in technology, business and music come together for an epic evening of inspiration and innovation…this self-proclaimed team of ‘Pirates’ and ‘Black Ops’ of the artificial intelligence world” — I guess that’s something else Zenabi is or does — “have the set the stage for titans of industry to share their paths to success with the local community.”

My skepticism was well placed. Zenabi — which later moved to Riverside Avenue and/or Church Lane — imploded.

But not before receiving $1.5 million in PPP funds.

Billy Penn — part of the WHYY news team at the Philadelphia PBS station — has taken a deep dive into the many deceits of the company’s founder, Billy Ibanez. They include false claims about associations with the Philadelphia Eagles and CIA, and many more.

Click here for Billy Penn’s long, and very fascinating, story.

A screenshot from the Zenabi website.

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The United Methodist Church of Westport is collecting clothing, toiletries and non-perishable food drive for their neighbors in Bridgeport.

The drive is set for Saturday, March 5 ( 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church, 49 Weston Road). Volunteers will gather donations from car trunks.

Gently used or new items include children’s clothing in all sizes; women’s clothing, sizes 4 to 16, purses, accessories and shoes; men’s clothing medium and large, pants size 32 to 36 waist shoes sizes 7 to 10, and outerwear all sizes.

Also needed: toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo and body lotions; peanut butter and jelly (plastic jars only), canned ham, tuna and chicken, boxed macaroni and cheese, cold and hot cereals, hearty soups, canned vegetables and fruit.

Questons? Email kimberlyweigle@att.net.

Food, clothing and toiletries will be collected at the United Methodist Church. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Dick Steele was honored this month at the Stratford VFW. The World War II Marine Corps veteran — and father and father-in-law of former Staples High School teachers Kathy and Jeff Lea, respectively — just turned 100.

Steele was 20 years old when he enlisted just after Pearl Harbor. He earned his golden wings, was promoted to 2nd lieutenant, and deployed to the South Pacific. His bombing squadron attacked Japanese positions on the island of Yap.

After the war he returned to civilian life only. He was recalled to active duty as a captain in 1952, to train a new generation of dive bomber pilots during the Korean conflict.

His fighter attack squadron flew 310 combat sorties, totaling more than 550 hours. His was the last Marine aircraft engaged in combat during the war. He retired with the rank of major.

In 2008 Steele became involved with the Connecticut Air & Space Center’s restoration of a Corsair fighter plane, the same aircraft he flew in the Pacific Theater.

Happy 100th, Major Dick Steele! (Hat tips: Adam Vengrow, Don Pavia)

Major Dick Steele

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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force is doing its part, sponsoring a pizza and movie night — followed by a discussion on healthy relationships — tomorrow (Wednesday, February 16, 6 p.m., Toquet Hall).

The event features the movie “Sierra Burgess is a Loser.” For more information, click here. To fill out the required COVID waiver, click here.

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There is plenty of nature all around Westport’s many ponds — including Nash’s. Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo was taken there, by Linda Stern.

(Photo/Linda Stern)

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And finally … today is the birthdate, in 1809, of International Harvester co-founder Cyrus McCormick.

Roundup: Run For RTM, Boat Storage, Senior Golf, STAR Jobs,

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Want to run the town?

Or at least, help pass budgets, review board and commission decisions, and weigh in on matters like plastic bags and the Vietnam War?

The non-partisan Representative Town Meeting (RTM) does (or has done) all that, and much more.

36 members are elected to 2-year terms, from 9 districts. All seats are open, in the next election.

Westport residents interested in running can pick up a petition at the Town Clerk’s office. You  need 25 signatures from residents in their district to be on the November 2 ballot. 

The Town Clerk’s office will supply a district map, and list of all voters. Petitions are due September 14.

Questions? Contact town clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton: 203-341-1105; jdunkerton@westportct.gov.

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No, you were not alone.

Air quality in Westport was poor last night. The culprit — as some suspected — was the wildfires ravaging the West. Particles have traveled thousands of miles, and are affecting our East Coast town.

Here’s a view from Compo Beach:

(Photo/Betsy Pollak)

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Last night was also a mess downtown.

Water gushed into the street from construction work at the former Banana Republic on Main Street. The Fire Department responded promptly.

Main Street, yesterday. (Photo/Isabelle Taglia, Coleytown Middle School 8th grader)

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Starting November 1, Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department will offer winter boat storage at Longshore. Residents can store boats on their trailers in the gravel lot (Lot F) through April 15.

Space is available for 24 boats up to 24 feet (including trailer). Five more spaces are available, for boats with up to 32 feet. Rates are $720 plus tax for up to 24 feet, $960 for tax for the longer vessels..

Spots are first come, first served, for Westport residents only. For an application, email rgiunta@westportct.gov. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

A beautiful summer sight. But where will you store our boat this winter?

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Congratulations to Marc Lasry. Besides being a hedge fund billionaire, the Greens Farms resident owns the Milwaukee Bucks. Last night, they won their 1st NBA championship in 50 years.

Marc Lasry (right), after the Bucks won the NBA championship. (Screen shot photo/Fred Cantor)

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Speaking of sports: Leela Narang-Benaderet just made history. The 1988 Staples High School grad is the first Westporter to qualify for the US Senior Women’s Golf Open. She did it last week, with a 76 in the qualifier at Greenwich Country Club.

Over 400 golfers — most of them pros — competed internationally to earn a spot. Leela may have the easiest travel of all: The event will be hosted by Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield. Mark your calendars: July 29 to August 1. (Hat tip: Patty Kondub)

Leela Narang-Benaderet

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More competition news:

Vivek Kanthan is the US Rotax Max Challenge karting champion. The Westport 7th grader — who attends Pearson Online Academy, due to his travel schedule — won 7 of the 12 races in this year’s series. He will represent the US at the world championship in Bahrain later this year.

The final race was at New Jersey Motorsports Park last weekend. Sweltering heat, humidity and track temperatures of 103 degrees made the already exciting final round much more intense.

Karts reached speeds of 70 miles an hour. Vivek overcame a strong challenge to win, by just 0.08 seconds.

Vivek Kanthan, at the winner’s podium.

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STAR Lighting the Way has received a $20,000 grant from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. The money will help people  with intellectual and developmental disabilities find work, through STAR’s My First Jobs program.

STAR’s customized employment program for people with disabilities leads the state in job placements and hours worked. A team of job developers, employment managers and job coaches work with individuals, and networks with businesses, to create job opportunities, supervise training, and find locations to host classes in life, social, arts, and recreational skills.

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Parking’s reserved. So — apparently — is this spot atop the sign, for today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/Daniel Hoffman)

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And finally … today marks the 160th anniversary of the first major Civil War battle. The First Battle of Bull Run, near Manassas, Virginia, ended in a Confederate victory.

In 1990, Ric Burns’ astonishing 9-part PBS miniseries brought the war — in all its glory and greed, courage and cowardice, epic sweep and tiny details — into American homes. I watch it every few years, to try and understand this momentous event in our nation’s history.

Perhaps the most memorable segment of the entire series was Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife. Written a week before the First Battle of Bull Run, it provides viewers an astonishing combination of love, eloquence and historical perspective.

Jay Ungar’s haunting “Ashokan Farewell” — a heart-rending violin duet with Molly Mason — makes this the most impactful three minutes you may ever see and hear.

Roundup: RTM’s Petition, Martin Crouse’s Bench, UConn’s President …

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Town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton has certified a petition requesting that the Representative Town Meeting review the Planning & Zoning Commission’s settlement of a lawsuit, permitting Summit Saugatuck to build 157 units of housing on Hiawatha Lane.

The RTM has 30 days to render a decision.

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The saga of Martin Crouse’s memorial bench — first gone from Compo Beach, then located by Westport Police — is over. And the ending could not be better.

Martin’s wife Laurie reports that bench is back at its cherished spot near Ned Dimes Marina, after repair work by the Parks & Recreation Department.

It was delivered there yesterday. A new anchoring system will keep it there.

Laurie asked “06880” to thank Debbie Detmer and Ed Frawley at Parks & Rec, Westport police, and the many Westporters who offered support.

Westport Parks & Recreation staff secure Martin Crouse’s memorial bench.

Laurie Crouse, back at her favorite spot.

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The Remarkable Theater announces its schedule for Memorial Day week:

Thursday, May 27 (8 p.m.): “Private Benjamin” (“I wanna wear my sandals. And I wanna go out to lunch. I wanna be normal again.”)

Friday, May 28 (8 p.m.): “Finding Nemo” (In association with Sped*Net Wilton)

Saturday, May 29 (8:30 p.m.): “Rocky Horror Picture Show” (Special Best Costume contest)

Sunday, May 30 (8 p.m.): “Saving Private Ryan” (Special $25 Memorial Day price)

And don’t forget: “Happy Gilmore” tomorrow (Saturday, May 22, 8:30 p.m.).

Click here for tickets and more information.

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There’s a new interim president at the University of Connecticut.

And he’s a Westport resident.

Dr. Andrew Agwunobi and his wife Elizabeth (also a physician) moved here 2 years. He has served as CEO of UConn Health — a position he will continue in. He is the first person of color to be named president in the university’s history.

Click here for the full story.

Dr. Andrew Agwunobi

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Westport firefighters joined their brothers and sisters from across the state yesterday. Over 130 Connecticut fire departments, many first responder agencies, and fire departments from as far as Detroit gathered to pay respects to Firefighter Ricardo “Rico” Torres. He died last week battling a blaze in New Haven.

He leaves behind his wife Erica Martinez, and sons, due to be born in August. Click here for a fundraiser to support his family and unborn sons.

Firefighters at the funeral for Ricardo Torres. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is not just a couple of horseshoe crabs.

They’re a pair that was rescued by MaryLou Roels, after being stranded by low tide. They look as good as ever.

(Photo/MaryLou Roels)

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And finally … on this day in 1927, Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris. It was the world’s first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Special Westport connection: Lindbergh and his wife Anne Morrow lived for several years on Long Lots Road, near the Fairfield border.

 

Marpe: Westport Plans For Spring And Summer — But Stay Safe!

1st Selectman Jim Marpe issued another COVID update today. It includes information about vaccines — and word that the town is planning for a Memorial Day parade, and a Levitt Pavilion season. He says:

Beginning today, all Connecticut residents and workers aged 16 and older are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. For local vaccine scheduling instructions and locations, go to www.wwhd.org.

Health officials urge all who are able and eligible to register to get vaccinated. Those requiring special services and assistance with homebound vaccinations or transportation to vaccination appointments through Westport Transit should contact the town Department of Human Services (203-341-1050).

Fortunately, many of the most vulnerable in Westport are already vaccinated. They are enjoying the peace of mind and the realization that they are doing their part to help our community, neighbors, families and friends move into a spring and summer with less fear of infection from this horrible virus.

Although numerous people have been vaccinated, it is vital that COVID protocols remain in place until we are certain that transmission is decreasing.

Currently there is a surge in COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, and Westport remains in the red category with 28.5 positive cases per 100,000 population. We are seeing the effects of more social gatherings, travel, and a relaxation of COVID protocols.

Travel increases the chance of getting and transmitting COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control recommends that you refrain from non-essential travel and  follow the travel guidelines,

The CDC also recommends continuing to follow its COVID guidelines and protocols, specifically mask wearing, social distancing and good hygiene, even as restrictions are loosened and the vaccine is further administered.

“Masked COVID Portrait” — drawn by Dereje Tarrant, age 14.

Much of the uptick in cases is occurring in younger residents, and those in their 20’s and 30’s. There have been reports of large teen and youth groups gathering at Compo Beach without masks. Parents, please remind your children to wear masks when they cannot socially distance, even at the beach and other outdoor locations.

The Governor’s Executive Orders declaring a state-of-emergency have been extended to May 20. That means that COVID protocols and restrictions remain in place unless noted otherwise.

The town continues to work towards reopening more amenities and activities with the optimism that Westport will return to the yellow or gray status on the State’s color-coded COVID map, and that more people will be fully vaccinated.  These include:

  • The Center for Senior Activities and Toquet Hall are planning for the possibility of outdoor and limited indoor programming in late spring or early summer.
  • The Parks & Recreation Department and Selectman’s Office continue to plan for a Memorial Day parade.
  • The Parks and Recreation Department is preparing to open its facilities, and plan to offer programs that were not available last year due to COVID-19.
  • Longshore golf course is open for play, as are several tennis locations, Compo Beach pickleball courts, the skate park facility, platform tennis, Compo basketball courts, and playgrounds.

Compo Skate Park is back open. (Photo/ldinkinphotography)

  • The Board of Selectmen approved the Downtown Merchants Association’s Fitness and Health Expo for May 1,, and the Fine Arts Festival for May 29-30.
  • The Board of Selectmen approved the closure of Church Lane starting April 15, to allow for expanded outdoor dining.
  • The Board of Selectmen approved the use of the Imperial Avenue lot for the Remarkable Theater’s drive-in movie theater. and for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library’s Supper and Soul events.
  • The Levitt Pavilion is planning its season, to be held in compliance with any necessary COVID considerations related to outdoor venues.

Westport is approaching the end of the Passover week, as well as this Easter weekend. Both are important symbols of renewal and new beginnings that we associate with the arrival of spring. I wish all who observe these important holidays the joy that is associated with those celebrations.

And to all Westport residents, I ask for a renewed commitment to working through the COVID pandemic together in a safe and responsible manner. In doing so, we can all enjoy the pleasures of our community that come with the spring and summer months.

As Easter approaches, the days get longer and brighter. But continued vigilance is needed. (Photo/Craig Patton)