Tag Archives: Westport Planning & Zoning Commission

Roundup: Outdoor Dining, Old Dominion, Billy Joel …

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Over the past 2 years, the restaurant industry has been rocked by COVID. Amid all the bad news, one bright spot was the rise — and popularity — of outdoor dining.

This Monday (March 14, 7 p.m. Zoom), the Planning & Zoning Commission meets to consider permanent outdoor eating regulations.

Under new state legislation, the P&Z can determine the size of an outdoor dining area, when it can operate, and what public safety protections are needed.

Planning and Zoning Department director Mary Young says, “The Planning & Zoning Commission looks forward to hearing from food establishment owners to help set reasonable standards, allowing the Restaurant Renaissance in Westport to continue and provide safe and secure dining options for patrons under the ‘New-Normal’ conditions.”’

Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell predicts, “some restaurants are going to love this. Some are not going to like it at all. It depends on whether you have the land, an amenable landlord, a parking lot to use or a town road to be able to do it. The Chamber sees both sides to this.”

Monday’s public hearing will be livestreamed at www.westportct.gov, and on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.  Comments can be sent to the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov. Click here for the full text amendment.

Out door dining on church Lane. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Lynsey Addario’s photo last Sunday — of a family killed by a Russian mortar attack — horrified the world.

Yesterday, the New York Times photojournalist — a Pulitzer Prize winner, and 1991 Staples High School graduate — spoke compellingly about that image, and the events surrounding.

In an in-depth interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper — at 3:30 a.m. Ukraine time — Lynsey talked spoke of her surreal feelings as she realized the Russians were targeting civilians. With mortars whizzing just 30 feet away, she witnessed the killings.

Cooper asked her thoughts as she took her photos. She felt she had to document the event for the world. With a 10-year-old of her own, she had to maintain her professionalism — even as she noticed the family’s luggage lying next to them.

She also talked about her feelings afterward, and what it’s like to witness such scenes over and over again.

It was excellent journalism from Anderson Cooper — and one more reason to pray for Lynsey’s safety, and that of everyone in Ukraine.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Lynsey’s photo was also featured on “60 Minutes” this past Sunday. Scott Pelley used it to frame that night’s Ukraine story. Click here for the link. (Hat tips: Susan Woog Wagner and Hedi Lieberman)

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A bright young man from Westport
Who really cares about transport,
Said to get to the train,
Wheels2U is a gain!
It’s like your own private escort!

Okay, it’s not Keats. It’s not even Ogden Nash. But it’s a good way to introduce the Westport Transit District’s limerick contest.

The goal is to raise awareness of Wheels2U Westport, the on-demand, group ride, door-to-train platform shuttle service.

The top 7 entries win gift certificates to Westport restaurants of their choice, ranging from $100 to $25.

Want some info before writing your poem? WTD director Peter Gold calls Wheels2U “easy, inexpensive and convenient. It comes when you call it, picks you up at your door, and takes you right to the platform at the Westport and Greens Farms stations. No more walks from the parking lots in the cold and dark. And it’s a greener way to get to the train.”

Westport residents use the Wheels2U Westport app to request a pickup between 5:45 and 10 a.m., and 4 and 9:30 p.m., almost anywhere in town. Pickups should be requested 20 minutes before you would normally leave to drive to the station.  The fare is just $2, when paid with the Wheels2U app.

The contest is open to all Westport residents. Enter as often as you like. Email entries to pgold@westportct.gov no later than March 25. Put “Limerick Contest” in the subject line, and include your name, address, and email. Click here for the full rules.

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For Old Dominion, winning awards is old hat.

The group — whose lead guitarist is 1997 Staples High School graduate (and former soccer star) Brad Tursi — was named Group of the Year at Monday’s ACM ceremony in Las Vegas.

It was the 5th consecutive year they’ve won country music’s top prize.

Their acceptance speech included a tribute to the citizens of Ukraine. (Hat tip: Tricia Freeman)

Old Dominion, at the CMA Awards. Staples grad Brad Tursi is on the far right.

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Speaking of music: Every month, Billy Joel sells out Madison Square Garden. Now his music is coming to the Levitt Pavilion!

Yeah, read that sentence again. “His music” — not the Piano Man himself.

But this is no tribute band. It’s Mike Del Guidice & Big Shot. He tours all over the world with Billy Joel. His band performs astonishing renditions of those songs, plus others by Elton John, the Beatles and other beloved artists.

The concert is Friday, May 20 (7:30 p.m.). Levitt Pavilion member pre-sales start today (Wednesday, March 9, noon). Click here to become a member. Sales to the general public start Friday (March 11, 10 a.m.).

Mike Del Guidice and friends.

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On April 7, some of Westport’s best chefs will leave their kitchens. They’ll head to Aitoro’s, the great appliance store just over the Norwalk line. There — amid high-end appliances — they’ll offer great food for a good cause.

It’s a benefit for the Make-a-Wish Connecticut chapter. The nonprofit helps fulfill the dreams of critically ill children.

Among the celebrity chefs: Bill Taibe (The Whelk, Kawa Ni, Don Memo); Matt Storch (Match Burger Lobster, Match Restaurant), Jes Bengtson (Terrain Garden Café, Amis Trattoria), Robin Selden (Marcia Selden and Naked Fig Catering), Dan Kardo (Oar & Oak), and Christian Petroni (Food Network star).

Tickets include samplings, and complimentary beer and wine. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

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Bill Webster sends today’s captivating “Westport … Naturally” photo, and adds:

“People often hear the tom turkey gobbling on spring mornings, but seldom do you get a chance to see a wild turkey strut. The turkey strut is an incredible courtship display that is intended to attract hens and display dominance.”

(Photo/Bill Webster)

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And finally … in honor of the great photo above:

Roundup: Mask Mandate, Downtown Stores, Another Olympian …

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Masks in schools may not be required statewide after February 28.

Governor Lamont announced yesterday recommending lifting a mandate for students and staff.

The topic has been a hot one. Last week, a group posted “Unmask Our Children” signs around town. Others countered that masks are still needed, to prevent vulnerable populations.

School mask decisions will now be made by local authorities, such as boards of education. Westport Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice — who is empowered to make the decision, based on town COVID protocols — said at last night’s Board of Ed meeting that he’ll consult with medical experts and others, before making a recommendation.

A number of parents spoke at last night’s session, urging an end to Westport’s mask mandate.

Last December, participants in Staples High School’s Candlelight Concert wore masks. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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The Planning & Zoning Commission also met last night. Members adopted 2 downtown text amendments. One will eliminate a prohibition on retail operations above the first floor. The other allows will allow stores over 10,000 square feet (after applying for a special permit).

The P&Z continued to tweak zoning language for permitted uses at Baron’s South.

The Gap (left) has been grandfathered in for retail above the first floor. That will now be permitted elsewhere downtown.

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A bit of personal news: To celebrate my retirement as Staples High School boys soccer coach, I’ve helped endow a fund.

The Dan Woog Staples High School/LGBTQ Fund brings together my passion for high school soccer and LGBTQ advocacy, and my work with United Soccer Coaches — the 30,000-member professional organization I’ve served since 1983.

The fund will enable high school coaches who have shown commitment to the LGBTQ sports community to attend annual conventions, for education, networking and professional growth.

As founder of United Soccer Coaches’ LGBTQ & Allies member group, I’ve worked closely with Black, Latino, Native American, AAPI, disabled and faith-based groups. I’m honored to give back to this inclusive, progressive organization, which helps grow the sport of soccer for all coaches and players.

For the full press release, click here. To contribute to the fund, click here; then click “Select for a list of funds to support,” then “Options,” then scroll (way) down. (You may have to click “View More” at the bottom of the list …)

This poster greeted visitors to last month’s annual United Soccer Coaches convention in Kansas City.

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Speaking of Staples soccer : As Westporter’s celebrate the silver medal of our neighbor, Julia Marino, in slopestyle at the 2022 Olympic Games, we’ve got another nearby athlete to cheer for too.

Freestyle skier Mac Forehand grew up in Southport. His father — Ray Forehand — was on the Staples soccer team in 1976. Click here for details. Click here for a story about Ray and his wife, as they watch Mac compete half a world away.

Mac also competes in freeski slopestyle. (Hat tip: Rick Leonard)

Mac Forehand

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You know Earth Animal for its steadfast commitment to dogs and other creatures.

But since 1979, the local business has cared for people too.

Last year, the Post Road East store’s Mitten Project raised $40,000. Thanks to CT Foodshare, those funds will help local residents who struggle with food insecurity.

The Mitten Project began in 2007, with Earth Animal founder Susan Goldstein. She raised $300 that year.

Now, there’s plenty of help from area businesses, neighbors, friends, proceeds from the Earth Animal store, and matching contributions from Earth Animal Ventures in Southport.

Special thanks go to J. McLaughlin, Millie Rae;s, Farmer Sal, Outdoor Design & Living, Appleberry Farm, BP Provisions, Pine Creek Deli, KL & Sam, and Westport Hardware.

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Voices Café honors Black History Month with the noted duo Reggie Harris and Greg Greenway. Their signature performance — “Deeper Than The Skin” — comes to the Westport Unitarian Church’s long-running live music venue on Sunday, February 20 (7:30 p.m). It will also be livestreamed.

“Deeper Than The Skin” is a deeply personal presentation, in story and song. of race in America. Harris and Greenway face down racial injustice with creative resistance, friendship, music and joy.

Proceeds from Voices Café’s performances benefit local social justice causes. Future guests include Westporter Suzanne Sheridan (March 12) and Connecticut’s creative artists Caravan of Thieves (April 9).

Click here for more information about Voices’ spring season, and for tickets.

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The Westport Library’s strong support of the arts continues. A generous grant from the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center will support upcoming exhibits.

Next up: “Stepping Out on Faith: The Art and Journey of Charles Joyner.” The event — with the world-renowned (and Staples High School graduate) artist opens with a panel discussion and reception on March 10.

This exhibit, with a corresponding podcast series and musical performance, is also supported by a grant from CT Humanities.

“Village @ Ntonso” (Charles Joyner)

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Our “Westport … Naturally” feature has highlighted wild turkeys. But none have been as close-up — and wild-looking — as this shot by David Vita, from Lyons Plains Road:

(Photo/David Vita)

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And finally … want a little taste of Voices Café’s Black History Month presentation of “Deeper Than the Skin” (above)? Click below:

P&Z To Address Downtown, Baron’s South Regs

Two important parts of Westport — downtown and Baron’s South — are on the Planning & Zoning Commission’s agenda next week.

The virtual meeting on Monday (February 7, 7 p.m.) includes text amendments to eliminate the prohibition on retail above the 1st floor on Main Street and environs; another to remove the prohibition limiting tenant size to 10,000 square feet in the same area, and an amendment to permit certain non-team activities in the open space nearby.

Proponents say removing the ban on 2nd floor retail would attract mom-and-pop-type shops, thanks to lower rents. A change allowing larger stores would eliminate the current practice of some tenants having separate entrances and branding for what are essentially the same stores.

The Architectural Review Board and Historic District Commission would retain oversight over the looks of downtown properties.

Retail is not permitted above the first floor on Main Street — though certain properties (like the Gap) are grandfathered in.

 

The Baron’s South proposal addresses current regulations, which prohibit organized non-team activities like guided walks, hikes and yoga classes in the meadow outside the Senior Center. Both the Senior Center and Parks & Recreation have indicated support for the text amendment, which would still prohibit organized team sports.

A prohibition against new structures — for example, pickleball courts — would also remain.

Guided hikes are currently prohibited on Baron’s South. (Photo/Judy James)

At the meeting, the P& will also consider proposals to opt out of 2 state provisions. One would enable the town of Westport to maintain its own requirements for accessory dwelling units. The other would allow the town to retain current regulations for the number of parking units required for multi-family dwellings.

If the P&Z chooses to opt out of those less strict state requirements, the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) must also agree by a super-majority vote.

Full details are available here. Monday’s meeting will be livestreamed at www.westportct.gov. To submit comments, click here.

Roundup: Planning & Zoning, Local To Market, Margot Bruce ….

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Earlier this week, “06880” noted the full agenda of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Regulation Revision Subcommittee meeting.

Yesterday, the group discussed a proposed amendment to preserve mature trees on private property. It received both positive and negative feedback. The text amendment will be re-drafted, for further discussion at a future subcommittee meeting.

Proposals that would permit 2nd floor retail, as well as stores over 10,000 square feet, downtown will be considered at next Thursday’s work session, to be brought as a P&Z-sponsored text amendment at a future meeting.

A proposal to allow non-team activities — for instance, guided hikes, painting classes and yoga — at Baron’s South will also be considered at next Thursday’s work session, to be brought to a future public hearing as a P&Z-sponsored text amendment.

Discussions will continue on a Planning & Zoning Commission tree proposal.

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Local to Market — the food-and-more store featuring (duh) all local goods, at the corner of Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza — has a constantly changing array of items.

But they’re always on the lookout for more.

Which is where we all come in.

Next Tuesday (January 11, 4 to 5 p.m.), they’re sponsoring a “think tank.” Everyone is invited to hear about procurement, ask questions, suggest ideas, and meet fellow food lovers.

Want two more reasons to go? There’s also a wine tasting from Stappa Vineyards. And you’ll get 15% off if you shop during the event.

What else would you like to see on the shelves?

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Westport, get ready for your star turn.

Tomorrow (Friday, January 7; 9 pm on New York’s Channel 13; check listings for other PBS stations) marks the first of 3 “Stars on Stage from Westport Country Playhouse” specials.

Gavin Creel stars in the inaugural broadcast, taped during 2 shows in September, and produced by our own Andrew “Live from Lincoln Center” Wilk.

Pre-press has been excellent. The Los Angeles Times called it a “Pick of the Week,”

But see for yourself (below). Then mark your calendars for the next 2 Fridays: Shoshana Bean on the 14th, Brandon Victor Dixon the 21st.

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Want to see another world premiere?

2011 Staples High School graduate Margot Bruce’s short film, “Harbor,” debuts at the Westport Library next Wednesday (January 12, 7 p.m.). She’ll be there, and hosts a conversation afterward. Click here to register.

“Harbor” offers a modern twist on selkie stories from Celtic, Gaelic, and Norse folklore.

While at Staples, Margot swam and played water polo, and was a member of the band, orchestra and chorus. She discovered a passion for filmmaking at Fairfield University, and graduated from the College of Wooster with a BA in English. She recently completed an MFA in cinema at San Francisco State University.

Margot Bruce

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Suzanne Bauman — the pioneering female documentary filmmaker who lived near Old Mill Beach from 1976-1991 — died on January 2, from complications of cancer. She was 76 years old.

She and her husband Jim Burroughs gave noted 1971 Staples High School graduate Brian Keane his start in film scoring.

Suzanne was editor and co-producer of the Academy Award-nominated “Against Wind and Tide: A Cuban Odyssey” (1981). She and Jim produced the film while living in Westport. It was the first one scored by then-27-year old Keane.

She produced, directed and wrote more than 80 films, both documentary and drama.

Suzanne took crews all over the world, and worked with — among others — John Kenneth Galbraith, Norman Mailer, the Sixth Earl of Carnarvon, Diana Vreeland, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Anna Wintour, Gianni Versace, Tina Brown,  Jane Alexander, David Rockefeller, Fidel Castro, Ted Kennedy, Annie Liebowitz, Gloria Steinem, Cybill Shepherd, Raul Julia, Stacy Keach, Martin Sheen and Sir Ian McKellen.

She was supervising producer/director of “The Writing Code,” a landmark series for PBS on the invention, history, art and craft of writing, from ancient times to the internet.

“Water Wars” won the award for best documentary feature at the 2014 Universe Multicultural Film Festival.  Her feature documentary “Shadow of Afghanistan” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam. “Jackie Behind the Myth,” a two-hour documentary special on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, was People Magazine’s Pick of the Week, premiered on PBS nationwide and aired in more than 30 countries.

Suzanne is survived son Ryan, and step-children Rain, Shannon, Shane and Doah Burroughs.

For more information on Suzanne’s life, click here and here.

Suzanne Bauman

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” Earthplace photo has been hanging around the “06880” files for a while. But a good mushroom never gets old.

(Photo/Peter Gold)

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And finally, as we mark the 1-year anniversary of the storming of the US Capitol, we continue to hear — from some quarters —

Roundup: P&Z Revisions, Will Haskell, Dick Berkowitz And Nick Rossi Services …

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It sounds like a ho-hum affair: the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Zoning Regulation Revision Subcommittee meets tomorrow (Wednesday, January 5, 12 noon, Zoom).

But their agenda is filled with interesting — and important — items.

They’ll discuss text amendments on these topics:

  • A tree regulation, intended to balance the right of people to use their property as they wish, with a desire to save mature trees. This item is not about specific properties. Input has been sought from developers and preservationists.
  • Amending open space regulations to permit certain organized activities in areas like Baron’s South and Riverside Avenue park. Right now, no such activities are allowed — not even (for example) an organized hike for children, followed by story time.
  • Amending downtown regulations to modify current prohibitions on single-tenant occupancy exceeding 10,000 square feet. This would permit more flexibility for downtown merchants.
  • Amending downtown regulations to remove remove current prohibitions on retail uses above the first floor. Current regulations allow studios and offices, for example, on 2nd and 3rd stories, but not retail. (Stores like the Gap have been grandfathered in.) This would provide more retail options, at potentially lower rents, and also allow current merchants to expand their operations.
  • Exempting “art” from coverage calculations. This would have the potential to allow more sculptures and other artworks in outdoor spaces.

All of these are discussion items only.

Click here for the Zoom link. The meeting can also be accessed by phone (646-876-9923; Meeting ID: 823 0856 3966; Passcode: 441250). It will be archived later on www.westportct.gov.

Public comments prior to the meeting can be sent to PandZ@westportct.gov for consideration by the subcommittee, but will not be read aloud at the meeting.

In most of downtown, retail is not permitted above the 2nd floor. The Gap was grandfathered in.

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State Senator Will Haskell will not seek re-election.

Just 25 years old, but already in his 2nd term representing Westport and Weston (and 6 other towns) in the 26th District, the youngest member of the General Assembly plans to attend law school. He also recently announced his engagement to former Staples High School classmate Katie Cion.

Since his election in November 2018, Haskell has served as chair of the Higher Education & Employment Advancement and Transportation Committees, and on numerous others. He cites as his proudest accomplishments the creation of Connecticut’s free community college program; passing “the most inclusive paid family and medical leave program in the country,” and a sustained focus on transportation infrastructure investments.

State Senator Will Haskell,

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A small, private memorial service for Dick Berkowitz — the longtime civic volunteer who died New Year’s Eve — is set for this Sunday (January 9, 10 a.m.). Though attendance is limited, the service will be livestreamed, and available to his many friends and admirers. Click here for the link.

Dick Berkowitz

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A Mass of Christian Burial for Nick Rossi — last year’s Memorial Day grand marshal, who died New Year’s Day at 99 — will be celebrated at St. Luke Church this Thursday (January 6,, 11 a.m.)

For those unable to attend, click here; select “Livestream Mass” and click “Watch Now,” or view later.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities. Click here for a full obituary.

Nick Rossi

139 Main Street — the former site of Jack Willis — has been sold. A California-based owner/user is redeveloping the 3,400-square foot building for Brochu Walker, an :upscale women’s apparel brand that specializes in conscious luxury retail with a European flair.” They follows a “’kinder to the environment’ initiative” that supports “sustainability efforts resulting in ethically sourced, luxurious fibers.” Brochu Walker expects to open its first boutique in the Northeast early this year.

139 Main Street — future home of Bochu Walker.

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Recent foggy weather has not deterred Compo Beach’s dogs. They’re all-weather animals — and this one’s a perfect subject for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Tricia Freeman)

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And finally … in  honor of the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting tomorrow, examining tweaks to help the retail environment on Main Street and environs:

 

Full Obituary: Dick Berkowitz

Earlier today, “06880” reported the death of longtime Westporter and wide-ranging volunteer Dick Berkowitz. His family has provided this obituary, honoring his full life.

Attorney, philanthropist, coach and mentor Richard (Dick) Berkowitz died on New Year’s Eve, after a hard-fought battle against a rare blood disease. He was 80 years old.

He was born on June 28, 1941, to humble beginnings in New Haven Dick’s parents, Elihu and Ruth Berkowitz, were hard working members of the community. He spent his days playing football and basketball, working as a short-order cook at Chuck’s Luncheonette on Whalley Avenue, and selling pennants and banners outside Yale Bowl.

Dick attended Hillhouse High School before heading off to his dream school, Dartmouth College After becoming the first in his family to graduate from college in 1963, he continued his education and graduated from the University of Connecticut Law School 4 years later.

Dick and Carole Chasnoff met as sophomores in high school. Two years later he mustered up the courage to ask her out. After graduating from college, Carole worked as a public health nurse to help pay for his law school.

Dick and Carole Berkowitz

Dick opened his own firm in Westport, where he practiced for 55 years. He represented high profile individuals, leading executives, and members of the media. Dick spent many years as managing partner of Berkowitz, Trager & Trager.

Over the years he was involved in many philanthropic endeavors, including: president of the Kiwanis Club of Westport, and member of the Representative Town Meeting and Planning & Zoning Commission.

He was also president of the Westport Bar Association and board member of the Westport National Bank.

Dick Berkowitz

In 1970 Dick was appointed by First Selectman John Kemish to chair a new commission on youth activities. It is still in existence as the Westport Youth Commission. He also served on the board of Staples Tuition Grants.

In addition, Dick was a mentor at Champions for Learning in Naples, Florida, and a founding and passionate supporter of New Heights Youth, a New York-based non-profit.

Dick was honored as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” for over 25 years. He was a past president of Birchwood Country Club in Westport, and a class president and alumni council representative for Dartmouth College. Classrooms are named in his honor at the Roth Center for Jewish Life at Dartmouth, and Westport’s Temple Israel.

Dick was a longtime assistant basketball coach at Staples High School, and a regular at football, basketball, tennis, field hockey and softball games. He spent long hours instructing various game officials on the fine points of their respective sport. For many years he coached Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and softball, and recreational basketball in Westport.

Coach Berkowitz

While he was incredibly accomplished, his ultimate legacy is that he was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother, confidante, and friend to many. He had a light that shined bright, and touched so many throughout his life. He was a mentor to young people. Many clients also became his closest friends. But family was the most important thing in his life, and it is his family who will miss him most of all.

Dick is survived by his wife of 58 years Carole; sister Jane (Eddie Brandwein) of Chicago; children Jody (Joel) Beck of Westport, Emily (Ken) Sandberg of Woodbridge; Suzy (Michael Weksel) of Edgemont, New York and Adam Berkowitz of New York City; grandchildren Sam, Zack, Rachel, John, Jack, Mia, Henry, Carina and Ben; granddogs Buddy, Bella and Eric, and great-granddog Beau. He also leaves cousin/brother Judge Stanley Novack of Stamford, and countless family and friends.

Contributions can be made to 2 charities that were dear to him: New Heights Youth and the newly established Richard Berkowitz Student-Athlete Award through Staples Tuition Grants.

Remembering Dick Berkowitz

Richard Berkowitz — an attorney whose involvement for more than 50 years in politics, sports, civic organizations, and much more helped shape Westport into what it is today — died peacefully on New Year’s Eve. He was 80 years old.

He practiced law here until his death, most recently “of counsel” at Berkowitz, Trager & Trager. He represented high-profile individuals, leading executives and members of the media. He was a president of the Connecticut Bar Association.

But his impact spread far beyond his profession.

Dick Berkowitz

In his 55 years in Westport, Dick was elected to the Planning & Zoning Commission and Representative Town Meeting (RTM).

He served as president of the Westport Kiwanis Club, Westport Bar Association and Birchwood Country Club, and was a board member of Staples Tuition Grants and the Westport National Bank.

He was a director of Project Renaissance, a drug treatment project; the Dartmouth Clubs of Westport-Weston and Fairfield County, and the Temple Israel Brotherhood.

In 1970 — 3 years after Berkowitz (then 29 years old), his wife Carole and children moved to Westport — 1st Selectman John Kemish appointed Dick to be chair of a new commission on youth and human relations activities. It was the forerunner of today’s Youth Commission.

He was a longtime assistant basketball coach at Staples High School, working with head coach Brian Kelley. For many years he coached Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and youth recreational basketball. He was also an avid member of the Compo Beach Irregulars, an “informal group of enthusiastic athletes.”

Rooms have been named in Dick Berkowitz’s honor at Temple Israel, and the Roth Center for Jewish Life at Dartmouth College.

He graduated from Dartmouth, and earned his law degree at the University of Connecticut.

He is survived by his wife Carole; children Jody, Emily, Suzy and Adam, and several grandchildren.

Information on services on memorial contributions will be announced soon.

P&Z Chair: Let’s Talk About Trees

Westport Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin noted this morning’s “06880” story on trees with interest. She writes:

Westport does not have regulations protecting mature trees. However, the P&Z — via its Regulations Revision Subcommittee — is working to change this.

The Subcommittee met on this issue in early December. They’re drafting a regulation to protect mature trees in the setbacks, stop the wholesale clear cutting of properties, and ensure that when mature trees are removed, new trees are planted.

Provisions will be made for immediate removal of a tree if there is a safety issue.

The Regulations Revision Subcommittee will take this up again in January. I hope interested residents, and builders, will join the conversation

Click here for a Westport News story about the early December meeting.

Trees cut on Prospect Road, in preparation for a new house.

In other tree news, Westport Journal reports that tree warden Bruce Lindsay will be replaced on January 1 by Ben Sykas. Click here for the full story.

Remembering Julie Belaga

Julie Belaga — whose career took her from the Westport P&Z and RTM to the Connecticut House of Representatives, then a run for governor, teaching at Harvard, regional director of the EPA and a director of the Export-Import Bank —  died peacefully on Friday, at her Westport home. She was 91, and lived here since 1965.

Julie grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, where her father was a fish wholesaler on the Boston docks. After graduating from Syracuse University, she worked for several years as a 2nd-grade school teacher.

Then she found her true calling: politics. After a term as president of the Westport League of Women Voters, Julie served on the Planning and Zoning Commission (including a stint from 1972 to ’76 as chair), and on the Representative Town Meeting.

She was next elected as Westport’s representative to the Connecticut House . She served for 10 years, including positions of deputy majority leader and assistant minority leader. Julie achieved legislative success on a number of environmental issues. She took the lead in drafting and implementing Connecticut’s coastal management laws.

Julie Belaga

She was active in developing the state’s hazardous waste management service, and instrumental in reforming the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (now the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority), which provides recycling and waste disposal services for cities and towns. In 1985, the Hartford Courant named Julie one of the “Top 10 Legislators of the Year.”

After deciding not to seek reelection, Julie was chosen by the Republican Party as its 1986 candidate for governor. She lost to incumbent William O’Neill in the general election.

Out of politics for the first time in more than a decade, Julie served briefly as a television political commentator. She was also a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University and taught grassroots politics at the Kennedy School.

In 1989, President George H. W. Bush appointed Julie as administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency for New England. As regional administrator she oversaw a budget of over $5 million, and more than 14,000 employees.

After she left the EPA, Governor Lowell Weicker appointed her to the Connecticut Development Authority. She left that position in 1994, when she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as one of 5 directors of the US Export-Import Bank. Clinton cited Julie’s “impressive range of public and private sector experience, particularly in the area of the environment.” She was easily confirmed by the Senate, and she served on the Ex-Im Bank board through 1999.

Julie retired from government in 1999 but continued her active community engagement, serving on the boards of several environmental organizations, including the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and the Audubon Society, as well as the Westport Library and the CT Mirror.

Julie was predeceased by her husband of more than 65 years, Mike. She is survived by her children Debra Belaga (Steve Stublarec) of Tiburon, California; David (Alison) Belaga of East Northport, New York, and Heather (Rob) McLean of Owings Mill, Maryland, and granddaughters Kristen Stublarec, Tracy Spencer and Lindsey Belaga.

Arrangements for a memorial service are pending. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound.

Julie and Mike Belaga

 

[CLARIFICATION] P&Z: No Full Basements In Flood Zones; Piers, Pilings Remain Only Options

Westport Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin says that — despite the implication in today’s “06880” story that the P&Z is considering a change in flood zone regulations — the pre-application hearing resulted in a resounding “no.”

Piers and pilings will continue to be the only options for homeowners living near the water.

On Thursday, 2 local design professionals presented a potential amendment to the current flood regulations. The changes would have permitted filling properties to FEMA-mandated elevations, in lieu of raising residential dwellings on piers or pilings.

P&Z staff and commissioners expressed concerns about the effect of foundations and basements on subsurface draining, and neighboring properties on lower grades.

They also addressed the impact of future sea level rise, and the departure from best practices that support raising flood-prone structures over raising the grade of flood-prone lots.

Staff and commissions noted that fill in flood zones is specifically discouraged by FEMA regulations.

Current zoning regulations regarding fill and basements in flood zones will not change, Dobin emphasized.

A raised home on Compo Cove.