Tag Archives: Westport RTM

Remembering Garson Heller

Garson “Gar” Heller — a longtime town elected official and volunteer who with his wife, RTM moderator Velma Heller served Westport in many ways, for many years — died yesterday.

A 40-year survivor of multiple bypass surgery, he experienced serious health issues shortly before his death. He was 85 years old.

His family calls him “generous and kind, sometimes to a fault, with a dry wit and a keen mind.”

Born in Manhattan to Elsie (Lakoff) and Garson F. Heller on December 11, 1935,  Garson was the eldest of 4 children. The family moved to Scarsdale when he was 2. He excelled in the classroom and on the athletic field. He also enjoyed many adventures with his boyhood friends and siblings, including riding his bicycle into New York City for a surprise visit to his grandmother when he was 11.

He graduated from Yale in 1957 with a degree in chemical engineering. He competed in intramural sports, then later corporate and local softball leagues. He played tennis into his 70s,until health issues forced him to put down his racquet.

Garson Heller

Gar started his long and varied career at Mobil Oil. With a talent for math, logic and complex problem solving, in 1969 he moved to a technology consulting firm, Data Dimensions, where he designed content automation and workflow systems for United Press International and other large organizations.

In 1982 he joined Securities Industry Automation Corporation, which supported the back-end trading and processing activities for the New York and American Stock Exchanges. He played a key role in the design and procurement of systems architecture for SIAC’s facilities at MetroTech in Brooklyn, and was the senior director for computer acquisitions until his retirement in 2002.

He loved all professional sports, but especially the Yankees and Steelers. He was also a competitive bridge player, strategizing tricks on Metro-North and playing with the same group of commuters for more than 20 years.

After retirement he continued to play in various bridge leagues and, since the early days of the pandemic, online. He was a Bronze Life Master bridge player, based on numerous competitions.

Garson read each section of the New York Times and many other publications, and completed the Sudoku and KenKen puzzles each day in record time. As passionate as he was about monitoring current affairs in the US and around the world, he loved Westport, the town that he and Velma moved to in 1964, with 2 little boys.

He was first elected to the Representative Town Meeting in 1969, and served for 14 years. In 1983 he was appointed to the Board of Assessment Appeals, and later elected to a seat on that board which he held for 38 years.

He also volunteered as a poll worker for local and state elections, often staying until the last vote was counted. He was honored by the Republican Town Committee in 2011 for his many years of outstanding service to the community, which continued until his death.

Above all else, Gar was a man of the highest morals who approached everything he did with integrity, candor and humor. As the longest serving member of the Board of Assessment Appeals he strove to treat each appellant fairly, and to serve both the town and other taxpayers equitably.

He was predeceased by his brother Andrew. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Velma Heller; sons Grant (Joanne) of Westport and Bradenton, Florida, David (Wendy) of Simsbury; daughter Julie of Brooklyn Heights; grandchildren Bonnie Steinman (Zachary), Katie, Grant Jr., Lisa, Nicole and William Heller, and great-grandchildren Jacob and Mia.  He is also survived by brother Richard and sister-in-law Rosemary; sister Ronnie; sister-in-law Rita, and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

The family will observe a private memorial.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Garson’s memory to the American Heart Association, in gratitude for the advances in cardiac care and interventional technologies that enriched Garson’s quality of life and extended his years of impact on all who knew and loved him.

Roundup: RTM, WTF, Catch A Lift …

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All 36 Representative Town Meeting seats will be contested in November’s election. Four members from each of Westport’s 9 districts vote on town appropriations, and give final approval to the budget; approve town ordinances; make recommendations regarding ordinances, and review certain decisions of town boards and commissions.

So far, all members in districts 2 (Jay Keenan, Lou Mall, Christine Meiers Schataz, Harris Falk), 3 (Mark Friedman, Arline Gertzoff, Jimmy Izzo, Ross Burkahrdt) and 6 (Jessica Bram, Seth Braunstein, Cathy Talmadge and Candace Banks) have submitted letters of intent to run again.

So have 3 members in districts 1 (Chris Tait, Matthew Mandell, Kristin Mott Purcell), 4 (Andrew Colabella, Noah Hammond, Jeffrey Weiser), 5 (Peter Gold, Dick Lowenstein, Karen Kramer), 7 (Brandi Briggs, Lauren Karpf, Jack Klinge) and 8 (Wendy Batteau, Lisa Newman, Stephen Shackelford). In District 9,Sal Liccione and Kristin Schneeman are running again.

Six candidates have requested petitions, and are collecting signatures. They are in districts 1 (Richard Jaffe, Abby Tolan, Carolanne Curry), 5 (Claudia Shaum) and 9 (Nancy Kail, Marla Cowden).

Petitions are due September 14. Click here for a petition. Click here for a map of all 9 districts.

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Westport has a special relationship with Catch-a-Lift. Our town has gone all in, supporting the national non-profit that helps post-9/11 combat-wounded veterans recover and rehabilitate, physically and mentally, through physical fitness, motivation and support.

COVID canceled last year’s event. It returns this year, stronger (naturally) than ever.

Appropriately, it begins on Saturday, September 11 with a community workout, with Catch-a-Lift veterans (Westport Police Station, 1 p.m.). Sunday, September 12 features a family bike ride, in Ridgefield.

The action shifts to Birchwood Country Club on Monday, September 13. There’s a 9-hole golf tournament (2 p.m.); a tennis point play event (3 p.m.), and the highlight: from 5 to 7:30 p.m., a chance to meet amazing veterans; enjoy music, food and drinks, and hear inspiring stories.

Click here for details and information, including how to help with auction items, sponsor a golf hole and more. 

Catch a Lift veterans — shown at Birchwood Country Club in 2018 — are inspirational role models.

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Wakeman Town Farm calls raising milkweeds and monarchs “the hobby that gives back.”

Next Monday (August 9, 7 p.m., in person), they’re offering a back-by-popular-demand lecture on the subject.

According to WTF, “monarchs, the once plentiful beauties of yard and field, have suffered habitat loss so great that their numbers have dwindled to 10% of their peak population. They are called the ‘poster child’ for pollinator habitat protection, owing to their beauty and the remarkable feat of their annual migration to Mexico and back.

“Protecting monarchs leads to a wider awareness of the fragility of insect populations, the steady assault on their numbers through the indiscriminate use of pesticides, and the vital role that diverse native species play in keeping our planet healthy.”

Alice Ely — “mother of monarchs, University of Connecticut advanced master gardener, master composter, garden coach and Pollinator Pathway member and creator of public and private monarch way stations in Fairfield County (including Wakeman Town Farm) — is the speaker.

Click here to register.

Monarch butterfly at Compo Beach (Photo/Jamie Walsh)

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Congratulations to Westport Little League’s 10U team: Connecticut’s new state champions!

They won the crown last night in Stamford, 11-0 against East Lyme. The game ended after 4 innings, thanks to the “mercy” (aka “murder”) rule that ends lopsided contests.

Here’s wishing the squad good luck 2 years from now, when as 12Us they hope to emulate  the 2013 team’s run to the Little League World Series finals.

Bottom row (from left): Luke Moneyhon, Chris Lambert, Wes Walters, Chase Landgraf. Middle row: Brody Chlupsa, Nolan Walters, Dylan Burdeshaw, Miles Delorier, Noah Smith, Grant Theisinger, Justin Goldshore, Jack McGrath. Top Row, coach Marc Theisinger, coach Dave Smith, manager Justin Walters. Missing: Henry Ellis.

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Speaking of sports: This Saturday, Westport becomes the center of the American rugby world.

Players get a chance to showcase their talents in front of Major League Rugby scouts, coaches and star players like Ben Foden. The event at Staples High School’s Paul Lane Field (August 7) takes place 2 weeks before the MLR draft.

It begins at 9 a.m. with physical testing, and continues with professional positional coaching, laser timing technology and live scrimmaging. “Scouts from multiple national rugby teams” will be in attendance, organizers promise.

The event is free, and open to the public. It will also be broadcast on The Rugby Network. For more information, click here.

English rugby star Ben Foden will be at Staples High School on Saturday.

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Speaking still of sports: Congratulations to Shira Parower!

She was on the winning North side, which beat the South 16-8 in the All-America Lacrosse Game at Johns Hopkins University.

Shira — a June graduate of Staples High School, who will play at James Madison University next season — had 2 goals  and 3 assists.

She told the Baltimore Sun: “I just felt like since the first whistle we came out with a lot of fire and we just wanted to win this game. We were finishing our shots and kept them going through the whole game.”

(Click here for the full story. Hat tip: Don Kubie)

Shira Parower

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Joanie Landau is August’s featured artist, at the Westport Book Shop. She’s exhibiting her digital collagraphs. They combine photographic elements with graphic design techniques.

Joanie — a member of the Artists Collective of Westport — has exhibited in shows across the country, and won awards.

The art exhibit is open during Book Shop hours

Joanie Landau’s work, at the Westport Book Shop.

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Recent “Westport … Naturally” photos have featured deer, butterflies and flowers.

But Westport is nothing without dogs. Here are Noah — the 3-legged wonder dog who has way outlived his osteosarcoma diagnosis and amputation from January 2020) and Logan, on an early morning walk at Wakeman Field

(Photo/Marc Katz)

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And finally … happy birthday to Tony Bennett. He’s 95 years young today!

 

 

 

RTM: Straightforward Meeting Last Night; Controversy Ahead

This is Peter Gold’s report on the June Representative Town Meeting. He is an RTM member writing for himself, not in an official capacity.

The regular June RTM meeting dealt with 2 noncontroversial items. A third item, dealing with police and fire pensions, was withdrawn and will be considered at a subsequent RTM meeting.

Andrew Wilk and Jeremy Price were reappointed to 4-year terms as trustees of the Westport Library. Price is currently vice president of the board of trustees, while Wilk is responsible for sourcing and producing many of the Library’s cultural events.

The RTM unanimously certified Homes with Hope and the Westport Country Playhouse as organizations eligible to receive grants under Connecticut’s Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit Program. corporations can make grants to eligible not-for-profit organizations in lieu of paying a portion of their corporate income taxes. No town funds are involved with the grants.

The maximum amount any organization can receive is $125,000. The Playhouse hopes to receive $14,210 to upgrade its parking lot with LED lights, and $10,500 to acquire assisted listening devices for the theater.  Homes With Hope is asking for $24,340 for roof replacement at the Bacharach Community housing

In addition to the regular monthly June meeting, the RTM will also meet next Tuesday (June 8) to consider overturning the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision to permit a 157-unit housing development, including 47 affordable units, at Hiawatha Lane.

The P&Z approved the development as part of a settlement of a lawsuit seeking to overturn its earlier denial of the project and revoke the town’s moratorium from the affordable housing requirements under Connecticut statute 8-30g. A two-thirds vote of the entire RTM (24 votes), is needed to overturn the P & Z’s decision.

Roundup: RTM & Hiawatha, Mercury & Cumby’s, Coral & Ospreys …

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This week, the Representative Town Meeting’s Planning & Zoning Subcommittee voted 5-1 to uphold the P&Z’s agreement with Summit Saugatuck, to build 157 units of housing — some of it deemed “affordable” — on Hiawatha Lane, near I-95 Exit 17.

The debate now moves to the full RTM. That meeting is set for June 8 (7:30 p.m., Zoom).

It will be livestreamed on http://www.westportct.gov, and shown on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.

Members of the public may attend the meeting by video. Send an email before or during the session to RTMcomments@westportct.gov, with your name and address. Meeting details will be emailed to you. Registered electors attending by video can comment (3-minute time limit).

Emails to all members may also be sent before the meeting: RTMmailinglist@westportct.gov.

Artist’s rendering of one of the buildings at the Hiawatha Lane development.

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Mercury just spent a ton of money to upgrade their gas station on Post Road East, near the Southport border.

Cumberland Farms must have come in with a great offer. Soon, Mercury will turn into Cumby’s.

No word on whether it will replace the smaller store near Sakura, or if Westport is doubling its Cumberland Farms count. (Hat tip: Matt Murray)

Mercury, at Post Road East and Bulkley Avenue South. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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Around here, Jana Ireijo is known for her role in the vanishing murals project downtown. (She drew a koala.)

Now she’s earning renown clear across the country.

The Nature Conservancy Hawaii commissioned her to create a vanishing mural of a coral reef on Maui. Parts are done in chalk, and are already washing away.

The project was timed to coincide with Earth Day and World Ocean Day (June 8). Click here to learn more.’=

Jana Ireijo’s vanishing Maui mural.

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Charlie Capalbo’s battles with cancer have inspired people around the world.

The 23-year-old Fairfield native — and grandson of Westport writer Ina Chadwick — beat lymphoma and leukemia. Now he’s facing off against leukemia again.

It’s a costly fight. And the need is great. Charlie’s dad lost his job at the beginning of COVID, and is just getting his new real estate career off the ground. His mom, Jen, has been working per diem. That’s now on hold.

Fortunately, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and radio personality Greg Hill have pledged to match every $1 donated — up to $20,000 each. That could mean a total of $60,000 to support Charlie and his family.

Click here to help. Then watch your contribution triple.

Charlie Capalbo (Photo/Dave Gunn)

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This week’s #FridayFlowers bouquet decorates an appropriate site: the Doughboy statue on Veterans Green, opposite Town Hall.

Hundreds of Westporters will gather there Monday, for the post-Memorial Day parade ceremony. The moving tribute will be extra special, thanks to the Westport Garden Club.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

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Osprey update!

Carolyn Doan reports: “All is well at the Fresh Market nest. The female is up and around more. She faces inward, meaning she’s tending to something in the middle.

“I think I heard faint peeps while standing below, so presumably there are chicks! If so they are very small. We’ll have to wait to see their little heads.

“Yesterday the male brought home a fish. He patiently waited on his favorite branch for the family to wake up. Once there was enough activity, he swooped in with breakfast.”

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)

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“Westport … Naturally”: Today Lori Levine shares a shot of found a little fellow she found sunbathing in her back yard, on an Adirondack chair.

(Photo/Jan van Arsdale)

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Seen at Sherwood Island: Yeah, this means you!

(Photo/JC Martin)

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And finally … John Davis died this week, of complications from COVID. He was 66.

You may not recognize his name. But he was one of the real singers for the fake duo Milli Vanilli. They won a Grammy for their debut album in 1990, but lost it when news broke that the singers had not actually sung. Click here for a full obituary.

 

RTM Subcommittee Upholds P&Z On Hiawatha Lane

The Representative Town Meeting Planning and Zoning Subcommittee voted decisively yesterday to uphold the P&Z’s agreement with Summit Saugatuck, to build 157 units of housing — some of it deemed “affordable” — on Hiawatha Lane, near I-95 Exit 17.

The vote was 5 to 1 to uphold the P&Z decision,, with one abstention. Member Matthew Mandell recused himself.

The meeting was required by law, following a petition by more than 60 electors in the wake of the P&Z vote earlier this month. The matter now moves to the full RTM, early in June.

Artist’s rendering of one of the buildings at the Hiawatha Lane development.

Petitioners Ask RTM To Review Hiawatha Lane Settlement

One week after the Planning & Zoning Commission agreed to a settlement with Summit Saugatuck — allowing a scaled-down 157-unit housing development to be built on Hiawatha Lane (off Saugatuck Avenue adjacent to I-95 Exit 17). seemingly ending 18 years of proposals and litigation — there is a new twist.

Earlier this afternoon — one day ahead of the filing deadline — a petition signed by over 60 electors was delivered to the town clerk. Lead petitioner Gloria Gouveia and Save Old Saugatuck leader Carolanne Curry presented the signatures.

If Town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton ascertains that there are at least 20 valid signatures, the petition will be forwarded to the Representative Town Meeting, as provided by the Town Charter. A public hearing would follow.

The RTM has 30 days from today to hear and decide the petition.

[OPINION] Hiawatha Project: An Unexpected Next Step?

Gloria Gouveia is a longtime Westporter. Since 1984 she has worked as a land use consultant, specializing in planning and zoning permit and subdivision applications, Zoning Board of Appeals applications, neighborhood opposition advocacy and Historic District compliance.

In the wake of Wednesday’s 5-0 Planning & Zoning Commission vote to accept a settlement with Summit Partners — allowing a 157-unit project to proceed on Hiawatha Lane, with modifications from the original plan — she writes:

Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” Although he was referring to a baseball game, the same can be said for the proposed 157-unit Summit development approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission Wednesday night.

Although a neighbor’s recourse in circumstances like these is usually limited to an expensive court appeal, the Summit matter is different. Along with approvals for construction and site development, the P&Z also approved a change of a zoning boundary.

Thanks to our early lawmakers, organizations like Save Old Saugatuck and Save Westport Now, as well as the many residents who opposed Summit’s plans, may have another opportunity to challenge the developer in a public forum: the RTM.

According to the Town of Westport Charter: “The Representative Town Meeting shall have the power to review any action by the Planning and Zoning Commission adopting, amending or repealing any zoning regulation or fixing or changing the boundary of any zoning district…”

To start the process, a petition endorsed by 2 RTM members or 20 electors of our town must be submitted to the town clerk. When transmitted to the RTM it will be scheduled for hearing, where all may be heard.

So to all of the disenfranchised residents of the Hiawatha Lane neighborhood, and all of those good citizens of Westport who oppose this Brobdingnagian development: Let us join together and rally once more to ask the RTM to reverse the Planning & Zoning Commission’s decision, and save old Saugatuck.

I reached out to town attorney Ira Bloom. He responded this afternoon:

“That is correct. A petition must be filed within 7 days following the public notice of a P&Z decision.” That notice was filed yesterday (Thursday, May 13).

Bloom added, “I will certainly look carefully at any petition that is submitted.”

I spoke with Planning & Zoning director Mary Young too. She noted that the full text of the Town Charter (quoted above) says: “Any action by the Planning and Zoning Commission adopting, amending or repealing any zoning regulation or fixing or changing the boundary of any zoning district, or a negative 8-24 report by the Commission [italics mine] shall be subject to review by the Representative Town Meeting.”

Young said that the P&Z decision Wednesday night was a positive report — not a negative one.

The zoning plan for Hiawatha Lane.

A few minutes ago, Gouveia added this information:

“Summit’s project will have to be reviewed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

“According to my reading of their permitting requirements, Summit is classified as a major traffic generator. Any project with 200 or more parking spaces meets that definition. Although housing projects with 100 cars or less are exempt, that is not the case with Summit. I can’t believe DOT is happy with any development likely to result in more backups on the exit ramps and onto I-95.”

“Also, the Planning Director may contact DOT about Summit’s approval. The DOT will immediately start the review process.”

Artist’s rendering of one of the buildings at the Hiawatha Lane development.

RTM Passes Town, Education Budgets

Westport has a budget for the next fiscal year.

Actually, we have 2. This week, the Representative Town Meeting approved both the town and education budgets.

Here is Peter Gold’s report on the May 3 and 4 RTM meetings. He is an RTM member and a director of the Westport Transit District writing for himself, and not in an official capacity.

At back-to-back meetings this week, the RTM approved a total town and education budget of $220,814,210. That’s approximately 2.65% more than the current year.

On May 3 the RTM passed the town budget for the fiscal year ending June 20, 2022 of $77,103,992 — a 2.2% increase over the current year.

It also approved several smaller budgets for Earthplace, Westport Library, Westport-Weston Health District, Westport Transit District, railroad parking and Wakeman Town Farm, for a grand total of $85,509,447. That is a 2.59% increase over the current year.

Over 80% of the town’s budget goes to 4 areas: public safety (30%), funding for pensions and other post-employment benefits such as retiree health care (27%), public works (15%) and parks and recreation (9%).

All budgets except for Westport Transit District were unchanged from the budget recommended by the Board of Finance, and all passed unanimously.

In a 32-1 vote, the RTM restored $157,500 cut by the Board of Finance from the Westport Transit District‘s budget for its Wheels2U shuttle service introduced last October. The RTM took note of the letters it received from over 100 individuals and organizations in support of restoring the funds. RTM members also felt the pandemic made it difficult to fairly evaluate the Wheels2U service, and that it should be given a chance to prove itself as life returns closer to normal.

On May 4 the RTM approved the Board of Finance’s recommended budget for the Board of Education. The $135,304,763 approved by the RTM, while $1,347,716 less than the Board of Ed’s original request, is still a 3% increase over the current year.

The Board of Education chose not to ask the RTM to restore funds cut by the Board of Finance. Instead, it managed to make up the amount through increased state aid, and funds received under emergency grant programs like the Coronavirus Relief Fund and the American Rescue Plan.

As in prior years, the overwhelming majority of the Board of Education budget —81% — goes to salaries and benefits.

Prior to voting on the budget, the RTM was briefed by Board of Finance chair Brian Stern on the town’s financial condition. Despite unexpected expenses due to COVID and Hurricane Isaias, the town is projected to finish the fiscal year on June 30 within 1% of the amount budgeted last May. This amount — which can be covered by the town’s reserves — is due to hard work by town employees, and financial aid from state and federal governments.

RTM: Sewers And Asphalt

This is Peter Gold’s report on the December Representative Town Meeting. He is an RTM member writing for himself, and not in an official capacity.

January’s RTM meeting, one of the shortest ever, focused on keeping the town’s infrastructure in good shape. Legislators unanimously approved 2 sewer projects and 2 paving projects.

Sewer project #1 was an appropriation to $600,000 to replace the 1,100-foot, 40-year old force main pipe at Pump Station 5. The town’s sewer system includes 18 pump stations and 117 miles of sewer lines (16 miles are force mains). The new force main will permit the system to handle 650 gallons per minute. It will be paid for by the annual charges paid by all households connected to the sewer system.

Interestingly, the highest sewer flow in the year for Westport’s sewer system comes during half time of the Super Bowl.

The second project was $59,400, for an engineering design study to extend the sewer system to 37 homes on Whitney Street, Roseville Road, Fernwood Road, Plumtree Lane, Pamela Place and Ledgemoor Lane. The cost of the design study, plus the eventual construction cost of installing nearly a mile of pipe to expand the system, will be paid over 19 years by residents of those streets connecting to the sewer.

The sewer system is expanded if sufficient residents in the area request the extension. It must be within the sewer service area of the town (known as the “blue line”). Areas north of the Merritt Parkway are generally not within the line.

Next came approval of $295,000 to repave the upper lot at the library.  The area between the library and Levitt Pavilion was last paved about 30 years ago.

Concerns were expressed about environmental issues that might arise due to the location on landfill, steps to be taken to prevent future settling of the lot, and proper disposal of the asphalt.

The Westport Library and Levitt Pavilion parking lot is built on landfill.

Pete Ratkiewich, town director of Public Works, explained that a rototiller-like machine would grind up the existing asphalt and mix it with the existing subsurface material.  This would strengthen the base on which the new pavement would be laid, and help prevent future problems due to settling.  The rototiller would not disturb the landfill material, which is located at a deeper level.

The paving project is expected to begin in the spring, and take 1 to 2 weeks.  Plans are to complete the project before the Levitt opens in June.

The last item was $320,000 to repave the parking lot at the Senior Center. The lot was last paved 16 years ago, but is in poor condition. Work is also expected to begin in the spring.

RTM Upgrades Radio System, Seawall; Appoints Transit Director

This is Peter Gold’s report on the December Representative Town Meeting. He is an RTM member writing for himself, not in an official capacity.

December’s RTM meeting featured several housekeeping items, and 3 appropriation requests.

Dan Woog’s invocation gave thanks for America’s democratic traditions. He thanked the RTM for all it does for Westport, describing the RTM as ”its own tradition. It is non-partisan. It represents every segment of town. It is unique. It is quirky. It is ours.”

Members then reelected Velma Heller as moderator and Jeff Wieser as deputy moderator for the 4th time, and thanked retiring Town Clerk Patty Strauss for her 23 years of service to the RTM and the town.

The RTM also thanked Marty Fox and Patsy Cimarosa, who resigned as directors of the Westport Transit District, for their nearly 5 years’ service as directors.

The most expensive appropriation was $4,635,408 for a new public safety radio system. The current system is 15 year old, and has parts that can no longer be repaired.

The new system will piggyback on the state’s existing system. making it significantly less expensive than buying a stand-alone setup. The new system enables the Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services to communicate together for the first time, and expands the area covered by the system.

$230,000 was approved to repair the seawall along the river at Jesup Green. The project adds a railing atop the seawall to help minimize accidental falls into the river. While the RTM agreed safety should be a priority, hope was expressed that the railing will obstruct river views as little as possible.

Repairs will be made along the Saugatuck River seawall.

The RTM also approved $80,000 for the design and permitting stage of a project to repair the Old Mill walkway and tide gates.

The final agenda item was to appoint a new volunteer director for the Westport Transit District.

Peter Gold, former chair of the RTM Transit Committee (and the author of this article) was nominated, because of his familiarity with the Transit District’s operations. He would resign once the town came up with a plan for the future of the Transit District.

A motion was made to delay appointing a new transit director until February to give the town additional time to decide on a course of action.

Peter Gold

While some thought the absence of a director would prod the town to take action more quickly, others noted that a director must be in place now to deal with day-to day operations, including the new Wheels 2U Westport on-demand door-to train station commuter service, and to prepare the Transit District’s budget for the next fiscal year.

The appointment of a director would not prevent the town from formulating its own solution. Based on this, and Gold’s knowledge and experience with the Transit District, he was appointed as a director by a vote of 34 in favor, and 1 abstention.