Tag Archives: Westport Senior Center

Baron’s South Fill: The Sequel

On Monday, “06880” posted a story about Baron’s South. Reader Morley Boyd had written — and sent photos — describing construction material from the recent Senior Center modernization project that had been dumped in the southwest meadow. He said that demolition debris was mixed with the fill; that there was evidence of soil erosion, and that mature trees had been removed from the site.

Yesterday, another concerned reader sent an update. This reader noted that the Baron — Walter Langer von Langendorff of Austria, who founded Evyan Perfumes in the 1930s, bought the estate in 1967, and lived there until his death in 1983 — had planted and nurtured diverse species of trees on his 32-acre wooded, hilly property, between Compo Road South and Imperial Avenue.

Among the “legacy trees’ was a Hinoki False Cypress. It grew robustly and beautifully in a protected valley.

It was judged the state’s #1 Golden Hinoki False Cypress, on a list of Notable Trees compiled by the Connecticut College Arboretum. It was not located where the construction occurred.

Tree warden Bruce Lindsay and Planning & Zoning Commission member Al Gratrix went to great lengths to ensure that the tree — which had been designated for relocation — would be given special attention by the contractor, so it could thrive.

The Hinoki was replanted at the crest of a hill, bordering the Fairfield County Bank parking lot. The “06880” reader who visited yesterday reports that the tree is brown, dry and dead.

After replanting, the Golden Hinoki False Cyprus appears dead. This photo was taken yesterday.

Not far away, the reader says, there is plenty of construction debris in the fill.

The runoff appears headed toward Deadman’s Brook, and the Saugatuck River.

Baron’s South: Town Officials Reply

Yesterday, “06880” posted reader Morley Boyd’s comments about Baron’s South. He said that construction material from the recent Senior Center modernization project had been dumped in a nearby meadow. He was concerned about debris in the fill, soil erosion, and the removal of trees.

Morley wondered why the material was placed there, whether it has been tested, when it will be removed, and where it will go.

Today, 2 town officials responded.

Jen Fava — director of Parks & Recreation — says:

Mr. Boyd’s characterization of an “illegal dump site” including a “host” of objects is greatly exaggerated, misleading and a misrepresentation of the actual conditions.

The decision was made by the Center for Senior Activities Building Committee to store the fill on site temporarily for use in other projects within the town and/or on the Barons South property.

A closeup of the rear of the dumped fill on Baron’s South. (Phots/Morley Boyd)

This fill was taken from on site in order to accommodate the Senior Center expansion. The fill, as taken from its original location, contains rocks and soil, as would be expected, but it is all from the Baron’s South property.

Mr. Boyd’s description also made it sound as though truckloads of debris have been dumped.  This is simply not the case.  There are a few pieces of metal and other debris, but not in quantity, as implied by the description.  The items in question are being removed.

With regard to the “mature trees” that were removed, this was done in consultation with the tree warden. Only a few trees were removed, which were not in the best condition and were identified to be taken down as part of the future plan for this site.

Alicia Mozian, Department of Conservation director, adds:

I inspected the site last night. It is fully stabilized and the erosion controls are in very good shape. I saw no evidence of silt/sediment on the driveways leading down toward the waterways.

Filling In An Earth Day Puzzle

Happy Earth Day (again)!

My post today earlier today about living shorelines” may have made you feel all warm and earth-fuzzy. You might even be motivated to take a walk at some open space in town.

Great! Just avoid part of Baron’s South.

Alert “06880” reader/local activist Morley Boyd recently noticed that 1,000 or so yards of construction material — from the recent Senior Center modernization project — have been dumped in the southwest meadow.

Morley Boyd took this photo — and outlined the approximate footprint of the excavated fill at Baron’s South.

It includes, he says, both fill and demolition debris: rusty pipes, sharp metal objects, chunks of concrete and asphalt, plastic garbage bags, shattered plastic containers, rubber tires, bricks and more.

Morley says that trapped, standing water at the rear of the dump area abuts residential property. He sees “considerable evidence” of soil erosion across the top section of raw, unprotected construction rubble and fill.

Debris in the Baron’s South landfill. The Senior Center is on the right. (Photos/Morley Boyd)

He also believes that a number of mature trees were removed from the site, to accommodate what he says is a grade raised by 5 or 6 feet.

 

Morley wonders why the material was placed there, whether it has been tested, when it will be removed, and where it will go. He has written to town officials, and awaits a response.

All Invited To Senior Center Super Bowl Party

As anyone who has been to the Westport Senior Center knows, it’s not a place where zombies sit around all day, watching TV. (In fact, there are no TVs at all.)

Our Senior Center hums with activity and life. There are talks and discussions about every topic imaginable. There are classes in art, computers, cooking and dozens of other subjects. There’s yoga, Zumba, a fitness center and 8 TRX stations.

Trouble is, not enough non-seniors get to the Senior Center.

Tomorrow, you get your chance.

Westporters of all ages are invited to a Super Bowl party. From 1 to 4 p.m. you can eat and drink; play games and win prizes; enter a guess-the-final-score contest, and meet the Staples High School state champion field hockey team, plus Staples and PAL cheerleaders.

Tomorrow is a day for football — and meeting the state champion Staples High School field hockey team.

There will be tours of the new addition to the facility. Lynn Goldberg — who helped lead the project — will be honored too.

It’s an inter-generational event. Seniors — especially those with grandchildren far away — love seeing young Westporters. Kids without local grandparents can enjoy a family gathering.

And who doesn’t like free hot dogs, chips, dips and cake?

No one knows who will win tomorrow’s Super Bowl. But it’s clear: Westport’s Senior Center attracts champions of all ages.

Unsung Heroes #85

An Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group meets the second Thursday of every month at the Westport Senior Center. A volunteer writes:

Today as I left our meeting, I was struck with a profound sense of admiration for the strength and courage that each of the caregivers around the table exhibit time and time again.

These men and women give of themselves constantly, with no expectation of anything in return. They go above and beyond to make sure their loved ones are cared for physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

It is a thankless job. Burnout is common.

Every day we are surrounded by these unsung heroes. They tackle the responsibilities of their own lives, careers and families, while patiently and lovingly coordinating an array of services, appointments and support for their loved ones.

These caregivers show so much love and commitment to others. They too deserve a little love from the rest of us.

So true! If you are a caregiver — for Alzheimer’s, a family member or loved one suffering from cancer or any other illness, or a child who needs constant, consistent help — take a second, and take a bow. You are our Unsung Heroes of the Week.

Senior Citizens And Staples Teens Share Stories. And Lunch.

Besides their grandparents, most Staples High School students have little contact with older Westporters.

Some grandparents live far away. And others are no longer living.

But senior citizens and Staples seniors (and  juniors) share more than this town. They all eat.

So food in its many forms — cooking, meals, restaurants — was on the menu last week. The Senior Center hosted its 2nd annual Intergenerational Writing Workshop.

Teenagers and men and women 4 and 5 times their age sat down together. They read what they’d written. They commented on each other’s memoirs and fiction. Then they dug into lunch — and kept talking.

One view of collaboration during the “Shared Voices” event …

The project is a collaboration between the Senior Center’s Writing Workshop and Staples’ English elective, “Reading and Writing Fiction.” Both are immensely popular — and both are well known for turning people who think they can’t write into agile, insightful writers.

David Stockwell teaches 2 sections of the class. To prepare for the day at the Senior Center, the high schoolers wrote about food. Writing Workshop instructor Jan Bassin’s students did the same.

“It’s universal,” Stockwell explains. “There are so many topics: food at the holidays. Families and food. Cooking. Restaurants.”

Whatever trepidation the teenagers and senior citizens may have had melted away as soon as they sat together, at small tables. They read, commented, laughed, told stories, then rotated to another group.

For more than 2 hours — without a cellphone in sight — the writers read.

One man wrote about tinned pineapple rations during the Korean War. They did not look appetizing. But an Army buddy told him to eat; pineapple is good for you. He did — and remembers that day more than half a century later.

Another Senior Center writer described a traditional English breakfast: pudding, bangers, ham, and 2 cups of tea. “Even the terminology made it come alive,” Stockwell says.

… and another. (Photos/David Stockwell)

An English breakfast was the same topic chosen by a Staples senior. His perspective was different — but equally intriguing.

And so it went: stories about eating watermelon. Descriptions of chocolate. Thanksgiving dinner. Anyone can write about food — and everyone did.

But food was just a starting point. As they chatted, a student asked an older woman if she had known what she wanted to do with her life when she was in high school.

No, the woman said. But she described how her life unfolded, and advised the teenager to pay attention to what she loved most from an early age on.

Another Workshop participant realized that she had worked for the father of one of the students for nearly 10 years.

All that reading and talking made them hungry, of course. Lunch — pizza, veggies, hummus, chips and dips — was welcome. It was also a chance to get to know each other even better.

Pizza also helps bring the generations together. (Photo/Alison Wachstein)

“In today’s world, there is little opportunity for seniors to share fascinating and valuable life experiences with these emerging adults, or for the younger generation to ask questions and seek perspective and guidance from those who have lived long and varied lives,” Bassin explains.

At the same time, she says, the topic she and Stockwell picked “de-emphasizes the age gap. We can all relate to food.”

The Senior Center Workshop writers were impressed with the Staples students’ writing and demeanor. The teens were awed by the seniors’ sometimes humorous, sometimes tearful stories of war, loss, hardships and lessons learned.

And the pizza was just topping for the day.

Pic Of The Day #600

Yesterday, I gave a talk at the Senior Center. The subject was “The View From ‘06880.’” Here’s a view of the large, lively audience a few minutes before I began. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Ade’s Vanishing Saugatuck

The 9-foot bulletin board in the lobby of the Westport Senior Center is available for 1 month, to any artist or arts group that wants to showcase their work.

October is Ade Van Duyn’s turn.

Ade Van Duyn, with her exhibit at the Senior Center.

A painter, she lived with her husband and 4 children on Hillspoint Road. She shopped at Max’s Art Supplies, Klein’s, the Remarkable Book Shop and Greenberg’s. She enjoyed the Ice Cream Parlor too.

Ade always loved Saugatuck. It felt intimate and friendly — like an old-fashioned village.

Driving up and down Saugatuck Avenue near I-95 Exit 17, she never questioned its lack of a sidewalk, driveways or access to homes.

Recently, while looking for an interesting subject to paint, she was fascinated by the appearance of some of the properties.

But, Ade says, her fascination took on a darker tone.

She painted a concrete wall with a door cemented shut.

A door sealed shut …

A house on a hill with “endless stairs to an invisible entrance.” An empty store disappearing into the hillside.

… and stairs to nowhere.

“My paintings turned into a message: These places are the ugly symbols of a vanishing community,” she says.

And, she asks, “Should we preserve those that are still whole, alive and healthy — those that are still there?”

Now Hear This!

Alert “06880” reader Dick Lowenstein writes:

I did not know I was hard of hearing until my uncle asked me to face away from him at the end of the hall in my grandmother’s apartment. He asked me questions to which I did not respond. I was 6 years old.

Doctor visits and hearing tests, followed by experimental radium and X-ray treatments, until finally what made a difference: lip reading and speech lessons.

Not until I was a 16-year-old high school senior did I get a hearing aid. That helped me comprehend college lectures. I wore that pendant receiver around my neck, with an earpiece to transmit amplified sounds, reluctantly.

As time progressed my hearing worsened. But technology progressed, and the aids became smaller. I went to binaural (both ears) aids built into my eyeglass template pieces, and finally to behind-the-ear models that I wear today. I function pretty well with them, but not in wartime or water!

New technology — better than what I currently use — is now here. Bluetooth and cell phone captioning are 2 examples. This Tuesday (October 2, 11 a.m., Westport Senior Center) the local chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America sponsors a presentation on these new technologies.

The event is free, open to the public — and captioned.

(For more information, email mczola@optonline.net)

A Bluetooth hearing aid is indistinguishable from other Bluetooth devices.

Services Tomorrow For Fran Reynolds

Frances “Fran” Reynolds, a Westport resident for 56 years, and the much-loved senior services coordinator for the Department of Human Services, died Friday. She was 89.

Her obituary says, “Fran was an amazing and inspiring woman whose laugh and smile warmed all those who knew her. She loved going to Compo Beach, gardening in her yard and New York City, but most of all, spending time with her family and friends, who she viewed as her greatest gifts.”

Fran graduated in 1949 from Wellesley College. She then attended Yale University for Graduate Studies, as one of the first few female students.

Fran Reynolds

Fran worked for the National Tuberculosis Association and American Lung Association in New York City. She met and married the love of her life, Bob, and moved to Westport. In addition to serving as senior services coordinator for Westport for almost 25 years, Fran was on the board of directors for the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging, Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield County and Westport Senior Center. She received numerous awards for  her work.

Survivors include her children and their spouses, Suzanne and Vincent Baum of Connecticut, and Dorothy and David Verani of New Hampshire; granddaughters Megan, Katie, Kiera and Julia; nephew Alan Leland; niece Nancy McGuinty, and 10 great-nieces and nephews. She will also be missed by Bob’s daughter, Carolann, her grandson Kent and great-grandchildren, Danielle and Luke.

Visiting hoursare  at Collins Funeral Home in Norwalk tomorrow (Thursday, May 31, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., followed by a mass at St. Luke’s Church in Westport (11 a.m.).