Tag Archives: Westport train station

Roundup: Catch A Lift, Catch A Train, Catch A Ride …

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Master Sergeant Clayton Jensen planned to speak in Westport long before the announcement that American troops would leave Afghanistan.

But his appearance Friday (September 10, 5 p.m., Compo Beach), as part of Catch a Lift’s annual (and inspirational) fundraiser is now especially timely.

During his 15-year military career, Jensen was deployed numerous times to Afghanistan and Iran. He suffered several serious injuries

He holds graduate degrees in international relations and organizational leadership, and is working toward his third master’s in international public policy. 

Jensen will talk about his work in the military, what he’s learned about Afghanistan, and how to find hope amid devastation.

Catch-A-Lift  is a national organization supporting combat-wounded veterans through physical fitness, nutrition, mental support and community.

It has strong roots in Westport. This weekend — the 20th anniversary of 9/11 — will be special. Over a dozen vets will be hosted here, in our town’s 7th annual gathering of camaraderie and hope.

Click here for tickets to Friday’s ceremony, including a sunset celebration.

The Catch a Lift weekend also includes a community workout (Saturday, September 11, 3 p.m., Westport Police station, Jesup Road; click here to register), and a family bike tour (Sunday, September 12, 9 a.m., beginning and ending in Ridgefield; click here to register).

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Speaking of Afghanistan: The Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants is preparing to welcome and resettle up to 150 men, women and children from that war-torn land.

That’s an unexpected addition to the 180 refugees CIRI had already planned to help, from countries across the globe.

Individual Westporters have long supported the non-profit. In addition, Christ & Holy Trinity and the Unitarian Church are part of a larger group of faith-based organizations that help set up apartments when refugees arrive in Bridgeport.

They create fully furnished homes, with beds, linens, bath needs, kitchen items and culturally appropriate food. Children receive school items, toys and diapers.

Some of the refugees have lived in camps for 15 years. Many of the children have never had a home. CIRI provides ongoing services for all families.

CIRI hosts a crucial fundraising gala this Sunday (September 12, 4:30 p.m., 80 Grovers Avenue, Bridgeport). For more information on the cocktails, live auction and more, click here. To learn more about CIRI, and donate, click here.

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Westport Paddle Club‘s 2021 season ends today (Tuesday, September 7).

But it doesn’t have to be over, for kayakers and paddle boarders.

Owners Robbie and Taryn Guimond have over 15 kayaks and 20 paddle boards that need a new home.

Top of the line 2020/21 Ocean Kayaks Malibus sit-on-top doubles and singles are available. So are new 2021 SUPs, at deep discounts.

Head down to Westport Paddle Club (471 Riverside Avenue), call 203-998-1519 or email robbieguimond@gmail.com, to paddle home with great gear.

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Yesterday was the last day for lifeguards at Compo Beach. Of course, Westporters will continue to visit their favorite spot.

Reflecting on the end of the “season,” though, Eve Potts realized something was missing this year: trash.

She writes: “As a daily Compo Beach walker, I rarely see traces of garbage. Everyone is very careful to deposit trash in the conveniently placed cans. And the Parks & Rec Department does an incredible job of hauling it away regularly. You rarely see overflowing trash cans.Hooray for the public, and Parks & Rec!”

Compo Beach receptacle (Photo/Amy Berkin)

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Wheels2U Westport, the on-demand, group ride, door-to-train shuttle service, is extending its service hours.

Effective today, Wheels2U Westport will operate an hour and half longer each weekday afternoon: 4 to 9:30 p.m.

The 5:45 to 9:45 a.m. morning service is unchanged.

The longer hours should help commuters and others who work late, or want to meet friends for a drink or dinner after work.

The service area covers nearly all of Westport. Residents use the “Wheels2U Westport” app to request a pickup for trains leaving Grand Central as late as 8:07 p.m.  Riders are taken from the Saugatuck or Greens Farms station to their front door.

Pickup areas at Saugatuck are on the westbound side of the platform (corner of Franklin Street) or Railroad Place (near the elevator). Pickup at Greens Farms is in the large commuter parking lot just west of New Creek Road.

The fare is $2 when paid with the Wheels2U app. A Metro-North Uniticket rail/bus pass can also be used.

For more information, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.

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Whatever I could say about this Post Road sing — and a similar one at Compo Beach — pales in comparison to what “06880” readers will write.

Have at it! Click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Rowene Weems Photography)

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Sure, it now takes 2 or 3 weeks to get from Westport to Grand Central Station.

But at least — after 15 or 20 years — the gantries are gone.

(Photo/William Weiss)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is a 2-fer. Naturally — because there are 2 magnificent birds in each photo.

Great egrets at Compo Beach … (Photo/Michelle Widmeier)

… and great herons at Gray’s Creek. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally …. Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year. Shana Tova! Let’s party like it’s 5782.

Photo Challenge #346

If you’ve ever spent time as a commuter — parking in the eastbound lot, or standing on the platform scanning for your ride when you come back from New York — you’ve probably noticed the large statue of a Buckingham Palace guard, standing watch just inside the gate of a home across Ferry Lane.

Brandon Malin is not a commuter. But the June Staples High School graduate knows his Photo Challenges.

He was the first to answer correctly last week. The University of Michigan-bound reader wrote: “You can see it going toward the river from Route 136 (so going west). Must be an interesting back story!”

Alas, no one filled in that story. We’d love to hear it!

Brandon’s response was followed by John Richers, Matthew Levine (who added “the owner enjoys collecting life-size statues”), Andrew Colabella, Jonathan McClure, Karen Como, Iain Bruce, Pat Saviano (who remembers a red English-style phone booth there too), Linda Vita Velez, Clark Thiemann, Mary Ann Batsell and Claire Elliot.

Not all of them are commuters either. But — like so many “06880” readers — they are a very observant bunch.

Are they — and you — observant enough to know what this week’s Photo Challenge shows?

If so, click “Comments” below.

(Photo collage/Kevin Carroll)

Railroad Parking: What Drives Empty Spots

It may have been the most vivid reminder of COVID’s effect on Westport: our nearly deserted train stations.

Now, more than 16 months into the pandemic, both Saugatuck and Greens Farms parking lots remain almost entirely vacant, every day of the week.

Many Westporters still work from home. Others have forsaken the train for increasingly clogged I-95 and Merritt Parkway.

June 30 marked the deadline for train station parking permit renewals. Yet despite the precipitous drop in ridership, most folks have paid to hold on to their precious passes.

The new normal (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

Railroad parking is under the purview of the Westport Police Department. (I don’t know why. But they do it well.)

According to Police Chief Foti Koskinas and director of railroad operations Sam Arciola, there are 2,500 total available spaces, at Saugatuck and Greens Farms.

Even in pre-coronavirus times, not everyone utilized their spots every day. By monitoring usage closely, the Police Department knows how many permits to issue each year.

In July 2020, there were 3,900 permits. About 70% went to Westport residents. Another 900 people were on the wait list.

This year, only 3,100 people requested permits. That cut the wait list nearly in half, to 490.

Why did the WPD not issue permits to everyone on the wait list?

With commuting patterns in flux — and a number of New York offices reopening this fall — Koskinas and Arciola were watching what happens. Now, they’re ready to offer permits to everyone on the wait list. That will happen around August 1.

Meanwhile, they see renewed interest from former parking permit holders who did not renew by June 30, but now wish to.

“We welcome them to reapply,” Koskinas says. Former permit holders — and anyone else with questions — should call 203-341-6052.

(Hat tip: David Loffredo)

In the absence of commuters, utility crews used the Greens Farms railroad station as a staging area after last year’s Hurricane Isaias. (Photo/Robert Cornfield)

Pic Of The Day #1544

Saugatuck train station (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

Pics Of The Day #1463

Train station in spring … 

… and workers on the railroad, Sunday afternoon (Photos/Molly Alger)

Friday Flashback #209

“Loving” is a 1970 movie starring George Segal, Eva Marie Saint and Keenan Wynn.

If you’ve never heard of it — and I sure haven’t — here’s a review from IMDB:

George Segal (not as scruffy as he typically had been at the start of the decade) plays a troubled husband and father suffering through career uncertainty who cheats on his wife (Eva Marie Saint, cast yet again as a doormat-spouse). Segal is an affable screen presence, but we never learn much about what makes him tick, what causes him to hurt the ones he loves.

Talented director Irvin Kershner hit a few snags in his career; here, the semi-improvisational ground he’s treading desperately needs a center, or a leading character we can attach some emotions to. The dramatic finale is well-realized, and Segal’s comeuppance is provocative and thoughtful–at least something is HAPPENING; overall, it’s a cynical slice of the marriage blahs, one that probably played a lot fresher in 1970 than it does today.

Somehow, Andy Laskin found it on TCM. (Turner’s definition of “classic movies” is quite broad.)

Suddenly, he spotted a familiar locale:

“Loving” was not nearly as successful as other movies filmed in Westport, like “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” or “The Stepford Wives.”

Nor is it as well remembered as (my favorite) “Manny’s Orphans.”

But it reminds us of a time when nearly every Westporter commuted to New York.

And of a train station that — except for that long-gone wooden building — still looks almost the same as it did, 50 years ago.

Happy Birthday, Finding Westport!

Finding Westport turns 2 years old today. The website for local businesses and services — which includes a comprehensive what’s-up list during the pandemic — is the brainchild of Jillian Elder.

Yesterday she ran around town celebrating. She brought a pineapple — hey, why not? — and visited businesses and other sites, hoping her photos would bring smiles.

She’ll post the shots on social media throughout today. Here’s a preview.

Smile!

Bedford Square

Train station

Compo Beach cannons

Compo Beach lifeguard stand (Photos/Jillian Elder)

Roundup: Le Penguin; Bears; Racial Inequality; Mullett; More


This sad announcement was posted to social media yesterday:

“It is with enormous sadness that we must announce the closing of Le Penguin in Westport.

“We hope you have enjoyed our food, our staff, our style and our sense of humor. We, Anshu & Antoine, are very proud of what we created. We are very proud of the relationships we have made, of the numerous smiles of gratitude we received from satisfied customers. We thank you for sharing your lives with us. In the meantime, come see us at Le Penguin in Greenwich and Le Fat Poodle in Old Greenwich.” (Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)


There were several bear sightings yesterday, in the northern part of Westport. A bear cub and large young male bear were observed, acting normally.

According to the Westport Police Deparment, black bears are increasingly common in Connecticut. They note: “Bears have an incredible sense of smell.  To prevent luring them towards your property, secure your garbage in sturdy covered containers in a garage or outbuilding.

“Residents who compost should do so responsibly. Do not throw meat scraps or greasy, oily or sweet materials in your compost pile. Clean greasy grills after each use, refrain from leaving pet food outdoors, and remove bird feeders from your property for the summer. Keep your eye on pets and small children playing outside.

“Use caution and do not approach the bear. The mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal. If left alone and given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas. For more information on bears, click here.

In 2013, Cablevision News 12 aired this shot of a black bear in Westport.


If you’re like me, you would love a Long Island Sound sunset cruise. But you don’t own a boat.

No problem!

A generous Wakeman Town Farm supporter is offering a private excursion, as a fundraiser in these tough non-profit times.

The winner will enjoy “libations and lobster rolls” on a “luxe 43-foot Intrepid.”

Silent bidding is today only; it ends at midnight. The minimum bid is $350. Click here (or email wakemantownfarm@gmail.com). Include your name — and good luck!


JoyRide is a full-service spin studio.

Today (Tuesday, June 30, 5 p.m.), they host the first installment of their speaker series on racial inequality. It’s called “Teachers Raise Your Hands.”

Guests are Alli Frank and Asha Youmans, authors of Tiny Imperfections. The Black woman from Seattle and white woman from rural Washington use their stories from in and out of the classroom to encourage us all to actively seek out difference, and find our inner teacher.

Click here to register — and to ask questions of the authors.

Asha Youmans and Alli Frank.


Hey, Mullett fans!

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library are teaming up for the next Supper & Soul event (Saturday, July 11, 8 p.m.).

It’s a livestream concert with ’80s tribute band Mullet. They specialize in classic Van Halen, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Journey and Poison songs — and look the part.

“What a perfect opportunity to have some friends over for an 80’s hair metal party,” says Chamber director Matthew Mandell.

“This socially distant version of the popular Supper & Soul event supports local restaurants while giving everyone an entertaining evening.”

“Attendees” are encouraged to order takeout from local restaurants, and eat home for the show.

To find out more and to order tickets (just $10.80!) for Stay Home & Soul, click here.

Mullett


The deadline to renew railroad station parking permits is exxtended to July 15. Renewals can be done 4 ways: click here, by mail (50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880) or at the box outside Police Department headquarters.

People on the wait list are required to update their information annually. Use the link above.

For more information, click here. Questions? Call 203-341-6052.

Railroad station parking has not looked like this for a while.


And finally … The groundbreaking 1937 song “Strange Fruit” compares the victims of lynchings to the fruit of trees. It’s been recorded by artists ranging from Nina Simone and UB40 to Sioxsie and the Banshees, but Billie Holiday’s is perhaps the most famous.

Though her label, Columbia, refused to record it — fearful of the reaction of Southern record store owners and its own radio network, CBS — they allowed her to release it on the Commodore jazz label. It sold a million copies — more than any other Billie Holiday song.

However, the song helped cause her demise. It enraged the director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who used his men to frame her. Click here for details about the song, and what it meant to her and her career.

COVID Roundup: Reopening; Friday Flowers; Ford Escort; Donut Crazy; More


As Westport reopens, it may be hard to figure out who’s in charge of what. First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

The Westport Weston Health District licenses restaurants and the beauty industry. So the WWHD leads compliance of those state rules.

Fire Marshal Nathaniel Gibbons will lead enforcement efforts for all non-WWHD regulated industries. Efforts include conducting spot checks, referrals and coordination with the WWHD and Police Department.

The police are responsible for tracking all complaints. They’ll investigate to ensure compliance, and work with business owners to correct infractions.

The Police Department requests that reports of non-compliance or complaints about business operations should be made by phone to the non-emergency number: 203-341-6000. For complaints made to the state, call 211.

If you see penguins not following proper protocols, call the police non-emergency number.  (Photo/Marcy Sansolo)


As life — and human beings — come back to Main Street, the Westport Garden Club is making sure everything looks lovely.

Yesterday they planted flowers downtown. The project is part of “Friday Flowers,” the club’s campaign to brighten spirits with colorful flowers. Four beds on both sides of Main Street will be maintained throughout the summer and fall.

From left: Kathy Oberman Tracy, Kelle Ruden and Kara Wong. (Photo: Topsy Siderowf)


Of all the COVID-caused changes in Westport, none is starker than the scene at the Saugatuck train station. Almost instantly, what had always been better-get-there-early-for-a-spot lots turned into ghost towns. All those coveted parking permits? They’re gathering dust, as thousands of commuters work from home.

But — if you’re one of the few people who has been there knows — there is one lonely car. A Ford Escort has been there since mid-March. It sure is practicing social distance.

Does anyone know the back story? If so, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)


Meanwhile, a few yards east, Donut Crazy opened. Commuter traffic is not yet back (duh). But Juliana and Anna (below) look like they never left. Except for the masks…

(Photo/John Karrel)


A couple of days ago, I wrote about the debut of Manna Toast. Molly Healey is opening a cafe in Bedford Square in mid-July. She’s great, and it will be wonderful.

In the meantime, beginning next Tuesday (May 26) she’s delivering family-style kits that serve 4. They include ready-to-toast sourdough bread with a choice of 2 toasts (meatless meatballs, hummus, burrata or roasted squash); 1 salad (kale with tahini miso or local greens), 1 soup (creamy carrot or 3-bean chili), and 1 tea. Everyone gets 4 chocolate chip cookies.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek. It’s fantastic — flavorful, creative, fresh; something new and welcome in the midst of so much COVID sameness. But don’t take my words for it. Check it out here:


It doesn’t feel like it, but this is a holiday weekend. We’ll miss the Memorial Day parade. The weather is a bit iffy.

But Compo Beach will be open. Not at full capacity, yet. There are no picnic tables or grills. Port-a-potties only, too.

Still, the scene today was like any other start-of-summer, late May day.

If only.

(Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)


And finally … there might be a more beautiful way to end the week. But I don’t know what it is.

Pics Of The Day #992

Westport train station, in today’s fog … (Photo/Rose Porosoff)

… and Birchwood Country Club (Photo/Amy Schneider)