Tag Archives: Westport train station

Roundup: Post Road Improvements, “Straight White Men” & A Drag Show …

“06880” is not a big fan of political photo ops. They’re — well, political photo ops.

But we’re happy to announce one set for Monday. The reason for it is a great one.

State Senators Will Haskell and Stephanie Thomas, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Department of Transportation senior advisor Carlo Leone will gather at 10 a.m. at the “Westport Plaza” (known to normal people as the Home Goods/Panera Bread shopping center near the Southport line) to celebrate $11.7 million in funding for Post Road safety and traffic improvements.

The work will add left-turn lanes at Bulkley Avenue and Roseville Road, and the Fresh Market light.

Work will begin this fall, and is expected to take a year.

Left-hand turning lanes are planned for the Post Road near here.

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The Westport Country Playhouse curtain rises May 24 on “Straight White Men.”

The cast of the comic satire — which ran on Broadway in 2018 — includes Richard Kline (Larry Dallas on “Three’s Company”). He’ll be directed by his Northwestern University classmate, WCP artistic director Mark Lamos.

Lamos calls it a “bold, exuberant, very funny comedy. Near the end it builds up to a surprising dramatic punch.”

The show takes place on Christmas Eve. Ed (played by Kline) has invited his 3 grown sons back home for pranks, Chinese takeout, and gossip. In between the male bonding rituals and conversations about money, work and love, they are forced to face their own identities.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

“Straight White Men” ensemble (from left): Devin Milord, Nick Westrate, Richard Kline, Bill Army. (Photo/Cynthia Astmann)

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Spots are going fast for Wakeman Town Farm’s summer camps. They include:

Little Farmers (4-6-year-olds): Children dabble in every farm experience from planting and harvesting fresh veggies to feeding the animals. Youngsters learn how to spot squash bugs, collect eggs from the coop, and where to look for monarch caterpillars.

Junior Farmer Camp (7-10 year-olds): Great for kids who want to get their hands dirty. They learn about sustainable farming by planning, planting and caring for a garden, feeding animals, and raising a successful garden using both modern and time-honored technologies.

Green Teen (6th-8th graders): The focus is on planting, watering and harvesting vegetables that will be donated to local food pantries. Representatives from receiving agencies visit the Farm, talking about food insecurity and how community volunteering changes lives. Students will also learn about rabbits, ducks, chicken, sheep, goats and alpacas. Environmental topics include composting, creating a pollinator garden, and the Zero Waste initiative.

Click here for more information, and to register.

Learning by doing, at Wakeman Town. (Photo/Inklings)

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Riverside Avenue between Charles Street (Tutti’s) and Railroad Place (Steam Coffee) will be closed to traffic Monday and Wednesday, for paving.

New York-bound passengers can be dropped off by driving through the eastbound (Ferry Lane) parking lot, and continuing under the railroad bridge. Passengers can also be dropped off in the Charles Street lot, and walk up the stairs to the platform.

This stretch of Riverside Avenue will be closed Monday and Wednesday.

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Deb Robicheau is the Westport Book Shop’s guest artist for May.

She’s showing sculptural mixed media boxes, created during the pandemic.  They incorporate comic book art from the 1930s through the ’80s. All works are available for purchase.

Robicheau — a visual artist, sculptor, painter, writer and screenwriter — has lived in Westport since 2010.

Deb Robicheau

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Westport Pride and MoCA Westport invite everyone to “All 4 Drag and Drag For All.”

The drag show (June 4; 5:30 p.m. cocktail hour, 6:30 p.m. performance, followed by a Q-and-A with the performers, at MoCA) is “an epic family-friendly experience.”

The headliner is 15-year-old Desmond Napoles, a New York City model, public speaker, fashion designer and voguer. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Desmond Napoles’ stage name is “Desmond is Amazing.”

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The weather was great when Charlie Stebbins led Thursday’s Aspetuck Land Trust nature walk at Smith Richardson Preserve.

Wendy Levy was there. She snapped this shot of a blooming crabapple tree, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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And finally … in honor of Wendy Levy’s photo above:

 

Roundup: Badass Bagels, Train Trees, Badass Book …

Popup Bagels made the New York Times. That means they’ll be harder to snag than ever.

But they’re not the only local bagel-maker that’s gone Big Time. Sugar & Olives is badass too.

Their Badass Bagels line — that’s the name — just signed a deal with Goldbelly. The website showcases the best eats in the country, and ships overnight. The page isn’t live yet, but it will soon show a variety of offerings.

They’ll also sell 3,000 bagels at the Smorgasburg every Sunday in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, starting in early June. It’s one of the best — and most selective — food markets in the country.

But you don’t have to schlep all the way out there. Plenty of happy clients — corporate and personal — right here rave about the 100% sourdough recipe. (Okay, technically Sugar & Olives is a few feet over the border, in Norwalk. So sue me.)

They also sell at the Westport Farmers’ Market and Double L Market. Outside of Westport, they’re at the Kitchen Table in Pound Ridge, a few other farmers’ Markets, the Granola Bar in Greenwich and the Old Yew in the West Village.

The bagel business has taken over much of Sugar & Olives. There’s no more in-person dining. But Jennifer Balin and her wonderful crew do offer seasonal prepared items, which can be picked up by customers along with their bagels. Click here for details.

Some Badass Bagels.

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Like many Westporter, Joey Kaempfer was appalled at the clear-cutting that took place recently at the Westport train station. It was a safety project, Eversource and Metro-North say.

“We need to raise money to replace them,” Kaempfer — a Staples High School Class of 1966 graduate, who is building a home nearby — says.

He’s ready to donate $5,000 for seed money. But, he says, “some serious group has to raise the balance — probably $95,000.” They have to get permission to plant the new trees too, of course.

Is it doable? Are any groups or individuals interested? Click “Comments” below.

Recent tree removal (and overhead wires) at the Westport train station. (Photo/Matthew Mandell)

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Plenty of great books (and vinyl, CDs, DVDs, etc.) are still available at the Westport Library Book Sale.

Plus one that is absolutely, positively a hell of a book.

(Photo/Frank Bruce)

Today (Sunday, May 1, noon to 5 p.m.), all items are half price. Tomorrow (Monday, May 2, 9 a.m. to noon), you can fill a bag for $5, or purchase individual items for half-price.

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Wakeman Town Farm’s “Old-Time Pancake Breakfast” fundraiser is not until Saturday, June 18 (9 a.m. to noon). But folks are already signing up for a time slot.

The menu includes flapjacks and sausages with all the fixin’s, plus coffee and OJ. It’s outdoors, so the kids can wander over to say hi to the alpacas, sheep and goats.

The price is $13 for adult, $5 per child 2 and up. Money raised will help renovate the aging red barn, providing space for classes and programs. Click here to register.

Wakeman Town Farm barn. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

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Want to know more about the little-known but amazing gem known as the Smith Richardson Wildlife Preserve?

Aspetuck Land Trust’s partner, Connecticut Audubon’s land steward Charlie Stebbins, will host a “Walk and Talk” this Thursday (May 5, 10 a.m.), at the site off Sasco Creek Road on the Southport border.

He’ll describe the remarkable transformation, from an overgrown weed nest to a paradise for nesting birds (and bees). All are welcome — and like the preserve, it’s free.

Charlie Stebbins

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This swan in a swirling pool is perfect for a spring Sunday — and for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Becky Keeler)

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And finally … today is the 1st of May — aka “May Day.” It’s a traditional holiday in many European cultures, with dancing, singing and cake.

“Mayday” — one word — is an international signal of distress. It has nothing to do with the month, though. It’s an Anglicized version of “m’aidez” — French for “help me!”

There’s another way to summon aid: “SOS!” It stands for “Save Our Souls.” It became popular when Morse code was new: 3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots.

Which, in a roundabout fashion, leads us to today’s song:

Pic Of The Day #1838

Waiting for a train (Photo/Chuck Greenlee)

Welcome To Westport, In A Flash

For decades, the only way to cross from one side of the Saugatuck train station railroad tracks to the other was through a dark, grungy, water-dripping pedestrian tunnel.

Westporters were used to it. First-time visitors were appalled.

In 2015, a partnership between the Westport Police Department — they’re in charge of railroad parking — and the Westport Arts Center, with gifts from Bill Scheffler and his wife Ann Sheffer, Robin Tauck, the late Gordon Joseloff and others, turned the sometimes-scary passageway into a stunning art gallery.

Westport native and noted artist Miggs Burroughs created 16 LED-lit lightboxes. Each continued a lenticular image that combined one from a 100-year-old postcard of Westport’s past, with a current shot of the same scene.

Downtown, Compo Beach, Longshore, the station itself — all are displayed in fascinating then-and-now fashion. It’s a much more welcoming “Welcome to Westport.”

One view — or rather, two — of downtown, at the train station.

Now there’s another lightbox nearby — on the station wall itself. And this one even says “Welcome.”

Miggs and the WPD worked with renowned lighting designer Gary Novasel to create a custom LED light panel.

The image changes from a view of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge to a beach scene.

Those 2 iconic views of Westport now greet visitors. It’s one more way to let them know we’re glad they’re here.

And residents coming off the train will be happy to know they’re home too.

From left: Officer Shawn Sembler, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, lenticular image creator Miggs Burroughs, lightbox lighting director Gary Novasel, Deputy Police Chief Sam Arciola.

Pic Of The Day #1756

Westport train station (Photo/JD Dworkow)

Pic Of The Day #1740

Early morning train (Photo/Susan Thomsen)

Train Trees Cut Down

Private property is not the only place where trees are being cut in Westport.

Earlier today, Eversource and Metro-North took down trees in the right-of-way at the railroad station.

Matthew Mandell — an RTM member for the district, and director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — called it “a great loss to the community. A number of these trees are beautiful in summer. They also obscure part of the tall electric gantry.”

(Photo/Matthew Mandell)

(Photo/Matthew Mandell)

(Photo;Monica Buesser)

 

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)