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)
“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.)
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.
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.
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…
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.
(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.
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