Tag Archives: Westport Tree Board

Roundup: Free Trees, Open Doors, Police Arrests …

Get your seeds!

The Westport Tree Board celebrates Arbor Day with a tree seedling giveaway tomorrow (Friday, April 28, 3 to 5 p.m., rear of Town Hall near the softball field).

The seedlings come with planting instructions for school-age children and residents of Westport on a first-come, first-serve basis. They’re donated by Bartlett Tree Service.


A reader who works on Riverside Avenue writes: “A stroll down Main Street recently, on an exceptionally warm day, spurred me into action.

Almost every door to every retail establishment was propped open, air conditioning the outdoors. And as always (I walk 2-3 miles a day in town) I passed many parked cars, engines idling with owners sitting inside, engrossed mostly in cell phones.

I think emissions could be curtailed significantly 2 ways:
• A reduction of idling vehicles (epidemic even during reasonable weather)
• Stores not opening their doors to attract people (heating the outside in cold weather, cooling it in hot),

Legislatively, these things could take much longer than we have to reduce our emissions and our warming climate.

What if they both were tackled as PSAs? Part education via some easily digestible data, and part message along the lines of “What can I do?” Perhaps a campaign akin to the crying Native American of our childhood, the icon for the anti-pollution campaign that was very effective in cleaning up our littered roadways.

A national effort is needed. Perhaps we here can take a leadership position.

This photo ran on “06880” in 2012. More than a decade later, little has changed.


Westport Police were busy recently.

The Staples High School school resource officer was alerted to an irate parent in the front lobby. As the SRO approached the lobby he heard a man screaming at school staff. The man became increasingly agitated, about a custody issue. A staff member had to put their hand up in a defensive move.

The SRO could not de-escalate the situation, but moved the conversation outside The man continued to act aggressively, and refused to obey lawful orders from the SRO. He was arrested, and charged with criminal trespass, interfering/resisting an officer, and breach of peace.

Another shoplifting incident at Ulta Beauty led to the arrest of 4 people, for larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, and illegal possession of a shoplifting device.

Westport Police also issued a number of citations, from April 19-26:

  • Operating a motor vehicle with a telephone, electronic device or texting: 16 citations
  • Failure to obey traffic control signals: 8
  • Operating a motor vehicle without minimum insurance: 8
  • Unreasonable speed: 6
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 6
  • Improper use of marker: 6
  • Distracted driving, not cell: 5
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 5
  • Failure to comply with state traffic regulations: 4
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 4
  • Failure to obey stop sign: 3
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 1
  • Improper use of high beams: 1
  • Violation of readable plates: 1
  • Illegal tint: 1
  • Failure to renew registration: 1
  • Failure to carry license: 1.


A year ago, “06880” reported on Westport10: the social and networking group for Black men in town and their families.

The other day, News12 Connecticut picked up the story, with an insightful interview with founder Jay Norris.

He talked about the benefits and opportunities for the organization — now “Westport 100,” as it’s grown from 4 men to 55, plus their spouses and children — for the members, and all of Westport.

Click here for the full interview.

A recent Westport 100 lunch at Hudson Malone.


The opening of the Westport Woman’s Club’s 3-day art show will be special.

On May 5 (5-7 p.m.), Staples seniors Chloe Hackett and Mia Vindiola will be awarded scholarships of $10,000 each. The 2 very talented students plan to pursue arts careers — thanks in large part to the grants from the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.

The scholarships will be presented by Miggs Burroughs of the DFCAC, and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker. The scholarship project was a collaborative effort with “06880.”

The show continues May 6 and 7 (2 to 5 p.m.). Featured artists include Nina Bentley, Ola Bossin, Michael Brennecke, Ellen Ehli, Susan Fehlinger, Hernan Garcia, Erszebet Laurinyecz, Katya Lebrija, Diane Pollack, Tina Puckett, Jon Puzzuoli, Dorothy Robertshaw, Katherine Ross, Agata Tria and Kathleen Rampe.

All art will be on sale.

Mia Vindiola and Chloe Hackett.


Several Staples student journalists with Inklings were honored recently by the Connecticut Press Club, as winners of their High School Communications Contest.

Finnegan Courtney cleaned up, taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd places for Best Newscast (“On the Wreckord,” episodes 6, 5 and 3 respectively.

Also taking 1st: Genevieve Frucht (Feature Story, for “Logan Goodman ’24 Incorporates Love for Sneakers, Art into Business”), Anna Diorio (Opinion, “The Damaging Effects of ‘I’m Just Teasing'”), and Talia Moskowitz (Sports, “Report Highlights Impact of Wealth Inequality on State Championships in Connecticut”).

Caroline Zajac was 3rd in the News Story contest, for “Connecticut Swatting Incident Highlights Growing National Problem.”

Samantha Sandrew placed 3rd for Video Feature Story, for “Sneakerheads of Staples.” Anna Diorio earned honorable mention in the category, for “The Power of a Good Book: A Discussion with Staples’ Librarians.”

Congratulations to all of Staples’ superb journalists!


Speaking still of Staples:

The boys lacrosse team’s annual “Sticks for Soldiers” event is this Saturday (12:30 p.m., Paul Lane Field).

The ceremony — before the 1 p.m. game against Greenwich — highlights the service and sacrifice made by our military. Funds raised support wounded veterans and their families.

A minimum donation of $5 is suggested. For more information and to donate, click here or email edward.iannone@gmail.com.

Staples lacrosse players have worn special jerseys to honor “Sticks for Soldiers.”


Longtime Westporter Daisy McCann died last Friday, surrounded by her family. She was 98 years old.

Her family says, “She lived a long and wonderful life, leaving behind a legacy of love, faith and a commitment to giving back to her community.”

Daisy was born in New York City on May 31, 1924. She earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Hunter College.

After World War II she married Navy veteran Hugh (Bud) McCann. They moved to Westport in 1959, where all 6 of their children lived and attended school: Hugh Jr. (Sarah) of Venice, Florida; Marguerite Francis of New London, New Hampshire; Tom (Mary Jo) of Nantucket, Massachusetts; Rosemary Semanski (Paul) of West Hartford; Tim (Tricia) of Easton, and Rich Tina) of Darien. Daisy is also survived by her grandchildren Katie, Scott, Kristen, Brittany, Shana, Kyle, Conor, Erin, Ali, Jack and Colin, and 7 great-grandchildren. Her family says, “She loved shopping for all of the wee ones in her extended family, and nothing brought a smile to her face more than their visits.”

She was predeceased by her husband.

Daisy was a trustee at St. Luke Parish, where she organized ladies’ luncheons for several decades and hosted generations of priests at her holiday parties. “She loved to feed people; it was her love language, whether at the church, in her home, or at the Norwalk Soup Kitchen.” In recent years, attending St. Luke’s regularly became more challenging, yet she never missed her daily digital Mass.

The family will receive friends tomorrow (Friday, April 28, 4-7 p.m., Shaughnessey Banks Funeral Home, 50 Reef Road, Fairfield). A Requiem Mass will be held Saturday (10 a.m., St. Luke). Interment will follow in Assumption Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Near & Far Aid in memory of Daisy McCann at www.nearandfaraid.org (select donate); P.O. Box 717, Southport, CT 06890 (note honoree’s name in memo).

Daisy McCann


A Burritt’s Landing bald eagle poses for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Dan Vener)


And finally … on this day in 1981, Xerox PARC introduced the computer mouse.

(You never know what you’ll find on “06880,” right? Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)


Tree Board Sheds Members

Five years ago, Monica Buesser’s husband got a job in Norwalk.

They bought a home in Westport for the usual reasons: lower taxes than surrounding towns, excellent services, beaches, marinas and summer entertainment.

During their 20 years in New Jersey, Monica — who is a master gardener, and earned a master’s degree in biology — had served on the Ridgewood Tree Commission. She wondered if there was something similar here.

Her first week in town, she heard about a tree giveaway at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum, near her new home. She walked over, met members of the Westport Tree Board, and — without knowing quite what it did — offered to help.

Chair Dick Fincher and tree warden Bruce Lindsay were happy to have her. Monica interviewed with then-2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker, and joined the group.

When Fincher resigned as chair in 2021, Monica took over. She continued the work he had begun, earning certification as a “Tree City USA” from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Westport Tree Board member Monica Buesser (left) and Lynne Perrgo celebrate the town’s “Tree City USA designation in October 2021.

Twice a year the Tree Board hands out trees, at places like Town Hall and Jesup Green. They’ve organized “Oaktober” celebrations, and worked with the Wadsworth Arboretum to upgrade its visibility and educational offerings.

Monica has not accomplished all that she wanted. A tree planting program similar to one in Ridgewood is still not off the ground.

The Tree Board’s role, Monica says, is to “support the tree warden, and educate the public about trees and the community.”

Westport Tree Board sapling giveaway.

But working with the town’s bureaucracy can be frustrating. Pages of informational content created by Tree Board member Jim Corley is not yet available on the town website.

A link to report problem trees using photos and GPS coordinates — similar to a link on Fairfield’s website — is also not yet live.

Part of the problem, Monica says, is that Westport’s tree warden is not a full-time employee. In addition, he only handles “street trees” — not those at schools and parks, or on private roads.

Buesser and her husband are moving soon, to be closer to 2 children in Washington, DC. (A third is in Utah.)

Her departure — coupled with the Tree Board resignations of Jim Corley and Alice Ely — means there will be 3 vacancies.

She is excited by the passion and knowledge of members like Dick Stein (“he knows every house, every person and every tree,” she says), and Frank Rosen (the News12 videographer helped produce a feature on oak trees; a new one, on sycamores, is in the works).

The Tree Board is important, she says. As Eversource pursues a controversial vegetation management plan — which included cutting trees 100 feet away from utility lines in Redding — the town will need to be vigilant, she warns.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Tree Board — including how to serve — should email treewarden@westportct.gov.

(Tree stories are some of the most popular on “06880.” To keep them — and all others — coming, please contribute by clicking here. Thank you!) 

Roundup: Ducks, Ospreys, Kindness …

The Great Duck Race returns this year. But — just as ducks migrate — so does the popular Westport Sunrise Rotary fundraiser.

From 2008 to ’19, thousands of yellow ducks bobbed in the Saugatuck River. COVID forced it into a virtual format the past 2 years.

On July 9, the Great Duck Race will be run as a giant water sluice on Jesup Green. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1), the Rotarians will see how it works as a duck race track. AJ Penna is providing a truck and front loader. Water comes from the Westport Fire Department.

Everyone is invited to watch tomorrow. “Ducks” in full costume will pose for photos.


Also on Jesup Green: The Westport Library Book Sale.

It opened yesterday, with the usual packed crowd. It continues today (Saturday, April 30) until 5 p.m. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1, noon to 5 p.m.) all items are half price. On Monday (May 2, 9 a.m. to noon), fill a bag for $5, or purchase individual items for half-price.

The Westport Library Book Sale yesterday. (Photo/Dan Woog)


Kindness is always on the Porch menu. Everyone feels comfortable at the Cross Highway café.

Tomorrow through May 15, they’re running a “Kids Kindness Contest.” Everyone in grades K-12 is invited to share a story of how they are kind to friends, strangers or within the community.

The K-2nd grade and 3rd-5th grade winners each earn an ice cream social with 9 friends. The middle and high school winners each get a fun lunch with 3 friends.

Forms are available at the Porch, or by clicking here.

The Porch is always “kind” of cool and great.


Want to surprise the woman in your life the day before Mothers Day?

Take her to “Supper & Soul” next Saturday (May 7).

It’s a great event, with lots of reasons she’ll be thrilled. The 8 p.m. concert — remember live concerts? — features Cris Jacobs. He’s back in Westport, after a searing show at the 2018 Blues Views & BBQ Festival. The opening act is Gnorm.

The show is at the Westport Library, where the new, state-of-the-art sound system will blow you away.

Tickets ($90) include a 3-course dinner at a downtown restaurant (6 p.m.; list below), including tax and tip (though drinks are on you). $40 concert-only tickets are available too.

Participating restaurants include:

  • 190 Main
  • Amis
  • Arezzo
  • Basso
  • Capuli
  • De Tapas
  • Don Memo
  • Manna Toast
  • Spotted Horse
  • Wafu
  • Walrus Alley

And … after the show, your ticket is good for happy hour pricing on drinks at any of the participating restaurant. Try a different one than dinner!

Click here for tickets and more information. Click below to see Cris Jacobs. The event is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, and the Westport Library.


There may be no free lunch. But there was a free sapling giveaway yesterday.

Dozens of Westporters took advantage of the Arbor Day gift at Town Hall, courtesy of the Tree Board.

Residents Robert Sohmer and Debbie Fisher showed up — then offered to help. They’re shown in the photo below, as Tree Board members Alice Ely and Monica Buesser prep saplings.


Speaking of nature: Recent reports of the Fresh Market ospreys’ demise are premature.

Carolyn Doan reports: “All is well with the pair. They are incubating now, which means they sit very low in the nest and are impossible to see.

“They are really a really strong pair, and are co-parenting. They give each other breaks while one is in the incubating position. They call out to each other when one needs a break or is hungry.

“Yesterday I watched the female sit at the top of a dead tree behind Terrain. and preen herself for 45 minutes. After faint calls from the nest, she went back. Then the male popped up. He went to a nearby perch and preened.

“The ospreys returned a week early this year, so chicks may come sooner than usual.”

A Fresh Market osprey, yesterday afternoon. (Photo/Carolyn Doan)


Remember the Yarn Bomber? In the darkest days of the pandemic, she brightened the town with her late-night creations.

Molly Alger was not the Yarn Bomber. But — responding to an “06880” offer — she took “secret” lessons, via FaceTime.

The actual Bomber left yarn on Molly’s porch in the middle of the night. Molly  created 2 bombs for her own trees, and 2 for friends.

She also did one for the Senior Center. I lasted through 2 winters and one summer, since November 2020. But it was looking a little ragged.

Now — just in time for spring — Molly has created a new Senior Center yarn bomb.

The pandemic has eased. But the Yarn Bomber — and her protégé — live on.

The Senior Center’s new yarn bomb.


29 Staples High School students and 6 adults returned recently from 10 days in Spain. It was the first overseas trip for a large group in a decade.

The packed itinerary included visits to Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Madrid and Barcelona. Highlights included Alhambra, scavenger hunts in cities, an olive farm, guided city tours, a flamenco lesson and show, the Prado Museum, a churro breakfast and cooking class, Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, a Good Friday religious procession, and the first women’s soccer match ever played at Camp Nou — with a crowd of 91,000.

Future trips planned by Staples’ World Language Department include Germany next spring, and a February journey to Panama focusing on STEM topics.

Cheering for the Barcelona women’s team at Camp Nou.


Staples High School’s boys basketball team will have a new look next year.

Head coach Colin Devine is stepping down, to pursue administrative positions. In 15 years at the helm, he built the Wreckers into an FCIAC contender.

Coach Colin Devine (far left) and members of the 2018 Staples High School boys basketball team took the #ALSPepperChallenge.


Services have been announced for Charlie Capalbo. The former Fairfield Ludlowe High hockey player battled 4 cancers before succumbing last week, one month before his 24th birthday. He is the grandson of Westporters Richard Epstein and Ina Chadwick; his mother Jennifer Wilde Capalbo is a Staples High grad.

Charlie’s wake is Wednesday, May 4 (2 to 8 p.m., Penfield Pavilion, 323 Fairfield Beach Road, Fairfield). A funeral mass is set for Thursday, May 5 (10 a.m., St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield). Burial will be private.

Charlie and his mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo.


Today’s New York Times carries one of its most harrowing stories ever on the war in Ukraine. It begins:

 The wind carried the smell of death across the street. The body of the dead man, burned, mutilated and barely recognizable, was taken from the refrigerator and laid on a metal gurney. The coroner smoked a cigarette and unzipped the black bag.

It was a beautiful spring day. There had been no shelling that morning. And Oksana Pokhodenko, 34, gasped, blinking, at the charred corpse. That was not her brother, she told herself, that was not Oleksandr. That was barely a human.

Her brother lived once. The family patriarch for 20 years since their father died, he called his sister every day after the war started as he fled with his family to a village, Husarivka, wedged between rolling wheat fields. He kept calling — “Hello, Little One. We’re good. How are you?” — but never mentioned that the Russians had overrun the village where he was hiding.

Ms. Pokhodenko, in black jeans, a black jacket and barely laced sneakers, struggled to keep looking at the body. Her brother had taught her how to ride a bike and had loved to watch cartoons for hours with his son. To his sister, he was a “stone wall.” This was a charred husk. Half of the man’s skull was gone, and his chest cavity was splayed open.

The photos are as chilling as the writing. They’re all by Tyler Hicks, the 1988 Staples High School graduate and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Click here for the full story, and Tyler’s images.

Some of Tyler Hicks’ latest photos, illustrating atrocities in committed in Ukraine. (Photos/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)


“Westport … Naturally” waves goodbye to April (and hello to May!) with this gorgeous image from the Library Riverwalk:

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)


And finally … on this day in 1803, the US purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. We spent $15 million — and more than doubled the size of our nation.







Roundup: Real Estate, Food, Trees …


The 1st quarter of 2022 is in the books. That means it’s time for some real estate stats.

Westport had 86 house closings, a 25% decrease from a year ago but
still the 2nd-most number of closings for this period since 2006.

The average house closing price of $2.2 million was the highest for the quarter in the past 2 decades. The average closed price per square foot rose to $509, up 23% from a year ago.

Reflecting high demand and low inventory, houses in the quarter sold on average for 102% of the list price — the 4th  straight quarter that average has been over 100%

Eight-five Westport houses were pending (properties with signed contracts) on March 31. That’s down slightly from the end of March 2021, but still high by historical measure.  (Hat tip: Rose Marie Colletti, Brown Harris Stevens)

This Bluewater Hill home is on the market for $12 million.


Two years ago, Westport Farmers’ Market started its #Who Grows Your Food” campaign. The goal was to expand people’s knowledge of what farmers look like, to gain more support foro local agriculture.

Anne Burmeister and Ashley Skatoff offered to help. They lent their photographer lenses and creativity, capturing the essence of the farmers while creating an intimate story that eaters could follow along with.

Last fall, the Farmers’ Market partnered with MoCA Westport. Dozens of Burmeister and Skatoff’s stunning photographs became part of an art exhibit called “Between the Ground and the Sky.”

Now, those 52 photos from over 15 farms are available for purchase.

Each 18″ x 27″ original print (23″ x 32″ with border) is $500. All are signed and dated by the artist. The print includes information about the farm and photo, plus text created by the artist for the display at MoCA. The certificate is signed by the farmer.

All proceeds support WFM programming. Purchased photos may be picked up at the first 3 markets of the season: May 12, 19 and May 26.

For more information and to purchase, click here.

“Chicken Tractors” by Anne Burmeister is one of 52 Farmers’ Market photos available for sale.


Arbor Day is near — and the Westport Tree Board is ready. Among the events throughout the month:

Saturday, April 23 (10:30 a.m. to noon, Jesup Green, free): The Tree Board and Westport Book Shop celebrate Earth Day with a fun event to promote reading for all ages, with attention also on the value of trees. Interactive family-friendly activities involving reading and early learning; educational materials and a native tree sapling giveaway, courtesy of Bartlett Tree Company.

Friday April 29 (Arbor Day, 3 to 4 p.m., Town Hall, free):  The Tree Board hosts their annual native sapling giveaway, plus brochures and advice from professional associations on tree-related topics, from site selection to proper maintenance.  Native saplings for giveaway are donated by Bartlett Tree.

Saturday, April 30 (3 to 4 p.m., Earthplace): The Tree Board hosts a live discussion and free information session with a tree professional on the basics of tree planting and maintenance, including selection, mulching, pruning, pest management and more. Native tree saplings, courtesy of Bartlett, will be available while they last.

As part of Arbor Day, Earthplace also hosts a “Toast To The Trees” family event 4 to 6 p.m.), with kids’ activities and s’mores, handmade pizza, beverages for adults and kids, plus a “tree walk” tour.  Click here to purchase tickets.

Beginning mid-April, the Tree Board and Westport Library will create a “StoryWalk” at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (2 Woodside Lane).  The featured book is “Be a Tree!” For more information, click here.

A Norway maple at the Wadsworth Arboretum.


Superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice offered a video update yesterday. He covered 4 areas:

The 5-year capital forecast to bring all schools — especially Long Lots and Coleytown Elementary — up to the district’s standards.

The uptick in the COVID Omicron sub-variant.

The Westport Public Schools’ ongoing equity study.

Ukrainian refugees. Scarice notes that Westport has already welcomed some to town, and any student settling here will be accommodated — as will all refugees from anywhere who come to Westport. He asks anyone with any information on refugees in Westport to call his office: 203-341-1025.

Click here to view the video update.

A screenshot of Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice, giving a video update from his office.


Speaking of Westport Public Schools: Horace Lewis was the beloved head custodian at Staples High School, and served the district for 3 decades. He suffered a stroke shortly after retiring last summer, and died in December.

Classrooms, hallways, teaching kitchens, storage areas, auditorium, gym, fieldhouse, cafeteria, library, TV studio, boilers and HVAC systems — Horace kept them all sparkling and working. Despite a stressful job, staff and students knew Horace as the walkie-talkie carrying, most cheerful custodian.

Over the years, countless students (and parents) enlisted Horace’s help after leaving coats, backpacks, sporting equipment and phones at school. Even after his official retirement, Horace stayed on to help the schools cope with COVID cleaning requirements.

To honor Horace’s legacy of hard work, service to others and positive outlook, Staples Tuition Grants has created a scholarship in his name. The first need-based award will be offered this year. Click here to donate to this special fund.

Horace Lewis


Among the most impressive parts of Westport Country Playhouse’s production of “Next to Normal”: the set.

Like everything that appears on the Playhouse stage, it was constructed by the in-house production staff — with help from  Jake Krasniewicz, assistant box office manager.

But that’s not his only side gig.

The Stratford native plays bass, ukulele, guitar, banjo and synthesizer. At Berklee College of Music he studied film scoring.

After graduating, Jake spent time in Boston’s music scene. When he returned to Connecticut, he formed Drop Party. The band plays an amalgam of genres, and call their style “a way to access emotions without sounding like radio music.”

Drop Party is part of this weekend’s Westport Library VersoFest. On Sunday (April 10, 7 p.m.), they open for Selwyn Birchwood.

What does all this have to do with building the set?  After college, Jake helped out at his father’s welding shop. The Playhouse technical director recruited the assistant box office manager to help with the extensive welding needed for the “Next to Normal” set.

He particularly enjoys funk. But it seems “heavy metal” is also one of Jake’s outlets. (Hat Tip: Bruce Miller)

Jake Krasniewicz takes a break from ticket sales and music,, to help create the “Next to Normal” set.


There’s always something going on Westport — and much of it flies under the radar. And I do mean “radar.”

Last Saturday, over 100 automotive enthusiasts and industry leaders filled
the Autostrada facility — formerly the Steinway piano showroom — to kick off the Piston Foundation’s 2022 season.

Attendees came from across the US and Europe. They heard the non-profit
foundation lay out its mission to “bring more young people into the collector car industry so the craftspeople who built this American touchstone can transfer their skills to a new generation.”

The site included a “collection of exotic automobiles.” A silent auction raised funds for students and apprentices to pursue careers in automotive craft, restoration specialties and service.


Staples High School seniors Sophie Alcyone and Alexandra Maskoff were honored this week, at the 27th annual High School Arts Awards ceremony.

Selected by the Staples staff, Sophie was recognized for visual art, Maskoff for music. The event was sponsored by the Connecticut Association of Schools.

From left: Sophie Alcyone and Alexandra Maskoff.


With spring arriving fitfully, Jonathan Alloy offers 2 “Westport … Naturally” photo.

He writes: “My wife Sarah hung a pretty seasonal wreath on our front door, which real birds used to build a real nest — now complete with real eggs! Robins perhaps?”

Here’s the wreath:

And the eggs:

(Photos/Jonathan Alloy)


And finally … the Westport Library’s VersoFest (see story above) and Talking Heads’ Chris Frantz present an intriguing concert tonight (7 p.m.). Headliners are Enid Ze and Daniprobably. Click below for a sneak listen; click here for ticket information, and more.



Free Trees!

Most “06880” tree stories involve cutting them down.

This one is about planting more.

Westport’s Tree Board is gearing up for Arbor Day with 3 days of free giveaways.

Bartlett Tree Experts is providing 100 red maples and 100 smaller native variety trees. They’re small enough to carry away yourself. After you plant them, they’ll grow large.

The red maples being given away are smaller than these.

Some of the trees will be given away on April 23, as part of the Westport Book Shop’s Jesup Green event.

On Arbor Day itself — April 29 — the trees will be offered at Town Hall.

The next day (April 30), the Tree Board partners with Earthplace. Following the 3-4 p.m. giveaway, there’s a “Toast to the Trees” educational talk.

But that’s just part of the Tree Board’s work.

At last week’s meeting, chair Monica Buesser says, they discussed a “tree inventory.” The survey of every tree on town property (parks, schools, rights of way, etc. — not private land) would allow warden Ben Sykas to figure out where trees should be removed and new ones planted, and the best maintenance schedule, among other information.

An inventory would also provide a record for possible reimbursement, when trees are destroyed in a natural disaster.

The computerized list would be updatable, and searchable. The Public Works Department is looking a different vendors, and costs.

Also in the works: updating the Tree Board’s webpage with more resources, and information on planting, mulching and more; creating a “Be a Tree” story walk at the Wadsworth Arboretum; planting red maple hybrids at Grace Salmon Park, and a “Mayple” spring event to complement “Oaktober” in the fall.

A 2019 storm downed trees at Grace Salmon Park. The Tree Board hopes to replace them. (Photo/Wendy Cusick)

Neighbor Fears Prospect Of Tree Demolition

Mark Donovan is proof that you can go home again.

Last January the 1985 Staples High School graduate — now a new business entrepreneur — moved with his wife and youngest daughter into the Prospect Road house where he grew up. His mother — who moved there with her family 50 years ago — welcomed the companionship.

Now Donovan worries that the house he went home to may lose some of its greatest assets.

A developer bought the house next door. He’s ready to demolish the home — and the old oak trees that give the area so much beauty.

Some of them sit near the Donovans’ property line, within the next door property setback.

The grand oaks on the property line this fall ….

Donovan fears what the loss of those trees will do to the streetscape. He worries too about the effect on his and his neighbor’s centuries-old stone walls; the trees’ root systems run directly underneath.

Of course he’s concerned too about water runoff, from the increasingly severe storms we now see.

Donovan has one more worry: that Westport’s Tree Board — and every other town body — is powerless to stop the developer’s plans.

No regulations currently address the cutting of trees on private property.

“From time to time trees obviously need to come down,” Donovan says. “But why doesn’t the town protect those that don’t have to?”

… and more recently.

John and Melissa Ceriale — his across-the-street neighbors, who have spent 25 years building beautiful gardens and a meadow on their 8 acres of land — are concerned too. They’re helping Donovan try to convince developer Joe Feinleib of Coastal Construction to scale back his clear-cutting plans.

The Westport Garden Club is also making calls.

Donovan admits this is a personal issue. But, he says, his eyes have been opened to broader, town-wide concerns. Other places, like Greenwich and Nyack, have very strict rules about trees. Why, he wonders, don’t we?

The developer has already cut many trees on his property.

“There’s nothing to stop any developer,” Donovan notes. “If no one says they can’t, I don’t blame them for trying. Why does the town allow that to happen?

“They don’t have to care about me personally. But they should care about the history, the beauty and the environment of the entire town.”

Right now, the trees remain. But Donovan knows that any day, he could arrive home and see the land next door irrevocably altered.

“They say they’ll plant new trees,” he says of the developer. “I don’t understand that reasoning. If these old oak trees come down, we can’t get them back in my kids’ and grandchildren’s lifetimes.”

(Developer Joe Feinleib of Coastal Construction did not reply to a request for comment.)

Ceriales: Tree Warden Needs More Clout

When it comes to cutting down trees, Westporters seem to fall into 2 camps.

One side is opposed. Neighbors and residents want laws, lawsuits — anything to prevent developers from clear-cutting land to build new homes.

The other side counters that private property is just that: private property. If you want to save some trees, they say, then buy the land yourself.

John Ceriale thinks there is a third way.

He has skin in the game. He and his wife Melissa own almost 10 magnificent acres on Prospect Road. They’ve spent 25 years building beautiful gardens and, most recently, a meadow on their land. They’ve created one of Westport’s most gorgeous streetscapes, and they enjoy sharing it with all of us.

Pyramid grasses on Prospect Road. (Photo/Cindy Shumate)

They’ve also watched helplessly as a neighbor behind them clear cut his property. In response, the Ceriales planted 19 trees at the edge of their land to block out a towering new home. That’s not a practical solution for most neighboring.

“I’m not a tree hugger,” John says. “I don’t want to save every tree. Developers and new home buyers do have rights. But clear-cutting land with 60- and 70-year-old trees?

“Let’s talk about deer. They run rampant. No one talks about euthanizing them. Yet we cut these magnificent old trees without a second thought.”

John likens clear-cutting to other projects. “I can’t build a tennis court that would send water onto my neighbor’s property. But clear-cutting can do the same thing. Trees are beautiful. And they also have an environmental and community impact.”

Looking northeast, on the Ceriales’ property. (Photo/Cindy Shumate)

With homes in other parts of the country, John sees how they — and other communities — handle trees. Aspen regulates every tree. The size of every tree that is removed is calculated. Replacements must be planted. In Palm Beach, certain species are catalogued and governed. Permits are required in both places.

In Westport, by contrast, “we look at trees as expendable.”

Part of the problem, he says, is that the tree warden is responsible only for trees on town roads or grounds. He has no control over trees on private property. A Tree Board works with the tree warden, but is similarly restricted to only public land.

John would like to see regulations changed, to give the tree warden more clout. Reiterating the rights of property owners and developers, John says a tree warden and board “can’t be draconian. But no one should be able to strip everything away, either.”

The Prospect Road meadow. Trees and grasses work harmoniously, aesthetically and environmentally. (Photo/Cindy Shumate)

He’d also like to see the tree warden emphasize the important of hardwoods. “Everyone plants maples, because they’re the least expensive. No one is planting oaks, hickories or elms. They’re great trees. We need to encourage that.

“Diversity, as we all know, is hugely important. Just like with the current pandemic, a disease in the maple species will wreak havoc throughout town, with massive impacts.

“We all must think bigger, and with more responsibility for the future of our town and neighbors.”

Westport would be a pioneer in that effort. Most lower Fairfield County towns do not have special tree ordinances, unless wetlands are involved. The only municipality in Connecticut that regulates trees on private property is Hartford (click here).

John and Melissa want to know what “06880” readers think. Click “Comments” below — and send them to OurWestportTrees@gmail.com. They’ll get in touch with you soon.

Roundup: Kids, Trees, Birds …


The Levitt Pavilion’s Children’s Series continues tomorrow — and every Wednesday, through August 25.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 7, 7 p.m.), Grammy winner Dan Zanes (The Del Fuegos) and Haitian-American jazz vocalist/music therapist Claudia Zanes perform a mix of old and new songs from near and far. Audience members are invited to dance along.

In the wings:

  • The Hall Family (July 14)
  • Divinity Roxx (July 21)
  • Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats (July 28)
  • Hopalong Andrew (August 4)
  • Elena Moon Park & Friends (August 11)
  • The Pop Ups (August 18)
  • Sonia De Los Santos (August 25).

Admission is free, but tickets are required. Click here to register, and for more information.

Dan and Claudia Zanes


The Earthplace amphitheater is a beautiful spot, nestled in the woods. It’s the perfect place to learn about trees.

So mark July 21 (6:30 p.m.) for a free program there. Earthplace and the Westport Tree Board are sponsoring an outdoor showing of “Call of the Forest: Wisdom of Trees.”

In the video, noted scientist and author Diana Beresford-Kroeger will discuss the profound human connection to ancient and sacred northern forests, and the essential role they play in sustaining the health of our planet.

Admission is free.


Finding Westport always finds great causes to support.

This “Independence” month, they invite you to show off your patriotism by shopping their collection of unisex tees, camping mugs, sweatshirts, beach towels, stickers, pins and weekly specials.

All say “God Bless Westport … The Land That I Love.” 10% of all sales go to VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399, right here in town. Click here to see, and order.

Camping mug


Ah, to be young and agile. Seen somersaulting on Soundview Avenue were Branden Acselrod and Adam Cooper.

(Photo/Marc Sheinbaum)


Today’s “Naturally … Westport” series features Tina Green. She’s been photographing birds in and around town — and she sure knows what’s up.

Here’s her report on our bald eagles:

“The juvenile bald eagles are the Sherwood Island State Park siblings from what I believe is the first documented nest in Westport. An adult pair of bald eagles began working on a nest last fall in the park, and were successful in fledging 2 young. It’s extremely likely the eagles will continue nesting at this location. They will add sticks to the nest each year, and will continue to be seen year round in that area.”

Here are 2 double-crested cormorants. They nest on Goose Island, just west of Cockenoe.

Finally, here’s a marsh wren. Tina says they nest in the cattails and phragmites that surround most of Gorham Island.

(Photos/Tina Green)


And finally … Van McCoy died of a heart attack on this day in 1979. He was just 39 years old.

He has 700 song copyrights to his credit, and produced songs for artists like Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Stylistics, Aretha Franklin, Brenda & the Tabulations, David Ruffin, Peaches & Herb  and Lesley Gore. But he will be forever known for his Grammy-winning, million-selling, summer-of-1975-defining smash:

Happy Arbor Day! Get A Free Tree!

It’s not exactly Christmas, or the 4th of July.

But Arbor Day is Friday. Westport won’t let the holiday pass unnoticed.

We’re even jumping the gun

From 2-5 p.m. this Thursday (April 25) in front of Town Hall, the Westport Tree Board will distribute lilac and Norway spruce saplings.

It’s first-come, first-served. Planting instructions are on each bag.

It’s a busy day for the Tree Board. At 1 p.m. — an hour before the event — they’ll join 1st Selectman Jim Marpe to unveil a new sign at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (corner of Stonybrook Road and Woodside Avenue).

Guests are invited to stay, walk the trails, and learn about trees on the 12-acre open space property. Then head over to Town Hall for your freebie.

(Thanks to Eversource Energy, for making Thursday’s 6th annual sapling giveaway possible.)

A Norway maple at the Wadsworth Arboretum.

Free Saplings Today And Saturday!

The weather may not scream “outdoors!” But today is Arbor Day — the annual celebration of tree planting.

The Westport Tree Board celebrates today — and Green Day this Saturday — with 2 events.

This afternoon (Wednesday, April 25, 2 to 5 p.m.), saplings will be distributed in front of Town Hall. (The location may shift to the rear, due to Myrtle Avenue construction). They’ll be handed out rain or shine (right now, it looks like rain).

More saplings this Saturday (April 28), in conjunction with festivities at Earthplace. The Tree Board will be at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (2 Woodside Lane), from 10 am to 1 p.m. It’s a chance too to walk the trails, and learn about trees on the 12 acre open space property.

This is the 5th consecutive tree sapling giveaway by Westport tree warden Bruce Lindsay, and the Tree Board. It’s first-come, first-serve basis. Species include sweetgums, sugar maples, lilacs, and Norway and white spruce. All  contain planting, and are provided through a donation by Eversource

A tree grows at Town Hall. Saplings will be given away there today.