Tag Archives: Wheels2U

[OPINION] Traffic Troubles? Look In The Rear-View Mirror!

Long-time Westporter Scott Smith is a keen observer of Westport’s beauty.

And its issues.

Today he takes issue with common complaints about traffic. Scott writes:

I read the frequent gripes on “06880” about local traffic congestion.

Yes, it is often a nightmare.

One thing I never hear mentioned: personal responsibility.

Traffic is always someone else’s fault. You’re the one being inconvenienced by all these other cars on the road, right?

But let’s ask ourselves: How many of the car rides we take each day are truly essential? How many trips are to get a latte at Starbucks, or to pick up that one thing at CVS or the cleaners? How many trips are made simply because “I just needed to get out of the house”?

“Saving time” at the Starbucks drive-thru. (Photo/John McKinney)

I’m willing to bet that fully half of our daily car trips are in no way “necessary.” Leaving aside the occasional Waze-induced traffic jam, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was 50 percent less traffic on our local roads?

And let’s not just beat up on parents for their part in creating twice-daily, self-inflicted jams driving their kids to and from school. According to this federal survey, 1 in every 3 discretionary car trips is for shopping, with seniors accounting for the highest proportion of such travel.

The proportion of trips for social/recreational purposes has grown steadily in recent years as well, with — you guessed it — us baby boomers reporting the highest level of that discretionary travel.

Clearly, for the generation that has always equated cars with freedom and the mythical open road, they are going to have to pry the steering wheel out of our cold, dead hands.

Some mornings I ride my bike to the train station to go to work, especially on gridlock Wednesdays. There are rarely as many as 10 bikes in the racks.

Plenty of room at the Saugatuck station bike rack.

Why is that the case in such a health-conscious, affluent community where on weekends the roads are filled with cyclists riding for exercise? How many of us get in our cars to go someplace to take a walk?

How many of my fellow commuters have ever used the Westport Wheels2U van, much less stepped foot on a Norwalk Transit bus?

And who the heck carpools? Nine out of 10 cars I pass on my way to the train station are single drivers.

Speaking of those vehicles, how much of any local traffic backup is due to the simple fact that practically every other car in Westport is a 20-foot-long, 6,000-pound, 9-passenger Suburban?

Tax vehicles by size and weight and mileage. Use that revenue to help make our roadways safer for cyclists and walkers, especially around schools.

Alarmed by congestion, pollution and spiking rates of child deaths on the roads, a generation ago the Netherlands invested in cycling infrastructure. Today, 36% of Dutch people list the bicycle as their most frequent way of getting around on a typical day. Two-thirds of all Dutch children walk or bike to school, with 75% of secondary school kids cycling to school, preventing an estimated 1 million car journeys each day.

Imagine the benefits of adding a bike trail along the Merritt Parkway’s 300-foot-wide right-of-way. (When I worked in Westport, a colleague who lived in Trumbull would ride his bike to the office, using surface streets, faster than it took him to crawl along the Merritt at rush hour in his car.)

Could the next construction project include a trailway?

With the rise of e-bikes, investing in a multi-use trailway makes increasing sense, rather than encouraging yet more sprawl in outer suburbs. Not only would a bike path cut into the 70,000 cars crowding the parkway each workday, but it would also be a safe and healthy haven for weekend cyclists and charity riders alike.

And before you go all NIMBY in opposing sensible new development around train stations, or if you think our built environment is too complex to upgrade or the Merritt too historic to be enhanced with an adjacent pathway, consider this: Paris is working to become a “15-minute city” where everything you need is located within 15 minutes. Every street will have a bike lane, and 60,000 parking spots are being removed and replaced with parks.

A 2020 report on traffic congestion finds “if development is clustered closer together, people can take shorter trips between home, groceries, entertainment, and other destinations—sometimes even short enough that they can take those trips by walking or biking. But if that development is dispersed along a corridor instead, it leads to longer trips and more vehicles turning on and off the corridor to reach destinations spread along it, creating more traffic on those local roads as well as freeways that serve the area.”

Does that sound like Fairfield County? “If we were going to design a system to generate the maximum amount of congestion each day, this is exactly how it would be done,” the authors conclude.

So my fellow Westporters: Next time you’re stuck in traffic, take a look in the rear-view mirror. We all share responsibility for why our local roads are a mess, and we all can be part of the solution.

That includes driving less and driving smarter and supporting public and private initiatives aimed at moving away from the car-centric culture that is ruining our lives and our planet.

(Do you agree or disagree with Scott’s thoughts? Click “Comments” below. And while you’re at it, please consider a donation to help “06880” continue to open a wide range of topics tor discussion. Please click here. Thank you!)  

Want a solution to traffic? Look in the rear-view mirror! (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Roundup: Dog Fest, Equity Study, Fire Danger …

This Sunday, Westport’s dog park really goes to the dogs.

The 7th annual Dog Festival takes over Winslow Park on May 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event — produced by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and TAILS — celebrates all things canine.

The day includes guide dog and training demonstrations, a police K-9 presentation, an obstacle course (the winner gets a year’s supply of dog food), adoptables, kids activities, food trucks, information on non-profits, and more.

Prizes will be given for best tail wagger, best dressed, best kisser, best trick, best lap dog over 50 pounds and dog that most looks like its owner. Dog owners can register for the competitions at the festival, or online.

Surrounding the main activities are over 60 pet-related vendors, picture taking, caricatures, face painting, balloon bending and giveaways.

Proceeds from the entrance fee of $10 per person, and $30 for a family of 4 will benefit nonprofit organizations. So far, over $36,000 has been donated by the Chamber to local groups.

Parking is available at business lots along Post Road East. Click here for more Dog Festival information.


For months, the Board of Education has discussed an “Equity Study Action Plan.” The goal is to help all students feel a sense of belonging.

The debate continued Monday night, for 3 hours. But one of the most compelling comments came not from a board member, but from a teenager.

One who cannot even speak.

Wynston Browne — an autistic Staples High School sophomore — has made remarkable progress over the past 2 years, using a spelling device. His parents and teachers realize now that a very keen and incisive mind had been locked away for over a decade. Wynston’s goal is to be a neuroscientist.

On Monday, Wynston typed. His words appeared on screen: “I want to do things that all kids my age do. I want to eat lunch with friends in the Staples cafeteria, and laugh instead of being laughed at. I want to attend classes that are challenging.”

And, he concluded: “Everyone got it wrong, for so long. It’s time to make it right, starting now.”

Click here to see Wynston’s compelling 6-minute speech. He did not speak out loud — but his words said it all.


Effective immediately, the Westport Fire Department has banned all outside burning until further notice. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the entire state, due to extremely dry conditions.

The ban includes all recreational campfires and fire pits. Brush fires spread rapidly, and can threaten homes and property. 


Today’s “Westport … What’s Happening” podcast features an introduction to the Westport Center for Senior Activities’ new director, Wendy Petty.

She discusses her plans for the center with 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker. Click below to listen to the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston production:


Westport Rotary club’s weekly lunches are always illuminating.

For 39 local non-profits, yesterday’s was also lucrative.

In a ceremony at Green’s Farms Church, the civic group distributed grants to each one. Funds came from the more than $200,000 raised by ticket sales and from sponsors of September’s LobsterFest.

Giving Committee chair Peter Helt handed charitable checks to representatives of, among others (in alphabetical order): A Better Chance of Westport, Builders Beyond Borders, Carver Foundation of Norwalk, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Mercy Learning Center, Norwalk Housing Foundation, Positive Directions, Remarkable Theater, Staples Tuition Grants, Westport Book Sales Ventures, Westport Country Playhouse, and Westport Volunteer EMS.

75 percent of LobsterFest proceeds go to local organizations; 25 percent to international organizations.

Rotarian Rick Benson described a few of those projects, including water sanitation efforts in Kenya and providing medical equipment to a hospital in Uganda.

Rotary Club members and grant recipients, at Green’s Farms Church.


Jeff Scher is a prolific filmmaker and animator.

The 1972 Staples High School graduate — now back in Westport, working in a Cross Highway studio a few steps from his house — has created everything from an HBO documentary about a Holocaust survivor, to holiday videos for Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, and a short film about summer and water.

He made the official video for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Teach Your Children.”

Now he’s made another one for Graham Nash’s new album. It’s environmentally themed — and there’s a “no mower” section that’s very Westport.

Click below to see:


Wheels2UWestport’s Park Connect returns this summer. The service — funded by Connecticut’s Departments of Transportation, and Energy and Environmental Protection — provides free rides to and from anywhere in Westport and Sherwood Island State Park.

Similar free-ride programs are available at 6 other state parks.

Rides are available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends and holidays, beginning Memorial Day weekend and running through Labor Day.

Rides are available through the Wheels2U app Westporters use to and from the train station.

For more information about Wheels2U and Park Connect, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.

Sherwood Island — Westport’s “other” beach — is Connecticut’s first state park.


The Westport Woman’s Club and Congregation for Humanistic Judaism team up for an important event this Sunday (May 21; light breakfast, 9:30 a.m.; program, 10 a.m., 44 Imperial Avenue; click here for the livestream link with passcode 581845).

Dr. Deborah Varat, professor of art history at Southern New Hampshire University, presents “Arthur Szyk’s ‘The New Order’: How the Cartoons of a Polish Jew Helped Prepare the US for War.”

The cartoonist’s work helped Americans visualize and personalize the Nazi evil, against which they ultimately had to fight. Today his illustrations and impact on moving American public opinion toward readiness for war are commemorated in museums around the world. For more information on Szyk, click here.

Arthur Szyk’s “Freedom From Fear.”


Lime Rock Park celebrates the 37th anniversary of Paul Newman’s Trans-Am win with an exhibit of his racing estate on May 27, during the Trans Am Memorial Day Classic.

It includes helmets, racing suits and other memorabilia that former Westport resident Newman used during his storied career. Click here for tickets. (Hat tip: Frank Rosen)

Paul Newman at Lime Rock.


The Saugatuck Rowing Club was not around — not even a dream — when the Staples High School Class of 1983 graduated.

But that’s where their 40th reunion will be, on July 29 (6 to 10 p.m.).

Click here for tickets. Click here for the ’83 Facebook page.

Graduation Day, 1983.


This pond did not look particularly inviting — unless you’re a dog.

Mark Mathias captured today’s wet “Westport … Naturally” image at the Leonard Schine Preserve, off Weston Road.

(Photo/Mark Mathias)


And finally … happy 81st birthday to Taj Mahal.

The multi-talented musician (guitar, piano, banjo, harmonica and many other instruments) has incorporated Caribbean, African, Indian, Hawaiian and South Pacific sounds into his blues/rock/gospel/funk repertoire.

He has played all over the world — including, in 1971 and ’73, at Staples High School. He returned in 1974, to the Westport Country Playhouse.

(It’s a dog’s world, as the first story above explains. Don’t be a bitch. Help support “06880.” Please click here. Thank you!)

Transit Committee Votes To Restore Wheels2U Funds

Peter Gold is director of the Westport Transit District. He is also a member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting, and sits on its Transit Committee. He abstained from last night’s committee vote on WTD funding, because of that conflict of interest.

Writing in his capacity as Transit Director, he reports on last night’s meeting:

By a vote of 8 to 0, the RTM Transit Committee voted to recommend that the full RTM restore all funds the Board of Finance cut from the Westport Transit District’s Wheels2U budget. Wheels2U is the Westport Transit District’s on-demand, door-to-train platform shuttle service.

Approval of 70% of the full RTM present and voting at its May 1 meeting is needed to restore the Wheels2U funding. Before that, the RTM’s Finance Committee will meet April 26 to decide whether to recommend that the RTM approve restoring the funding.

RTM Transit Committee members noted Wheels2U’s growing ridership. Ridership is projected to exceed 26,000 rides in the current fiscal year ending on June 30. Members also noted the environmental and economic benefits, traffic reduction and service to residents that Wheels2U provides.

Peter Gold, director of the Westport Transit District, reported that Wheels2U will use over 45% fewer gallons of fuel and drive 56% fewer miles this fiscal year than in fiscal year 2019, the last year with the old fixed route system.  He also noted that unlike the old fixed route system, Wheels2U covers the entire town and meets all peak hour trains in the morning and evening.

Members made suggestions to reduce Wheels2U’s cost to the town. They include raising the fare from $2, investigating other sources of revenue, and increasing marketing for Wheels2U to help bring in more riders.

The RTM received over 200 letters to date in favor of restoring the funding, with 6 opposed. Many were from people who chose to move to Westport in the last 2 years instead of to other Fairfield County towns, partly because of Wheels2U.

Others were from families with young children but without a second car, who rely on Wheels2U to get to the train. Others were from people who rely on Wheels2U to get to their jobs in town.


Committee members as well as the members of the public who spoke at the meeting felt strongly that the town administration needs to take a more active role in dealing with the town’s transportation and mobility needs.

A suggestion was made that the selectwomen’s office form a task force to look holistically at the town’s transit and mobility needs, with a sufficient budget to enable it to obtain any necessary expertise to deal with these issues.

Several members felt it would be beneficial to have the town establish a permanent paid position to deal with the town’s transit, traffic, parking and mobility issues.

Possible benefits of looking at transit issues on a regional basis was also discussed.  However, many committee members felt that having local control over transit is crucial to ensure town residents’ needs for local transportation are met.

(More information about Wheels2U and the budget process can be found here.)


[OPINION] Transit Director: Restore Funding For Wheels2U

It happens every year: the Westport Transit District pleads for funds.

Peter Gold has 2 roles: He’s the WTD director, and an elected Representative Town Meeting (RTM) member from District 5. He writes:

Westport is in danger of losing the Wheels2U shuttle yet again.

In what has become an annual rite of spring, the Board of Finance voted at its March meeting to eliminate all funding for Wheels2U, the Westport Transit District’s door-to-train station on-demand commuter shuttle.

This will effectively shut down the service as of June 30, 2023. (The door to door service for the elderly and persons with disabilities will not be affected.)


We need the public’s help to keep the shuttle alive.

The Transit Committee and RTM Finance Committee meet on April 17 and April 26 respectively. They will make recommendations to the full RTM regarding the budget for Wheels2U.

The full RTM meets May 1 to vote on restoring funding to keep the shuttle running for another year.

Please send an email to the RTM (RTM-DL@Westportct.gov) between now and the end of April urging them to restore the budget, and keep the shuttle alive. All emails sent to this address will also go to members of the RTM Transit and Finance Committees.

Wheels2U provided over 21,100 rides to and from Westport’s 2 train stations to more than 1,170 people since the start of the current fiscal year on July 1, 2022. There were over 2,780 rides to and from Westport’s stations in March alone.

Wheels2U supports Westport residents and businesses. It aids economic development by providing a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way for Westport commuters, reverse commuters and others to link their homes, their employers and downtown to the train stations. By sharing your stories of how useful the service has been to you, we can help to save the shuttle service.

It takes 70% of the RTM members present and voting at a meeting to override the Board of Finance and restore the funding for Wheels2U. Every bit of support matters.

Information about Wheels2U, its cost, the benefits it currently provides to riders and the town as a whole, and what it could become if it’s allowed to continue and grow can be found by clicking this link.

Haiku Hails Wheels2U

Behold the shuttle 
The lifeline to liberty 
Temptress of travel 

Shuttle buses were not around when haiku began.

But they were the subject of the recent Westport Transit District’s Wheels2U contest. And the above poem by Judith Marks-White snagged first place.

Judges Diane Meyer Lowman (the town’s poet laureate emeritus) and Peter Gold (WTD director) chose the longtime local writer’s entry, out of over than 220 submissions.


There were 2 second-place winners. Melissa Crouch Chang wrote:

Daffodil day trip
Botanical gardens bliss
Starts with Wheels2U

Harry Rimm said:

Home to train daily
Reliable and friendly
Train to home daily

The 4 third prize winners were Diane Reda-West:

Flowing stop to stop
Arriving on time smoothly
Easy and relaxed

Sara Roche:

Morning sun rises
Carefree, I wait on the curb
A ride to the train 

Rich Hochman:

Cheap ride, warm inside
Awaits at your door or train
Efficient and green

And Alyssa Hyman:

Convenience is key
When you go to NYC
Wheels2U, and me!

Melissa Crouch Chang had a pair of honorable mention haikus:

No need to scrape frost
From your minivan windows
Winter Wheels2U

Relationship balm
Early morning Wheels2U
Lets your love sleep in

Jonathan Prager also earned an honorable mention:

Phone tap, van arrives
Efficient trip to the train
Zip, zip. Wheels2U

Marks-White won a $100 gift certificate to a Westport restaurant of her choice. The silver medalists earned $50 gift certificates; the bronze winners, $25 each.

Wheels2U Westport is the Transit District’s on-demand, group ride, door to train platform shuttle service. Residents and commuters to Westport can use the Wheels2U Westport app to request a pickup between 5:45 and 10 a.m., and 4 and 9:30 p.m. They will ride to or from the Saugatuck or Greens Farms train platform, and their front door anywhere in Westport. The fare is $2 when paid with the Wheels2U app.

For more information about Wheels2U, 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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Roundup: Lynda Bluestein, Jewish Composers, Church Organ …

Lynda Bluestein is a longtime and very active member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport.

She has terminal fallopian tube cancer. At 75 years old, time is short. But on Tuesday she received peace-of-mind news.

She reached a settlement with the state of Vermont. She will be the first non-resident to take advantage of a law that allows people with terminal illnesses to end their own lives.

Ten states allow medically assisted suicide. Until now though, only Oregon permitted non-residents to do it. Click here to read about Lynda’s successful legal battle, and what it means for her and others.

Lynda Bluestein and her husband Paul. (Photo courtesy of NBC Connecticut)


The Westport Country Playhouse Script in Hand series of play readings is enormously popular.

A new spinoff — the “Mic in Hand” music series — should be too.

The first event is Ari Axelrod’s “A Place for Us: A Celebration of Jewish Broadway.”

The award-winning show honors the songs and stories of Jewish composers, and their contributions to the American musical.

The Playhouse says: “Beloved melodies and lyrics by the likes of Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Schwartz and Carole King will transport you to the streets of the theater district, your bubbie’s Shabbos table, or your corner of the sky.”

The kickoff is May 15 (7 p.m.). All tickets are $25. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

Irving Berlin: One of Broadway’s greatest Jewish composer.


Rick Tripodi was the beloved music director and organist at Green’s Farms Congregational Church.

That organ was close to Rick’s heart. As a teenager in 1965, he attended its  dedication.

Classically trained, with a master’s degree in organ performance from Juilliard, Rick designed the refurbishment of the Peragallo/Walker organ during the church’s recent renovation project.

Sadly, he died just 2 days before the instrument was reinstalled.

A memorial concert on Sunday, March 26 (4 p.m.) features David Enlow on the organ, and a 16-voice professional choir. They’ll perform Duruflé’s Requiem — a piece Rick requested a few days before he died.

The concert will be livestreamed, then uploaded to the church’s YouTube channel.

Click below to see the organ’s dedication. The video begins at the 9:00 mark.


Leave the car at home
Leave the driving all to us
Door to door service

How’s that for a haiku? (It’s by Diane Lowman, Westport’s first poet laureate.)

Wheels2U Westport — the Westport Transit District’s on-demand, group ride, door to train platform shuttle service — is launching its 2nd annual poetry contest. The goal is to promote its Wheels2U commuter shuttle.

This year’s contest features haiku (last year’s was limericks).

The form originated in Japan. They’re unrhymed poems consisting of 17 syllables, in 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.

Gift certificates to Westport restaurants of their choice will be given to the top 7 entries. First prize is $100 gift certificate; 2 second prizes winners are $50 each; 4 third prize winners receive $25 gift certificates.

Wheels2U for you
We ferry you to the train
Worries left behind
(Diane Lowman)

Westport residents and commuters to here can use the Wheels2U Westport app to request a pickup between 5:45 and 10 a.m., and 4 and 9:30 p.m. They’ll be taken to or from the Saugatuck or Greens Farms train platform and their front door, anywhere in Westport.

Pickups should be requested 20 minutes before you would normally leave to drive to the station. The fare is $2 when paid with the Wheels2U app.

The bus to the train
Take Wheels2U for the ride
Easy, no hassle.

For more information about Wheels2U, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.

The haiku contest deadline is March 27. Entries (as many as you like) should be sent to pgold@westportct.gov, and must include your name and address. Click here for the official rules.



Staples High School’s March Students of the Month are seniors Matthew Saw and Shanti Wimmer, juniors Juan Nieves and Isabella Rivel, sophomores Lily Hultgren and Aidan Zer, and freshmen Peter Cordts and Charlie Curran.

The program recognizes “students who help make Staples a welcoming place for peers and teachers alike. They are the ‘glue’ of the community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together.” Nominations come from teachers.

March Students of the Month (from left): Lily Hultgren, Isabella Rivel, Matthew Saw, Charlie Curran, Peter Cordts. Missing: Shanti Wimmer and Aiden Zer


Last weekend, the Westport Weston Family YMCA 4th grade boys travel finished 2nd in the 15th annual Connecticut Hoopfest tournament (Platinum Division) in Milford. Congrats to the young stars!

Westport Weston Family YMCA 4th grade travel basketball team.


VersoFest 2023 is a music festival — and much more.

All day long on the weekend of April 1-2, experts and educators will offer 1-hour-workshops for creative and curious attendees.

They include:

TeachRock, Wall of Sound class (April 1, 11 a.m.): The Grateful Dead’s Wall of Sound was the first large-scale line array used in modern sound reinforcement systems. TeachRock’s Bill Carbone and Gina Machado explore: What is a PA system? How does it work? And why should we thank the tinkering scientists of the Dead entourage for much of how we experience live music today?

The workshop will use Anthony Coscia’s scale model replica of the “Wall of Sound” that will be on display (and cranking tunes) throughout VersoFest.

Master class workshop & Rock Photography panel (April 1, 11:30 a.m.): Katie Settel is known for her evocative performance images as the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater’s photographer. Settel takes workshop participants through her journey, influences, and techniques.

Screenwriting master class (April 1, 2 p.m.): An overview of screenplay structure, focusing on the 90-page feature film script.
Songwriting Master Class

Songwriting master class (April 1, 3 p.m.): Whether you are a performing songwriter or just want to learn how to start a song, you can find your voice and turn your story into a musical moment. TV/Media Production Master Class

TV/Media Production master class (April 2, 11 a.m.): Producer/director Annette Jolles teach this master class, with Verso Studios crew call members. She has earned 17 Emmy Awards, and was the first female director for “Live from Lincoln Center.”

Click here, then scroll down for full details, including more events and registration information.

Anthony Coscis with his Wall of Sound.


Upcoming at Earthplace:

“A Toast to the Trees” (Arbor Day weekend: April 29). Both beer tasting and kids’ activities! “Tasting on the Trails” offers staggered entry (no snarky joke, sorry) between 4 and 5:30 p.m; the beer garden and food trucks are available from 4 to 7 p.m. Also included: lawn games, a campfire and s’mores. Tickets are $35 for adults, $15 for those under 21. Click here to purchase.

A “Cocktails & Clams” sunset evening on the Sound fundraiser for Harbor Watch — an Earthplace program — is set for Saturday, June 10 (5 to 7 p.m.). It’s dockside at Copps Island Oyster on Norwalk Harbor, with an unlimited raw bar, hors d’oeuvres, open bar, live band and silent auction. Tickets will be available next month.


Westport Police made 3 custodial arrests between March 8 and 15.

One was for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and failure to drive in the proper lane, following an investigation into an accident on December 18 on Riverside Avenue.

A second was for larceny of food and gift cards, by an employee of Fresh Market.

The third was for failure to respond to an infraction (issued in Derby), following a motor vehicle stop.

The department did not release details of any citations issued.

The store pressed charges following an employee theft.


Just steps from downtown’s stores, traffic and parking lots, there’s a Saugatuck River scene worthy of the wilds.

Rachel Konstantin took today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, near the Taylortown Salt Marsh.

(Photo/Rachel Konstantin)


And finally … as noted in the story above, Irving Berlin is one of America’s most famous Jewish composers. He’s known and loved for songs like this:

(From the serious to the sublime to the silly, “06880”‘s daily Roundup brings you news and information you can use. Or skip over. But hey, we’re always available. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Parker Harding, Longshore, Speakeasy …

The Downtown Plan Implementation Committee’s project has begun.

Public Works Department employees assisted town engineers and Langan consultants yesterday, as they dug test pits for the renovation.

Site work downtown. (Photo courtesy of Town of Westport)


Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission will hold a special meeting next Thursday (March 2, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall).

The one agenda item is the Longshore Capital Improvement Plan.

Longshore Club Park


Looking for a historic speakeasy in Westport, featuring jazz, food, drink and gambling?

Head to the Suzuki Music School in Colonial Green on March 4 (7 p.m.). The basement will be transformed into the type of illicit space F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald knew well from their time here.

The Rich Goldstein Trio and Joe Carter Trio will perform. Tickets ($125) include food and drink, and $25 of (charity) gambling chips. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Proceeds benefit the Suzuki Music Schools, and Westport Museum of History & Culture.

The evening marks the mid-event of the 2023 Connecticut Guitar Festival. Opening night at MoCA Westport (Friday, March 3) features  classical guitarist Rene Izquierdo and  contemporary Guitarist Jordan Dodson.

The Saturday daytime lineup includes education for young and old guitar students at MoCA: master classes, lectures, an open mic and a 3 p.m. showcase concert by the Yale Guitars.

The Guitar Festival ends Sunday at MoCA with a free children’s pillow concert headed by festival artistic director Mak Grgic, and an honors concert of young area students.

Click here for full details of the Connecticut Guitar Festival.


Westport Police report 2 custodial arrests between February 16 and 22.

One followed a report that a family member was acting erratically. During a mental health emergency, a Westport resident swung at officers, causing minor injuries. He was charged with 2 counts of assault on a public safety employee.

The other arrest was for failure to appear.

The Police Department is still unable to report information on traffic and other citations.

One arrest last week was for failure to appear for a court date.


Wheels2U’s on-demand, group ride, door-to-train platform shuttle service is free tomorrow (Friday, February 24).

The normal fee to and from the Westport and Greens Farms stations is $2.

Riders use the Wheels2U Westport app to request a pickup  between 5:45 and 10 a.m., and 4 and 9:30 p.m., for rides between either train platform and their front door. Pickups for trips to the stations should be requested 20 minutes before normally leaving to drive to the station.

For more information about Wheels2U, including how to download the Wheels2U app and book a ride, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.



A Westport woman is having a hard time finding a handyman.

The work involves basic repairs, including painting, screens and other things.

She’s not on Facebook (the usual place to search for such things), and has had no luck finding one on her own. If you know of a good handyman — or you are one yourself — click “Comments” below.


Many Westporters are away this week, for the public schools’ winter break.

These guys stuck around, and posed for today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

(Photo/Liza Emilio)


And finally … you knew this was coming, right?

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Roundup: Valentine’s Sand, MoCA Music, Aspetuck’s Digital Hike …

Some folks expressed their Valentine’s love yesterday with flowers. Others used chocolate.

One intrepid person took to the sand:

(Photo/Rachel Rothman-Cohen)

So the very romantic (and real) question remains: Which of these 3 expressions of love — flowers, chocolate or a heart in the sand — lasts longest?


MoCA Westport’s 2023 Music at MoCA Concert Series features a diverse line-up: 10 jazz, world music, folk and classical performances.

Collaborations include Jazz at Lincoln Center, East Coast Contemporary Ballet and the Charles Ives Music Festival.

The schedule  (all concerts begin at 7 p.m.):

  • Saturday, February 18: Talisk (Scottish folk)
  • Friday, April 21, 2023: Eddie Barbash (jazz)
  • Friday, April 28: Cuatro Puntos: Contemporary Ukrainian Composers (classical)
  • Friday, May 12: Ameen Mokdad’s “The Curve” with Cuatro Puntos (classical)
  • Saturday, May 20: A Tribute to Joni Mitchell by Michelle Pauker
  • Saturday, June 10: Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist: Vanisha Gould Quartet (jazz)
  • Saturday, July 8, 2023: Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist: Summer Carmargo (jazz)
  • Tuesday, August 8, 2023: Charles Ives Music Festival: “(Re)Imagine, an Evening of Engaging Chamber Music: (Classical)
  • Saturday, October 14: “Desde Adentro – From Within” by East Coast Contemporary Ballet, Alturas Duo and Callisto Quartet (dance)
  • Saturday, November 18: Artem Kuznetsov – 2022 Heida Laureate (classical)

Click here for tickets and more information, or call  203-222-7070.

Michelle Pauker — a star last year — returns in 2023 to MoCA. (Photo/Dan Woog)


The Westport Fire Department is always training.

Yesterday’s session: positioning the ladder truck, and rescuing someone from a window.

Firefighters did not have to go far. They did it right outside headquarters, on the Post Road.

(Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)


A “digital hike” seems oxymoronic (and not particularly daunting, or fun).

But Aspetuck Land Trust is offering one on March 15 (noon), and it’s both educational and, yes, fun.

Land protection specialist Adam Goodwin will help attendees learn about open space, land in our region, and the green space that is the “lungs of Fairfield County.” The focus will be on Aspetuck’s preserves and trails, and how they connect the region.

Click here to register for the “Lunch & Learn” websinar.


In 1929, the Westport Garden Club was among 31 charter members of the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut in April 1929.

Beginning in 1982, the Federation has hosted a flower and garden show in Hartford. For this year’s event (February 23-26, Connecticut Convention Center), club members Kara McKenna Wong and Kelle Ruden will enter floral designs as novice designers.

They’ll also be preparing for the Westport Garden Club’s 100th anniversary show next year. Kara and Kelle will work at the Hartford show as horticulture volunteers, learning the flower show ropes. Club members will travel to Hartford, to cheer them on.

At the show, they can also visit Kerstin Rao. The Westport artist/ calligrapher/former Bedford Middle School teacher will exhibit her Vivid Cottage stationery.

The Connecticut Flower & Garden Show includes 23 live gardens and landscape exhibits; over 12,000 square feet of design, horticulture, botanical arts and a photography competition; over 80 hours of seminars and demonstrations, and hundreds of booths.

Click here for more details on the show.

A few of Kerstin Warner Rao’s flower-themed greeting cards.


The Westport Transit District celebrates Presidents Day with free Wheels2U on-demand, group ride, door-to-train platform shuttle service this Friday and next (February 17 and 24).

The normal fee to and from the Westport and Greens Farms stations is $2.

WTD director Peter Gold hopes riders will take advantage of the free service to head to New York for a staycation, shopping, museum or Broadway visit — or traveling between Westport and the city for work.

Riders use the Wheels2U Westport app to request a pickup  between 5:45 and 10 a.m., and 4 and 9:30 p.m., for rides between either train platform and their front door. Pickups for trips to the stations should be requested 20 minutes before normally leaving to drive to the station.

For more information about Wheels2U, including how to download the Wheels2U app and book a ride, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.



Westport Country Playhouse’s Script in Hand reading of Theresa Rebeck’s thriller “Mauritius” (March 13, 7 p.m.) has a special twist.

It’s directed by the playwright herself.

Rebeck has written for stage, film, TV and novels. Her 4 Broadway plays make her the most Broadway-produced female playwright in recent years.

“Mauritius” is a thriller. It’s also infused with wicked humor.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Theresa Rebeck


Westport resident Dr. John J. Williams died peacefully last week.

A graduate of St. Peter’s College, Georgetown Medical School and Fordham Law School. he was a decorated combat veteran who served in Vietnam as a surgeon.

He trained as a urologist, and was on the faculty at Cornell. He was also a member of the Connecticut Bar. John and his family split their time between New York City and Westport.

He is survived by his children John (Chie), Paul (Leslie) and Valerie (Gary); grandchildren Owen, Sachi, Charlie, Harry, Luke and Johnny; brother Robert and sister Kathy Dalton. He was predeceased by his wife Jean.

Visitation is today (Wednesday, February 15, 4 to 8 p.m., Harding Funeral Home). A funeral mass will be held tomorrow (Thursday, February 16, 10 a.m., St Luke Church).

Dr. John Williams


Nothing says “Westport … Naturally” more than an early sign of spring.

Bob Weingarten spotted these optimistic shoots, on Hillandale Road.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)


And finally … on this day in 1764, what became the city of St. Louis was established in what was then Spanish Louisiana.

(From here to St. Louis — and far beyond — “06880” is “where Westport meets the world.” Please click here, to help us continue our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Trash Clean-up, Energy Costs, Pollinators …

Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup gave an incorrect date for the next trash clean-up, at the Sherwood Island Connector I-95 Exit 18 commuter parking lot.

It’s this Sunday — not Saturday — at 11 a.m.

Bring trash bags and work gloves. There’s plenty to do!

Westporters picked up tons of trash last weekend at the Greens Farms train station. This Sunday at 11 a.m.: the commuter parking lot on the Sherwood Island connector.


The Westport Transit District and Steam again team up to offer free coffee to people who take Wheels2U to the Saugatuck train station. The offer is good this Friday (January 13) and next Tuesday, (January 17).

Just ride Wheels2U to the station between 6 and 10:30 a.m., and show proof of the ride at the Steam counter.

For more information on Wheels2U — the home-to-the-station ride service — click here.


David Pogue got a note from his neighborhood association treasurer. It said:

As many of you know, the cost of electricity spiked at the beginning of this year. If you look at your utility bill, it will be divided into two sections: (1) supplier costs and (2) delivery costs.

Supplier costs are the cost to generate the electricity, which has been ~12 cents per kWh. Starting in January, this rate doubled for Eversource —to 24 cents per kWh. Since supply is about half your bill, and this has doubled, your bill went up about 50% in total starting January 1.

You have the option in CT to choose a third-party supplier, which often come at hefty discounts to Eversource.

(For more details, click here.)

David adds: “He pointed out that customers can compare rates at EnergizeCT.com. At the moment, Town Square Energy’s rates are about 38% less expensive. I switched today!”


You can go home again.

Will Haskell recently “retired” at age 26, after 2 terms as state senator. (He won’t play shuffleboard — he’s at NYU Law School.)

But the other day he headed to his alma mater — Greens Farms Elementary School — to talk to 3rd grade students about local and state government.

Students asked plenty of questions. Perhaps he inspired one of them to follow in his footsteps.

If so, then in just 20 years he or she will return to GFS, as an already former state legislator — on to a new adventure.

Will Haskell inspires 3rd graders.


A return of another sort: Kyle Martino, to the airwaves.

The Staples High School Class of 1999 graduate — and former Staples soccer star, who was named Gatorade High School Player of the Year — has just been named to the TNT and HBO Max broadcast team for US men’s and women’s national team matches.

Martino spent 8 years as a Premier League analyst with NBC Sports. He is also a soccer entrepreneur. He founded the Goalpher system for turning basketball courts into small soccer fields, and also developed the OverUnder Initiative, to bring soccer to under-resourced communities.

Martino was MLS Rookie of the Year with the Columbus Crew in 2002. He also played with the Los Angeles Galaxy, and has 8 caps with the US men’s national team.

His announcing partner on TNT and HBO Max is former women’s national team star Julie Foudy.

Kyle Martino


There were 3 custodial arrests last week, by Westport Police.

One person was arrested for shoplifting, conspiracy to commit a crime, and failure to appear.

Another person was arrested for shoplifting.

The shoplifting incidents occurred at Whole Foods (over $300 worth of items), Walgreens (over $1250) and Stop & Shop (over $1350).

A third person was arrested for reckless driving, failure to carry a license, and failure to drive in the proper lane. That happened when a jogger said he was struck by a vehicle turning left from Greens Farms Road onto Hillspoint Road. The driver allegedly left the scene. A witness then told police that the suspected offender was inside Cumberland Farms, making statements about “hitting a jogger.” 

The following citations were issued:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 9
  • Failure to obey control signal: 2
  • Following too closely: 1
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 1
  • Driving with out of state plates: 1
  • Violation of traffic commission regulation: 1
  • Breach of peace: 1
  • Assault 3rd degree, risk of injury to a minor: 1

When you move to Connecticut, you must register your car here.


It’s mid-winter. Time to get a jump on spring – and attract pollinators to your garden this summer.

University of Connecticut advanced master gardener Alice Ely leads a Wakeman Town Farm “Winter Sowing Demonstration” on January 23 (7 p.m.).

Attendees will learn how to make mini-greenhouses (in bottles) to start seedlings. Left outside until spring, they’ll turn into milkweed plants that attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

Click here for more information, and registration.

Milkweed seedlings


There may not be many boats at Ned Dimes Marina.

But — as Patricia Auber’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows — there is plenty of action there anyway.

(Photo/Patricia Auber)


And finally … on this date in 1964, the Surgeon General of the US published a landmark report. It said: “Smoking may be hazardous to your health.”


Roundup: Lyman Donations, Amazon Fresh, Saugatuck Church …

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the White House and speech before Congress yesterday reminded Americans that Ukraine’s war against Russian occupation continues, even as media attention has waned.

Westporters don’t need that reminder.

Since we announced our “Building Bridges” campaign with our new sister city of Lyman on Monday, residents (and their families and friends) have raised $105,909. That’s an outstanding outpouring of generosity!

We need less than $145,000 more to reach our goal of $250,000. That will provide 150 homes ruined during the Russian occupation with new roofs, windows and more — plus a generator for every one. And a water filtration system for the entire devastated town.

We hope to reach that goal by Christmas (Sunday). Thanks to our partnership with Ukraine Aid International — a non-profit founded by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer — all material can be delivered 3 days later.

Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

Support for the effort comes from Rabbi Michael  Friedman of Temple Israel. He says:

“We are all inundated with requests for charitable contributions at this season of the year. Yet a personal call to help specific people in a specific city — even if it is very far away — gives our heartstrings a special tug. What a fabulous way to directly aid fellow human beings in dire need.”

Rabbi Michael Friedman, Temple Israel


At least once a week, someone asks “06880”: What’s up with the Amazon Fresh store that was supposed to replace Barnes & Noble? Nothing has happened there for months.

We’re not the only town left in — literally — the dark.

An answer comes from The Real Deal. The New York real estate website says that since September, Amazon has not opened a new Fresh store. At least 7 locations appear to be completely built out, but unopened. Another 26 locations are like ours, with development halted.

There are “zombie stores” in several states.

The Real Deal explains:


It’s cheaper for the company to keep the stores in place while not operating, rather than ditch the stores altogether. While the company is on the hook for rent, maintenance and taxes, shutting down a store could also force Amazon to pay a fee for a lease withdrawal or severance to hired employees.

Click here for the full story. In the meantime, if you want to give Amazon money for groceries, go to Whole Foods. They have not yet closed that part of their operations yet. (Hat tip: John McCarthy)


Yesterday’s innovative “Holiday Card” — actually, a series of large images projected on the front of Saugatuck Congregational Church, thanks to the AV team of Craig Patton and Mark Mathias — was even more stunning that anyone expected.

(Photo/Richard Hyman)

The show will be repeated tonight and tomorrow (weather permitting), from 5 to 8 p.m. The best viewing spot is probably the Colonial Green parking lot, across the street.


Jarret Liotta has many memories from his time in Los Angeles. Once, he attended a Passover Seder with Mel Brooks. The 1983 Staples High graduate quipped, “I didn’t know you were Jewish!”

Now — as Hanukkah collides with Christmas — Liotta is “proud to re-present a shot, low-quality video” he made back in those days.

He thinks Mel Brooks would have appreciated it.

Liotta’s latest film, “Small Town Movie,” is “a light comedy that explores racism, gun violence and the cancel culture.”

He calls this Christmas vs. Hanukkah piece “probably more controversial.”

You be the judge.


The Westport Police have released arrest reports for the December 14-21 period.

Five people were detained in custody. The charges for each:

  • Conspiracy to commit larceny, interfering with a police officer, assault on public safety personnel.
  • Reckless driving, disobeying the signal of an officer, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, larceny of a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell a controlled substance.
  • Burglary, threatening, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief.
  • Possession of burglar tools, conspiracy to commit larceny, criminal attempt to commit larceny, disobeying the signal of an officer, misuse of plates, reckless driving, failure to signal properly.
  • Manufacture or possession of burglar tools, conspiracy to commit larceny, attempt to commit larceny.

The following citations were issued:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 12
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 5
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 5
  • Violation of any traffic commission regulation: 4
  • Stop sign violation: 3
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 3
  • Insurance coverage fails minimum requirements: 2
  • Disorderly conduct: 1
  • Traveling too fast for conditions:1
  • Cell phone, 1st offense: 1
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian: 1
  • Tinting windows: 1
  • Failure to keep plates readable: 1
  • Misuse of plates: 1
  • Failure to display lights: 1

One citation was issued last week for overly tinted windows.


Speaking of the police:

The license plate on this car may signal “Never Guilty.”

But that looks an awful like a ticket on the windshield.


At first glance, this looks like a “holiday lights” photo:

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

A closer look, though, shows it’s traffic clogging Charles Street yesterday afternoon, coming off I-95.

Eventually of course, everyone got through. It’s just late on a holiday afternoon — and, probably, a bit of Waze action too.


The photo above provides a great segue to this item: Wheels2U is growing every day. Last month, the door-to-door ride service provided rides for over 2,300 people directly from their homes and offices, to and from the train station.

The service will take 2 brief holidays — December 26 and January 2 — before resuming full steam ahead.

For more information about Wheels2U, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.

Santa ditches his sleigh for Wheels2U.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image was spotted yesterday at Sherwood Island State Park, by John Kantor:

(Photo/John Kantor)


And finally … on this day in 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven conducted and performed in Vienna, with the premiere of his 5th and 6th Symphonies, 4th Piano Concerto and Choral Fantasy.

It must have been quite a show.