Tag Archives: William F. Cribari Bridge

Roundup: Outdoor Dining, P&Z Records, Food Drive …

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Love outdoor dining? Think it’s too intrusive?

On Thursday, March 11, the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing. They’ll consider a text amendment that would continue outdoor dining for over 80 restaurants — which would otherwise expire March 31 — until further notice.

The text amendment would also be expanded to include certain retail businesses.

Click here for the full document. Click here for the retail portion

The March 11 meeting will be livestreamed at 6 p.m. on www.westportct.gov, Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.

Comments can be emailed before the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov, or during the meeting to PandZComments@westportct.gov. You can offer live testimony during the meeting if you request a link from maryyoung@westportct.gov by noon on March 11.

Romanacci’s Xpress was one of several Railroad Place restaurants with outdoor dining.

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Speaking of the P&Z: Did you know that Westport has digitized its back-office land use permit process?

Users can search for and view records — free! — by clicking here. It even comes with a handy how-to tutorial:

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The last Farmers’ Market of the winter is an important one.

On Thursday, March 11 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), the Market partners with Sustainable Westport to replenish 2 food pantries: Homes with Hope’s Gillespie Center, and  Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Both are running low.

Non-perishable items (canned goods, rice, beans, pasta, jams, sauces, etc.) can be dropped off at Farmers’ Market (Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Road).

It’s rare to see canned food at the Westport Farmers’ Market. A week from tomorrow, it will be a very lovely sight.

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The other day, Positive Directions hosted Senator Chris Murphy, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

They joined Westport Human Services, Kids in Crisis, Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance, NAMI and Fairfield Public Schools for a discussion on behavioral health needs during COVID and beyond.

Senator Murphy heard ideas he’ll bring to Washington. Other leaders shared best practices. Click here to learn more.

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Seth Van Beever is a proud son of Saugatuck.

Actually, a proud great-great-grandson. His great-great-grandfather, James Barnes Sr., was the first tender for what is now called the William F. Cribari Bridge.

Seth has followed the debate over the 133-year-old bridge’s future closely. So when he saw a photo of an innovative solution — a road in the Netherlands goes under the water, so boats can sail above it — he thought of us.

(Photo courtesy of @alic3lik)

That’s thinking waaaaay outside the bridge — er, the box.

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We dodged a bullet Monday.

High winds throughout Connecticut led to 18,000 power outages statewide. As of last night, there were still 4,600 Eversource customers without power.

Here in Westport, we had outages in only 3 scattered, small locations. As of last night, the only folks still without power here wee on Pheasant Lane, off Meeker Road.

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Nancy Vener took this photo from Saugatuck Shores. Stony Point is on the left; Longshore, on the right.

But what’s that blue light? She said it showed up on several photos, at different heights. If you know, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Nancy Vener)

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Juanita Watson — a 30-year Westport Public Schools employee — died last Thursday. She most recently worked in Pupil Services.

Juanita Watson

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And finally … on this day in 1931, President Hoover signed a congressional act making “The Star Spangled Banner” our official national anthem.

For decades, it was sung the same way. During the 1968 World Series, our Weston neighbor Jose Feliciano broke tradition with this version.

The national anthem has never been the same.

 

Saugatuck Railroad Bridge: The Project No One Talks About

Everyone is talking about the William F. Cribari Bridge. It’s over 130 years old. Should it be renovated, or replaced?

No one is talking about the Saugatuck River railroad bridge. It’s 116 years old. It too is nearing the end of its useful life.

Metro-North railroad bridge, looking south toward Long Island Sound.

The Metro-North span is one of 8 movable train bridges in the state. If it is replaced by a fixed structure — a project that could cost $75 million — what will happen to businesses upriver, like marinas, that depend on it being opened?

And if it is unable to open, what does that mean for the equipment — tugboats, barges, piledrivers — needed to dredge the river?

Railroad bridge over the Saugatuck River. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Speaking of which: When will the river be dredged?

The last major work was done in the 1950s. Before and after, barges traveling to and from the Gault oil tanks (around the site of what is now Saugatuck Sweets) sometimes scraped the bottom of the river. Those barges, and tugboats accompanying them, helped maintain the river.

The Gault oil tanks on Riverside Avenue, between the Cribari Bridge (left) and the railroad bridge, were not environmentally healthy for the Saugatuck River. But barge and tugboat traffic helped prevent buildup of silt on the bottom.

First Selectwoman Diane Farrell turned down funding for a dredging project, more than 20 years ago. Since then, the addition of businesses like kayak rentals and the Saugatuck Rowing Club has spurred an increased demand for recreational opportunities.

There are signs near the Levitt Pavilion that the river is becoming unnavigable. If a navigable channel is dry at low tide, it will no longer be maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Saugatuck River is becoming unnavigable at times far south of the Pavilion. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

What will that do to the waterway that once drove commerce all the way from Saugatuck to downtown — and which figures prominently in plans for a revitalization of downtown, with ideas like docks and a floating restaurant?

The other day, the Army Corps took some river samples, tied to possible work on the railroad bridge. They’re likely to find contamination in the area of that span, and I-95. Decades of train travel, and cars and trucks driving on the nearby highway, must have had an impact on the river below.

The railroad and I-95 bridges. (Photo/Brandon Malin)

Westporters should consider — and be talking about — the futures of both the Saugatuck River from Long Island Sound up to the Post Road bridge, and the Saugatuck River railroad bridge near its mouth.

The Cribari Bridge is important. But its just one part of an entire marine and transportation ecosystem that impacts our entire town.

The Saugatuck River, near Rive Bistro (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Roundup: Cribari Bridge, Charlie Capalbo, WTF, More

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1st Selectman Jim Marpe has issued a correction about the state Department of Transportation’s plans for the William F. Cribari Bridge. He says that deputy commissioner Mark Rolfe has not yet reached a final decision on the 5 alternatives under consideration.  In addition, the draft Environmental Assessment will not be released mid-March. It is at least a few months away.

Rolfe says, “The DOT seeks to continue the dialogue with stakeholders regarding this project. One potential solution is for the DOT to restore the existing bridge to a state of good repair and then transfer ownership of the bridge and a segment of Route 136 to the Town of Westport.”

Marpe noted that any DOT recommendation — when it occurs — will be subject to further review and approval.

William F. Cribari Bridge (Drone photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

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Maple sugar and tree tapping. Kids’ cooking classes. How to raise a dog. The wonderful world of honeybees.

Those are  just some of the offerings at Wakeman Town Farm, in the weeks ahead. The sustainability center contains to sustain all of us, with programs and classes for every age. Click here for details.

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Charlie Capalbo  — the 22-year-old Fairfield hockey player and grandson of Westport writer Ina Chadwick — has been diagnosed with leukemia.

The local Two Oh Three team is helping him, in his 3rd cancer battle.

The Westport-based firm has designed a line of products to raise both funds and awareness. Charlie has collaborated on the design process — a welcome distraction has he undergoes treatment.

The collection — #CapalboStrong — features products that help the community show Charlie that they’re all in this fight with him. Funds from products sold are assist Capalbo’s medical and travel expenses, while at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The collection was launched Sunday, to his network of friends. Hundreds of orders poured in. The Two Oh Three has now launched the custom designs on their full website.

Charlie says, “Seeing people ordering gear with my Capalbo Strong logo makes me feel connected to the outside world– like I know my army of friends and family are with me, even though I can’t see them now due to COVID-19. I’m so excited for this!”

“Our daily FaceTime calls with Charlie have been rewarding beyond words,” says Two Oh Three co-founder and Staples High School graduate Roscoe Brown.

“Constantly updating him on the number products we’ve sold helps remind him just how many people he has fighting along side him.”

Click here for the Two Oh Three #CapalboStrong Collection.

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Bob Stefanowski lost his race for Connecticut governor in 2018. But he’s a winner now, promoting area restaurants during COVID with a series of “Let’s Save CT Restaurants” videos.

His latest features Winfield Street Coffee, with owner Breno Donatti. It was filmed at their Stamford location — not the Post Road West shop — but it’s worth a watch.

Breno talks about the many ways that — despite the pandemic — Winfield Street gives back to the community, from providing meals for the homeless to sponsoring a holiday toy drive.

Here’s the quick video. When you’re done watching, place an order!

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The Staples boys basketball team opened its home season yesterday with a victory over Westhill.

The only way to watch the win was on the livestream. Spectators are prohibited from gyms this winter, in all high school sports.

But the stands were “filled” — with fatheads. That’s the name for cardboard figures of fans. It’s a way to make the gym a little less lonely. It’s also a great fundraiser for the Staples Boys Basketball Association.

How many folks do you recognize in the photo below? Besides (of course) me — directly underneath the “E.”

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Christmas is long over. But Anthropologie’s giraffe remains penned in, between the store and Church Lane. Animal lovers, please help!

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … here’s wishing Ed Sheeran a “perfect” 30th birthday today.

 

The Cribari Bridge — Of Flowers?

Mark Kramer spent 3 decades as a writer-in residence at Smith College, Boston University and Harvard’s Nieman Foundation. He also enjoyed a storied career as a book and magazine writer, editor, speaker and consultant.

Mark has not lived in Westport since graduating from Staples High School in 1961. But — as an alert “06880” reader — he notes from afar that “the Saugatuck (Cribari) Bridge is threatened by traffic and time.”

William F. Cribari Bridge. (Drone photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

It meant a lot to his childhood — and the town. In 2018, he had an idea for the Cribari Bridge. Following the state Department of Transportation’s recent decision to build a new bridge — or hand it over to the town, which would be responsible for its repair, maintenance and upkeep — Mark revisits that idea. He writes:

The bridge over the Saugatuck is dear to me.

I rode across it every evening — in my pajamas, for quite a stretch — fetching my father (Sidney Kramer, of Save Westport Now and The Remarkable Bookshop) from the 6:12 back from Manhattan.

I fished from it, and kept a dinghy in the swamp grass almost beneath it when I was older.

I watched a crack crew of guys who worked in Saugatuck crank it open with manpower to let boats pass. It’s a human-sized bridge, an amenity to a town where people can still encounter one another on the streets and nod and chat.

Hand-cranking open the William Cribari Bridge.

I lived for a long time in north-central Massachusetts near Shelburne Falls.  There was a trolley bridge over the Deerfield River, and trollies went obsolete. The cement-arched bridge languished for a while.

Then in the ’70s, a visionary group of merchants and neighbors planted it with flowers. It was a hobby at first, but soon enough turned into a business-attracting phenomenon, lavishly planted with a sequence of blooming plants so that from May through October, it now (until a year ago, and starting up again, one hopes, this summer, as the COVID crisis gives way to vaccines and good habits) attracts crowds.

The “Bridge of Flowers.”

They support some good restaurants, craft shops and clothing stores. Westport is less rural, and more vigorously entrepreneurial, and it’s not hard to imagine a development of the Cribari bridge in its own right–perhaps flowers, perhaps eateries, a bandstand, food stalls, and flowers too.

If this intrigued the right group of Westporters, a trip up there would certainly set imaginations going. A committee of neighbors keeps it going, and they’d be glad to share their experience.

Click here for the Bridge of Flowers website. For more information and personal insights, email Mark directly: kramernarrative@gmail.com.

An aerial view of the Bridge of Flowers.

State To Town: You Want The Cribari Bridge? Pay For It.

The state Department of Transportation’s environmental assessment report on the William F. Cribari Bridge will be released next month.

But Deputy Commissioner Mark Rolfe has told 1st Selectman Jim Marpe that its conclusion — and the DOT’s recommendation — is to replace the bridge with a new structure that meets Federal Highway Administration standards.

Many Westporters — fearing traffic on a bigger, new span — have pushed instead for renovation of the 133-year-old structure.

However, Rolfe offered Marpe an alternative: The state could transfer ownership of the bridge to the town of Westport, and re-route Route 136 (Bridge Street and Compo Road South).

The catch: The town would be responsible for operation, maintenance and repair of the Cribari Bridge.

Is that a bridge too far for Westport?

Stay tuned.

William F. Cribari Bridge: The debate continues. (Photo/Sam Levenson)

Roundup: Colonial Green, Home Movie, Tutors, More


Unless you have business with one of the tenants at Colonial Green — an eclectic mix including attorneys, CPAs, and the offices of CLASP and Newman’s Own — there’s no reason most Westporters would ever see the lobby at 246 Post Road East.

What a shame. Its walls are lined with local history. There’s a great collection of large photos and old postcards, with intriguing text. They tell wonderful stories of Westport’s first library, National Hall, a spectacular hotel on Beachside Avenue, and more.

And who knew the Cribari Bridge was once painted red?

Thanks to Eve Potts, for this fascinating find!


Home Movie is a dark comedy about a wounded family’s struggles with death, deception and general mania.

Jarret Liotta — a longtime Westporter, and Staples High School graduate — filmed it entirely in Westport.

The title also refers to the help he got from many local people and groups, like the Westport Woman’s Club, Senior Center, Police Department, Kaia Yoga, Gold’s Deli, even Harding Funeral Home.

On January 7 (7 p.m.), Miggs Burroughs will host a live (virtual) Q-and-A with Liotta. Everyone registering for the event through the Westport Library (click here) will receive a link to view the film any time the week before the event.

Liotta — a noted writer, photographer and video producer — is also a filmmaker. He says his first film, How Clean is My Laundry, “received moderate acclaim but wasn’t very good.” His second, The Acting Bug, “was much better, but no one saw it.”

His current project is a comedy exploring racism and gun violence (!). It will filmed entirely in Westport.

Jarret Liotta


Top Hat Tutors — the Staples High School juniors and seniors who charge less than adult competitors, but deliver quality with a teenage vibe — is starting the new year right.

Now through March, they’re offering their services free, to low income families and students on tight budgets. The offer is available every other Friday and Saturday, between 2 nd 5 p.m. There is a limit of 5 students per time slot.

Top Hat tutors cover math, science, language arts, social studies and standardized testing prep, for all age students.

Click here for the special free tutoring service.  Click here for the Top Hat Tutors home page.


And finally … on this date in 1845, Texas became the 28th U.S. state. It had been an independent republic since 1836.

 

 

Roundup: Cribari Bridge, Burroughs Brothers, Chocolate Bombs, More


The Cribari Bridge Christmas lights never get old.

In fact, “06880” readers always provide fresh perspectives.

Here’s January Stuart’s:

(Photo/January Stewart)


The Winter Farmers’ Market: It’s not just for Thursdays anymore.

Next Tuesday (December 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Lane) features a special holiday Artist Market.

It’s a way to support local artisans, who have been battered professionally by COVID-19. The Farmers’ Market is a safe outdoor space where they can sell their crafts.

The Artist Market takes place in 3 open-air greenhouses. Food trucks will grab-and-go meals, and hot and cold drinks.


2020 has been a wretched year. It can’t end soon enough.

But on its way out the door, the Westport Library will give it a special push.

On Monday, December 21 (7 p.m.), Miggs and Trace Burroughs’ offer winter solstice entertainment.

“Oh Brother, Not Another Holiday Special” — streamed from the Westport Library’s Forum — features several cool guests.

Martha Stewart returns to town, giving Miggs some holiday tips. Psychic “Miss Liz” will answer questions and make predictions for 2021. (Uh oh.)

Miggs’ bagel-making, Moog-playing son Brayden and Trace’s conceptual artist Pavia will appear.

Scraping the very bottom of the barrel, Miggs has asked me to be on the show too. I’ll try to find the 10 most uplifting stories of 2020. (It’s not easy.)

Miggs and Trace promise to make short work of the longest night of the year. Click here to register.

 

For years, Aarti Khosla — Westport’s favorite chocolatier — has been “Giving a Little Love.” Her promotions have supported healthcare workers, police officers, Bridgeport high school graduates, and teachers right here in Westport.

Now — as winter looms — Le Rouge Chocolates by Aarti embarks on a new campaign: “Give a Little Warmth.”

For each $10 “Hot Chocolate Bomb” pack customers buy, she’ll donate one to men and women who care for us: healthcare professionals, police and EMTs. They’re great stocking stuffers — and easy to ship.

Click here to order; be sure to write “Give a Little Warmth” in the note section.

Need another reason to shop at Le Rouge (190 Main Street, lower level)? Aarti will donate 5% of all December sales to local food banks.


And finally … today marks the 40th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder. He was 40 years old when Mark David Chapman shot him 4 times in the archway of his Manhattan apartment building.

In other words, John Lennon has been dead for as many years as he lived. Imagine.

Cribari Bridge Is Lit. Let The Holidays Begin!

The crowd was far smaller than usual.

But even the coronavirus can’t dampen the joy of one of Westport’s favorite traditions: lighting the William F. Cribari Bridge.

The bulbs are new. The colors are beautiful. And now more than ever, we need this annual Al’s Angels gift.

(Drone photos/Patrick Sikes)

Roundup: Bathrooms, Cribari Bridge, Suzuki, More


The other day, Mary-Lou Weisman emailed the Parks & Recreation Department.

She and her husband had been upset to find the Compo Beach bathrooms locked. They were replaced by porta potties “filled nearly to the brim” (and lacking toilet paper).

Mary-Lou noted that medical experts have warned against using such small, secured enclosures during COVID.

A Parks & Rec employee replied. She noted that bathrooms are seasonal facilities only, and the water has been shut off for the winter. (Year-round bathrooms are available at the Ned Dimes Marina.) The department is following up with the service company that maintains the porta-johns.

Mary-Lou responded: “Are the 2 proper restrooms at Compo closed because of financial concerns. or because the water pipes would burst in cold weather? If the concerns are financial, I would hope the town would provide the necessary funds to keep them open. I would further suggest that if frozen pipes are a concern, that problem might be mitigated by being wrapped, and probably by other means.

“If Westport can afford to build pickleball courts and skateboard ramps, the town should be able to keep the bathrooms open all year.”

Bathroom facilities at Compo Beach are closed. (Photo/Matt Murray)


On Friday, the William F. Cribari Bridge will glow again. It’s a holiday tradition that makes Saugatuck special.

Yesterday, “06880” reported that a crew of Al’s Angels and friends worked for hours, restringing lights and replacing broken bulbs.

They don’t want a lot of publicity. But here’s the gang to thank. They bring a bit of joy, at a time we all desperately need it.

(Photo/Al DiGuido)


COVID has canceled some of Suzuki Music Schools’ traditional  performances.

So the Westport students are going online. Among the highlights: a mid-month “Ode to Joy.” The virtual orchestra project features students and faculty from the Westport and Orange campuses and KEYS Bridgeport, celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

Suzuki adds: “As a non-profit music school, we keep the community culturally connected by providing free concerts, scholarships, and international events to the public directly due to the generosity of others, so it is inherent that we help those around us grow as well. In that spirit, we encourage the public to not only donate to Suzuki Schools at www.suzukischools.org this Giving Tuesday, but also to the organizations they appreciate and that affect them most.


And finally … whenever I think of Suzuki musicians, I think of “M*A*S*H.” In the unforgettable final episode, Major Charles Emerson Winchester III is aggravated that a group of Chinese North Korean POWs are musicians. He tries to teach them his beloved Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A, with moderate success.

With the war’s end imminent, the prisoners ship out from the 4077th. Gamely, they play the piece in the back of the truck.

Casualties continue to arrive — including one of the just-released POWs. The entire group had been killed, minutes after leaving camp.

“He wasn’t even a soldier,” the distraught doctor says. “He was a musician.”

Winchester returns to his tent. He puts on a record of the Clarinet Quintet, then smashes it in rage.

 

Cribari Bridge Lights: You Can Help!

Whatever goes around, comes around.

For over 20 years from Thanksgiving through January, traffic going around — or over — the William F. Cribari Bridge has slowed. Everyone is awed by the span’s lights, from Riverside Avenue to Bridge Street.

The colorful display is beautiful, wherever you stand. Driving through it is especially fun.

The William F. Cribari Bridge, in all its holiday glory. (Photo/JD Dworkow)

The lights are a gift from Al’s Angels. The non-profit — started in part by Al DiGuido, and aided by countless volunteers — provides holiday meals, gifts  and toys to thousands of children and families battling cancer, rare blood disease and severe financial hardship.

Al’s Angels gives so much to Fairfield County. And so many give to Al’s Angels.

Last year, Saugatuck Rowing Club gave back to both. The boathouse/fitness center/restaurant just a few yards from the bridge sponsored a bridge lighting festival. Hundreds of people came, and contributed funds that help Al’s Angels continue its amazing work.

Merry Christmas, thanks to Al’s Angels.

The Rowing Club wanted to do the same thing this year. COVID makes the need more urgent than ever — both in terms of the number of people who need help, and covering the shortfall from people having a tough time donating this year.

But the recent spike in cases makes a big gathering untenable.

Meanwhile, for 5 hours this weekend — working through 3 a.m. — volunteers replaced all the old lights with new ones. They were (of course) a donation from Al’s Angels, with help from A.J. Penna & Sons Construction.

A low-key lighting celebration is set for this Friday (November 27, 6 p.m.). There won’t be a big crowd, unfortunately.

So Diana Kuen and the Rowing Club are asking their friends — and all “06880” readers – to help. They hope everyone who can will donate $20 (or more!).

Of course, you don’t have to wait until Friday. Click here to give funds. Click here to provide a gift to a child, through Al’s Angels’ Touchless Toy Drive.

This year more than ever, we need those Cribari Bridge lights.

And this year more than ever, Al’s Angels needs us.

Whatever goes around, comes around.

The Cribari Bridge at Christmastime. (Photo/Joel Treisman)