Tag Archives: Winslow Park

Pic Of The Day #399

Sharing water at Winslow Park. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Every Dog Has His Day: Winslow Park Festival Set For May 20

Last year, proceeds from the 2nd annual Dog Festival allowed the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce to donate $7,000 to area non-profits.

That’s nothing to sniff at.

This year’s event is set for Sunday, May 20. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Winslow Park will go to the dogs.

Chamber executive director Matthew Mandell calls the festival “a 3-ring circus of activities that celebrates everything dog.”

That means exciting demonstrations, goofy competitions and an obstacles course. Plus — for man’s best friend (and his kids) — food trucks and children’s activities too.

Demonstrations include police, emergency rescue and guide dogs, as well as agility and training exhibitions.

Competitions offer prizes for best tail wagger, best dressed, best kisser, best trick, best lap dog over 50 pounds, and (my favorite) the dog that most looks like its owner.

The winner of the timed obstacle course receives a year’s supply of dog food.

New this year: a non-profit pavilion sponsored by Bankwell, where adoptables will be available.

Surrounding the main activities are over 50 pet-related vendors, along with caricaturists, face painting and giveaways. WEBE 108 will broadcast live.

Just another day at Winslow Park.

Parking is available at the Westport Country Playhouse. The entrance fee is $10 per person, $25 for a family of 4.

Dogs are free.

(TAILS will once again help produce the Westport Dog Festival. Lead sponsor is Choice Pet. Other sponsors include Earth Animal and Garavel Auto Group. To register your dog for a competition or for more information, click here.)

Daphne’s Gift

Dogs are quick to make friends. A sniff here, a wag of a tail there, then a tiny poodle and huge Rottweiler head happily into the woods.

Dog owners are a friendly breed too. The folks who are led by their pets to the paths and benches of Winslow Park form their own tight community. As Fido and Fifi romp, their parents bond.

So it was nice to see this big box — and accompanying note — the other day there:

The flyer said that Daphne — a golden — had died a few days earlier, from injuries in an accident. She was a month shy of 3 years old.

Her owner Carrie wrote:

Daphne was such a joy and full of love. This park was her home away from home. Winslow was her happy place and the community of people and dogs here were part of her family….She befriended any dog that was willing to play and chase. Daphne was a friend to all and always had a smile on her face.

Carrie will miss her daily walks with Daphne. But, Carrie said, a box of tennis balls had been delivered just before Daphne died. Her dog “couldn’t wait to get her paws on them. She would want her friends to have them.”

There they were: tons of tennis balls for the taking.

Carrie concluded: “Hug your fur babies a little extra for me today.”

(Hat tip: Lindsey Blavais)

Unsung Hero #11

Lois Schine has done many things in her long life.

A mechanical engineer at a time when nearly all her peers were men, she helped found the Society of Women Engineers.

She served 18 years on Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM). She chaired our Human Services Commission, and was a member of 1st Selectman Diane Farrell’s Land Use Committee.

Today she’s an active member of the Westport Downtown Master Plan Committee, and a Friend of the Senior Center.

But of all she’s done, Schine says her “crowning accomplishment” is helping the town keep Winslow Park as open space.

Lois Schine

Following its days as the Westport Sanitarium — and after B. Altman abandoned its plans to build a department store there — the 32-acre site of woods and meadows just north of downtown was owned by perfume executive Walter Langer von Langendorff (aka “the baron”).

First selectman Jacqueline Heneage asked the baron if the town could buy the land. Schine’s husband Leonard — a noted attorney and judge — negotiated with the owner.

The baron backed away, offended by the town’s “low” offer of $2.38 million. Schine planned to return to the issue in a while. But he died — and so did the baron.

The baron left several wills. It appeared his land would be tied up in court — then sold, to satisfy his various estate obligations.

In 1987 the RTM voted 26-8 to condemn the land. Citizens opposed to the deal brought a referendum. Lois Schine, Joanne Leaman and Ellie Solovay helped spur a “yes” vote. By 54-46%, Westporters chose to move ahead with eminent domain.

The purchase price was $9.42 million. But no one in town knew what to do with the property.

Schine worried it would be used for buildings, or some other intense activity. She asked town attorney Ken Bernhard how to designate the land as “open space.”

Winslow Park draws visitors with dogs …

He said there was no such zoning regulation in town. He suggested she run for the RTM, so the body could pass a resolution asking the Planning & Zoning Commission to create that designation.

She did. She won. And — with Ellie Lowenstein at the P&Z helm — officials created an “open space” zone for passive recreation.

“Longshore, Compo, all the pocket parks — none of them had open space designations,” Schine recalls.

Today they do. So does the baron’s other property — the 22 acres across the Post Road, between Compo Road South and Imperial Avenue.

… and sleds.

“Some people say Winslow is ‘only a dog park,'” Schine notes.

“But it’s a park in the middle of town.”

And — had it not been for Lois Schine, and many others — that middle of town might look very different today.

 

Every Dog Has Its Day

Hundreds of dogs celebrate their day today.

Seen at the 2nd annual Dog Festival at Winslow Park:

Kids and their pets…

… dogs of all types …

… dog photography …

… a canine obstacle course …

… and plenty of Winslow Park regulars, like Roger Wolfe.

The Dog Festival — sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — runs through 4 p.m. today. Click here for details.

Ray Rauth: A Good Walk Spoiled

Last June, Ray Rauth walked across Connecticut. Literally — from the New York border to Rhode Island.

Even more impressive was the 120-mile route he took: US 1.

But the Weston resident — a member of the Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board — was not planning to see every Jiffy Lube, Stop & Shop or Dunkin’ Donuts along the way.

His goal was to build awareness of road safety for pedestrians and cyclists. What better place to do that than the Post Road — the state’s deadliest.

Ray Rauth is a very brave man.

Now — after massaging his feet and evading death — Rauth has written a report. In 19 pages, he summarizes our woeful neglect of safety.

Of course, he also gives shout-outs to Connecticut’s beauty and health.

It’s a fascinating document. He covers lots of territory — literal and figurative — starting with Byram (zip code 06830) and ending in Pawcatuck (06379).

But since this blog is “06880,” I’ll limit this story to the dozen or so times Rauth cites Westport in his report.

The first mention comes in a section on pocket parks. “You don’t need a swing set or a swimming pool,” Rauth writes. “Just a calm nicely-kept shaded area with benches, maybe a picnic table and a relaxed atmosphere.”

Fairfield’s town green is one such spot. Another is “Barron’s [sic] North.”

Ray Rauth likes Winslow Park (which he calls “Barron’s North”).

Rauth likes beautiful downtowns. He is impressed with — among others — Darien, Fairfield, Clinton, Branford, Guilford and Mystic. However, he writes, Westport’s “sprawl of strip malls” makes “an almost deliberate effort to be ugly.”

In a section on safety, Rauth suggests that

town officials and employees should actually walk the streets and the sidewalks that they build and maintain. Bring along a few advocates for comment, advice and support. Pedestrian and bike access to areas such as the train station in Westport benefit from the knowledge of how awful they really are for the pedestrian.

Rauth calls the sidewalks from Post Road West from Whole Foods to the “lovely” Saugatuck River “meaningless. They did not exist, or changed sides of the road willy nilly, or were poorly kept.” In fact, he says Westport’s sidewalks are the worst in Fairfield County.

Actually, he notes in the next paragraph, “Westport has the worst Route 1 sidewalks in the state.” (He adds, hopefully, “I know that they are working on the problem.”)

Rauth then describes the Compo Shopping Center/Trader Joe’s intersection as arguably the town’s worst — and it has been for the nearly 30 years he’s lived in the area. However, he decides that “the really, really bad intersection” in Westport is at the train station. He does not, however, say exactly which one it is.

Ray Rauth used a photo like this in the Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board’s 2016 annual report. It illustrates a crosswalk at the Riverside Avenue/Railroad Place intersection that leads to a parking lot, not a sidewalk.

We can argue about which is the worst intersection in town, or how bad our sidewalks really are. But we really don’t have a statewide comparison unless we’ve walked a mile in Ray Rauth’s shoes.

Make that 120 miles.

(Click here to read Ray Rauth’s entire report.)

Friends Of Trees

There are 3 subjects I know will always generate huge “06880” reader reactions:

Parking. Dogs. And trees.

The first 2 are predictable parts of Westport life. The 3rd may be less intuitive.

But as regularly as power goes out when the wind blows, any time I post a tree story we get comments from readers who mourn the loss of every tree. And from others who say hey, easy come, easy go.

Yet — until the other day — I had no idea that both tree huggers and Paul Bunyans could find common purpose.

That’s when alert — and arboreal-minded — reader Johanna Rossi told me about the Friends of Parks & Recreation’s Arbor Program.

Full disclosure: I didn’t even know the Friends group existed, either. They’re a  public-private partnership that finances worthwhile projects and services, beyond those paid for by tax dollars.

The website of the Friends of Parks & Recreation website includes a photo of the Longshore entrance -- before the removal of several trees lining the entrance way. New trees have taken their place.

The website of the Friends of Parks & Recreation website includes a photo of the Longshore entrance — before the removal of several trees lining the entrance way. New trees have taken their place.

One of those programs can be found on the Friends’ website  under the heading “Trees, Trees, Trees.” Launched last year, it’s a way to honor “the lives and achievements of friends and families.”

Working with Parks and Rec, tree warden Bruce Lindsay identifies locations where he’d like to plant trees. He notes the specimens and species that thrive there.

Donors can choose their location and tree. The price is based on the cost of planting, as well as a fund to support maintenance — fertilizing, watering, pruning, etc. — for 5 years.

Planting takes place in the spring and fall. Photos and biographical info can be displayed alongside the tree.

It’s a “living legacy” for people to celebrate those who, most probably, are no longer living.

There’s even a GPS locator to help identify locations and tree types. Right now, there are 2 sites: Winslow Park and Compo Beach.

Tree warden Bruce Lindsay has a plan to remove dead trees at Winslow Park -- and replace them.

Tree warden Bruce Lindsay has a plan to remove dead trees at Winslow Park — and replace them.

So the next time I post a story about tree removal, don’t click “Comments.”

Instead, donate a tree.

Friday Flashback #24

“06880” readers like our Friday Flashbacks. This one they’ll love.

Actually, it’s a two-fer. Back in the day, Westport was home to not 1, but 2, sanitariums. (Sanitaria? Whatever. If you’ve forgotten your medical history, a sanitarium was a hospital for the treatment of chronic diseases, often tuberculosis or mental disorders.)

The best known and most visible was originally the former mansion of Henry Richard and Mary Fitch Winslow. Built in 1853 and named Compo House, the palatial home was surrounded by guest houses, servants’ and gardeners’ quarters, and gorgeous gardens. Former president Millard Fillmore was a visitor, and extravagant fireworks were shot off there every July 4th.

By 1907, it had become the Westport Sanitarium. Here’s how it looked then:

westport-sanitarium-1907-now-winslow-park

The building was torn down in the 1970s. It had long earlier fallen into disuse, becoming an attractive nuisance to teenagers, drug users and other random folks.

No wonder. It was just a few steps away from downtown, on land bordered by the Post Road and North Compo.

Today, it’s the site of a dog park. Its name is Winslow, in honor of the original owners. The sanitarium is the reason for all those asphalt paths, in places you’d never expect them.

Our 2nd sanitarium — named for its owner, Dr. McFarland — was on Long Lots Road. In later years it became a full-fledged psychiatric hospital, called Hall-Brooke. A building visible from Long Lots was renamed McFarland Hall.

This is what Dr. McFarland’s Sanitarium looked like in the early 1900s:

dr-mcfarlands-sanitarium-hall-brooke

The photo above is of the main building. The other building was visible for many years from Long Lots.

If you’ve got memories of either sanitarium, click “Comments” below.

(Photos courtesy of Seth Schachter)

Dumping On Winslow Park

No, the headline does not refer to owners who refuse to clean up their pet’s poop at Westport’s wonderful dog park.

It’s a reference to some bizarre sightings recently:

winslow-park-collage

Yes, someone has been hauling furniture to Winslow Park, and dumping it there.

This raises a few questions:

  • Why would someone bring old furniture to a dog run?
  • How did they get it there?
  • When did they do it, without anyone seeing them?
  • What did they expect would happen to it?

If you know the answers, click “Comments” below.

Meanwhile, if you want some old furniture, it seems to be yours for the taking.

(Hat tip: Michelle Lieberson)

Winslow Park Hit By Smash-And-Grabs

Last month, Westport was jolted by a series of home break-ins in Greens Farms.

Now, it’s cars being hit at Winslow Park.

An “06880” reader reports that at least 5 windows have been smashed — and personal belongings stolen — while people walk their dogs nearby.

She loves Winslow Park because of the community she’s found there. An eclectic group of dog owners welcomed her in (and invited her to their “Yappie Hour”).

This summer, she became aware of the “smash-and-grab” break-ins. They occurred in the Westport Country Playhouse lot.

A month ago, a woman who parks in the small North Compo lot was hit.

It happens in broad daylight, with people coming and going with their dogs.

Winslow Park. Smash-and-grab thieves have made dog walkers bit fearful.

Smash-and-grab thieves have made Winslow Park dog walkers a bit fearful.

The “06880” reader suggests surveillance cameras. She also thinks that cutting down bushes would help make cars more visible to passersby. Of course, it’s common sense to not leave anything of value on your car seat or floor, visible to anyone.

Notices have been posted on the “Winslow Park Small Dogs & Friends” Facebook page. The reader says that publicity is essential. More people need to know this is happening — and the thief or thieves must know that people know.

“Winslow Park should be a happy place for everyone,” she says. “Not a place of fear.”